On-road bicycle facilities and bicycle crashes in Iowa, 2007-2010

Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Jul:56:103-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.12.031. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


Purpose: An average of 611 deaths and over 47,000 bicyclists are injured in traffic-related crashes in the United States each year. Efforts to increase bicycle safety are needed to reduce and prevent injuries and fatalities, especially as trends indicate that ridership is increasing rapidly. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of bicycle-specific roadway facilities (e.g., signage and bicycle lanes) in reducing bicycle crashes.

Methods: We conducted a case site-control site study of 147 bicycle crash-sites identified from the Iowa Department of Transportation crash database from 2007 to 2010 and 147 matched non-crash sites. Control sites were randomly selected from intersections matched to case sites on neighborhood (census block group) and road classification (arterial, feeder, collector, etc.). We examined crash risk by any on-road bicycle facility present and by facility type (pavement markings--bicycle lanes and shared lane arrows, bicycle-specific signage, and the combination of markings and signage), controlling for bicycle volume, motor vehicle volume, street width, sidewalks, and traffic controls.

Results: A total of 11.6% of case sites and 15.0% of controls had an on-road bicycle facility. Case intersections had higher bicycle volume (3.52 vs. 3.34 per 30 min) and motor vehicle volume (248.77 vs. 205.76 per 30 min) than controls. Our results are suggestive that the presence of an on-road bicycle facility decreases crash risk by as much as 60% with a bicycle lane or shared lane arrow (OR=0.40, 95% CI=0.09-1.82) and 38% with bicycle-specific signage (OR=0.62, 95% CI=0.15-2.58).

Conclusions: Investments in bicycle-specific pavement markings and signage have been shown to be beneficial to traffic flow, and our results suggest that they may also reduce the number of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes and subsequent injuries and fatalities. As a relatively low-cost traffic feature, community considerations for further implementation of these facilities are justified.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention / methods*
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Bicycling* / statistics & numerical data
  • Environment Design*
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Models, Statistical
  • Multivariate Analysis