Last month, The League of American Bicyclists released a report titled, “Bicyclist Safety Must Be A Priority,” focusing on data collected between February 2011 and February 2013 relative to bicyclist deaths. By analyzing data from other sources and combining that data with information gathered from news reports and internet postings, the report provided some eye-opening results. The following are summaries of excerpts from the report:
- The most common type of collision that resulted in bicyclists’ deaths was the rear-end collision, accounting for 40% of all fatal collisions.
- The most common reported behaviors of drivers who were involved in bicyclist collisions resulting in death included operating the vehicle in a careless or inattentive manner (42%), committing hit-and-runs (36%), and being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (12%).
- Three common factors attributed to cyclists who were killed included riding on the wrong side of the road (23%), failing to yield to the right of way (17%), and riding on the sidewalk (9%).
- Generally, fatal collisions are more common at intersections in urban areas than in rural areas.
- Fatal collisions are 3.7 times more likely to occur at non-intersections in rural areas than at intersections.
- Among the trends noted relative to consequences for drivers who killed cyclists, drivers who killed female cyclists and drivers who killed bicyclists between the ages of 20 and 30 were more likely to be punished and receive longer sentences.
By comparison, last May, the City of Boston released its “Cyclist Safety Report,” which analyzed much of the same data for the period 2010 to 2012. Though Boston has been said to be among the safest cities for bicyclists, that report indicates five cyclists still lost their lives in 2012, with many more injured and hospitalized.
This data highlights both the importance of bicycling safety and the importance of drivers’ alertness and careful operation of their vehicles around cyclists. Not only can a bicyclist accident be devastating to the injured or deceased cyclist and his family, but it can forever change the life of a driver found to be negligent or reckless in the operation of his vehicle when the collision occurred.