Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

May 22, 2014

Education can reduce bicycling deaths

In an instant, lives are changed and lives are lost when bicyclists are struck by vehicles. These type of collisions occur too often in our readership area and we believe education of both drivers and bicyclists is the key to reducing deaths and injuries.

This is National Bicycle Month and activities surrounding bicycling have been occurring. Wednesday, Goshen bicyclists gathered for their annual Ride of Silence to remember local people who have been killed while riding their bicycles. We wish this ride wasn’t necessary. It’s heartbreaking to see people mourning their family members and friends who were taken from them in senseless collisions.

We are hesitant to call these events “traffic accidents,” as there is usually some negligence involved. Some deaths are caused by drivers not paying attention or refusing to simply move over and share the road. And some deaths are the fault of bicyclists who don’t obey traffic laws or who have a moment of inattention. In either case we think more education, especially locally, is needed to reduce deaths and injuries.

According to Indiana State Police statistics cited by the Indiana Bicycle Coalition, LaGrange County had the highest bicycle collision rate in the state per 1,000 of all collisions in 2010 at 12.6. Elkhart County was second, with 9 per 1,000 of all collisions.

The assumption is that counties with higher populations of Amish have higher bicycle collision rates because the Amish use bicycles as primary transportation. This makes sense, but surprisingly, the same report states there were far more bicycle collisions in urban areas than rural areas. But the report concludes bicyclists struck in rural and suburban locations are far more likely to suffer serious injury. This makes sense as rural and suburban areas often have much higher speed limits for vehicles, thus those areas pose an extreme risk for bicyclists.

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