SWOV on “safety in numbers” 2

Can't remember who or what linked to this "Research Activities" newsletter (PDF) by SWOV, the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research, or why I added it to my reader backlog, but it has some good things to add to the quote bank:

…In other words: add more cyclists to traffic and cyclist safety will increase. This is a popular idea among those who put effort into stimulating cycling and therefore Jacobsen???s conclusion is quoted frequently in these circles. However, I believe that this conclusion is not correct. I will try to explain why.
If there is much cycling in a country, the risk for cyclists is indeed lower. Comparison of statistics of different countries offers conclusive evidence. The risks in countries that have a lot of cycling like the Netherlands and Denmark are (much) lower than in countries where cycling is a less important mode of transport. The explanation may be twofold. Firstly, there are the expectations of the other road user. If a driver does indeed expect a cyclist on the road, as is the case in the Netherlands and Denmark, the risk is lower. But a second explanation is conceivable: if there are more cyclists, more safe cycling facilities will be constructed (which in turn make cycling more pleasant). We have sufficient evidence that cycling facilities (like bicycle tracks) reduce the risks of cycling. Not only do the Netherlands and Denmark have many cyclists, there are also many cycling facilities.
I do not expect that just a greater number of cyclists will on its own result in a risk reduction for the cyclist. On the other hand, I do expect that more cycling facilities will lead to lower risks…
Fred Wegman (Director-manager SWOV)

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