Protecting people who ride in Sydney's inner west

More must be done to protect those who ride bikes in Sydney’s Inner West with data revealing 38 per cent jump in crash rates.

Published in the Inner West Courier, data from the Roads and Maritime Services showed that in 2017, there were 52 accidents involving people who ride bikes in the Inner West Council area, up from 38 in 2015.

Without actively making it easier for people to ride bikes through separated and protected cycleways, it’s likely that these crash rates (along with congestion) will only get worse.

A City of Sydney survey in June found that 57 per cent of residents living 10km form the CBD would consider riding a bike if there was a more attractive, connected and accessible bike network.

This is consistent with the Portland Model which suggests that 60 per cent of people would ride a bike if they felt safer on the road through the provision of appropriate bike infrastructure or slower speeds.

In the same survey, almost 60 per cent of respondents supported a bike network even if it meant longer car journeys in to the city centre.

Only when we see more people of all ages riding bikes can we reap the benefits of the ‘safety in numbers’ phenomenon which positively influences driver behaviour, driving down crash rates.

This is due to the inverse relationship between risk of injury to a person riding a bike and the number of people riding. For example, the Netherlands witnessed a 45% increase in cycling and a 58% decrease in fatalities between 1980 – 2005. Similarly, London saw a 91% increase in cycling since 1990 and a 33% fall in cycling casualties between 1994 and 1998.

'Safety in numbers' has also been experienced within the City of Sydney.

While cycling participation is declining or stagnating across NSW, the City of Sydney continues to be the exception, experiencing and increase of 100% in bike commuters over the past three years.

The City of Sydney is actively supporting the growth of cycling, building a 200km bike network which includes dedicated paths, separating people who ride bikes from drivers and pedestrians and reducing risk.

In the Inner West Courier, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore credits the separated cycleways for increasing bike rider numbers while reducing crashes.

“Bike trips in our area have doubled since 2007 while the number of crashes have dropped in the same time,” she said.

“We’ve seen an immediate increase in the number of people riding on the sections of our bike network already built, proving safe bike connections really do work.”

See the article as it appeared in the Inner West Courier