Is Biking Safe?


May 2012 is national bike month, so you might notice more folks choosing two wheels as a preferred mode of transit to & from work, school, or shopping. There are all sorts of different factors driving this trend: high gas prices, warmer weather, better infrastructure, and fitness benefits.

And it’s not just in Portland. An article in Sunset Magazine profiles bicycling in the ‘burbs, and how smaller cities such as Glendale, CA are using street improvements and programs like Safe Routes to School to encourage residents to get around on two wheels. But what really caught my eye in this article was a simple “thermometer style” graphic that compares the safety of cycling to other modes of transportation:


A more detailed look at the source statistics would likely present a more nuanced view on this subject. Statistics for dangerous professions such as commercial fisherman & electric line workers may skew the numbers a bit higher than you’d see for the average office worker. Likewise, a weekend bicycle ride on an recreational trail may be a bit safer than a weekday commute down city streets.

Still, there is power keeping things simple. In this case it helps people realize that on a very basic level, getting on a bike is no more dangerous than any other daily activity. In fact it’s much safer than driving which most of us do every day.


Joshua Cohen is a Principal at Fat Pencil Studio