Did you know that in 2007, the State of Wisconsin had 10 bicycle fatalities? Pedalcyclist fatalities occurred more frequently in urban areas (72%), at non-intersection locations (64%), between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m. (26%), and during the months of June (11%) and September (11%). In 2007, 698 pedalcyclists were killed and an additional 44,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States.
A 2006 study showed that using bike helmets can reduce head injuries by up to 85%. However, not all bicycle-related injuries and deaths can be addressed by the use of safety equipment alone. Rider actions and reactions - especially obeying traffic laws - play a major role in contributing to injury-free bicycling. Statistics were provided by www.nhtsa.dot.gov as of March of 2010.
Pedalcyclists age 25 and older have made up an increasing proportion of all pedalcyclist deaths since 1997. The proportion of pedalcyclist fatalities age 25 to 64 was 1.4 times higher in 2007 as in 1997 (64% and 46%, respectively).
Alcohol involvement - either for the driver or the pedalcyclist - was reported in more than one-third of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedalcyclist fatalities in 2007. In 33 percent of the crashes, either the driver or the cyclist was reported to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Lower alcohol levels (BAC .01 to .07 g/dL) were reported in an additional 10 percent of crashes. Over one-fourth (31%) of the pedalcyclists killed had a BAC of .01 g/dL or higher, and nearly one-fourth (25%) had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher.
Most of the pedalcyclists killed or injured in 2007 were males (88% and 83%, respectively), and most were between the ages of 5 and 44 (55% and 79%, respectively).
In 2007, the pedalcyclist fatality rate per capita was eight times higher for males than for females, and the injury rate per capita was more than five times higher for males.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission give the following safety tips:
- Protect your head. Wear a helmet.
- See and be seen. Wear bright colors or reflective stripes.
- Avoid biking at night.
- Stay alert. Look out for obstacles in your path.
- Go with the flow. Ride with traffic.
- Check for traffic. Be aware of traffic around you, especially at intersections and driveways.
- Learn the rules of the road. Obey traffic laws.
- Assure bicycle readiness. Is your bicycle properly adjusted?
- Can you stop? Check brakes before riding.
- Check your wheels. "Quick release" wheels should be securely fastened.
Review these safety tips again this time, reflect on your own bicycling experiences. Most people have experienced or observed a near miss situation where these safety tips were not followed. Remember there is not much to protect you on a bicycle from injury other than following safe practices.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has an excellent web page on rules for riding bicycles on the road. www.dot.state.wi.us/safety/vehicle/bicycle/rules.htm This web site has a link to a summary of Wisconsin Statutes that pertain to bicycling.
Hand signals on turning and stopping - Indicate your signals in this manner.
- Left turn - Hand and arm extended horizontally
- Right turn - hand and arm extended upward
- Stop and decrease speed - hand and arm extended downward
Motorist passing bicyclist - The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle shall exercise due care, leaving a safe distance, but in no case less than 3 feet clearance until safely passed the overtaken bicycle.