Monday, June 24, 2024

The City of Cambridge just released its 2023 bicycle statistics report, and the top-line message is that more people are riding bicycles and fewer of them are getting hit, injured or killed on the city’s streets. This is exactly what we need more of to meet our goals for Vision Zero and greenhouse-gas reductions.

The report shows that the bicycle crash rate (number crashes by bicycle miles traveled) has decreased by 67 percent between 2003 and 2022 and importantly, the severity of crashes involving bicycles has plummeted, with crashes involving “incapacitating injury” or death decreasing to just 0.8 percent in 2015-2022 from from 5.2 percent in 2004-2014. Maybe this explains why the number of children on bicycles has more than tripled in less than a decade?

Fewer and fewer Cantabrigians own cars – a third of households have no car and half of multiperson households have just one car – and if Cambridge is like the rest of the United States, the households least likely to own cars are also the poorest.

Yes, more data would be great, as would more years of comparable counts. And yes, the pandemic upended the way we commute and get around, and we don’t yet know the long-term impacts of these changes.

But Cambridge has been collecting bicycle data for more than 20 years, and this report shows undeniable trends. More people are biking safely all around the city all year long. Let’s keep the numbers going in the right direction by voting for a City Council that will continue to support building roads that make bicycling safe and equitable for all. We are well on our way to a complete network of protected bike lanes in Cambridge, with 14.5 miles of protected bike lanes in and another 10.5 miles planned by 2026. Vote for candidates with a strong record supporting bike infrastructure so we can finish the network and make bicycling a realistic and safe option for people of all ages and abilities.

Ruthann Rudel, Rindge Avenue, Cambridge