Cycling Safety on Bikeways vs Roads,
John Pucher, Transportation Quarterly vol 55 no 4

Review by John Forester

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This is Pucher's reply to Forester's paper on the history of the bicycle transportation controversy, describing the traffic-engineering and statistical basis for vehicular cycling. Pucher makes no reply to Forester's analysis, but merely repeats his repeated assertion that the low cyclist crash rate in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is caused by the "bikeways, bike lanes, special intersection modifications, and priority traffic signals ]which] are the key to their bicycling policies." This is a claim for which there is no causal evidence, and Pucher does not attempt to provide any.

Pucher asserts that Forester cannot explain away the greater safety and popularity of cycling in northern Europe. That's false: I have often asserted that the locations with large bicycle modal share today are also the locations where there were large bicycling volumes and even greater modal shares before mass popular motoring, simply because the cities were, and largely remain, well suited to walking and bicycling transportation. Pucher appears to assert that I am ignorant of the urban design considerations which both he and I think make bicycle transportation attractive. That's rather silly, considering the extent to which I have emphasized these factors as more likely to attract bicycle transportation than do bikeways.

Pucher repeats the popular and absurd claim that "all of [Forester's] comparisons in the spring 2001 article are made only for the high cycling speed he advocates." Vehicular cycling does not require high speed, simply obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles.

Pucher also claims that bikeways make cycling safe "for those whose mental or physical conditions limit their capacity to safely negotiate heavy traffic. The slowed reflexes, frailty, and detoriorating hearing and eyesight of many elderly make them especially vulnerable." However, Pucher never produces evidence that any particular type of bikeway reduces the need for these abilities; this is just one more claim based on nothing but superstition.