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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Cars & Bicycles in Close Proximity

Categories: Bicycle Injury

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

According to the US Department of Transportation, 677 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2011, and another 48,000 injured. [1] In fact, here in Washington, the State Department of Transportation has a web page devoted to keeping track of reported bicycle collision statistics, which can be found here.

Are bicyclists who wear highly reflective or colorful clothing less likely to be struck by a passing car?  Researchers in the United Kingdom sought to test whether bicyclists who wore high visibility clothing stood a better chance of avoiding injury caused by a passing motor vehicle collision than those that dressed less visibly.[2]

The chief researcher attached an ultrasonic distance sensor to his bicycle for several months while he commuted to work. He would wear different outfits on different days with varying degrees of eye-catching color or wording on it. He sometimes wore a highly visible vest with the words “Novice Cyclist” prominently displayed on the back. On other occasions, he would wear clothing with wording indicating he was video recording his trip.

Image Courtesy of Graur Codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of Graur Codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After 5,690 vehicles passed the bicycle, researchers concluded that choice of clothing had little bearing on how much distance motorists gave when they passed most of the time. In fact, the bike sensor indicated that motorists passed dangerously close at times, sometimes as close as 50 centimeters (1 feet, 7 inches). Interestingly, the only outfit that offered a bit more distance from passing cars was the one that indicated the rider was video recording his journey.

If the worst should happen and you or someone you know has been injured as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle while cycling, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation concerning your rights.



[1] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269446.php

[2] The influence of a bicycle commuter’s appearance on drivers’ overtaking proximities: An on-road test of bicyclist stereotypes, high-visibility clothing and safety aids in the United Kingdom, Ian Walker, Ian Garrard, Felicity Jowitt, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, 22 November 2013.

Cyclists cannot stop drivers overtaking dangerously, research suggests, news release from the University of Bath, accessed 27 November 2013.