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Bicycle fatalities a mounting problem for urban adults

As gas prices are getting higher and people are becoming more conscious about their health and their eco-footprints, a greater number of California residents are depending on bicycles instead of cars to get them to and from work. In fact, data from the 2013 Census Bureau shows that the number of bicycling commuters has increased by 62 percent since 2000.

However, while this is good news for our wallets, our health and our Earth, there is also a less cheery side to the booming bicycle brigade. According to a recently-released report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), bicycle fatalities are also on the rise, especially among adults ages 20 and older.

The GHSA's "Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety" report indicated that annual bicyclist fatalities were up 16 percent between 2010 and 2012 even though motor vehicle fatalities overall increased by only 1 percent over the same period of time.

Worse for California residents is the fact that the state was one of six that saw 54 percent of all bicycle fatalities in the country over the past two years. California urbanites will sulk further knowing that the report found that 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012 occurred in urban areas, which is a significant jump from 50 percent in 1975.

A GHSA spokesman said the high number of bicycle fatalities in urban areas "likely reflect[s] a high level of bicycle exposure and interaction with motor vehicles."

Even though bicycle fatalities still only represent a tiny portion of the total number of motor vehicle accident fatalities (2 percent) that occur nationwide, State Highway Safety Offices are starting to give bicyclist safety more attention as a result of the rising number of fatal bicycle accidents.

Hopefully, state and local officials are able to work together in effort to make California cities safer for bicyclists. After all, the increased popularity of bicycling has many positive effects for California residents and society as a whole.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, "Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups," Oct. 27, 2014

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