Bike sharing can be a wonderful thing. The Parisian Velib' program has bikes all over the city to grab and ride for a nominal fee, all maintained at great expense by a private advertising company. The concept has taken off in a few American cities as well, most successfully in the form of the B-Cycle program.
B-Cycle serves five cities: Denver, Chicago, Des Moines, Louisville, and San Antonio (coming next year). The bikes are supported by a combination of advertising, private grants, fees, and government funding.
Now Broward's County Commission has decided to take the plunge, bringing in 200 B-Cycles to docking stations across the county. And judging from traffic fatalities, Broward will be B-Cycle's most dangerous market yet.
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A look at bike-involved traffic fatality statistics shows that our fair county trumps the other markets by a long shot. Let's look at B-Cycle's other markets, with statistics from 2008:
- Denver had two deadly bicycle crashes.
- Chicago had five, which is impressive considering its 111 miles of bike lanes, large population, and large number of bicycle commuters.
- Des Moines crash data isn't available, but all of Iowa averaged five per year from 2006 to 2008.
- Same with Louisville, but there were six bike fatalities in all of Kentucky.
- San Antonio had three.
...and Broward? Twelve bicycle-related fatalities in 2008 alone. That was up from six in 2007, and the number went down to ten last year.
The data is a little skewed because of the areas' different populations (Broward is currently at 1.7 million), but we have fewer regular cyclists than Denver or Chicago. Plus, we're not exactly math geniuses over here. But let's hope B-Cycle has its lawyers ready -- we're pretty sure that reckless Broward drivers will.