And What Bicyclists Can Do to Avoid Accidents and Prevent Injuries
Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its first comprehensively researched study on bicycle safety in decades.
The subject is an urgent one in large part because, as the report puts it, bicyclists, “like pedestrians and motorcyclists, are…unprotected by an enclosed vehicle compartment, leaving them more vulnerable to injury or death in the event of a crash.”
The report focuses on ways to better protect riders from motorists. Colorado is one of the states where many would benefit from improved safety, given its relatively high volume of bike riders.
Commuting by Bike
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 854 bicyclists died in 2018, 7 percent more than in 2017. The increase was seen in Colorado as well. A Colorado Department of Transportation report indicates that in 2018, 22 bicyclists were killed in the state, six more than had been killed during the previous year.
Considering how that number might be reduced, the NTSB study looks at three major questions: how to make roadways safer for bicyclists; why bicyclists and motorists often don’t see each other (which makes bicycle accidents more likely); and how to reduce head injuries, a leading cause of death in bike accidents.
Denver Focus on Bike Safety
Because so many people in Colorado ride bikes — the state ranks third in the nation in the category of proportion of the populace who bike to work ‑‑ many Colorado cities are working to improve biker safety.
In 2011, Denver launched a safety program called Denver Moves to encourage at least 15 percent of the population to commute to work by walking or biking by 2020. However, since 2015, Denver has been focusing on a more comprehensive safety plan called Vision Zero. The DenverGov.org site explains:
Vision Zero is a transportation safety philosophy that was developed in Sweden in the late 1990s to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries in the transportation system. Sweden has reduced traffic fatalities by half, making it one of the safest places in the world….
Denver began laying the groundwork for its Vision Zero initiative in 2015, and during his 2017 State of the City address, Mayor Hancock announced the city’s commitment to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries on Denver’s roadways by 2030. The Action Plan is a five-year approach that sets the city and its partners on a clear path to achieving this goal.
Denver Street Partnership says one way to improve the safety of bicyclists is to increase the number of bike lanes and paths. It proposed that 20 miles be built in the city by 2019 and another 25 miles between 2020 and 2023.
Although Denver has made progress, last year the Partnership’s progress report card gave Denver a D for failing to complete the first goal of building 20 miles of bike lanes. Even so, Denver’s overall score for its work on bike lanes was a C, not a D, thanks to what the Partnership regards as the grade A quality and grade A locations of the 12.5 miles of bike lanes that the city did build.
Attention and Prevention
Two common causes of bicycle accidents are falls and other vehicles. To stay as safe as possible while biking, wear a properly fitting helmet; wear protective clothing and reflective gear; stay alert and stay off the phone (don’t talk, don’t text); make sure drivers see you, especially when you are about to turn; obey traffic laws; and, when you can, ride on designated bike lanes and paths.
Denver bikers can get help creating a safe commuting route by using a program called Neighborhood Navigators, which connects you with experienced and helpful bike commuters.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in Colorado, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.