May 19, 2023 - News

Columbus' bike death rate has dropped in past decade

Bicyclist fatalities in major U.S. metro areas
Data: The League of American Bicyclists via NHTSA; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Columbus is getting safer for bicyclists, but riders and local leaders see more work to be done to make it a truly bike-friendly city.

Why it matters: May is National Bike Safety Month and area communities are improving their bicycle infrastructure to encourage cycling as a healthier, cheaper and greener alternative to vehicle travel.

State of play: Bike fatalities in Columbus have dropped considerably over the past decade as the city works toward a Vision Zero goal of ending crash-related deaths.

  • We recorded 1.3 fatalities per million residents between 2017-2021, down 57% from the local rate between 2012-2016.
  • It's one of the lowest rates of any U.S. metro area and around half the national average.

Yes, but: Tragedies may be rare, but still happen.

The latest: The city is planning to review all existing bike lanes and develop a new "interconnected network of low-stress bikeways" across town, Department of Public Service spokesperson Debbie Briner tells Axios.

  • Bike advocates see protected bike lanes like the one on Summit Street as the best way to keep riders safe from cars.
  • Columbus will soon install traffic posts and concrete blocks along an East Long Street bike lane as part of a pilot program, Briner says.

Elsewhere, communities like Bexley, Worthington and Grove City have plans to develop bike-friendly streets and better connect with existing trail networks.

  • Hilliard hosts summer "Safety Town" classes that offer helmets and bike safety tips to local kids.
  • The League of American Bicyclists honored Dublin last year for its pro-bicycling infrastructure.

The bottom line: It takes the concerted effort of city officials and encouragement from riders to improve bicycling conditions, but the region is gradually making progress.

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