More cyclists mean fewer accidents

We are here. Cyclists join the Bendigo 2007 Ride of SilenceLondon is taking to bicycles in ever growing numbers. There are now 480,000 cycle journeys every day across the city – 30,000 more than a year ago. In the last six years, the number of cyclists in London has grown by 83%.

The boom is no accident. The City of London has been actively encouraging people to cycle for some years. This year it has increased investment in cycling by 50% from £24 million to £36 million.

London has a population of around 8 million. For a resident of a city like Bendigo with a population less than 100,000, it’s hard to get your head around these kind of numbers. One figure is the most sticking though. While the number of cyclists has increased by 83%, the number killed or seriously injured has dropped by 28%.

Sounds crazy? An Australian study conducted in 2001 seem to back it up. It found that collision rates between cyclists and cars decrease as the number of cyclists increase.

It seems that motorists are more inclined to adjust their driving behaviour because they’re more aware of cyclists. And they’re more aware simply because they see more of them.

This is part of the philosophy behind the annual Ride of Silence that started in the US in 2003. Get lots of cyclists out on the roads to be seen.

The ride is a lasting memorial to cyclists killed. Just as important it aims to raise awareness of cyclists on the road, to have motorists know we only want to share the road we ride on, and to show that cycling is going to be more of the mode of transport in the future.

Chris Phelan organised the first Ride of Silence in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was killed by a passing bus mirror on an empty road. Since then they’ve spread around the world. This year rides will take place in the US and 12 other countries, including Antarctica.

Last year in Bendigo about 150 cyclists rode slowly from Epsom into the centre of Bendigo – in silence. Sadly, we did so in memory of someone who’d only recently died in an accident with a car. This year when we ride on Saturday 19 May, we’ll be remembering others who’ve been killed or injured in the past year.

It’s a solemn occasion for reflection, but it’s also one that can be positive. To get so many cyclists riding in a disciplined group shows that we do want to share the road and we can do so responsibly.

The more people seen out cycling doing the right things, the safer we’ll all be. Numbers are showing that cycling is benefiting this community in so many ways

See you on the road soon, God willing.

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