An intersection, particularly a busy one, can be a source of worry for a cyclist. Vehicles come from multiple directions, sometimes making unpredictable movements along the way, and there is little space to safely maneuver your bike.
While it is true many bicyclists are hit by vehicles at intersections, another type of crash more often results in severe, life-altering injuries: the midblock collision.
The dangers of midblock collisions
Kaiser Health News recently published a story about the rising number of cyclist fatalities in the U.S., citing three main reasons. Americans have been driving more frequently, are often in larger (and more deadly) vehicles such as SUVs or pickup trucks, and continue to drive distracted.
But these types of serious wrecks are actually more prevalent midblock, meaning the stretch of street between intersections. One federal study cited in the story found these midblock crashes are more likely to cause severe or fatal injuries to cyclists.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration information supports this. According to the agency, 58% of cyclist fatalities occur away from intersections, bike lanes or the shoulder.
2 critical factors in midblock crashes
There are generally two big reasons why these midblock collisions are so dangerous.
First, speed. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the more likely it is to cause life-changing injuries to a victim in the event of a crash. Drivers are usually going faster in the middle of a block than they are at an intersection, which often requires slowing down, stopping, or accelerating from a standstill.
Second, distracted driving. As Kaiser notes, motorists involved in midblock collisions with cyclists often say they didn’t see the victim on the bike.
It does not matter where a motorist is along the street. Every person behind the wheel of a vehicle has a responsibility to pay attention, follow the rules of the road and drive in a safe manner. Speeding from one stoplight to the next without a care in the world not only puts bicyclists in harm’s way, but is likely negligent behavior.