The warmer weather and concerns about climate change have led many people to using bicycles as a mode of transportation more frequently. As well-intentioned as this is, they may be putting themselves in danger. Even when taking safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet, bicycle riders are more vulnerable in accidents with motor vehicles due to simple physics.

If you’re a bicycle rider, you’re well aware of the potential risks you face. Many cities, including Richmond and many other places in Virginia, are making a point to increase safety measures to protect both bicyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, studies show that the number of fatal bicycle accidents is on the rise.

What the study found

The League of American Bicyclists published a study at the start of the year that showed 2016 had the highest number of fatal bike accidents since 1991. Over the past few decades the number of bicyclist deaths has ranged from 600-800. When looking at the years of 2006-2016 specifically, the average is 800 deaths each year.

The good news is that bicyclists deaths actually dropped in 2017 to 783, but researchers say the overall rate is still rising. One researcher from People for Bikes says that the number of fatal bicycle accidents has gone up by 2% each year for the past five years, even considering the drop in fatalities in 2017. They examine the number of cyclists as compared to the number of cyclists who suffer a fatal accident while riding.

Why is this happening?

Researchers admit that this is partly due to a rise in the number of bicyclists riding for transportation. The number of people who use their bikes to commute has gone up by 6.4% over the past ten years. There are other factors in play that still have them concerned.

Certain factors relating to motor vehicles may account for the increase in cyclist deaths. The number of motorists on the road has gone up as well as the overall mileage that they drive. The rise in smartphone use may also be to blame for bicycle fatalities. People are driving larger vehicles that can increase the chance a cyclist will die when he or she is in an accident with a car. Researchers also say that the number of people living in large U.S. cities increased significantly.

What can we do to change?

One way to prevent bicycle accidents is for cities to become more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. This means adding bike lanes and other infrastructure to keep riders safer. Educating riders of all ages about how to protect themselves can also make a difference. Experts also say that roadways need to be redesigned with safety in mind for both motorists and bicyclists.

Even with proper precautions, bicycle accidents will still happen. If you or someone you care about is unfortunate enough to experience an accident involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle, it is important that you understand your rights in dealing with the aftermath. You have several options before you that can help you move forward with your life.

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