A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association says bike deaths are rising at an alarming rate. The most recent data shows an increase in bike deaths of 12.2 percent in 2015, which outpaced the rise in overall traffic fatalities. The Washington Post reports that translates to about 55 additional deaths per year over the previous year.
The report found several things:
● Alcohol was a factor in 37 percent of fatal bike crashes, with drivers doing the drinking in 12 percent of the cases and bike riders drinking in 22 percent;
● Though it’s estimated that 45,000 cyclists were injured in crashes in 2015, the report said police probably record a fraction of those crashes because bikes don’t get towed from crashes and cars rarely need towing after colliding with a cyclist;
● The majority of fatal bike crashes — 72 percent — took place on the roadway rather than at intersections;
● Distracted driving was to blame for 76 cyclist deaths out of 818 in 2015;
● More than half of cyclists killed were not wearing a helmet;
● Bike fatalities were split at 47 percent between those riding in daylight and those riding after dark, though only 20 percent of bike rides take place after dark;
● A third of people surveyed said they had biked in the past year, but the number of children biking to school has dropped from almost half to 2.2 percent since 1969.
To combat the growing number of bicyclist deaths, the report recommends more marked bike lanes, more clearly defining bike lanes that separate riders from cars, bike boxes at stop lights that give riders a head start when a light turns green, and traffic signals that provide an advanced green signal specifically designated for cyclists.