TagDenmark

Stats from the OECD: Comparing traffic injuries of the United States and Netherlands

For an article I’m writing for Architect’s Newspaper about the Chicago Forward CDOT Action Agenda, I wanted to know about traffic injuries and fatalities in the United States, but compared to the Netherlands and Denmark and other places with a Vision Zero campaign (to have 0 traffic deaths each year).

I already knew the OECD had a good statistics database and web application. With a few clicks, I can quickly get a table of traffic injuries (casualties) listing just the countries I want. I can easily select the years I want, too.

In one more click the web application will show a time animated bar chart. A feature I’d like to see added is dividing the figure (in this case traffic injuries) by the population. Check out the video to see what it looks like. The United States looks to be in terrible shape, but our country has several times more residents.

I had trouble downloading and opening the CSV file of the data table I created. The XLS file was damaged, also. The built-in Mac OS X Archive Utility app couldn’t open the .gz file, but I used The Unarchiver app successfully.

My calculations, based on data from OECD (national population and traffic fatalities), Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and the American Community Survey:

Fatalities per 100,000 in 2009

  • United States: 11.02472
  • Denmark: 5.48969
  • Netherlands: 4.35561
  • Sweden: 3.84988
  • Chicago: 16.74891
  • United Kingdom: 3.83555

Chicago’s fatality rate per 100,000 citizens in 2009 was 16.75 (473 deaths on the roads). The fatality rate dropped in 2010: just 11.65 deaths per 100,000 residents (315 deaths on the roads; the population also decreased).

Updated September 28, 2012, to add the United Kingdom. 

A place to rest

While in Copenhagen this past weekend for about 60 hours, I hung out with Mikael of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

After several drinks in a classy basement restaurant, we took a little tour of some neat bicycling infrastructure and “landed” on this hand and foot rest for people waiting at the light. This nifty device means you don’t have to take your feet off the pedals or you can use it as a launch pad.

The message on the foot rest says, “Hi, cyclist! Rest your foot here… and thank you for cycling in the city.”

Mikael has written much more about how cyclists in Copenhagen “hold on” to their city.

(When I passed it on Monday morning, I saw a leftover high heel shoe hanging on the footrest. Did somebody lose it or is someone trying to make a joke?)

Photos by Mikael.

Thanking your city’s bicycle riders

A bike counter outside of City Hall in central Copenhagen on the westbound side of Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard.

A nice way of saying, “Hey, the city values you for riding your bike.”

It’s currently 1°C at 9:21 in the morning of Monday, January 10, 2011. So far today, 2,142 people have biked past this counter (and only in this direction, westbound). 43,504 have biked past in 2011 (again, westbound only) and it’s only the 10th day of the year.

What’s the best your city can do? I’m a little embarrassed to say Chicago can only throw 3,100 cyclists in the ring, in warm weather, and in two directions on Milwaukee Avenue at Grand Avenue.

UPDATE: One thing this sign might say if it had some intelligence and a voicebox, “Hey cyclist, you’re one of 4,000 people to have ridden on this street today. Good job, and thank you for not contributing to our growing car traffic congestion problem as well as pollution emission!”

How the Danish have fun on bikes

A cargo bike race occurs in Copenhagen each year. More than Danes compete. This year’s Danish Cargo Bike Championships was last Saturday, on June 26, 2010. You can read the rules in English on the official website.

It looks like a lot of fun. The modern incarnation was held first in 2009. Prior to last year’s race, there were competitions in the 20th century until 1960. View the race starting point on Google Maps, in Søren Kierkegaards Plads on the Copenhagen Harbor.

There’re races for three-wheeled bikes.

And there’re races for two-wheeled bikes. These two racers are riding Harry vs. Larry Bullitts. Harry vs. Larry was a sponsor for this year’s championships. You can buy Bullitts at Copenhagen Cyclery in Chicago, Illinois.

Racers have to carry car tires (see top photo) and if I were to race with my Yuba Mundo, I would need to practice at home. My Mundo doesn’t have a flatbed like the pictured bikes, which would make it easy to throw on an automobile tire.

Unaffected by weather, or politics at COP15

The Danish mail delivery worker rides their bike in the winter. No need to jump start dead batteries or leave the engine running. No fuel, no emissions. No politics.

Look at how many bags of mail the bicycle can carry. Check out the bicycle’s wheeled stand system (see the small gray wheels behind the front bike wheel). When the worker has reached their destination, they can deploy the small wheels (think training wheels for a child) and walk with the bike.

For the Christmas and holiday shopping season, United Parcel Service (UPS) hires part-time workers to deliver packages via bicycle.

The company started bike delivery in 2008 in Portland, Oregon. I should probably say re-started, because UPS was founded in Seattle, Washington, by a young person riding his bicycle to deliver goods. This year, UPS expanded the program to Silicon Valley, California (video).

UPS can’t get all the credit for super-ultra-low-emissions vehicles (don’t forget a van still trucks these packages to a drop off site for the bike worker). Messengers, cycle couriers, and food delivery people work all year round in every major American city.

Making cycling normal: Cycle chic movement

Making Cycling Normal is a three-part series about how to increase the rates of people riding their bikes for everyday trips. Increasing this rate, also called the “modal split” or bicycle’s “mode share,” is a common goal amongst bike plans in major cities around the United States. No city in the United States has a bike mode share higher than 5% of all trips, or even all trips to work, where the rate reaches 40% in some European cities.

Cycle chic is an internet-based movement to promote “normal” cycling. At the root of normal cycling is riding your bike in your everyday work, school, or wherever clothes. No lycra, spandex, or bringing a change of clothes. Some may say it’s bicycling in fashionable or elegant clothes, but the dress up concept is open to individual interpretation.

Cycle chic began with photographer Mikael Colville-Andersen’s website called Copenhagen Cycle Chic, a blog where he posts photos of bicyclists in the capital city of Denmark. The photos tend to be of women dressed in trendy and fashionable clothing. The goals are promoting the city of Copenhagen, and riding one’s bicycle is a completely normal activity and mode of transportation for any trip no matter its purpose (and the Danes ride their bikes in all weather, with the cycling rate apparently only dropping 20% through winter – see Mikael’s photo below).

Mikael travels around the world promoting cycling culture as part of a company called Copenhagenize Consulting and also as Danish individual. He also writes a blog called Copenhagenize where he discusses the issues prevalent to bicycle and motorist cultures.

The cycle chic blog model has been imitated by bicycling bloggers around the world. Amsterdamize does the job for that Netherlands city. There’s also Los Angeles, Chicago, London, and Moscow. Visit Los Angeles to find a list of plenty more cities. If you find your city, get to know your local Cycle Chic Ambassador. Check out this blog’s author (me) test riding a Dutch bike from a local retailer in some fashionable clothing at a party. A former coworker, Christy, inspired me to start adopting cycle chic.

I don’t think there’s a cycle chic blogger for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, yet, but I think this guy could start it up (sorry for the blur):

How will these blogs increase cycling rates?

The blogs and their authors promote cycling as something you can do without gear, special clothes, or a significant lifestyle change. In their own ways, and targeted to readers in their own cities, they discuss how people can incorporate bicycling into their lives where normally a bus, train, or car would transport them. They show that bicycling can be fashionable, popular, and not something that “other” people do.

However, this stylish promotion of cycling will only go so far. Bicycle trip rates will also increase when cycling is safer (part two of the Making Cycling Normal series) or when we educate people about bicycling (part three).

UPDATE: Dottie from Let’s Go Ride a Bike (Chicago’s local cycle chic blogger) has picked up on a similar topic, how to promote cycling (and part two), and Cyclelicious has reblogged the topic and Dottie’s article.

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