2020 City Ratings: Safety
By: PeopleForBikes Staff
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What cities have the safest streets?
Cities that score well in Safety have low traffic fatality and injury rates and are places where people feel safe riding a bike. We know that people ride more not only when they are safe, but also when they feel safe.
We develop our City Ratings Safety score using three sources of data.
- Bike and all mode fatality rates. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reports on the number of fatalities associated with motor vehicle traffic crashes across the U.S. Because the number of fatalities at the city level can vary significantly from year to year, we average fatality rates across a five-year period.
- Bike and all mode injury rates. The City Snapshot records the number of type A injuries (incapacitating; requiring ambulance transport) on an annual basis. Focusing on type A injuries provides a standard definition that allows us to compare across cities.
- Perceptions of safety. The PlacesForBikes Community Survey measures how people feel about bike riding in their communities. We know that many people won’t get on bikes if they don’t feel safe.
2020 City Ratings Top Five for Safety:
- Warren, PA
- Buellton, CA
- Lawrence, KS
- Grand Forks, ND
- Fort Collins, CO
Lawrence has a long history of planning for bicycles, dating all the way back to their first Pedal Plan developed in 1976. Recently, the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP), established in December of 2018, has played a major role in making the city safer for biking.
“The NTMP is a comprehensive program designed specifically to improve the environment and quality of life in Lawrence through driver awareness, management and control of traffic on neighborhood streets,” says Jessica Mortinger, Lawrence’s transportation planning manager. “This comprehensive approach to traffic management should make neighborhoods more comfortable places to walk and bike for all residents.”
The Lawrence Bikes Plan, completed in August of 2019, is also a big player when it comes to safer streets. The plan includes a matrix to help evaluate the level of comfort people have on different bikeways (shared use path, bike lane, etc.) which is then used to shape appropriate infrastructure concepts. The plan also overlaps with the Safe Routes to School Plan, which is working to identify projects that can be used to increase the level of comfort and safety for students biking to school.
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Prior to the year 2000, Grand Forks focused primarily on recreational cycling. After a historic flood in 1997, the city shifted during a rebuilding period, constructing a well-connected, shared-use trail system to benefit both recreational riders and commuters.
Grand Forks recognized that early education is key in preparing bike riders for a lifetime of safety on two wheels. Safe Kids Grand Forks, part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injuries for youths, provide annual safe cycling classes to all Grand Forks third graders.
Grand Forks’ Greenway (built after the flood in ‘97) provides more than 20 miles of off-road paths and trails along both sides of the Red River to move around town — and even into neighboring Minnesota — without ever interacting with vehicular traffic. “The bikeway system provides routes through natural areas featuring rivers, coulees, woodlands and prairies for a diverse landscape setting,” says Stephanie Halford, senior planner for the City of Grand Forks. “Connectivity between residential and business sectors makes choosing cycling for commuter travel easier, safer and much more attainable.”