Safety in numbers or safety to get the numbers up?


The August issue of Injury Prevention is online! And it has already led to media coverage. Cycling weekly has a nice news story based on the article by Christie & Pike.



The big question is: are cyclists safer when there’s more of us? as was posited in the classic paper by Jacobsen, reprinted in this issue.

We hope to discuss this question more in depth in this blog during August! But for the moment, the take-home message seems to be that we still don’t know whether there is truly safety in numbers, but we do know that system-wide traffic safety measures do increase safety. Cycling weekly also points out that when there are more cyclists, traffic planners and politicians are pressured to invest in cycling safety.

The author of this blog post is a keen bicyclist, even on days when the numbers of cyclists are very low…

There are many reasons to wish for more people to take the bicycle! More physical activity for the people = better health. Fewer cars = more space for people, and less car exhausts – which benefits health as well as local and global environment. But in order to facilitate more bicycling, there is a strong need to construct traffic systems that are safe for both cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles. There are many facets of this: to a high extent the physical properties of roads and paths, but also the behaviour of cyclists and drivers (and the social norms and systems which drive this behaviour!), the willingness to embrace safety measures like helmets, and the new innovations for safe technology in vehicles and on roads.

Among the draft global Sustainable Development Goals, expected to be passed by the UN in September, goal number 9 calls for countries to “build resilient infrastructure” and also to “foster innovation”. It seems to me that an indispensable part of this would be safe and practical cycling infrastructure, using new innovations.

During August, this blog will have a special focus on bicycle safety, traffic safety overall, and the question on whether there is “safety in numbers” or not. Stay tuned! And keep the discussion alive, in the comments below, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Now, have a nice weekend – and when you’re not out cycling, there’s tons of interesting reading in the new issue of Injury Prevention!

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