The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its final bicycle accident numbers for 2011, and the numbers show that there was a spike in fatalities that year.
The report includes bicyclists as well as other cyclists, who are all grouped in a common category of “pedal-cyclists” in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. The pedal-cyclist category includes not just bicyclists, but also unicyclists, and riders of other non-motorized bicycles.
According to the data, in 2011, there were 677 such pedal-cyclist fatalities in accidents across the country. Additionally, there were at least 48,000 injuries involving pedal-cyclists. In fact, these fatalities accounted for approximately 2% of all auto accident fatalities in the country. They also accounted for 2% of accident-related injuries.
Overall, the number of such bicyclists and other types of cyclists killed in 2011 was an increase of 9% over the figures in 2010. In the previous year, there had been 623 pedal-cyclist fatalities.
According to the data, most of these bicycle accident fatalities or approximately 30% occurred in the evening hours between 4 PM and 8 PM. Night time was also dangerous for bicyclists, with 21% of the fatalities occurring between 8 PM and midnight. The fewest number of fatalities occurred between midnight and 4 AM, and that is because there are few bicyclists out riding at that time.
The safety climate for bicyclists in California and around the country continues to be dangerous. California bicycle accident lawyers would encourage all bicyclists to wear helmets every time they ride, and wear highly visible clothing so that they are visible in traffic. Avoid riding at night as much as possible, and if you have to ride at night, stick reflective tape to your helmets, clothing and your bicycle.
The Department of Transportation has been slowly increasing its focus on bicycle safety, spurred by a spike in the number of fatal bicycle accidents being reported from across the country. The federal agency recently hosted its 2nd Bicycle Safety Summit, this one in the city of Minneapolis.
The Bicycle Safety Summit will focus on engineering enhancements, planning and education strategies, enforcement and education and will involve inputs from national experts in these areas. The Summit will also include a Bicycle Safety Expo which will present new strategies to keep bicyclists safe in accidents, including safer helmet designs, better communication strategies and better training.
The first summit had been held in Tampa, where Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood insisted that a focus on engineering enhancements, education and enforcement are important to reduce the number of people killed in bicycle accidents across the country.
California bicycle accident lawyers have no doubt that education and awareness alone will not suffice to reduce the number of people being killed in these accidents. The fact is that many of our cities, including those in California, are simply not built for bicyclists. Engineering enhancements, in the form of extensions of the current bike lane network must be undertaken in order to provide safer conditions for bicyclists.
It’s also important to keep in mind the basic safety needs of bicyclists when building or fixing roads. That doesn’t seem to happen currently. Most roadway enhancement projects take into consideration the needs of motorists, convenience, and better management of peak hour traffic than the needs and safety of bicyclists. That attitude definitely needs to change, and hopefully, these bicycle safety summits will help launch a national conversation about bicycle safety in the right direction.