Bicycle Network is calling for Australian speed limits to be dropped by 10km/h during the coronavirus pandemic as a way of reducing road trauma and keeping hospital beds available.
While some countries have made the flawed decision to restrict bike riding as a way of reducing potential trauma, we’d rather see the true cause of crashes and serious injuries addressed: cars travelling at speed.
More than 60,000 people go to hospital each year because of transport crashes, with most of these people passengers in motor vehicles.
Only 2% of injury hospitalisations are bike riders, and 80% of those crashes are caused by people driving cars.
Dropping speed limits on 40km/h streets to 30km/h would not only reduce the likelihood of crashes, but also the severity of trauma if a crash does happen.
30km/h is the speed recommended by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for local roads. The risk of death if hit by a car travelling at 30km/h is less than 10 per cent, however at 40km/h the risk of death jumps to almost 30 per cent.
As well as reducing speed limits, Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said it would be great to see governments promote bike riding during this time.
“Riding a bike is the best way to get around during coronavirus – you are distanced from other people, it keeps you active and healthy and reduces stress. It’s also a great option for people whose gyms and fitness classes have been shut down.”
While Spain and Italy have told people they aren’t allowed to ride a bike for recreation, only for transport, other places have been prioritising bike riding. In Bogota they have created 117km of new bike lanes by shutting off roads to cars.
People in New York City have also taken to riding, with sharebike trips increasing by more than 60 per cent compared with this time last year.
“Bikes will be vital in helping us get through the coronavirus pandemic,” added Mr Richards.
“If you’re a public transport user you should swap to a bike rather than a car. If you’re now working from home, a quick bike ride is a great way to have a break, get out of the house and find your 30 minutes of exercise.”
- See Bicycle Network's #KeepYourCommute campaign
- Commuters keep cycling during coronavirus
- Bicycle Network's low speed locals campaign
Injury and hospitalisation data is from the AIHW Trends in hospitalised injury report.