Why Bay Area Biking Safety Is Increasingly Important
As a Bay Area biking fanatic, you devote countless hours to exploring parks and highways, building and maintaining your bike and getting well-deserved fresh air and cardio. Bike safety advocates, meanwhile, are excited about multiple new developments, such as:
The advent of Google’s self-driving cars, which theoretically will make the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists if adopted on a wide scale;
Increased awareness of the utility of biking as a means to combat climate change and reduce traffic congestion;
New helmet technologies, which might reduce the scope and severity of bike related head injuries.
On the other hand, new developments – at least from a safety standpoint – are somewhat double-edged.
Three New Safety Challenges for Bay Area Biking
1. More bikers on the road = more injuries.
Given the increase in popularity of biking, we should expect to see an associated increase in the number of bike accident injuries and fatalities in the region. Indeed, according to the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration, bicycle injuries climbed from 45,000 in 2001 to 48,000 in 2013, and the NHTSA documented an 8.9 percent spike in bike fatalities from 2011 to 2013.
2. Distracted driving also is creating new hazards.
Despite laws against texting while driving or speaking on a cellphone without a hands free device, many Bay Area motorists routinely drive while only half paying attention. The difference between a potentially fatal (or at least very serious) bike accident and a heart pounding near miss can often be measured in milliseconds. Many new cars feature dashboards that allow drivers to engage with social media and the internet while traveling. Meanwhile, studies like this one out of the University of Utah suggest that even talking on a cellphone with a hands free headset is as dangerous as driving DUI. This evidence suggests that the march of technology might make the situation even more increasingly treacherous for bikers.
3. Cyclists and motorists alike may be developing a false sense that better technologies will protect them, and this false security could compromise their vigilance. In his groundbreaking book, Traffic, journalist Tom Vanderbilt, for instance, discussed how the advent of automatic breaking systems (ABS) in cars should have led to a steep decrease in the number of accidents across the country. However, this decrease never showed up in the data. Why? According to Vanderbilt and other analysts, drivers using these new braking systems became over-confident in the technology and started following other cars more closely. They wrongly assumed that the technology would accommodate for this slack in vigilance.
If you or someone you love got injured in a recent bicycle crash, our experienced Bay Area bicycle law team would be happy to discuss your case and help you strategize regarding how to proceed. Please call or email us today for a free consultation.