Study says better bike crash data could help prevent accidents

Spring is in the air at last, and that means the onset of bicycle season in Connecticut. With more and more people choosing to ride their bikes for transportation, exercise and recreation in recent years, bicycle safety has become an issue of growing concern nationwide. A new report from researchers at Harvard says that changes are needed in the way bike accidents are reported in order to help improve bicycle safety.

The report, which was published recently in the journal Injury Prevention, explains that existing police reporting methods for traffic accidents involving bikes fail to provide many important details that could shed light on exactly how and why those crashes occur - as well as how to prevent them.

Data could inform infrastructure upgrades

Researchers involved in the study say that better data collection methods could help city planners design roads, bike lanes and intersections that are safer for bicyclists. The data could also fuel innovation in other areas, including the development of vehicle safety features such signals that could warn approaching bicyclists when a door is about to open.

Examples of the additional bicycle crash data that the researchers say would be helpful include:

  • Whether a bike lane was present, and if so how it was set off from motorized traffic (e.g., painted lines, physical barrier, etc.)
  • Specific points of impact on the bicycle and motor vehicle
  • The type of car or truck involved
  • Bicycle-crash-scene patterns

The report was based on an analysis of 300 collisions between bikes and motor vehicles that resulted in injuries or deaths in New York City. Researchers reviewed the reports from each crash to identify potentially useful missing information that could be compiled into a set of variables and included in police crash report templates. Existing crash reports, they say, are outdated and provide little opportunity to record useful details about accidents involving bikes.

New Haven makes the list for top cycling communities

Nationally, bicycle commuting has increased by nearly two-thirds since the year 2000, according to data from the National Household Transportation Survey. According to U.S. Census data, about 2.7 percent of people ride their bikes to work in New Haven, which is ranked tenth among the top 15 mid-size U.S. cities for bicycle ridership and is the only Connecticut city to make the list.

Unfortunately, with increased ridership comes a corresponding increase in traffic accidents involving bikes. Because bicycles are much smaller and lack the protective features of cars and trucks, cyclists are at a distinct disadvantage in traffic accidents and are much more likely than motorists to be injured or killed. In 2012, a total of 726 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents throughout the United States, and many more suffered serious, non-fatal injuries.

Compensation may be available for injured cyclists

Very often, when cars and bikes collide, it is the result of the vehicle driver's failure to see or yield the right of way to the bicyclist. When a cyclist is hurt or killed in a crash with a motorized vehicle, the injured cyclists or his or her dependents may be able to collect financial compensation for the expenses they incur as a result of the crash, including lost income, medical costs and other damages.

To learn more about your legal rights and available options after a bike crash in Connecticut, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante, P.C.