As if to confirm a number of my last posts here on Portlandize, Bike Portland today posted an article noting that traffic injuries are on the decline – and that likely it’s partly due to an increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic (which means a decrease in automobile traffic) and education initiatives. The City of Portland has released a report, detailing the statistics.
The City of Portland’s Report on improving bicycle safety states that over 50% of Portland residents limit their bicycle usage because of traffic safety concerns.
This year, the city has officially announced that we have had the fewest traffic deaths in Portland in 2008 of any year since they started keeping track (1925). There were 20 traffic-related deaths – 15 in cars, and 5 on foot. No bicyclists were killed. That makes the 5th year in the past decade that there were no cyclist deaths in Portland.
Observed bicycle traffic has increased 110-115% in Portland since the year 2000, and over 400% since 1991, and in that time period, the number of reported bicycle crashes has stayed nearly level (a number which accounts for most moderate to major crashes), so that the rate of bicycle crashes has steadily dropped, the more cyclists there have been. This same phenomenon has been observed all over the world – as numbers of people riding bicycles rise dramatically, you see very little change in the number of crashes, making things statistically much safer for everyone.
With over 14,000 daily bicycle trips just over the 4 main bridges downtown (Hawthorne, Burnside, Steel, Broadway), that’s quite a bit of bicycle traffic, and it’s no small thing to have such a low level of traffic injuries in a year – that’s over 5 million bicycle trips just over the bridges.
So, people of Portland, get out there on your bicycles. The streets are safe, and if we use the roads responsibly, and they will continue to become safer. The more of you that get out on your bikes, the safer we will all become, and the more enjoyable and livable the city will be for everyone, whether they are in a car, on a bike, in a bus, or walking. To quote from the above mentioned City of Portland survey, “It seems that as the streets become safer for the most vulnerable, they become safer for everybody.” Let’s all do our part.