The growth of bikesharing in the United States has had a transformative impact on urban transportation. Major cities have established large bikesharing systems, including Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, New York City, Salt Lake City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Washington DC, and others. These systems began operating as early as 2010, and no fatalities have occurred within the US as of this writing. However, three have happened in North America—two in Canada and one in Mexico. Bikesharing has some qualities that appear inherently unsafe for bicyclists. Most prominently, helmet usage is documented to be quite low in most regions. In addition, bikesharing is also used by people who bicycle less frequently, and by tourists, who are often less familiar with the local terrain. In this study, researchers take a closer look at bikesharing safety from qualitative and quantitative perspectives. Through a series of four focus groups, they discussed bikesharing usage and safety with bikesharing members and nonmembers in the Bay Area. They further engaged experts nationwide from a variety of fields to evaluate their opinions and perspectives on bikesharing and safety. Finally, researchers conducted an analysis of bicycle and bikesharing activity data, as well as bicycle and bikesharing collisions to evaluate injury rates associated with bikesharing when compared with benchmarks of personal bicycling. The data analysis found that collision and injury rates for bikesharing are lower than previously computed rates for personal bicycling. Experts and focus group participants independently pointed to bikesharing rider behavior and bikesharing bicycle design as possible factors. In particular, bikesharing bicycles are generally designed in ways that promote stability and limited speeds, which mitigate the conditions that contribute to collisions. Data analysis also explored whether there was evidence of a “safety in numbers benefit” that resulted from bikesharing activity. However, no significant impact from bikesharing activity on broader bicycle collisions could be found within the regions in which they operate. Discussion and recommendations are presented in the conclusion.
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