For cyclists, danger level reaches highest mark in 25 years

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2020 | Bicycle Accidents |

For bicyclists here in California, the numbers are discouraging. The number of cyclist fatalities in the state is at its highest level in a quarter-century, according to a story from Newsweek. Traffic crashes killed 455 bikers from 2016-18. Of those, 106 occurred in Los Angeles – by far the highest of any California city.

There are ways those in charge can both lessen these types of collisions and reduce the level of harm when they do occur. Here are three possibilities.

Address large vehicles’ blind spots

Large vehicles such as SUVs are extremely popular. They are also extraordinarily dangerous for cyclists (and pedestrians). It’s not just their size, which can cause more serious damage in the event of a crash, but also their blind spots. These huge blind spots mean there is a greater chance a driver does not see nearby cyclists.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in a recent study said the adoption of new standards for large vehicles could help. This could include a requirement that trucks over a certain weight come equipped with features to improve visibility and significantly shrink these blind spots.

Bike-friendly infrastructure

Smart street design can have a hugely positive impact on traffic safety, particularly for cyclists. Dedicated, separated bike lanes are a good starting point. We detailed other beneficial features in a previous blog post, including:

  • Bike boxes placed ahead of motorists
  • Bike-specific traffic signals and signs
  • Corner islands
  • Colorful markings

These types of features can make everyone on the road more aware of who might be around them.

Reduce speed limits

This one is pretty straightforward. As one expert told Newsweek, a cyclist is far more likely to survive being hit by a vehicle that is going slower. The NTSB backs up this claim with data. Take crashes that occurred in locations with a posted speed limit of 30-35 mph. These collisions had a 65% higher chance of leaving a cyclist dead or seriously injured than those that happened in 20 mph zones.

It’s a simple change, but one that could help save the life of many cyclists.