Why? Are fewer people in Minneapolis riding these days? No.
In fact, according to the US Census and American Community Survey data, the number of Minneapolitans regularly biking to work more than doubled between 1990 and 2008 (3,000 to 8,000). This increase is supported by the city’s counts, which show a 174 percent increase in bicyclists in downtown Minneapolis between 2003 and 2008.
[Click on graphs for larger images. Note: The flat grey line between 1993 and 1999 is because the Census did not have yearly counts until the ACS came around in 2005.]
“People are so used to seeing bicyclists — love them or hate — and they don’t want to hit them,” Shaun Murphy, coordinator of the city’s non-motorized transportation program, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. He also told the Tribune that the “hot spots” for bike-motorist accidents are not located around the University of Minnesota, where bicycling is common, because drivers there are so used to watching for bikes. Here is that heat map:
The data from Minneapolis are just the latest example of this counter-intuitive relationship between more bicycling and fewer crashes that has become known as the “safety in numbers” concept after the famous 2003 study from Peter Jacobsen. New York City has shown a similar trend (source: Transportation Alternatives):
As has Portland:
Also see this follow up work on Safety in Numbers in Australia.
This is the kind of news we love to report on. Thanks to UrbanVelo for drawing our attention to it. Please let me know (darren [at] bikeleague.org) if there are any Safety in Numbers examples that I missed.
League Policy Director
Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.