Bicycle Injuries/Accidents

Why do bike-car accidents result in deaths?

Lately, a lot of reports have surfaced regarding increased bicycle use and the number of bike related incidents.  But the League of American Bicyclists believe that the numbers from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are not capturing enough details.

According to a Consumer Advisory on the NHTSA site.  NHTSA statistics show that in 2012, 726 bicyclists were killed and an additional 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, an increase of 6 percent from 2011 (682). The average age of bicyclists killed in traffic crashes was 43. The vast majority of these deaths occurred in urban areas (69 percent) and at non-intersections (60 percent) and involved mostly male riders (88 percent). About half of these fatalities (48 percent) occurred from 4:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.

Interesting. But according to a Vox article, the League of American Bicyclists’ own data sets reveal even more telling information:

Rear-end collisions cause a huge number of cyclist deaths

League of American Bicyclists data reveal more about bicycle related fatalities

One key takeaway is that rear end collisions with bicyclists don’t make up a huge chunk of bike collisions.  However, this category of incidents are more likely to result in serious injury or death.

Driver error account for many more deaths than cyclist error.

Most common factors in bicycle related deaths are due to driver error.

For those of you bicyclists, please check out which provides a wonderful and detailed guide that will help you avoid getting into a range of different types of collisions with cars. We at Stritmatter Kessler Whelan have seen too many of our bike accident clients horribly injured due to driver error.

NOTE: This blog post is re-published from SKW’s Bike Law Blog.

Mayor Announces Some Good News for Seattle Cyclists

Projects like the Puget Sound Bikeshare are helping grow the number of cyclist commuters,

Projects like the Puget Sound Bikeshare are helping grow the number of cyclist commuters,

Seattle cyclists have something to look forward to this month. We at SKW are thrilled to see anything that may reduce the number of injured bicyclists. Cyclists whom we’ve represented were all skilled on their bikes. However, they sustained serious injuries because of either flawed roads or negligent drivers.

But cyclists in our city are undaunted. Among all of the nation’s major cities, Seattle is ranked fifth for bike commuters and seventh for walking commuters. Projects like the Puget Sound Bikeshare are helping grow the number of cyclist commuters.

Celebrating Bike to Work Month, this past Tuesday Mayor Ed Murray announced that a pilot project for the 2nd Avenue Protected Bike Lane will be in place before the launch of bike share.

Second Avenue has been cited as an especially dangerous path for cyclists. As Rutgers professor and bike evangelist, John Pucher, pointed out last year to the Seattle Times reporter Lindblom, “I’d say [2nd Avenue is] as bad as a major avenue on Manhattan. I think it’s maybe even worse, because I think here, there’s more left and right turns, there’s more doors that are being opened, more cars that are trying to park.”

Seattle’s pilot bike lane project will hopefully provide for safer trips for those biking around downtown– whether they are on the new bike share bikes or on their own bicycles.

Part of the funding of the pilot project is from the Green Lane Project,which selected Seattle as one of six cities to receive financial, strategic and technical assistance to install protected bike lanes.

If you want to learn about the City’s effort to build protected bike lanes on 2nd and 4th Avenues and other bike-ped improvements around the City, join others at the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Downtown Policy Ride. The Policy Ride will end at a Bike Happy Hour at Von Trapp’s near Capitol Hill.

According to a recent King5,com article,  Seattle area bike commuting has risen from 1.9 percent in 2000 to 3.4 percent.  Biking to work has jumped by 60% in the U.S. over the last decade.

NOTE: This blog post is excerpted from SKWBikeLaw’s blog.


Drivers Who Kill Cyclists — Getting Away With Murder?

Cars vs. Bikes: Car drivers are generally favored when involved in a bike accident.

Cars vs. Bikes: Are car drivers who cause bike accidents getting off too easily?

Our law firm continues to see an increasing number of clients injured in serious bike-car crashes. When rushing to switch lanes or to pull into a parking spot, too many drivers are still not conditioned to look for cyclists. Is this because the prevailing attitude is one of greater forgiveness to those driving cars rather than those riding bikes? This is a question that Daniel Duane ponders in a recent NY Times Opinion piece.

Duane mentions meager penalties against drivers, including a teenager who ran down a 49 year old cyclist John Przychodzen and killed him. The teenager only received a $42 citation for an “unsafe lane change.” After all, the young driver was not driving while under the influence nor was he deemed to be driving recklessly.

Sadly, however, the story about the Seattle cyclist fatality is not rare and is found throughout the country in virtually every city.  Duane points out the fact that the laws and societal norms have not caught up with the statistics: Cycling is the second most popular outdoor activity in the U.S. next to running. We are a country with 57 million cyclists and a growing number who commute regularly. Yet, people have mixed feelings about cyclists who attempt to share the road with drivers. Contributing to drivers’ resentment is the fact that many cyclists flout the rules of the road.  So, while cyclists’ violations are not usually enforced (but see the last blog post), the offending drivers’ are also let off with slaps on the wrist.

Each of us can do our part to keep the statistics of injured or killed cyclists on the road from growing, while we advocate for laws to encourage safer cycling. With the days getting shorter and wetter in the fall, please remain mindful that there are likely others around you on two wheels.

Warning to Cyclists: Speeding may get you a ticket

Speeders on bikes get tickets too.

Speeders on bikes get tickets too.

A recent article in the Seattle Times cautions cyclists to observe the speed limit. Those who sped too fast down Fremont Ave. N. near B.F. Day Elementary School got pulled over with a speeding ticket. The area is a school zone with a speed limit of 20 miles per hour. The speed demons on bikes who got caught will have to pay$103 for each citation, granted a bit less than the $189 citations for speeding drivers.

The important message to cyclists is that a speeding bicycle is dangerous too. Take, for example, the cyclist who ran down a pedestrian in San Francisco. The 71 year old pedestrian was killed, when a cyclist sped down a hill in the busy Castro District in San Francisco and struck the man at a crosswalk. The victim was just walking with his wife on a walk signal, as the 37 year old software developer ran into him.  The cyclist pled guilt to the first felony vehicular manslaughter on a bicycle in this country.

As the article points out, a Seattle pedestrian was also a fatal victim after a bicycle struck her on the Cedar River Trail. That cyclist got off, unlike the aforementioned SF cyclist.

In 2011  there were 457 road deaths in Washington state, 64 pedestrians and 11 bicyclists were killed, according to NHTSA. While roughly 1% of the speeding tickets issued in the first nine months of this year were to bicyclists, we may see this number creep up if speeding cyclists don’t take heed.

Kids Break Bike Helmet Laws Too Often

Each year in this country bike accidents involving head injuries lead to at least 150,000 emergency department visits and almost 400 deaths. This is based on a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  According to the CDC, approximately 33 million children ride bicycles for nearly 10 billion hours each year.KidsandBikeSafety-1

Yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida presented an abstract with compelling data: Despite a California bike helmet mandate, only 11 percent of Los Angeles County children treated for bike-related injuries were wearing a helmet. Specifically, children older than age 12, and low-income and minority children were less likely to wear a bike helmet.

“Our study highlights the need to target minority groups, older children, and those with lower socioeconomic status when implementing bicycle safety programs…” said study author Veronica F. Sullins, MD.

Regional studies highlighting racial or ethnic and socioeconomic differences may help identify at-risk populations within specific communities, allowing these communities to more effectively use resources, explained Dr. Sullins.

“Children and adolescents have the highest rate of unintentional injury and therefore should be a high priority target population for injury-prevention programs,” Dr. Sullins said.

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