Despite the fact that Seattle’s population is growing, traffic volumes and collisions both went down in 2009. The data was collected by SDOT for their 2009 Traffic Report, which was released last week. Flip through the presentation after the jump.
The data shows that the collision rate actually dropped faster than the decrease in traffic volume. Bicycle collisions went up, but the collision rate went down due to the increase in riding.
Still, 2009 was a rough year for riding. There were 382 reported collisions involving cyclists (compared to 355 in 2008). 325 people on bicycles were injured, and four people on bicycles died. Here’s a map of where those injuries and fatalities occurred:
By far, the most common driver error contributing to a collision with someone on a bicycle was failing to grant the right of way to the person on the bike. Many of these are the “I didn’t see him/her” sort of collisions and other distracted driving causes. These are the sorts of collisions the Vulnerable Users Bill is attempting to address. Should negligent driving be an excuse for killing or injuring someone? Should drivers be able to simply mail in a check with their ticket and keep driving after killing someone? We need laws that take these kinds of collisions at least a fraction as seriously as the people whose lives are ended or altered by them.
For collisions where bicyclists were at fault, failure to yield right of way was the biggest cause, followed by riding on the wrong side of the street and running stop lights.
So ride safe, everyone. Bicycle riding really is getting safer, but we have a ways to go. We have made great gains in ridership (2010 ridership data should be out soon, says SDOT) and infrastructure since 2009. The collision rate is going down. We are also making good headway on new state laws that will make riding safer.
Below is the full SDOT 2009 Traffic Report. There’s a lot of data here, so pick through it and point out anything interesting you find in the comments.