Quality Bike Infrastructure Saved Lives During the Pandemic, Study Says

Evidence from Arlington, Virginia.

2 minute read

August 12, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Kea Wilson provides insight into a study published this week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, finding evidence that the bike paths of Arlington,. Virginia saved lives during the pandemic.  

According to Wilson's explanation of the study, the findings show that communities who prioritized the construction of protected bike paths saved the most lives during the pandemic and its resulting bike boom (both of which are still ongoing), "and would have done so with or without the virus."

The study found that Arlington’s pre-COVID investments into active transportation paid off big during the pandemic. As national cycling fatalities climbed 5 percent between 2019 and 2020 — a phenomenon that experts attribute, in part, to a 16-percent jump in cycling journeys on U.S. roads over that period — Arlington had zero deaths, and the rate of injury-causing collisions between cyclists and drivers plummeted 28 percent compared to the average from the previous six years. (Total cycling journeys in the already-bikier-than-average city, meanwhile, increased about 4 percent.)

As noted by Wilson, Arlington is a model of a suburban environment that has committed to bike infrastructure—unlike most similarly sized and situated communities around the country.

Widely regarded as the most bicycle-friendly county in the region, the D.C. suburb is home to more than 50 miles of paved, off-road trails, in addition to 37 miles of on-road lanes — which means that its cyclists had more options to keep themselves safe when drivers began to speed up on lockdown-emptied roads.

More insight into the nuances of the study's findings and its implications for other communities are found in the source article.

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