When Chicago’s bike share program, Divvy, first debuted, it was met with a lot of fanfare. Media was present in the heart of downtown to interview riders and even to test out the program for themselves, enjoying or at least investigating a new form of transportation for those who live in or work in the city. Many were skeptical about the benefits of this program, though, expecting low ridership and a great inconvenience to motorists who drive on the Loop’s crowded streets. Others proclaimed that increasing bicycle ridership certainly would mean more deaths in bicycle accidents in Illinois.
Now, a new report has released potentially startling statistics about bike shares, including the fact that not a single bike share rider has been killed in an accident in the United States since these programs began.
Currently, bike share systems exist in more than 90 cities and riders have tallied more than 35 million rides while using them. Numerous accidents have happened with these riders with the crashes ranging from the minor to the extreme, but despite the fact that these programs are being used heavily, there have been no reports of a fatality claiming the life of someone using a bike share. Nationally, approximately 21 deaths happen per 100 million bike trips, so if that rate applied to bike share programs as well, experts would expect seven to eight fatalities already. Not only are riders not losing their lives but a second study has concluded that bike share users are involved in accidents at significantly lower rates than those who ride their own bicycles.
These reports are leading many to ask why bicyclists who use bike shares are remaining so much safer than those who ride their own personal bikes despite the fact that helmet use is much lower among bike share users.
First, some difference may exist in the type of riders that opt for the bike share experience. These cyclists may be less experienced and less used to riding in a major city, making them more cautious as a result. A cautious and patient cyclist may avoid certain risk-prone scenarios that other cyclists may enter, decreasing the odds that bike share users will be involved in a collision.
Another factor may be the fact that bike share stations and programs in general tend to be in dense, urban settings. These locations may mean that drivers and cyclists alike are more alert and paying greater attention to the road conditions because traffic can change momentarily. For example, if you have driven or ridden a bicycle in downtown Chicago, you know that you must always be alert for an errant pedestrian stepping into the roadway. This same level of alertness can help motorists and cyclists avoid collisions with one another and with other hazards.
Further, the design of many bicycles used by bike share programs may be contributing to safety. They are built to be sturdy and to last – not necessarily for speed – and as a result, a bike share user may ride at a slower speed than those on a personal bicycle. This slowed speed may allow bike share riders to make decisions in time to avoid a crash where other cyclists may be unable to respond in such a timely manner. Bike share bicycles tend to be equipped with drum brakes which are more effective than standard brakes in inclement weather, and as inclement weather can make an appearance 12 months a year in Illinois, this feature alone may be responsible for countless accidents avoided.
Whether you use a Divvy bike or a bike you own, know that you may be entitled to financial compensation if you are involved in a crash. The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. offer a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation to all victims and their family members who call us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and since we understand that your time is valuable, we keep a licensed lawyer standing by 24/7 to speak with you. If you have questions or if you need help, call Abels & Annes, P.C. today and let us get to work for you.
Prior Blog Entry:
Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Settle Case for $250,000, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 1, 2016.
A new study looks at why bike share is so much safer than regular biking, by Brad Plumer, Vox Science & Health, published April 3, 2016.