A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune reminded me again of the need for both drivers and bike riders to look out for each other and mutually cooperate in sharing the road. The linked article gives a great example of the uneven results that occur whenever these two users of the road collide. Vehicles always win.
Many cities, including Salt Lake City, have recognized the benefits of cycling for its citizens, and are seeking ways to make cycling safer and friendlier inside their streets. The article cited above touches on the competing interests of cyclists, driver, government officials, and retailers that continue to complicate the efforts to move our cities from cold, car-dominated high-speed travel corridors to bike friendly, more inviting routes that allow people to communte using more eco-friendly and healthy means of transportation in neighborhoods and on their commutes.
Even with the cooperation of all societal interest groups, the task of making the streets safer for all user- cyclists and vehicles- is a shared responsibility. The following statistics 2007 Utah Crash Summary, included in the article linked above, from the Utah Department of Public Safety, Division of Highway Safety provide a chilling reminder of the need to keep a vigilent look out while driving on the road. These data provide cyclists a helpful outline for defensive driving tips that they should keep in mind at all times while on the roads. Hopefully, the number of these crashes can be reduced over time as governments take steps to create safer bike routes, drivers get used to sharing the road with cyclist, and cyclist understand the need to conform to the rules of the road.
Leading contributing factors of drivers in bicyclist crashes
Failed to yield right of way (34%)
Driver distraction (4%)
Improper turn (4%)
Hit and run (4%)
Vision obscured by glare (4%)
Leading contributing factors of bicyclists in crashes
Wrong side of road (10%)
Improper crossing (9%)
33% of bicyclists had no contributing factor in the crash.
Location of bicyclists in crash (Utah, 2007)
Marked crosswalk (27%)
In roadway not at intersection/crosswalk (22%)
Motor vehicle action prior to crash (Utah, 2007)
Straight ahead (37%)
Turning right (32%)
Turning left (17%)
Entering traffic (3%)
Other facts (Utah, 2007)
One-half (50%) of motor vehicles that hit bicyclists were turning.
Where the age was known, over half (50.4%) of the bicyclists were 5 to 24 years old.
Bicycle crashes were 2.3 times more likely to result in a death than other motor vehicle crashes.
Source: Utah Department of Public Safety, Division of Highway Safety, 2007 Utah Crash Summary