Cycling used to be kids’ stuff but over the years, adults have embraced bicycles. Not only as a form of recreation, but as a way to get around. More people are commuting to work on a bicycle. The average age of cyclists has increased as a result, which has led to a corresponding increase in the average age of bicycle fatalities. In fact, adults make up 88 percent of bicycle deaths. The average age of these victims is 45.
The Governors Highway Safety Association’s latest report, “A Right to the Road: Understanding & Addressing Bicyclist Safety,” shows an aging cycling community that’s at greater risk for accidents than ever before. Cycling fatalities were up more than 12 percent in 2015, a far higher surge than traffic deaths overall.
If you’ve been hurt while riding your bike to work or anywhere else, call us to speak with a Colorado personal injury attorney.
Cycling Accident Numbers Don’t Look Good
Since the 1970s, cycling deaths had been on a pretty steady decline and actually hit an all-time low in 2010, as both technology and the law worked together to make the roads safer for cyclists. In 2015, however, motor vehicles killed 818 bicyclists across the country – the biggest increase in cycling fatalities in two decades. The vast majority of those killed were men, who are six times more likely to die in a cycling accident than women.
The study also reveals that most bicycle deaths occur either in broad daylight or at night. Very few fatalities occur at dusk or dawn, probably because bicycle traffic is generally lighter at those times. Finally, a handful of heavily populated, warm weather states – California, Florida, and Texas – account for 40 percent of the nation’s cycling fatalities.
What Causes Bicycle Crashes?
Any number of factors can contribute to a bicycle accident. According to the study, the most common causes of these accidents are:
- The motorist overtakes a bicyclist traveling in the same direction.
- A motorist turns right or left into the path of a bicyclist going in the same or opposite direction.
- A motorist drives straight and a bicyclist comes from the right or left.
- A motorist drives into the roadway from a driveway, side street, alley, or parking lot.
- A bicyclist rides in the wrong direction.
- A motorist opens the car door directly in front of a bicyclist (often referred to as dooring).
- A bicyclist is not visible due to an obstruction (e.g., another vehicle, signage, foliage) or in darkness due to conspicuity issues (e.g., low or no roadway lighting, wearing dark clothing, no reflector or bicycle light).
- A bicyclist and/or motorist misjudge the passing distance between their respective vehicles.
- A bicyclist and/or motorist fail to obey the rules of the road and/or a traffic control device.
More often than not, the motorist simply fails to see the cyclist. Another study found that only 11 percent of drivers involved in one of these accidents admitted that they saw the cyclist ahead of time. On the other hand, nearly 70 percent of cyclists saw the driver.
Rules for Safe Cycling
There are a number of cycling best practices that riders can employ to make themselves safer – and more visible – on the road. Tips include:
- Always ride on the right with traffic, not against it.
- At the approach to a larger road, or one carrying more or faster traffic that has a stop or yield sign, obey the sign.
- When moving from left or right on a roadway, yield to the traffic in the new line of travel.
- At an intersection, position yourself in the direction you want to go.
- Between intersections, position yourself according to your speed, with slower vehicles on the right, faster on the left.
- Pay attention. Eliminate distractions such as cell phones as if you were driving a car.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident, you need to speak with our Colorado personal injury attorneys quickly. We’ll fight for your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 303-792-5595 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form right now.