Friday, March 18, 2011

Making our Roads Safer: Data Collection and Bicycle Accidents

Here's a link to an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle which identifies the most dangerous roads and intersections for cyclists in the Bay area.

The Chronicle article illustrates why it is important for municipalities to collect and disseminate raw data about bicycle accidents.  It allows government officials and the public to identify and reconfigure bad intersections, and it tells cyclists which areas they may want to avoid (or at least be aware of).  So how is the data collected?  Typically, crash data comes from police departments, whose officers fill out the police reports.  Problems arise when the standard police report forms do not call for information regarding whether a bicycle was involved.

As I noted in an earlier post, the City of Boston updated the software it uses so that reports can now reflect the fact that a bicycle was involved.  Thus, we will soon be able to identify the most dangerous spots to ride within the City.  However, many cities and towns still do not collect data regarding bicycle accidents, preventing a full blown analysis such as that which was done in San Francisco.

Do you know if your town's police department has a way of collecting data pertaining to bicycle accidents?

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