This year alone, there have been 13 bicycle accident fatalities in Los Angeles. That is a shocking number, and it is just one fatality less than the number of bicycle accident fatalities that have been recorded this year in the city of London. However, while in London, the British public is up in arms against this increasing number of bicycle fatalities and is demanding safer biking conditions, no such outcry is being generated in Los Angeles.
According to the bicycling blog, Biking in LA, the differences in attitudes in the British capital and in the City of Angels towards the increasing number of bicycle accident deaths is appalling. While the California media has been focusing very heavily on the increase in the number of traffic accident fatalities in 2012 compared to the previous year, there has been little focus on the fact that much of that increase is due to the fact that bicycle accident fatalities are actually increasing in California. Nowhere is this more evident than in Los Angeles.
What is even more appalling is the fact that hit-and-run accidents are becoming a major danger to bicyclists in Los Angeles and across California. Out of the 13 bicycle accident fatalities occurred this year, nine occurred in hit-and-runs. The bicycling accident fatality toll in Los Angeles is even more shocking, considering that there were just five bicycle accident fatalities each over the past two years.
Any time bicycle safety groups attempt to raise questions about the increasing number of fatalities, they are met with standard answers that try to blame bicyclists. For instance, there is a growing trend now on blaming distracted bicyclists and pedestrians for the accidents that they are involved in. This is in spite of the fact that most bicyclists are responsible, and obey all traffic safety rules.
A number of bike share programs are now in place across the country, and while they have encouraged bicycling in these cities, California bicycle safety lawyers have been very worried about the fact that many of the persons who rent bicycles through these sharing programs, fail to wear helmets. In Boston, a new bike sharing program tackles this problem.
The bike rental program in Boston is modeled on similar programs that have been launched across the country since the first one in Washington DC in 2008. There are currently 34 such short-term bike rental programs across the country in operation. That is not even including the countless such programs that are currently in place on university campuses around the country. The 34 bike rental programs currently in operation in the United States is just a small fraction of the 535 such programs that are currently being implemented around the world.
There is no denying the fact that these bike rental programs are the way of the future, and as cities get more congested and people look for easier ways of getting around, bike rental programs are only likely to increase in popularity.
However, statistics find that many persons who rent bicycles from bike share programs fail to wear helmets. According to the data, approximately 4 out of 5 persons who rent bicycles from bike share programs, do not wear helmets. According to statistics by the Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, most bicyclists in Washington and Boston who rent or borrow bike share bicycles, do not wear helmets. That increases the likelihood that they will be injured in an accident by as much as 88%.
The Boston program allows bicyclists to rent cheap helmets, while they are renting their bikes through a convenient Helmet Hub. A 24-hour rental for a helmet costs just two dollars under the program.
All bicyclists must wear a helmet while riding, and it is even more important that children, who may be more vulnerable to severe or fatal brain injuries in an accident, are adequately helmeted while riding. However, statistics in Los Angeles seem to indicate a worrisome trend among parents to allow their children out riding without wearing a bicycle helmet.
According to recent research that was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition, just about 11% of children above the age of 12 in Los Angeles County who were involved in a bicycle accident that resulted in injuries, were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
Some categories of children are slipping through the cracks, as far as helmet usage is concerned. In particular, California bicycle accident lawyers are worried about lower bicycle helmet usage rates among African-American and Hispanic children. Children from lower social economic groups were also found to be less likely to wear helmets while riding.
The Bike Helmet Safety Institute estimates that approximately 57% of all bicycle accident fatalities every year could be prevented if bicyclists were wearing a helmet while riding. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that bicycle accidents injure children much more seriously than adults. Children may be much more vulnerable to the kind of serious injuries that can result from a bicycle accident, like spinal cord injuries or head injuries.
The children who were included in the study had an average age of approximately 13, and 64% of the children were male. These findings seem to indicate that there is a greater need to focus on increased helmet usage among older children and adolescents as well as young male bicyclists.