Policy for Safer Cycling

In the age of going green, bicycling is gaining a lot of publicity. Boston is beginning to add some major bike lanes, New York City added some bike lanes over the last few years, and everyone is trying to be Copenhagen. There has been some local news about biking and Madison’s efforts to be “platinum-certified” Bike Friendly City by the League of American Bicyclists.

Generally, one of the biggest concerns dissuading potential bicyclists is the danger inherent with riding a thin piece of metal near SUVs. I read once about the danger/fear of danger catch-22 for cyclists. Basically, biking is dangerous because few people bike (leaving drivers unaccustomed to cyclist) and that danger leads to people not biking.

The New York Times’ Freakonomics blog did a recent piece about the dangers of biking (in Toronto specifically) finding that 90% of biking accident are the fault of the motorist. That is a pretty disturbing statistic for those of us who bike attentively and politely in an effort to be safe.

Hopefully, there will be more accommodation to bikers nationwide which includes adding well-marked, clear bike lanes. In doing so, cycling should become safer and more people will embrace cycling as an activity that is good to the environment and good for their health. Copenhagen made a concerted effort to increase the number of cyclists and succeeded. It is time American cities do the same.

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About Sylvia Fredericks

Second-Year MPA student at the La Follette School for Public Affairs (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
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