Wanna know where in Champaign-Urbana bikes get stolen, crashes happen, or tickets are doled out? Over the past year, Neutral Cycle has been working to learn more about cycling in CU. We got some numbers, did some analysis, and made some pretty infographics.
If you live in Champaign-Urbana and you’ve been on Facebook much the past year, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen at least one of our infographics on biking in CU. Since September we’ve put out four – looking at bike thefts, crashes, and tickets in the CU area. As the next school year begins, we wanted to have a retrospective, putting everything together in one place for easy access.
We made these infographics because we wanted to know more about cycling in CU. We wanted numbers. We wanted stats. We wanted some hard facts about issues that affect all of us in the cycling community. Our goal was to analyze, organize, and disseminate these data, with the hope of positively impacting the community by increasing awareness over issues of bike safety. The fruit of 11 FOIA requests made to the three annoyingly-separate (though gracious and helpful) police departments in CU and hours spent in front of excel and Google Maps, we hope this info can save you a stolen bike or a scraped leg.
Bike theft may be the most common crime that UIUC students fall victim to. Between August 2012 and August 2014, there were 856 reported cases of it in CU, and countless unreported cases. Outside of Campustown and downtown Urbana, though, it’s relatively uncommon. We posted twice about bike theft, first covering just the UIUC campus and again looking at all of Champaign-Urbana. August and September are the time of year when bike theft is at its highest, so right now is the time to be most careful. Most interestingly, we found that most bikes stolen were inexpensive – 59% were valued at $200 or less. That means having a cheap bike is no protection against theft.
The best way to make sure your bike isn’t stolen is to be proactive about it. Here’s what to do to minimize your chance of becoming a victim.
- Don’t leave your bike out during breaks. There’s a good chance it’ll be stolen or will be rendered unusable due to the effects of the elements. Neutral Cycle offers affordable bike storage over the whole winter, winter break, and summer break.
- Know where you’re leaving your bike; don’t leave your bike in high-risk areas for long periods of time.
- Lock your bike up properly! Get a U-lock or a heat-treated chain lock. Make sure it’s attached to your bike’s frame and secured to something solid. We did a study and found that around half the bikes on campus were locked in a way that left them VERY easy to steal. Learn from our examples of how not to lock your bike. Next week we’ll be posting a better overview of how to lock your bike, with clearer visual examples of well-locked bikes.
We were able to get data about crashes based on location, time of day, and time of year. Much of what we found was expected. Most crashes occur in the Fall, during the months of September and October. That makes sense. It’s still biking season and students are here, unlike, for example, the summer. Crash location isn’t really centralized anywhere. Considering that biker density is higher in campus than anywhere else, more accidents seem to occur on larger streets further from campus where cars may be less observant than they would be on campus. Also right by Neutral, on Green and 5th, where, as we see daily, cars, bikes, and people are constantly (almost) hitting each other. Accidents are most likely to occur in the morning and afternoon, corresponding to increased traffic. Lessen your likelihood of being involved in an accident by following the rules of the road, using lights, and staying visible.
A lot of people hated our bike ticket infographic/blog post. I get that. I’ve driven on campus and had to deal with tons of bikers careening wantonly through stop signs and stoplights, with little regard for any nearby pedestrian, car, or bike regardless of who might have the right-of-way. By looking at ticket distribution we weren’t aiming to make it easier for people to bike idiotically, but trying to start a discussion about bike safety and the effectiveness of ticketing practices in Champaign-Urbana.
The one sure-fire way of not getting a ticket, though, is following the rules of the road. Duh.
Make sure to check our blog regularly for updates. We’re constantly posting new stuff about biking and Champaign-Urbana. Our series on bike safety is ongoing. There you’ll find a wealth of information about bike regulations in CU, like helmet laws and the legality of drinking and biking, as well as discussions about safe biking techniques. We also have guides for Summer, Spring, and Fall to make sure you know what to do to make the best of each season in CU.
LET US KNOW!
If you have anything you want to know about biking in CU or ideas for similar posts, let us know! We’re always looking for new projects and ways to help inform and engage the cycling community.