As more people take to the roads on their bikes, this reminder comes from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood: Everyone needs to pay attention when using America’s roads, whether they’re walking, biking or driving.
More and more Americans are taking up cycling, and the fatality numbers mirror that increase. In 2007, 698 cyclists were killed in the United States.
Bicycling has been embraced by many baby boomers. Whether they’re riding for fun, exercise or to save on gas, more people are riding bicycles, according to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics. The aging trend can also be found in NHTSA’s latest fatality statistics. For the 10th straight year, the average age of persons killed on bicycles has increased. Research shows that in 1997 the average age of a person killed in a bicycle crash was 31; in 2007 it increased to over 40.
"Our roads and communities must be built to allow people to get around safely outside of their cars, on bike or on foot,” LaHood says. “These statistics show that our transportation program needs to have a much greater focus on making our roadways safe for bicyclists."
Since 1992, the Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has provided more than $4.5 billion in federal aid for bicycle and pedestrian safety programs. The states have used federal-aid funds to construct shared use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians, and to provide bicycle lanes and bicycle parking, and other highway safety features to reduce fatalities and to increase bicycle use. FHWA also actively promotes bicycle safety through Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and the National Center for Safe Routes to School. These efforts balance FHWA’s commitment to easing traffic congestion with keeping roads safe for all users.
“The most important thing bicyclists and motorists need to remember is that they both share the road equally,” says NHTSA’s Acting Deputy Administrator Ron Medford.
Recent data shows that the bicyclist deaths in 2007 accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities with an additional 44,000 injured in traffic crashes.
To avoid the risk of becoming a fatality, motorists and cyclists are urged to take extra precaution when driving and riding.
Recognize that bicyclists have a right to ride on the roadway;
Always stay alert;
Make a visual check for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks;
Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals;
Wear a bicycle helmet every time you ride;
Make yourself visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear (clothing, arm or leg bands, etc.) in low light conditions,- and use head and tail lights at night.
To review NHTSA’s latest bicyclist and other cyclist traffic safety facts, click here.