Taking precautions can reduce bicycling deaths

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2017 | Bicycle Safety

Biking accidents in Colorado seem to be occurring more and more frequently, often causing extremely severe injuries and even fatalities. Some choices bikers make may be contributing to their risk of accident and resulting death. While following the rules of the road is of utmost importance for cyclists, taking additional precautions can reduce risk of accidents.

As reported by the Denver Post, while injury or death in a bike crash used to involve largely children many decades ago, currently the average age of a victim of a bike fatality is 45. Biking is no longer just kids’ play, as adults have embraced biking for health reasons, commuting purposes and sports.

Biking fatalities are increasing in frequency

The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that bike fatalities increased more than 12 percent in 2015, which is a bigger increase than seen overall with traffic fatalities. The number of deaths is increasing by about 55 per year.

There is a suspected under-reporting of bike involved crashes by police, largely because bikes do not get towed, and vehicles hitting bikes typically do not require a towing either.

Facts involved in biking deaths may help bikers avoid risks

Details behind the dangers of bike-related deaths include the following:

  • Nearly 10 percent of bike fatalities derive from distracted driving
  • Nearly three-quarters of biking deaths on roadways occur without involvement of an intersection
  • Most bikers who died from injuries were not wearing helmets
  • The same number of cycling deaths occur at night as during the day, despite only one-fifth of bicycling occurring at night

These facts highlight the importance of wearing a helmet and avoiding night riding.

Programs and traffic controls that can reduce accidents

Bike-share programs, on the other hand, appear to help prevent biking fatalities. With over 50 cities enjoying these infrastructures, only two fatal cycling deaths have occurred since 2010. Other strategies recommended to reduce deaths include:

  • More marked bike lanes and separation of bike lanes from auto lanes
  • Traffic signal areas including bike boxes that allow bikers a head start
  • Traffic signals that have earlier green light just for bikers

Bikers and cities cannot control all of the risks. They cannot prevent a distracted car driver causing an accident, for example. However, between choices in bike-riding habits and cities continuing to make their roadways more bike-friendly, tragic deaths may be avoidable.