Bicycling Deaths Climb Toward Record

Bicycling Deaths Climb Toward Record

Bicycling is fun pastime with a multitude of personal and societal benefits.  For example, it is great exercise.  It can reduce the number of cars on the road, thereby saving money and reducing the carbon load on the planet.  Unfortunately, a recent report states that the dangers cyclists face is on the rise in the state of New Jersey. The 2015 study, “A Right to the Road,” released by the Governors Highway Traffic Safety Association reported that the national tally of that year reached 818, or almost 16 fatalities each week. This represents a dreadful 12.2 percent rise in fatal bicycle accidents vs. prior years.

Even worse, a 2016 report by New Jersey State Police indicates 18 bike fatalities were reported in 2016. And, as bad as that was, data for 2017 suggests this year may be even worse.   The latest state fatality figures show nine bicycle fatalities in the first eight months of 2017; that is two (2) more than were reported as of this same time last year.  Unfortunately, these data cannot provide us with a clear explanation for this deadly trend.

New Jersey officials have several different plans of action to increase bicycle safety. These measures include: installing cameras to help reduce the number of speeding vehicles and the running of red-lights; establishing “safe-passing” parameters which would given cyclists a cushion of up to three feet from passing vehicles; and, creating a stable state funding source devoted exclusively to bicycle safety.  Cyclists and community safety advocates in New Jersey have been pushing for a safe-passing law for years, and with luck that may be on our horizon.

Bicycle Safety Tips

With this shocking number of bike-related fatalities, cyclists in the Garden State should remember that a bicycle is not a toy; it’s essentially a “vehicle” and should be treated as one when riding on the roadways.  Further, given their vulnerability to injury in a crash, cyclists should always use precautions while cycling.  For example:

  • Always wear a properly fitted bike helmet. In New Jersey, anyone under the age of 17 that rides a bike or is a passenger is mandated to wear a helmet. However, people of all ages should wear a properly fitting helmet for protection. This simple step could save your life.
  • Make sure your bike fits you properly. Your bike should properly fit your height and body type. Bike fit is a matter of personal preference, to some extent, but there are guidelines. For instance, a person should generally be able to touch the ground comfortably while standing over the bicycle.  The positioning of the seat should enable a slight bend at the knee when the pedal is at the bottom of its travel.  If you have questions about how your bike fits, consult your local bike shop.
  • Make sure you are clearly visible. Whatever time you choose to ride, you should be clearly visible to others. Wearing neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors, and including reflective materials enhances visibility at any time of day or night.
  • Treat your bicycle as your vehicle. Ride in the same direction as traffic on the right-hand side of the travel lane. Obey any and all traffic laws that a vehicle would have to adhere to. And bear in mind that while cyclists may be permitted to use the shoulder, the townships are under generally under no special obligation to keep the shoulder free and clear of conditions which are hazardous to cyclists.  So “user beware”
  • Be alert. Be sure to use your eyes and ears at all times to look for dangerous settings and listening for oncoming traffic. Use of headphones is not a good practice. When turning, always look behind you and signal before making a turn to ensure the driver knows where you are going.  And, above all, use common sense.

Princeton Bicycle Accident Lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC Advocate for Cyclists’ Rights

If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, contact the Princeton bicycle accident lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC. We work tirelessly for your rights. Contact us by calling 609-786-2540 or submit an online inquiry. We proudly represent clients throughout New Jersey.

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