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03/27/24   |   By

Bicycle Safety Programs in Your City: What They Are and Why They Matter

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Every year, nearly 1,000 bicyclists lose their lives, and over 130,000 sustain injuries in crashes that occur on roads in the United States, according to the CDC.

In response to this and other alarming statistics, various national and local government and private advocacy groups have come to the rescue. The bicycle safety programs developed by these entities are critical to ensuring safer roads for cyclists. 

To help you find a program in your city, we’ve compiled an extensive list of the leading bicycle safety programs in various US cities. Don’t see your city on the list? Read to the end to learn about national initiatives to promote safer roads for cyclists.

But first, let’s examine why bicycle safety programs are so important.

Why Bicycle Safety Programs Matter

Cyclists are more at risk of getting into fatal and near-fatal accidents than other road users for many reasons. The combination of increased vulnerability, severity of injuries, specific crash risks, intersection accidents, and the growing presence of cyclists on the road contribute to increased threats to the safety of cyclists:

  • More fatalities per trip: Even though only 1% of vehicle trips in the US are made by bicycle, 2% of car-crash fatalities are cyclists.
  • Annual injuries and deaths: Each year, 850 bicyclists die, and 47,000 are injured in roadway crashes. 
  • Weekly deaths: Roughly 17 cyclists are killed on US roads weekly.
  • Increasing fatality rate: From 1975 to 2021, there was a 55% overall increase in bicyclist fatalities.
  • Preventable deaths: The number of preventable deaths from bicycle road accidents rose by 37% between 2012 and 2021. 
  • The most common injuries incurred by cyclists are bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and nerve, muscle and tissue damage.

To combat these bicycle accident statistics, we need programs that enhance bicycle safety, promote awareness, provide education, and implement measures to create safer environments for cyclists.

While nationwide efforts toward bicycle safety are numerous and helpful, city-specific initiatives are essential, as circumstances and risk factors can differ substantially from one city to the next.

US Bicycle Safety Programs by City

Washington, DC: The Washington Area Bicyclist Association Programs

Bike SafetyIn Washington, DC, 4,926 Cyclists were involved in crashes between 2013 and 2022. In an effort to reduce these numbers, the district now allocates significant funding towards bike and pedestrian projects, resulting in an extensive network of bike paths and protected lanes throughout the city. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is critical in advocating for safer cycling infrastructure.

Auburn, WA: Cycle Therapy Racing

Cycle Therapy Racing in Auburn promotes youth bicycling as a means to improve mental health. They provide bikes, helmets, and safety gear to youth, offering free bike maintenance and bike safety education to empower local children through biking.

San Francisco, CA: Connecting the City

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition‘s “Connecting the City” campaign aims to build 100 miles of bike paths and protected lanes, partnering with city agencies and local business leaders to advocate for better biking infrastructure.

Chicago, Illinois: Family Friendly Bikeways 

Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago‘s Family-Friendly Bikeways Campaign was created to create protected bike lanes and infrastructure in suburban areas, focusing on making cycling safer and more accessible for children and less experienced cyclists.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Indego Bike-Share

Philadelphia introduced an Indego, an accessible bike-share program to increase cycling safety and ridership. Studies have shown that more cyclists on the road contribute to safer cycling conditions, making bike-shares an effective way to promote cycling.

Portland, OR:  Vision Zero

Portland’s “Vision Zero” initiative aims to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025, focusing on improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians. To this end, the city has implemented various measures such as lower speed limits, enhanced crosswalks, and protected bike lanes.

Austin, TX: Smart Trips Austin

Austin’s “Smart Trips Austin” program encourages residents to explore transportation options beyond driving alone, including biking. The program offers resources, incentives, and educational materials to promote safe cycling practices and increase bike ridership in the city.

Minneapolis, MN: Vision Zero

The Minneapolis “Vision Zero” plan is a comprehensive initiative adopted by the City Council to eliminate traffic deaths and major injuries on city streets by 2027. This program prioritizes safe street interactions, including safer speeds, design strategies, investments, and policy decisions to create safe transportation networks for all users. 

The Vision Zero Action Plan takes a holistic approach, involving various disciplines like communications, law, engineering, and health to develop and implement measures to reduce the number of major injuries and fatalities from crashes in Minneapolis to zero by 2027.

Seattle, WA: Vision Zero

Seattle’s “Vision Zero” plan focuses on eliminating severe injuries and deaths in traffic accidents by 2030, with a strong emphasis on improving safety for vulnerable road users like cyclists. The city has financed the construction of protected bike lanes, traffic calming measures, and education campaigns to enhance bicycle safety.

Los Angeles, CA: Vision Zero

Los Angeles has also implemented the “Vision Zero” initiative to reduce traffic fatalities, specifically to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The city has introduced protected bike lanes, bike-friendly infrastructure improvements, and safety education programs to create a safer cyclist environment.

New York City, NY: NYC DOT Programs

NYC partners with organizations to host free helmet fitting events and has supplied over 300,000 free bicycle helmets to New York cyclists. With over 1,375 miles of bike routes, the city boasts the most extensive bicycle network in North America. It continues to build safe cycling infrastructure to encourage more New Yorkers to travel by bike. 

The NYC Department of Transportation evaluates the impact of bicycle lanes on safety, mobility, and economic vitality through studies, pilot programs, and bicycle counts, reflecting the city’s commitment to promoting safer cycling environments.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Protected Bike Intersections

Salt Lake City implemented one of the nation’s first “protected bike intersections” in the Fall of 2015, incorporating safety elements like corner refuge islands, forward stop bars, setback bike crossings, and bike-friendly signal phasing to enhance cycling safety at intersections.

The value of this initiative is evident when one considers that nearly 30% of fatal bicycle accidents in 2019 occurred at intersections. These are often dangerous due to limited visibility for both drivers and cyclists. Common intersection accident scenarios, such as right-of-way violations, can lead to collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles, with varying degrees of fault, depending on the circumstances.

Key West, FL: Car-Free Key West

Car-Free Key West emphasizes safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and bus users in Key West, a city known for its vibrant atmosphere and high visitor traffic. 

The program provides safety tips for all modes of island travel, including guidelines for walkers, cyclists, eBikers, and drivers. It promotes predictability, alertness, and lawful behavior for all road users to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone.

Seattle, WA: Bike Works Programs

Bike Works, a non-profit organization in Seattle, utilized grant funds to support their BikeMobile and Bikes-for-All! Programs. They provided free bike repair services, distributed bikes, and safety gear. They also educated the community on bicycle repair, contributing to promoting bicycle safety in South Seattle.

South King County, WA: First Five Years & Beyond

This organization in South King County focuses on early childhood education and expanded its offerings to include bicycle safety. With support from Bike Works, they provided bike safety lessons, group rides, and free bikes, helmets, and locks to African immigrant and African American youth, fostering a safer biking environment for children in the community.

US National & State Bicycle Safety Programs

If you don’t see your city on our list, you can do additional research to find city-based initiatives in your area. There are also several public- and private-sector organizations that run bicycle safety programs nationally or statewide:

Parting Thought: Bicycle Safety Programs Work

bike pathBicycle safety programs can educate both cyclists and motorists on road safety, promote the use of protective gear, improve infrastructure for cyclists, and raise awareness about sharing the road responsibly.

In fact, studies have shown that bicycle safety programs improve safety-related knowledge and behavior among participants, contributing to the prevention of accidents and injuries.

By implementing comprehensive bicycle safety programs, we can educate, protect, and reduce the number of bicycle accidents and injuries in the United States, ultimately creating a safer environment for cyclists nationwide.


Regan Zambri Long
Posted In
Bike Safety
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