It’s an unfortunate reality that cyclists face a lot of risks when they ride near traffic. Drivers often don’t see bikes, especially when they are behind the wheel of an oversized truck or an SUV. Some drivers see bikes, but also drive aggressively or negligently, such as passing when there’s not enough space to do so safely – or within the guidelines set up by local laws.
Cyclists do need to be aware of the risk that motorists around them may not take any great care concerning their safety. Even when laws are in place to keep cyclists safe, drivers may still break those laws or commit serious errors.
Nearly 1,000 annual deaths
Every year, roughly 1,000 cyclists pass away in traffic crashes. For instance, there were 966 fatalities in 2021. These deaths even appear to be getting more common for men who are over 20, although other age groups are in decline.
A summer threat
As you may expect, studies have also found that fatal accidents happen most often in the summer. The highest number of deaths usually occurs from June to September each year. This is simply due to favorable weather, and also to the fact that children are not in school. For many children who are under 16, a bicycle is their only means of transportation.
An urban issue
Interestingly, deadly cycling accidents do seem to happen more often in urban areas than they do in rural areas. Nearly 75% of all fatalities are in urban centers. This is likely due to higher traffic levels. But speed limits are faster in rural areas, so cyclists also face risks when traveling in less populated areas as well.
Can cyclists stay safe?
There are some tactics that cyclists can use to improve their own safety. Focusing on visibility is very important, seeing as how many drivers say that they “never saw” a cyclist before hitting them. Cyclists may also want to equip their bikes with lights, even during the day. Even when they are visible, however, cyclists should still practice defensive riding and assume that the drivers around them are going to make critical mistakes.
Unfortunately, even defensive riding and high visibility can’t prevent every accident. Those who have been injured need know what legal options they have available to them. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.