Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bikes and Peds Vs. Cars - Data from New York

The New York Times just ran a story this morning about a study of traffic related injuries done at NYU Langone Medical Center, Vulnerable roadway users struck by motor vehicles at the center of the safest, large US city, Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: April 2013 - Volume 74 - Issue 4 - p 1138–1145. 

NYT article link: Study Details Injuries To Pedestrians And Cyclists In New York City  

Though it is behind the NYT paywall, the whole article is worth a look, as is the photo of a taxi picking up a passenger in the painted bike lane while a cyclist has to circle out into busy traffic to avoid it. That happens all the time.

They found that 40 percent of cyclists injured between December 2008 and June 2011 were hit by taxis, and over 80% of those injured were riding with traffic flow properly. The times of day when food delivery bicycles are underway were the most dangerous for cyclists. In our experience, the food delivery electric moped bikes in New York often ride haphazardly, they are frequently poorly lit, and they are everywhere — but not only traffic scofflaws were injured.

Most pedestrians injured on the street were crossing correctly at a crosswalk with their signal, and 6% were actually on the sidewalk! 

New York's transportation planners are apparently working to incorporate the findings of the new study into future traffic designs, including pedestrian plazas, bicycle lanes and traffic calming measures. Infrastructure there will be designed to separate and protect more vulnerable road users. 

There is no similar study we are aware of in Chicago, but taxi drivers here don't seem to be any more careful than their counterparts in the Big Apple, and traffic related injuries remain common here, too.

We also read this week that schoolchildren did a 'Bikeability Assessment' in Springfield MA which will be used to help design better traffic infrastructure there. 

Are there similar efforts underway in Chicago? What information could help designers make Chicago's streets safer?


  1. It seems likely to me that 40% or more of the traffic in the areas with the most cyclists are probably taxis, so I'm not sure this represents a disproportionate rate of crashes.

    Similarly, the Chicago Pedestrian Plan found 25% of pedestrian crashes in downtown Chicago are with taxis. I'm guessing about 25% of the vehicles in downtown Chicago are taxis.

  2. Good points. Any vehicle can ride into many downtown bike lanes in midtown, including taxis, which do probably make a substantial percentage of vehicles there, maybe more than 40%. The area in the study, though, includes the whole catchment area for the hospital and isn't limited to midtown. Not sure if taxis represent 40% there or not. Main point remains that mixing motorized and human powered traffic leads to conflicts.

    Thanks for the Chicago Pedestrian Plan reference. Interesting.


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