Recently, I was out for a nice, leisurely evening bicycle ride with my wife, our 9 year old nephew and our 12 year old niece. We were all having a nice time until the kids stopped short, I did not, and I ended up flying over my handle bars. One broken arm and one broken rib later, it got me wondering how often bicycle crashes occur in this country.
According to the U.S Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- In 2010, 618 bicyclists were killed and an additional 52,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.1 The average age of the rider was 42.2
- 72% of the bicyclist fatalities in 2010 occurred in urban areas and 67% at non-intersections.
- The majority of bicyclist fatalities, 28%, occurred between the hours of 4-8pm, with the second highest number, 25%, between the hours of 8-midnight.4
- The majority of bicyclists killed in 2010 were males (86%), and the highest number of male fatalities were between the ages of 45 and 54. The most males injured were between 25 and 34.5
- Surprisingly, about 24% of bicylists killed in 2010 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter or higher, and over 1/5 had a BAC of .08 or higher. In 2010 34% of crashes involved alcohol involvement – either for the bicyclist or motorist.6
- Alaska had no bicyclist fatalities in 2010 and the District of Columbia had the highest, with 8.3% of the total number of traffic fatalities. Washington State was at 1.3%, short of the national average of 1.9%.7
Before getting on your bike:
- Make sure you have a properly fitting helmet (mine was the only thing on me that wasn’t scratched when I crashed, ironically).
- Obey the rules of the road and check your local municipality for additional bicycling ordinances. Remember, bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are subject to all traffic laws, signs and signals.
- When riding your bike, use proper hand signals to alert other bicyclists and motor vehicles on the road. When driving your car, be especially cautious around bicycle riders and even more so around children who are riding bicycles.
- Increase your visibility by wearing bright and/or reflective clothing when riding a bicycle, especially at night, and make sure your bicycle is equipped with reflectors on the front and rear, as well as the wheels.
- Make sure to properly maintain your bicycle. This includes checking for loose wheels, making sure the seat is adjusted properly, the brakes are in working order and that the tires are properly inflated every time before you go for a ride.
If you are injured while riding your bike due to the fault of a motorist, in Washington State you may have coverage under the driver’s policy, if they carried personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.