America’s cycling infrastructure is pretty bad, but Chicago is an exception that proves the rule

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The United States as a whole remains woefully at the back of the pack in terms of cycling infrastructure, but Chicago is among the few exceptions that prove the rule, according to a new study.

It would seem pretty basic that as cycling infrastructure increases, accidents, serious injuries and fatalities decrease. But the dramatic numbers that illustrate this fact, especially here in Chicago, are worth noting. At the right time to study (Happy National Bike to Week Work, all!) While Chicago’s cycle route network has grown over the past decade or so (135% between 2005 and 2015), accidents per 100,000 trips have declined by more than half (54%) and fatalities and serious injuries per 100,000 trips fell by 60 percent. And that’s when more and more people started cycling in the city: bike trips increased by 167% during these ten years of training. According to the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, other cities that have similarly strengthened their cycling infrastructure have also seen impactful results. Minneapolis, for example, has seen a surprising 75% decrease in accidents, with bike lane growth still (slightly) lower than Chicago’s.

American Journal of Public Health

The type of infrastructure, rather than the amount, is also essential, according to the researchers: physically separate bike lanes, bollards and / or concrete barriers are recommended by researcher Ralph Buehler, professor of urban affairs and planning. at Virginia Tech, and John Pucher, professor in the School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

“More and better cycling infrastructure and safer cycling would encourage Americans to do more of their daily cycling trips and help increase the current low levels of physical activity among the American population,” Buehler said in a statement. .

Chicago’s numbers are reassuring to cyclists, if not surprising overall. (Not so long ago, you will recall, our city was named the most bicycle friendly in the country.) But like the ongoing Vision Zero campaign and recent efforts to improve safety at Wicker Park’s l he notorious intersection of Milwaukee, Damen and North is a reminder that there is always room to improve. As much as cities like Chicago are helping to improve the global cycling map in the United States, so far we are collectively from countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, the researchers found.

“Traffic accidents and serious injuries are not inevitable, and they can be reduced by implementing the right policies, especially improving infrastructure and technology,” said Buehler.

And as other research has noted these benefits extend even to people who never even ride a bike. But given the week and the ground that Chicago has won, now is the right time to do it.


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