Stillman and Friedland hope you are enjoying the increasingly warm weather. Despite spring showers, the pleasant weather between rainy spells draws many Tennesseans out for outdoor activities, including cycling.
In today’s post, we will take a look at cycling safety statistics and technology options for Davidson County. Our county rates second in recent years for injuries and fatalities, while Shelby County has had on average the highest rate of cyclist injuries and fatalities in Tennessee. In 2015, the latest year for which we have statistics, 86 people were injured while riding in Davidson County; thankfully, there were no fatalities.
Personal Responsibility: As we have discussed previously, each and every rider should equip him- or herself with a properly fitting and safety-tested cycling helmet, reflective gear, and a clear understanding of the rules of the road. We cannot stress enough the importance of awareness and watching out for traffic on the part of cyclists and drivers. Failure to do so is the leading cause of cycling accidents.
State and Local Safety Provisions: The state of Tennessee has designated cycling trails, but as noted on the website, “All roads suggested are regular roads of the state, county and city highway systems and are used by trucks and cars with no special lanes provided for bicycles.” Cyclists and drivers should exercise caution in these mixed-use areas.
Luckily for residents of Davidson County, the county is moving forward to mark bicycle lanes. Another bonus for cyclists is the insertion of green “Bike Boxes”, an intersection stopping zone for cyclists. A NIH study shows that bicycle lanes have multiple benefits, including safety, personal fitness and reduced pollution. The study found that using resources for “bike lanes are more cost-effective than the majority of preventive approaches used today.”
While bicycle lanes with separation barriers are preferred by cyclists, lane markings are a great start to improve cycling safety. The greater the number of miles installed, the greater the increase of cyclist ridership and its associated benefits. New York City installed 45.5 miles of bicycle lanes and it is projected that the resulting increase in ridership was over 9%.
An Australian study also advocates creating bicycle lanes to “reduce crash risk for cyclists”. The same study also found that improving safety at intersections with solutions and technologies was a major goal for improving road safety. Davidson County’s Bike Box is an infrastructure solution that aims to promote better traffic awareness for both cyclists and drivers.
Other technologies include adding smart signs that read the road and detect cyclists. These smart signs light up when cyclists are detected, alerting drivers to the presence of cyclists on the road.
Stillman and Friedland wish you a healthy and safe start to spring.
Because we care…