February 16, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Minneapolis study sheds light on causes of bike-car accidents
Article provided by Walsh & Gaertner, P.A.
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The Twin Cities area is well-known throughout the country for its pro-bike culture. Metro-area Minnesotans love to ride, and local governments in St. Paul, Minneapolis and many suburban communities have been working hard over the last several years to increase options for cyclists and make Twin Cities streets safer for bicycle commuters.
Despite these improvements, car-bike accidents are still a pressing concern for cyclists and motorists alike. In response to this issue, the city of Minneapolis recently adopted a strategic goal to reduce bicycle crashes by 10 percent. Its first step to reaching that goal was to conduct a comprehensive 10-year retrospective study of car-bike accidents in Minneapolis in an attempt to understand why crashes happen and what can be done to prevent them.
Perhaps the most interesting finding in the city's study was the fact that both drivers and cyclists are almost equally to blame for causing accidents. The study found that cyclists were at least partially at fault in 59 percent of recorded crashes, while drivers took part of the blame in 64 percent of accidents. The most common causes of fault on the part of cyclists were failure to yield the right of way and disregarding a traffic signal. Failure to yield was also the most common driver error, followed by inattentive or distracted driving and improper lane use.
Of course, even though the blame may be shared, cyclists still have a lot more to lose in a collision. The city found that although bikers sustained injury in approximately 90 percent of all car-bike accidents, there was no record of drivers being injured at all.
Intersections and busy streets the most dangerous
The study found that busy streets and complicated intersections tended to be the most dangerous places for bicycle riders in Minneapolis. The intersection of Cedar Avenue, Franklin Avenue and Minnehaha Avenue in the Seward neighborhood had more crashesthan any other location in the city, followed by two spots on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
City officials also discovered that busy roads and intersections become safer when marked bike lanes are installed. Bike lanes serve a dual purpose of keeping cyclists out of the flow of traffic and letting drivers know when it is ok to move into a cyclist's lane of travel in order to make a turn.
Safety is everyone's responsibility
The city hopes that the study's findings will help policymakers come up with new strategies to keep bicycle commuters safe. While this is certainly a noble goal, it is important for Twin Cities residents to remember that public policy can only do so much -- ultimately, the burden is on drivers and cyclists to make sure they are paying attention, following the rules of the road and being respectful of others.
If a bike-car accident does happen, injured cyclists should take immediate steps to protect their rights. To start, this means getting a police report and seeking appropriate medical attention. Then, talk with an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney can review the case and advise the injured cyclist about any legal actions or insurance benefits he or she may be entitled to pursue.---
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