Increase in bike commuting means greater need to share the road

Fort Collins was highlighted recently in a USA Today story on the surge in bicycle commuting over the past decade. According to the report, the number of Americans who bike to work increased by 60 percent in the past decade, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Fort Collins, 6.8 percent of commuters opt for pedal-powered, two-wheeled transportation. Nationwide, less than 1 percent of commuters bike to work.

Bicycling provides benefits to both individuals and communities, increasing personal health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In smaller cities such as Fort Collins, where the majority of commutes are 5 miles or shorter, riding a bicycle can actually be faster than driving.

But as research by The Coloradoan shows, increased cycling also means increased cyclist injuries.

In 2012, the Fort Collins bicycle crash rate reached 12.1 per 10,000 people – up from 9.5 per 10,000, The Coloradoan reports. Some believe public records undercount vehicle-bicycle crashes, as crashes that result in minor injuries or no injury often are not reported.

“Our crashes are definitely trending up,” city traffic engineer Joe Olson told the newspaper. “What we don’t know is whether it is less safe or whether there are more bicyclists on the road.”

The USA Today report seems to indicate that it is because there are more cyclists, although Olson said that it’s not possible to come up with concrete ridership numbers.

An analysis of city data by The Coloradoan shows that 57 percent of bike-car crashes are the fault of motorists, while 43 percent are the cyclist’s fault. Both parties are at fault in a quarter of the accidents. Under Colorado law, bicycle accident victims can recover damages in accidents where their fault does not exceed 50 percent.

Drivers of motor vehicles must do their part to safely share the road with cyclists. Drivers should be aware of bicyclists and avoid becoming angry or impatient with two-wheeled commuters, who have the same right to be on the roads.

June is Bike Month in Fort Collins and the rest of Colorado. The month-long celebration of bicycle culture could see an even greater increase of cyclists on city roads, especially on Summer Bike to Work Day. The event is scheduled for June 25.

Bicyclists looking to take a more active role in their safety can visit the City of Fort Collins website and learn more about bicycle safety classes. Drivers who want to be safer around bicycles can read up on the bicycle rules and regulations, which includes a section on Sharing the Road.

Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Law Firm

Attorney Steve Ray is a former Marine Corps judge now fights for the rights of bicycle accident victims in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. If you have been seriously injured in a bicycle accident involving an automobile, truck or other vehicle, he brings more than 35 years of legal experience and military discipline to pursuing your claim for compensation.

He will meet with you to discuss your case and, if a claim is possible, pursue the maximum financial recovery available. If we cannot recover money for you, you will pay nothing for our legal services.

Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.