A hapless (and usually helmet-less) tourist or inexperienced cyclist pedaling along the street on a Divvy bike always looks like an accident waiting to happen. But riding one of those distinctive, bright blue bicycles could be one of the safest ways to get around on two wheels, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. The article quotes a somewhat surprising statistic from a study conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute: There have been no fatalities linked to bike share programs in the U.S. since the first one launched in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2007. What's more, the Mineta study showed that bike share riders had a lower rate of collisions and injuries than regular cyclists.
According to the Tribune, of the 2,803 bike crashes that occurred between June 28, 2013 and January 1, 2014, only 18 involved Divvy cyclists. While Divvy riders likely deserve some of the credit for these amazing statistics, the specially tailored design of the bikes certainly plays a large role. Chicago's Divvy bikes are bulky, 45-pound rigs that are designed to travel at a maximum speed of about 12 miles per hour, so riders are naturally more cautious than those with souped-up road cycles that can zip through intersections. Plus, Divvy bikes boast built-in lights and bright coloring that make them more immediately visible to motorists.
Many things factor into avoiding accidents and injury on a bicycle, including the use of safety equipment and having an understanding of traffic laws. While riding a Divvy won't make you immune to inattentive motorists or judgment errors (please keep all bikes off of Lake Shore Drive), the statistics suggest that taking advantage of Chicago's bike share could help you reach your destination unscathed. Try it out for yourself with 24 hours of free Divvy rides on Earth Day later this week.