Crashes: could our systems be at fault?

Bike crashes occur for many reasons, from drivers opening car doors without care to cyclists getting caught in the rain during their commute, resulting in a crash due to low visibility and slick streets. Yet, those aren't the only variables at play in traffic crashes. Could your systems and infrastructure be to blame? 

City size & road conditions directly impact bicycle safety

Studies show
that bicycle accidents tend to happen more frequently and result in more serious injuries in urban locations. In fact, around 70% of bike crashes resulting in a fatality occur in heavily populated cities across the nation. In contrast, rural areas with less traveled roads have more opportunity to create safer infrastructure for cyclists, resulting in fewer accidents.

Unfortunately, urban area roads tend to experience disrepair more often than rural community roads. Around 13% of all cycling accidents that result in injury occur due to roads that are in disrepair.

The answer: safer infrastructure for all

It doesn’t stop there. When most roads and systems are put into place without considering all modes of transportation, it creates unsafe conditions for all. Automobiles are still considered to be the “normal” mode of transportation, regardless of the increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists sharing the road.

The answer lies in creating safer infrastructure and systems for all. Studies show that areas with infrastructure built with cyclists in mind experience the lowest risk for cycling accidents. These areas include facilities such as dedicated bike routes, paths and on-road marked bike lanes. Dedicated bike lanes alone can cut cycling injuries in half.

Beyond improving safety for cyclists, proper infrastructure reduces motor vehicle-related crashes as well as pedestrian risk.

Moving forward with Minnesota's Complete Streets policy

Many states, including Minnesota, are working toward creating safer systems for all individuals, regardless of their mode of transportation. Minnesota’s Complete Streets policy outlines the unique road planning and design needs individuals require to travel safely from Point A to Point B. Some of the options include:

  • Paved shoulders
  • Bicycle lanes
  • Pedestrian refuge medians
  • Updated striping
  • Signal retiming

Our current systems and infrastructure can indeed be to blame for many bike crashes. Although the Complete Streets policy and state regulations are a great start, it’s up to us to continue to advocate for change to make our city streets safer places for all.

If you've experienced a bike crash, don't wait to reach out for help. An experienced bicycle attorney can help you get back out on the road, regardless of who's at fault. 

Photo of Dan Brazil standing outside on a sunny day


Attorney Daniel J. Brazil of Brazil Law Group is an experienced personal injury attorney with offices located in Uptown. He has a passion for the outdoors, especially cycling and climbing. Learn more about Dan and his practice by following him on Twitter (@LawDanielBrazil and #MplsBikeAttorney). 

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