Guest Contribution from Tucson-area cyclist Alan Solot
I frequently see comments on FaceBook expressing concern about the danger of cycling on Tucson roads. Many believe that not only is it dangerous but that the danger is unacceptably increasing. I am not minimizing anyone’s concerns. Risk exists in many activities, cycling included. But, I don’t agree that cycling in Tucson is risky enough to consider extraordinary steps, like only riding on The Loop.
The Arizona Department of Transportation annually publishes Motor Vehicle Crash Facts. The 2016 version has just recently been released. The chart that accompanies this post shows AZ DOT data for 2013-2016. Pima County has an average of 5.75 fatal bike crashes for the past four years. Based on that data, cycling isn’t getting more dangerous.
Importantly, I wonder how many of those fatalities or injury crashes involved riders engaging in unacceptable conduct, like riding in the dark with no lights or reflective gear, riding impaired or riding against traffic (i.e., salmoning). I assume a rather high percentage of the crashes involved bad bike riding.
Another data source, the City of Tucson, has published their Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan. That document shows that the average crash rate for Tucson arterial bike lanes (that’s our busiest roads, like Broadway or Tanque Verde) is 2.67 crashes for 100,000 miles ridden from 2009 to 2013. By this data, cyclists injury crashes are pretty uncommon.
I don’t find that any level of fatalities or injury crashes is acceptable. But, I also don’t agree that cycling in Tucson is unacceptably unsafe or that the danger is increasing to any measurable degree.