Many communities across the United States are making efforts to become more bicycle-friendly, and the intent in doing so is typically to encourage cycling over driving and make the roads safer for those who ride. Regrettably, these measures seem to do little to reduce crashes that involve automobiles and cyclists, and the number of cyclists losing their lives on the nation’s roads is on the rise as a result.
According to Vice, the number of cyclists dying on roads across the United States is up 25% since 2010, with about three-quarters of all bicyclist deaths occurring in urban areas. Also troubling is the fact that cyclist deaths rose 10% just between 2018 and 2019, raising important questions about the cause for the uptick. It is also worth noting that while cyclist road deaths are on the rise, all other roadway fatalities are on the decline.
Common factors in cyclist deaths
Many bicyclist deaths result from similar circumstances. The majority of them result from car-cyclist collisions, and many of them also result from hit-and-run crashes. Driver inattentiveness is also a frequent contributor to cyclist deaths, with distracted driving, which includes in-vehicle cellphone use, playing a role in numerous road fatalities.
Unprotected bike lanes
Research shows that a lack of protection around bike lanes is also contributing to the recent increase in cyclist fatalities. This is particularly common in major cities. When bike lanes lack protection, the chances of “dooring” typically increase. Dooring occurs when a motorist opens his or her car door without seeing a passing cyclist, ultimately striking that cyclist with the car door. Dooring is a growing problem in many major cities, with San Francisco, for example, reporting more than 200 cyclist deaths caused by dooring within three years.
As a cyclist, you should be able to reduce your injury and fatality risk by always wearing a helmet and otherwise following the rules of the road. It is unlikely, however, that you are going to be able to avoid all road hazards in doing so.