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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bike Noob had an interesting post on Tuesday: Bikewise – A Potentially Valuable Resource

This morning, thanks to a link from An Old Guy on Two Wheels, I came across a web site called Bikewise. This isn’t your usual biking advocacy, biking avocation site. It’s all about cataloging bike crashes, hazards, and thefts to make biking safer. According to the site, “It’s estimated that 75% or more of all crashes go unreported. We believe that by gathering detailed information on how and why crashes happen, we’ll be able to ride smarter.”

Bikewise is based in the Seattle area, but accepts crash reports from all over the country. The biker submitting the report is asked to include information about the circumstances of the crash, road and weather conditions, and perhaps most importantly, lessons learned from the crash.

I agree that collecting data on how and why crashes happen will lead to smarter riding.

I work for a large A&E firm with a large construction division. In my own work over half my projects are related to hazardous waste sites while the remainder are typically in an industrial setting. Several years ago our CEO decided to make safety the company's top priority. The goal: to lead our industry in safety. They implemented a series of mandatory training programs and required monthly safety reporting along with project financials. An expansive incident reporting system was rolled out, and quite frankly, they beat us over the head with safety information on almost a daily basis. At the time, many of us were non-believers. We had to be brought along kicking and dragging our feet. But you know what? The collection of data on safety incidents and near misses, and the formal development of lessons learned, has lead to a safety ethic that I do believe is tops in our industry. The last few years we have ranked higher in safety than most of our has saved us money by driving our insurance rates down...and it has DIRECTLY resulted in the company winning several major new corporate contracts. Most of all, we now work smarter and safer than we ever have before. The KEY to making this happen, beyond the CEO's mandate, was the collection and analysis of data on all the types of incidents that were occurring. It worked!

Folks can see an example of how the site works by reading Bike Noob's post. Or you can go directly to the Bikewise website.

One more thought. The safety program and reporting of incidents where I work was not voluntary...the Bikewise approach obviously is. Our own personal cycling crash incidents do not occur frequently so participating on Bikewise is not a time-consuming endeavor. But it's a smart one that could pay dividends in the future once enough data is collected.

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