Report: Bikeshare Makes Biking Safer

In the United States, not a single bikeshare rider has died in an accident so far. A report from the Mineta Transportation Institute considers why bikeshare may be safer than conventional biking.

1 minute read

April 29, 2016, 8:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Barcelona Bikeshare

Cornfield / Shutterstock

While regular cyclists contend with the very real possibility of fatal crashes as they navigate vehicular streets, bikeshare riders have so far been spared. That's not to say bikeshare users haven't been involved in accidents and injuries, but none have died in the United States since the first systems were deployed last decade. 

Brad Plumer writes, "A new report [pdf] from the Mineta Transportation Institute sifts through data from bike-share systems in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. They found that bike-share bikes had lower collision and injury rates than personal bikes in all three cities. In DC, the collision rate for bike share was 35 percent lower." Below are some of the reasons from the report that might explain this phenomenon. 

  • Bikes in bikeshare systems tend to be heavier, with wider tires and bright, noticeable colors
  • Bikeshare usually operates in downtown areas where drivers are more alert to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Riders tend to be less experienced, and thus more cautious
  • Riders often lack helmets, which may encourage drivers to be more cautious as they pass
  • While some have suggested that bikeshare promotes "safety in numbers," the report found no clear evidence of this (although separate findings have shown correlations in some areas between bike numbers and overall road safety)

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