As I’ve noted before, the evidence suggests that as the number of cyclists in a city increases, the level of safety-per-cyclist increases so quickly that more bike riders leads to fewer bike accidents:
Saturday after having spent all week being jealous of the German bike lanes and the large number of German urban cyclists, I finally got the chance to rent a bike and ride around Berlin. You can really experience the safety in numbers phenomenon first hand:
The crux of the matter is that on any busy street there are always cyclists. In many circumstances, this is dealt with through the provision of good bicycle lanes, often physically separated from auto traffic. But where that’s not the case the bikes are in the street and the cars are well-aware that there are bikes in the street and conduct themselves accordingly.
At the same time, German cyclists seem to me to go slower. In part, it’s a matter if the bikes. People typically seem to have hybrid or mountain tires rather than road tires (necessary for going over cobblestones or streetcar tracks) and often their bikes are configured in a European-style upright posture, both of which lead to slower speeds.