Want Safer Roads? Ride The Bike, According To New Study

There is always the risk of collision when going on the road, whether you’re in a car, on a motorcycle or a bike. However, researchers from University of Colorado, Boulder found out that this risk can be greatly reduced by introducing more bicycle riders on busy intersections.

Boulder, Colorado has the highest rates of bicycle riders in the U.S., at 12 percent of the population, according to phys.org. More than 13,000 people in Boulder use bicycle as a primary or secondary means for travelling the roads. Coincidentally, this may also be a huge contributing factor to why there are lesser vehicular collisions in the town compared to bigger cities like New York or Los Angeles.

Researchers aimed to create safety performance functions for bicycles in Boulder, an algorithm which is typically used for vehicles. Safety performance functions compute the relationship between the frequency of crashes and the variables surrounding the collision event. This is the first time a group of researchers has tried developing safety performance functions for bicycles and they did so by studying crashes that occur at intersections where most collisions in Boulder occur. They compared this data to the number of bicycles that go through the area of interest.

From the data they gathered, the researchers concluded that the more bicycles are present in a particular area, the more collisions on the road were decreased. According to them, the risk of collisions was at its highest when there were less than 200 bicycles a day. This implies that road accidents are lessened when there are more bicycles present on the road.

Engineer Wesley Marshall, one of the authors of the study, believe that vehicle drivers change their behavior when they see more bicycles on the road, shifting towards safer driving behavior than usual. He said:

“Other studies have hypothesized that when drivers expect to see a significant number of bicyclists on the street, their behavior changes, They are more likely to look over their shoulder for a bicyclist before taking a right turn.”

Aside from increased road safety, bicycling has been revealed to bring psychological benefits to bikers. According to bicycling.com, riding the bike stimulates the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, namely serotonin and dopamine. Bicycle riding also boosts one’s cognitive functions.

According to one behavioral medicine professor, James Blumenthal, exercise work such as bicycling can work as effectively as psychotherapy in treating clinical conditions like depression.

[Image from Paolo Redwings via Wikimedia]