Transportation Safety

Walking and Cycling Safety

A paper just published in the American Journal of Public Health, examined the public health consequences of unsafe and inconvenient walking and bicycling conditions in American cities and suggested improvements based on successful policies in The Netherlands and Germany.

Data from national travel and crash surveys in the three countries were used to compute fatality trends from 1975 to 2001 and fatality and injury rates for pedestrians and cyclists in The Netherlands, Germany, and the USA in 2000.

Whereas walking and cycling account for less than a tenth of all urban trips in American cities, they account for a third of all trips in Germany and for half of trips in The Netherlands. American pedestrians and cyclists are much more likely to get killed than Dutch and German pedestrians and cyclists, both on a per-trip and per-km basis. They are also far more likely to be injured.

On the basis of Dutch and German experience, the authors propose a wide range of measures to improve the safety of walking and cycling in American cities, both to reduce fatalities and injuries and to encourage more walking and cycling, thus providing much needed physical exercise for increasingly overweight Americans.

Safety in numbers. Another recent paper from the public health field answers the question of whether the public health goal of more walking and bicycling conflicts with another public health goal, reducing injuries. According to research by Peter L. Jacobsen, there isn't a conflict, because as more people cycle and walk, the rate of injuries per participant goes down.




The 27-page paper, Promoting Safe Walking and Cycling to Improve Public Health: Lessons from The Netherlands and Germany, April 20, 2003 by John Pucher, PhD, and Lewis Dijkstra, PhD, can be downloaded as a 78kb pdf file, at
Peter L. Jacobsen. "Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling." Injury Prevention 2003;9:205–209.
Download 140KB PDF file.