Bicyclists face serious risks out there, sharing the chaotic roadways with our Carolina drivers. Unfortunately, close to 50 Carolina bicyclists experienced the wrath of those risks firsthand in 2011. According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that's how many cyclists were killed in the state during 2011.
Our Charlotte bicycle accident lawyers understand that the risks for these kinds of accidents are on the rise. According to officials with the NHTSA, the number of bicyclists killed in 2011 is close to 10 percent higher than the numbers from 2010. For the entire year, there were close to 700 cyclists killed across the nation. If that isn't bad enough, there were another 50,000 cyclists seriously injured in motor vehicle traffic accidents.
Most of these bicyclist fatalities, 201 (or about 30 percent), occurred between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. The second-highest number of fatalities, 142 (or just more than 20 percent), occurred between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. The fewest bicyclist fatalities occurred between the hours of midnight and 3:59 a.m. It's during the evening hours that you need to be safe and have your attention on your surroundings. If you can, avoid traveling during this time. But if you have to, please do so cautiously.
We're not placing any blame on cyclists. In fact, we want to give you a high five for getting out there, getting active and helping to make our community greener. Unfortunately, not many motorists share the sentiment. Many times, bicyclists are overlooked on our roadways, if not outright disrespected. Although cyclists share the same road and adhere to the same laws as motor vehicle drivers, they're not treated the same. It's important to remember that bicyclists have rights.
It's not a kid's game either. Older bicycle riders face some serious risks. As a matter of fact, the average age of bicyclists killed in traffic accidents in 2011 was 43. During the
last 10 years, that age has been steadily increasing.
Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) have NCDOT launched a project (the Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan) to improve walking and bicycling conditions statewide and develop a vision for the future of bicycling and walking in the state. Important tasks included reviewing the current status of bicycling and walking safety, researching appropriate strategies for improvement, and identifying the most efficient avenues to apply those strategies.
Bicyclists don't have the safe places they need to bike in too many areas of the state. Whether they're doing it for their health, for exercise or for transportation, we need to make sure they have a safe, more efficient way to get around.
It's important that drivers keep a lookout for these vulnerable travelers. Look before making turns or lane changes in traffic. Your extra second could mean the different between life and death for a bicyclist who could be a neighbor, coworker or friend.