By Josh Cohen.

Bicycling and walking are natural allies in the United States. With bicycling’s 0.6 percent and walking’s 2.8 percent mode share nationally, that allegiance is a strength-in-numbers tactic necessary to challenge driving’s goliath 91.6 percent mode share and accompanying lobbying power.

But, in practice the two don’t always mix so well. How often has a bicyclist buzzed past you on the sidewalk without warning, scaring a few years off your life in the process? How many times have you biked down a multi-use trail and had to slam on the brakes every few seconds to avoid joggers, walkers, children and dogs? According to a study published in the new issue of the BMJ Openmedical journal, biker and walker interaction is more than a question of convenience and comfort. It’s often a question of safety.

The study — with its amazingly long and specific title, “Severity of urban cycling injuries and the relationship with personal trip, route and crash characteristics: analyses using four severity metrics” — evaluated 690 cyclists who’d crashed while riding in Vancouver and Toronto. They judged the crashes by whether the rider 1) did not continue riding; 2) was transported to the hospital by ambulance; 3) was admitted to the hospital; and 4) fell on the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (a 1-5 scale used by Canadian hospitals to prioritize urgency of incoming patients). The researchers also looked at factors such as the routes cyclists chose, the presence of bike-specific infrastructure, topography and motor vehicle speed.

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