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Study: More bikers on the road, fewer collisions with vehicles

Over the last few years, gas prices have generally been on an upward trend. Knowing the expense associated with driving, particularly in local traffic, many people have turned to alternative modes of transportation. Many people have found that biking is an effective way to move around a city, in addition to getting exercise.

Despite many of the positive associations with bicycling in the city, there are still overwhelming safety concerns. Certainly, bikes are infinitely more fuel efficient than a motor vehicle, but they lack the physical protection of a car. Even when cyclists take precautions by wearing a helmet, a car-bicycle accident can result in fatal injuries and the potential for a wrongful death claim.

Even with this concern in mind, many people might not want to give up biking, since they have the same right to be on the road. Rather than forsaking the ability to bike, many people might be looking for ways to improve safety.

According to a global study conducted by the European Cyclists' Federation, which included data from 68 California cities, there seems to be a connection between safety and the number of bikes on local roads. The idea is that as motorists get used to growing numbers of cyclists, they will become more inclined to remain alert and share the road. At the same time, the authors point out that if local roads are perceived to be safe, more people will feel comfortable to rely on their bicycles as a mode of transportation.

As more people decide to ride their bikes within the city, drivers should make efforts to become familiar with local laws and give bikers their space. Motorists should always be aware of their surroundings and keep safety as a top priority, regardless of how prevalent cycling is in their local area. It's important to note that drivers can be held liable for crashes caused by traffic violations or inattentive driving.

Beyond the responsibilities of individual drivers, local governments can also look at infrastructure. If current road designs put bikers in an unnecessarily dangerous position, changes may have to be considered.

Source: CNN.com, "City cycling: Road to fitness, or accident waiting to happen?" Lesley Evans Ogden, March 4, 2014

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