Safety of Cyclists in Boulder - Safe Streets Boulder Report

The City of Boulder just released their Safe Streets Boulder Report which highlights many safety aspects for the users of Boulders Streets. The Daily Camera does some indepth analysis of the report and below is a snippet from article

Bicycles vs. vehicles make up 6 percent of all traffic accidents in Boulder, according to the Safe Streets report.

At that rate, cyclists are about three times more likely to be involved in an accident with a vehicle than a pedestrian is.

"You've really got to pay attention," said Jason Estes, a bike courier with Denver/Boulder Couriers who was making deliveries through the snow Friday morning.

By far, the most common danger to cyclists in Boulder is drivers making turns within intersections. Turning vehicles were the cause of 40 percent of all bike-vehicle crashes during the study period. In about 10 percent of the cases, a driver was making a right turn on a red light.
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City baffled by summer drop

The study also poses something of a mystery for city officials.

The report revealed -- not surprisingly -- that as the weather warms up, more people in Boulder take to riding their bike. But the study also found that the number of accidents involving bikes goes down in May, June and July.

Cowern, the traffic engineer, wasn't certain why that is, but the smaller population of students over the summer could be part of the reason.

He also speculated that as the number of people on bikes reaches a certain point, drivers become so aware of them that behaviors change and accidents decrease. That's a tantalizing theory for a city that prides itself on getting people out of their cars.

"If it is in fact true that our system would become statistically safer and safer the more people ride their bike, of course that's extremely interesting to us," he said.

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3 Comments

Interesting

It's a good study and article, but the City spokesperson may be trying to spin the data re flashing crosswalks. The key determinant in a statistical analysis would be the number of accidents as a ratio rather than a simple total - so if they don't count the number of people using a crosswalk, then saying a particular location is dangerous or not is misleading, as that may simply be an expression of how many people are using it.

Traffic engineers like their flashes and roundabouts, and want to keep building them.

On the upside, the statistics for citations resulting from bike-car accidents is a ratio, and therefor very good information. Cyclists need to obey the rules, but it is indeed usually the car at fault.

Worried about the spin too

I agree, Buzz. The Camera article reads like it was written by a City cheerleader. As a cyclist I prefer to avoid the flashers because they I don't find them safe. I can all too easily pop out in front of a car that couldn't see me because of a tree or another car.

I clicked on the link here, expecting a report, but got only some kind of powerpoint summary. So I haven't read the real thing yet, but the spin seems everywhere in this thing.

For example, why do they give the accidents by the percentages by type of x-walk, but nowhere report the percentage of x-walks that fall into each type out of the 8500 locations they studied? In other words, if they don't tell you the ratio between the number of accidents per flashing x-walk studied versus the ratio of accidentes per signalized intersection, they haven't really told you anything useful. In fact, because we have far more signalized intersections than flashing x-walls, you'd expect the number of accidents to be less in the flashing x-walks than for regular signalized intersections.

I also wonder whether the totals the study used to claim the flashing x-walks were safer included accidents where the ped or bike was crossing against the light or otherwise engaging in at-fault or stupid behavior.

Maybe the report will be less full of spin than the camera article or the powerpoint. I sure hope so.

Anybody have a better link for the report?

Donald, all I could find on the "report" was the powerpoint presentation" that is linked to. Nobody from the transportation department sent us a version... any maybe the powerpoint is all there is to the "report". If anyone knows where a better version of this "report" is please add it as a comment.

I don't have a problem with the flashers and have used the one on Walnut and Folsom often BUT as a cyclists you HAVE to make sure all lanes (and there are 4 of them) see you before you enter each lane. I've seen many cyclists blaze through that flasher path with little attention to traffic. IMO some of those riders are stats creators.