As the number of bicyclists and bike commuters continues to increase, so does the number of bicycle accidents involving motorists, which often result in death.
On Tuesday night, a couple from Morris was hit by an SUV while riding along a small rural road around 7 p.m. Both were announced dead that night, according to NBC. In Michigan, an “erratic pickup truck driver,” hit nine cyclists on June 7, and five of them died.
Overall, the United States has a fatality rate of 21 per 100 million bicycle trips. In 2014, Chicago was recognized as fifth in the nation for bike fatalities, and from 2010 to 2012, the number of deaths rose 16 percent, where 80 Illinois cyclists were killed on the road. Areas just north and northwest of the Loop accounted for over one-third of the accidents, and about half of the crashes occur during the day from June to August.
In the same three-year span in California, there were 338 reported fatalities, and Florida had 329. Additionally, the number of bicycle related deaths were up 57 percent in the state of Michigan in 2015, according to recently released statistics.
Clearly, bike safety cannot be stressed enough. Of those involved in accidents, two thirds were not wearing helmets. In the U.S., 21 states have a law requiring riders under 18 to wear helmets, but Illinois does not have a helmet law.
However, Chicago riders using Divvy, seem to be more safe; since the program started in June 2013, there have been 37 reported crashes and zero deaths.
In an effort to protect bicyclists, riders need to keep the following tips in mind at all times:
- Bikers have the same rights applicable to the driver of a vehicle
- Always ride with the traffic rather than against it
- Ride close to right-hand curb or edge of roadway
- In a large group, single file riding is usually the safest option
- Bicyclists should always use signals
- Cyclists need to have reflectors on all night rides (front lamp and rear red reflector)
- Wear a helmet
- Don’t be distracted by music or your phone while riding
- Do a quick bike test – make sure brakes and wheels are working properly
The Naperville Police Department and Naperville Park District have begun recognizing bikers that demonstrate safe bike habits. When someone is seen wearing a helmet, obeying traffic laws, locking up bikes when not in use, and remaining visible, the rider will receive a coupon for a free ice cream cone at a local café.