I was hit in a bike lane and broke my wrist and elbow. Despite me reporting this at a collision reporting centre, the driver was not charged, and the incident was not recorded as a collision. My crash didn’t happen. - Dave Shellnutt, Biking Lawyer LLP
That’s problematic on a few levels, but my own crash and those of other cyclists that have gone unreported are illustrative of a system that invisiblizes victims of road violence. Without our voices being heard and incidents being recorded, it’s as if these collisions never happened and therefore don’t factor into road safety planning.
That’s why we’ve partnered with www.BikeMaps.org to help track bike crash data in Ontario.
Traditionally, bicycling infrastructure planning and safety studies commonly rely on incident data generated through official reporting systems such as insurance claims, police reports, and hospital records. However, researchers have found these sources substantially underestimate the burden of bicycling incidents.
To fill these data gaps BikeMaps.org collects crowdsourced information about cyclist crashes, near misses, traffic hazards (like potholes and road construction), and bike thefts in the U.S. and Canada (since 2014). BikeMaps.org relies on citizen reporting of bicycling incidents, which we aim to increase dramatically.
1. If you are involved in a crash use our Online Crash Report, a streamlined roadside ready collision reporting tool that helps cyclists in the immediate aftermath of a crash.
The report prompts cyclists to collect necessary insurance and driver license info, and photos, all of which are instantly uploaded and emailed to the cyclist. It's a great resource if you witness a crash too. You can help get info that injured person may desperately need but are unable to gather.
2. After the immediate post-crash report, when you are safe and home, citizen mappers are next prompted to use the BikeMaps.org website to mark a location where a bicycling crash or near miss occurred.
Cyclists are able to provide details on rider experience and safety behaviors, bicycling environment, bicycling infrastructure, personal and trip characteristics, and injury.
BikeMaps.org’s crowdsourcing of collisions offers researchers the opportunity to gather rich and diverse data with fewer obstacles compared to traditional data collection methods.
Crowdsourced data are contributed by citizen volunteers is emerging as a valuable resource in active transportation. For instance, crowdsourced bicycling data have provided novel information in a variety of areas, including public bike share and bicyclist amenities, route choice and safety, complete streets, transportation projects, bicycle volumes, and bicycling infrastructure provision.
By knowing conditions that are most associated with injury we can target interventions to reduce future risk.
BikeMaps.org executive director Karen Laberee spoke to Outside Magazine last year and shared that data collected identified that cars making unprotected left turns—those with no dedicated left-turn light—are especially hazardous, because a driver may be watching for other cars coming in the opposite direction but not for cyclists or pedestrians:
A left turn is a particularly challenging maneuver cognitively for a driver—there’s a lot going on for them to process.”
By using data to show a that these left turn collisions happen, in high numbers we can provide municipalities with solutions. Karen advises that one solution is to restrict concurrent movement, with separate light cycles for left-turning vehicles, vehicles driving straight, and pedestrians and cyclists, she says. That way, only vehicles or pedestrians are going through the intersection at one time.
This is just one way that BikeMaps.org data tracking can provide practical and precise road safety solutions.
We encourage every cyclist in Ontario to check in on BikeMaps.org and upload your crash info.
“The biggest barrier to more people riding — and experiencing all the health, economic and sustainability benefits of getting on their bike — is a concern about safety. So BikeMaps.org is really about overcoming barriers and creating healthier people and cities.” - Trisalyn Nelson
**IN TORONTO: If your crash happened some time ago, be sure to check in with our Toronto friends to see if TPS reported your crash Road Traffic Victims Count Storymap if it's not there enter your info at #MYCRASHCOUNTS, I did.
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