As one of the highest ranked Florida communities for bicyclist fatalities, Lee County is acutely aware of the need to improve safety for cyclists (and pedestrians). This national report again puts this growing national problem on the front pages of national newspapers. The report found that bicyclist deaths rose 12.2% in 2015, the largest percentage increase of any roadway user group that year. In response to this safety crisis, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)’s report details 30 actions that states can take to reduce deaths and injuries among people who bike. What are our local elected officials and government agencies doing to address these serious safety concerns in our community?
"I think it [the GHSA report] is a great resource for individuals who want to know more about bicycle safety efforts, state and local agencies looking to address bicycle safety issues, and everyone who wants to know more about why bicyclist safety is a persistent issue in our current transportation system." Ken McLeod, League of American Bicyclists Aug. 25th statement re: report
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2017
Contact: Kara Macek, firstname.lastname@example.org
Better data, law enforcement training, and promotion of roadway improvements among recommendations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – New research shows that bicyclist deaths rose 12.2% to 818 in 2015, the largest percentage increase of all roadway user groups that year (the latest year in which data is available). But unlike decades ago, when children and teens represented the bulk of bicyclist fatalities, today the average age of those killed is 45, and most are male (85%).
These findings are among many detailed in A Right to the Road: Understanding & Addressing Bicyclist Safety, a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Funded by a grant from State Farm®, the publication analyzes national data to understand fatal bicyclist-motor vehicle crash characteristics and offers 30 action steps to help State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and local communities assess their current bicyclist safety programs and take action to improve bicyclist safety.
“We need to ensure that bicyclists and motorists can share roads safely,” said Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. “Unfortunately, bicyclists are vulnerable and much more susceptible to serious injury or death when on the roads with vehicles. That’s why it is so critical that we examine the factors surrounding these crashes and leverage a variety of proven tools to improve bicyclist safety nationwide.”
A unifying theme in many of these crashes is that the motorist often fails to see the bicyclist, while the bicyclist expects the driver to give way and is unable to stop in time to avoid a crash. This illustrates the need for all people to pay attention to their surroundings whenever they take to the road.
Other important data presented in the report includes where and when fatal bicyclist-motor vehicle crashes are occurring (72% in non-intersection locations, and 53% between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., respectively). Alcohol was a factor in 37% of the 2015 bicyclist fatalities for either the cyclist or the driver. The report acknowledges limitations on the currently available data and calls for states and localities to refine crash reports to improve the accuracy of the data collected.
Better crash data is just one of the 30 recommendations. Other key suggestions include: more training for law enforcement to understand state and local laws designed to protect bicyclists; partnering with bicycling and community organizations to amplify driver and cyclist safety messaging; and pairing infrastructure improvements with public education.
“State highway safety agencies are tasked with addressing road user behavior through public awareness, so they are uniquely positioned to educate people about the safety benefits of engineering improvements and build support for better roadway design,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “While engineering solutions are vital, states and communities cannot solely build their way out of the problem. These changes should be accompanied by education and enforcement to be most effective.”
The report also outlines federal safety efforts, possible funding sources, partner organizations, and a wide range of promising state and local programs and policies that communities can use to encourage safer behavior by all road users, whether traveling by bicycle, motor vehicle or on foot.
This comprehensive report was authored by traffic safety expert Pam Fischer, who has previously researched safety topics for GHSA including teen driving, drowsy driving and pedestrian safety. The data analysis was done by Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants. An expert panel of state and federal officials, researchers and bicycle safety advocates served as advisors for the report. Access it and additional resources here: http://www.ghsa.org/resources/bicyclist-safety2017.
GHSA will hold a webinar to discuss this new report on Tuesday, August 29 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at http://bit.ly/bicyclist-webinar17.
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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.
About State Farm®
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 83 million policies and accounts – nearly 81 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 35 on the 2016 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.