Bicycles have been a dominant part of society for as long as anyone alive can remember. Learning how to ride a bicycle is an important turning point of childhood, and taking advantage of the clean, green way of transportation later in life is helping our environment and our bodies thrive. But, it seems with the increase of motor vehicles in our world, bicycle safety is a serious issue.
Recently, we discussed a government study that found Millennials to be less car-focused than their older counterparts. Since Millennials are the nation’s largest generation, their decisions to use more public transportation, bike, and walk more, is important to decreasing the number of cars on the road. And we hope that this decrease will take a stronger effect soon because this week the Governors Highway Safety Association released the data on highway and bicycle safety.
The GHSA’s Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety found that bicycle deaths have been increasing. Between 2010 and 2012, while overall motor vehicle fatalities only increased by one percent, bicyclist deaths increased by 16 percent.
The report shows that adults over 20 years old represented 84 percent of bicyclist deaths as opposed to only 21 percent in 1975. And these numbers are increasing in correlation to the increase of bicycle commuters.
The deaths accounted in the study showed an increase in 22 states with six states in particular representing 54 percent of all fatalities. The states within this category, California, Florida, New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, all have big urban centers which reflect the higher interaction between motor vehicles and bicycles. The study also found that two-thirds of the fatalities were not wearing helmets.
This worrisome data is bringing attention to bicycle safety. Not only do we need to see more mandated helmet, but also better bike lanes and safety measures in big cities. Urban centers account for many of the deaths, and better bicycle-friendly measures could save lives.
People should be inspired to ride bicycles. They are healthier for community and the individual. But instead the dangers of the road may steer people away.