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Philly bicycles crashes get mapped

Bicycle crashes are high even when bike lanes are present, the data says.

A map of all reported car-bike crashes in Philadelphia from 2007 to 2012 was posted online Monday, highlighting the dangers of biking within city limits.

"I was surprised at the number of crashes. I'd expected a few hundred, but there were thousands of them," said Tyler Dahlberg, a graduate student who created this map while a fellow in software company Azavea’s Summer of Maps program.

"My feeling is that the culture of bike safety is better in Philadelphia than in a place like New York," he said. "It's a really great place to bike."

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However, areas like University City had the most "aggressive-driver" accidents, he said, such as drivers running through stop signs. Broad Street and Market Street had a predictably high numbers of crashes, but so does Spring Garden, despite the presence of wide bike lanes there.

Most cyclists are familiar with the risks and try to bike safe by obeying all traffic rules.

"I only ride where there's bike lanes," said bicyclist David Chen, 20.

"Communication between bikers needs to be better, even just saying 'on your left' when you pass somebody," said bicyclist Mary Ashley, a Drexel student.

Overall, bike accidents have gone down in past years, said Andrew Stober, chief of staff at the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities.

“The crashes that are typically reported are crashes where someone is sent to the hospital or the police are called. This doesn’t give you a sense of the rate of bike accidents, just the absolute number,” Stober said.

Dahlberg created this map with the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition. Communications coordinator Nicholas Mirra said this map is just the first step in examining bike safety in the city.

“The next step is to find out where crashes are happening at a disproportionate rate and then look at why that’s happening," Mirra said.

Highest number of reported crashes


Broad & Spruce - 10 crashes

Broad & Pine - 9 crashes

Broad & Spring Garden - 9 crashes

34th & Spruce - 8 crashes

Broad & Washington - 7 crashes

Broad & Vine - 7 crashes

Schuylkill Ave & Chestnut - 6 crashes

More bikers, but fewer crashes


5,000 -number of bikers in Philly in 2000

815 -number of bike-car crashes in 2000

10,000 -number of bikers in Philly in 2010

513 -number of bike-car crashes in 2011

Source: Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities
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Follow Sam Newhouse on Twitter: @scnewhouse

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