Boston looks to curb bicycle injuries as ridership spikes

bicycle man on bike red light
A bicycle rider.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/METRO

Boston is aiming to reduce injuries to bicycle riders by 50 percent in the next 7 years as a new report on biking trends in Boston shows a spike in ridership over the last few years.

The city released its first Cyclist Safety Report on Wednesday. The nearly 100-page report details bicycle crash information from the Boston Police Department and Boston EMS as well as ridership data.

Five bicycle riders were killed in the city in 2012 and there were about 500 total crash incidents reported. Those numbers increased from pervious years. For example, in 2010, there were about 478 crash incidents reported. And in 2010 and 2011 combined there were four total bicycle rider deaths. The city acknowledged in its report that those numbers are likely underreported as not all crashes are brought to the attention of police or emergency personnel.

Also rising during that time was the city’s estimated daily ridership, which averaged about 56,644 last year. In 2010, ridership was closer to 47,600.

In light of the injury data, Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement that the city now has a goal of reducing the cyclist crash injury rate by 50 percent by 2020.

“Since we launched our bike program in 2007, Boston has gone from being called one of the worst cycling cities in the country to one of the best,” Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement. “Our city was devastated by the five cyclist fatalities in 2012, and we want to do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies. We’ll continue to work tirelessly to improve the safety of our streets for all, and this report will guide us as we continue to grow Boston’s vibrant biking community.”

One of the key findings of the report, the city said, was that injured bicycle riders were less likely to be wearing a helmet than average cyclists. To address that, the city plans to install helmet vending machines this year. There are also low-cost helmets available at various retailers around the city, including at farmers markets.

To also help reduce the injury crash rate, the city is installing side guards on some large public works vehicles within the next few weeks and hopes to inspire other truck owners to do the same.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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