The most recent data published by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates there were 630 people killed in bicycle accidents in 2009, approximately 2% of all traffic fatalities during the year. North Carolina reported 16 bicycle accident fatalities in 2009, a little more than 1 a month average.
Our personal injury lawyers in Hickory, Asheville, and elsewhere in the state understand that cyclist like to enjoy scenic riding on weekends. But you are reminded to be careful when riding along major roadways next to motor vehicles. The greatest risk of being involved in a North Carolina bicycle accident comes with sharing the roadway with motorists.
Most women, senior citizens, and parents of young children don’t feel safe to ride a bicycle on major roadways. Statistics show that 87% of the cyclists killed in 2009 were male and most were between the ages of 45-54. It isn’t necessarily that females are more cautious, but rather they choose to bike less than males. Surveys have shown that women would be more likely to ride a bicycle if separate bike paths were established.
A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek reports that separate bike-only tracks lower injury rates by 28% when compared to lanes riding alongside motor vehicle traffic. Cyclists who are physically separated from street traffic are less likely to get killed or injured on separate bike paths that have well-designed red and green bike signals at intersections.
The Netherlands, a small country with under 17 million residents, has roughly 18,000 miles of separate bike-only tracks. United States has approximately 20 miles of similar tracks but they are mostly found in a few large cities like New York, Seattle and Portland. In comparison, over 25% of the Dutch commute by bike; less than ½ of 1% of Americans commute to work by bicycle.
Most Americans would vote in favor of the implementation of separate bike-only paths in the states. With the surging gas prices and unhealthy lifestyles too many of us lead, bicycling could be a welcomes alternative as long as riders can feel safe while cycling.
Whether you ride for pleasure or as a means of transportation, bicyclists should always remember to wear their helmet and be extra careful when riding alongside motorists on North Carolina roadways.
For more information about bike paths and bike laws in North Carolina, visit North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, call our personal injury lawyers in Hickory, Asheville, or Winston-Salem to discuss your legal rights. The Law Offices of Lee & Smith fight aggressively for their clients so call 1-800-887-1965 for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your case.