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A new study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association shows that cyclist deaths in the US are rising. Between 2010 and 2012, a total of 722 people were killed while riding their bike on US roads, which amounts to a 16 percent increase. The increase is drastically high when compared to deaths in vehicles which only had a 1 percent increase during the same period. The people involved in bicycle fatalities are mainly adult and male, whom lives in large urban areas. Between 2010 and 2012, adults represented 84 percent of cyclist deaths and almost 70 percent of all bicycling fatalities happened in large cities – with more than half concentrated in just six states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Texas. “These are high population states with many urban centers, and likely reflect a high level of bicycle exposure and interaction with motor vehicles,” said the report’s author, Dr. Allan Williams. A large contribution to bicycle fatalities are a lack of helmet use, with at least two-thirds of the fatally injured cyclists not wearing helmets. Another major culprit is alcohol. About 28 percent of the cyclists, over age 16, involved in these fatal accidents had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit to drive. But while fatal bike accidents are rising, they are still only representing around two percent of overall motor vehicle-related fatalities in the US. This number has remained pretty much constant since 1975, when 1,003 people were killed while riding their bike. Why do you think fatal bike accidents are rising? What could authorities do to increase the safety for cyclists?
Green Blog posted a article in Cars & TransportationResults from a study done by a research group at the Skövde University in Sweden might surprise cyclists. Their research project, named Urbanist 2, have looked at how well reflexes helps motorists’ spot cyclists in the dark. Their conclusion is that it is dangerous to rely on the bright, and among cyclists, popular reflective vests. “What we have seen in our research is such that the reflective vest provides a false sense of security at night, when it in no way helps the motorist to interpret the rider's movement information,” said Paul Hemeren, PhD in Cognitive Science at the University of Skövde. Instead, their findings show, it’s more important where on your body those reflexes are located. The best placements are on the head, arms, feet, and other body parts that are moving when you’re cycling. “If you place a reflective stripe on the back of the helmet, which continues in a vertical line down the back, you create a line that breaks when the rider turns his or hers head,” Hemeren said. “This shows [for the motorist] that it’s a high probability that the cyclist will turn. And if reflexes are also placed on other body joints you will reach an even better result.” If the reflexes are placed like this, it reinforces a riders unconscious patterns of movement and in turn makes it easier for the motorist to make an accurate assessment of the cyclist’s intentions – in up to 97 percent of the cases. Without it, the study finds that the motorists could only make a correct assessment in little over 70 percent of the cases. Obviously one shouldn't draw too many conclusions from only one study, but apparently, those reflective safety vests used by many cyclists might not do much to protect the wearer – at least if the wearer is on a bike.
A new bicycle index has ranked the 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Already world-renowned bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam are of course on the list. But there are several newcomers as well, such as Malmö in Sweden and Seville in Spain. Unfortunately, there is still no US city on the top 20 list. The new Copenhagenize Index has ranked the 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. The index, which ranks a total of 150 cities, has been compiled by Copenhagenize Design, an urban planning consultancy who specializes in bicycle planning. More than 400 people from around the world has helped rank the various cities. Each city have been ranked on the basis of 13 different parameters that takes everything from the availability of satisfying bicycle infrastructure and facilities to the overall bicycle culture in the city and the political climate regarding urban cycling into account. Unsurprisingly, especially considering it already has a world-renowned reputation of being a bike-friendly city, Amsterdam in the Netherlands is ranked as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. "The cycling atmosphere is relaxed, enjoyable, and as mainstream as you can get. This is the one place on the planet where fear-mongering about cycling is non-existent and it shows. There are few places we enjoy urban cycling as much as in Amsterdam," the Copenhagenize Index says. The photo shows afternoon traffic on the world's busiest bicycle street in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Copenhagenize Design Co. Copenhagen is ranked as the second most bicycle-friendly city in the world. No other city beats Copenhagen when it comes to "a well-designed and uniform bicycle infrastructure network."But the Index warns that a lack of clear political leadership and new massive car infrastructure projects makes Copenhagen's future seem uncertain and bleak for cyclists. Utrecht, yet another Dutch city on the top 20 list, is the third most bicycle-friendly city in the world. The Index highlights the "fantastic" infrastructure that can be found in the small city. According to the Index, Utrecht is a "world-leader" and "a splendid city" for cyclists. But the city, just like Amsterdam, haven't seen much new significant progress lately. So to avoid getting stuck in status quo the Index calls for increased efforts, more creative thinking and innovation to improve cycling conditions even further. "With urbanisation on the rise, the city needs to move forward in order to accommodate more cycling cities and really establish themselves as leaders of the future, not just the present," the Index asserts. Below is the complete list of the top 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in the world - with their 2011 ranking in brackets: 1. Amsterdam (1) 9. Dublin (9) 2. Copenhagen (2) 10. Tokyo (4) 3. Utrecht (new) 11. Munich (6) 4. Seville (new) 11. Montreal (8) 4. Bordeaux (new) 11. Nagoya (new) 5. Nantes (new) 12. Rio de Janeiro (18) 5. Antwerp (new) 13. Barcelona (3) 6. Eindhoven (new) 13. Budapest (10) 7. Malmö(new) 13. Paris (7) 8. Berlin (5) 14. Hamburg (13) If you want more information on why these cities rank the way they do just check out the Copenhagenize website, which has extended explanations on the different pros and cons of each of the top 20 cities. No cities in the US made the cut While the majority of the top-scoring cities are located in Europe, the US still has no city that can compete with more bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen in Denmark, Tokyo in Japan, Rio in Brazil or Montreal in Canada. But the League of American Bicyclists recently released their yearly ranking of the most bicycle-friendly states in the US. Their list shows how Washington continues to be the most bike-friendly state in the country. Washington has a good performance in all of the five categories. The state gets especially good grades when it comes to its work on legislation, education and its encouragement to get more people to use their bikes. "We're encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Delaware, Colorado and Oregon," says League President, Andy Clarke. "But as the scores clearly highlight, there's much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and planning in every state." The 14 most bicycle-friendly states are: Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, Maine and Utah on 14th place.