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SECTION III Type of Problem Being Addressed General Description of the Problem Since the nationwide peak of 1,003 bicyclist fatalities reported in 1975 in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), traffic-related bicyclist fatalities and injuries have trended down- ward. Over the past 10 years, the number of fatalities has generally trended downward, although the most recent 2 years have shown a clear increase (see Exhibit III-1). The NHTSA National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) reports that fatalities have been from 2 to 25 percent below the number killed in 1995 (830 bicyclists) for 8 of the 10 years, even while all motor vehicle crash fatalities have shown increases since 1995. In 2005, 784 bicyclists (5.5 percent below the 1995 level) were killed in collisions with motor vehicles, an increase of 8 percent from 2004 and nearly 27 percent from the 10-year low of 622 bicyclist fatalities recorded in 2003. The 2005 number represented about 2 percent of those killed in all motor vehicle crashes for the year, a proportion that has remained relatively constant in recent years. A total of 45,000 bicyclists were estimated injured nationwide in crashes with motor vehicles in 2005, which represents an increase in both the number of bicyclists injured and the pro- portion of all traffic injuries (2 percent) from 2004 (NHTSA, NCSA, from General Estimates System [GES], Exhibit III-2). Reported injuries do not include crashes not reported to the police, even if the bicyclist may have been injured, but this figure likely captures most serious roadway crashes involving motor vehicles. While the number of bicyclist injuries and fatalities fluctuates from year to year, potentially reflecting economic conditions, variations in weather, riding exposure, and other trends, as well as chance variation, the general downward trends have been good news. The recent increases in fatalities over the past 2 years, however, dramatically reinforce the need for adoption of strategies to reduce collisions involving bicyclists. EXHIBIT III-1 Bicyclist Fatalities from 19952005 (NHTSA, NCSA, Traffic Safety Facts 2005 Data; Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, from FARS Data) 900 830 813 761 761 750 784 800 690 693 725 662 700 622 600 500 Bicyclist 400 Fatalities 300 Two-Year 200 Average 100 0 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 III-1
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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED EXHIBIT III-2 Bicyclist Injuries from 1995 to 2005 (NHTSA, NCSA, 2005; Data from GES Estimates) 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 The NBWS published in 1994 stated goals of doubling the percentage of total trips made by bicycling and walking while concurrently reducing the number of bicyclists killed or injured in traffic crashes by 10 percent. The "Ten Year Status Report" released in October 2004 indicates that bicycling trips increased from 1.7 billion, representing 0.7 percent of all trips in 1990, to 3.3 billion (0.9 percent mode share) in 1995, more than doubling the number in 5 years (based on Nationwide Personal Transportation Surveys data). The estimates may not be completely comparable since new interviewing techniques were introduced with the 1995 survey that may have captured more trips. The number of trips remained static, however, from 1995 to 2001 (from 2001 National Household Travel Survey [NHTS] data), with the mode share decreasing from 0.9 to 0.8 percent by 2001. Data from the U.S. Census Journey to Work survey indicate that the number and percentage of people riding bicycles to work declined from 1990 to 2000. The increase in bicycle trips suggested by the NHTS data may therefore be due mostly to increases in other utilitarian and recreational trips (Raborn, 2004). Although the bicycle percentage of all trips has not doubled over the past 10 years, the fact that numbers of injuries and fatalities and fatality rates per population have decreased over this general time period (see Exhibit III-3), while the number of bicycling trips has increased, is good news. The proportions of these declines that are due to improved safety of roadways and other facilities and improvements in the skill and behavior of bicyclists and motorists, or that may be due to changes in the type of riding and exposure such as the relative amounts or locations of riding by child and adult riders, is unknown because detailed exposure data for bicyclists are lacking. There are indications of possible changes in exposure by different age groups. For example, not only have adult cyclists accounted for an increasing proportion of bicyclist fatalities in recent years as the older population has increased, but the fatality rate per population for adults aged 35 and above has been increasing, while the fatality rate for children has been decreasing. To continue toward the goals of increasing bicycling and walking trip share, states and com- munities are increasingly focusing on efforts to support active transportation and recreation. There are multiple reasons to improve opportunities for bicycling, including the health and fitness of community members, decreased motor vehicle congestion, and improved air quality. Some population groups, such as those with a lower income, may also depend heavily on III-2
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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED EXHIBIT III-3 Fatality Rates per Million Population for Years 1994 and 2004, and Injury Rate per Million Population, 2004 (NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 19942004 Data) fatality rate 2004 fatality rate 1994 injury rate 2004 9 400 Injury Rate per Million Million Population 8 350 Fatality Rate per 7 300 Population 6 250 5 200 4 3 150 2 100 1 50 0 0 0-4 5-9 10-15 16-20 21-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65-69 70-79 80+ Age Group bicycling for basic transportation. Children should also be able to safely bicycle to school. Communities have an obligation to provide safe access for all populations. Therefore, states and communities are tasked with improving safety and reducing the numbers of bicyclists killed and injured on our roadways while encouraging and increasing opportunities for bicycling. States and Local Areas with the Highest Numbers of Crashes Bicyclist fatalities and fatality rates tend to vary from year to year as well as by state and local jurisdiction. In 2005, the total bicyclist fatality rate across the United States was 2.64 per million population. Exhibit III-4 provides bicyclist fatality rates for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. On average, bicyclists accounted for approximately 2 percent of all fatalities resulting from motor vehicle crashes in 2005. This proportion has remained relatively constant in recent years. Factors Affecting the Number and Severity of Crashes Bicyclists' and motorists' behaviors as well as roadway, traffic, and light conditions, many of which are discussed below, are among the factors that may contribute to bicycle crashes. Specific bicyclist and motorist maneuvers that may lead to crashes are identified in the Precipitating Events section. Alcohol Involvement Alcohol or other impairment is a significant factor for overall crashes and crash severity. For all crashes, nearly 11 percent of drivers were reported to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication, and alcohol was involved in 40 percent of fatalities (NHTSA, 2004). Alcohol use is also over-represented in bicyclist fatalities. Alcohol use by either the motorist III-3
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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED EXHIBIT III-4 Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rates by State, 2005 (Source: NHTSA, 2005; FARS Data; Population Data from Bureau of the Census) Bicyclist Total Resident Fatalities Traffic Population Bicyclist Percent per Million State Fatalities (1000s) Fatalities of Total Population Alabama 1,131 4,558 13 1.1 2.85 Alaska 72 664 1 1.4 1.51 Arizona 1,177 5,939 35 3.0 5.89 Arkansas 648 2,779 3 0.5 1.08 California 4,329 36,132 115 2.7 3.18 Colorado 606 4,665 8 1.3 1.71 Connecticut 274 3,510 3 1.1 0.85 Delaware 134 844 2 1.5 2.37 District of Columbia 48 551 3 6.3 5.45 Florida 3,543 17,790 124 3.5 6.97 Georgia 1,729 9,073 23 1.3 2.54 Hawaii 140 1,275 4 2.9 3.14 Idaho 275 1,429 3 1.1 2.1 Illinois 1,361 12,763 22 1.6 1.72 Indiana 938 6,272 13 1.4 2.07 Iowa 450 2,966 11 2.4 3.71 Kansas 428 2,745 4 0.9 1.46 Kentucky 985 4,173 12 1.2 2.88 Louisiana 955 4,524 21 2.2 4.64 Maine 169 1,322 3 1.8 2.27 Maryland 614 5,600 7 1.1 1.25 Massachusetts 442 6,399 5 1.1 0.78 Michigan 1,129 10,121 25 2.2 2.47 Minnesota 559 5,133 7 1.3 1.36 Mississippi 931 2,921 5 0.5 1.71 Missouri 1,257 5,800 8 0.6 1.38 Montana 251 936 4 1.6 4.28 III-4
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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED EXHIBIT III-4 (Continued) Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rates by State, 2005 (Source: NHTSA, 2005; FARS Data; Population Data from Bureau of the Census) Bicyclist Total Resident Fatalities Traffic Population Bicyclist Percent per Million State Fatalities (1000s) Fatalities of Total Population Nebraska 276 1,759 3 1.1 1.71 Nevada 427 2,415 10 2.3 4.14 New Hampshire 166 1,310 3 1.8 2.29 New Jersey 748 8,718 17 2.3 1.95 New Mexico 488 1,928 5 1.0 2.59 New York 1,429 19,255 47 3.3 2.44 North Carolina 1,534 8,683 36 1.6 4.15 North Dakota 123 637 2 1.6 3.14 Ohio 1,323 11,464 13 1.0 1.13 Oklahoma 802 3,548 7 0.9 1.97 Oregon 488 3,641 11 2.3 3.02 Pennsylvania 1,616 12,430 18 1.1 1.45 Rhode Island 87 1,076 1 1.1 0.93 South Carolina 1,093 4,255 16 1.5 3.76 South Dakota 186 776 0 0 0 Tennessee 1,270 5,963 10 0.8 1.68 Texas 3,504 22,860 46 1.3 2.01 Utah 282 2,470 3 1.1 1.21 Vermont 73 623 0 0 0 Virginia 947 7,567 21 2.2 2.78 Washington 647 6,288 13 2.0 2.07 West Virginia 374 1,817 2 0.5 1.1 Wisconsin 815 5,536 14 1.7 2.53 Wyoming 170 509 2 1.2 3.93 U.S. Total 43,443 296,410 784 1.8 2.64 Puerto Rico 453 3,912 11 2.4 2.81 III-5
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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED or the bicyclist was reported in more than one-third of the fatal bicyclist collisions over the past 3 years (NHTSA, n.d.). In 30 percent of the 2005 crashes, either the motorist or bicyclist had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 g/dl or higher. Over one-fifth (23 percent) of bicyclists killed had a BAC of 0.08 g/dl or higher and 27 percent had a BAC of 0.01 g/dl or higher. Night Riding According to the NCSA, 31 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m. (NHTSA, 2004 data). A sample of crashes from six states from the early 1990's found that 15 percent of crashes occurred under conditions of darkness (lighted and unlighted road- ways) and another 5 percent at dusk or dawn. Additionally, serious injury and fatal crashes were disproportionately likely to occur during late night (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.) and early morning (2 a.m. to 6 a.m.) hours. Alcohol was also more likely to be a factor. Data from the 6,951 North Carolina bicycle/motor vehicle crashes reported over 7 years indicate that 20 percent of the crashes occurred under conditions of darkness with another 5 percent at dusk or dawn (see http:/ /www.pedbikeinfo.org/pbcat/). Serious and fatal injuries were also over-represented in North Carolina night-time crashes, particularly on unlighted roadways. The differences in crash seriousness between lighted and unlighted roadways may be largely related to other factors such as speed limit and urban (more often lighted) and rural (often unlighted) locations. While most states have laws requiring the use of head and tail lights at night, review of crash reports reveals that many bicyclists involved in night-time crashes (4.4 percent) did not use the required equipment (Hunter et al., 1996). Better crash report information would likely raise this figure further. Additionally, requirements vary from state to state, and in some cases, the required lighting may not improve visibility sufficiently. Wrong-way and Sidewalk Riding Bicyclists who ride against the direction of traffic or on the sidewalk are implicated in crashes occurring along the roadway. In a study of a representative sample of 2,931 bicycle crashes from six states (California, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Utah) prepared for FHWA in the early 1990's, bicyclists were riding against the direction of traffic in 32 percent of relevant cases and about 15 percent of bicyclists were coded as contributing to the crash by riding against traffic (Hunter et al., 1996). This factor is particularly prevalent in crashes at intersections and other junctions where the motorist and bicyclist are on crossing paths. Bicyclists riding the wrong-way are approaching from a direction where motorists do not expect them, and motorists are typically looking for a gap to the left before pulling out. The right-turn-on-red vehicle movement is an additional component to a number of these crashes. Additionally, bicyclists traveling the wrong-way may not be able to see traffic signs and signals. Bicyclists on the sidewalk are also in a position where motorists do not expect them, particu- larly if also traveling the wrong-way. While about 16 percent of the cases indicated the bicyclist was riding on the sidewalk, riding off the sidewalk at a driveway or intersection was indicated as a factor in a little more than 9 percent of the cases analyzed by Hunter et al. (1996). Crashes involving sidewalk riding tended, however, to result in fewer serious and fatal injuries than III-6
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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED other crashes. Around 10 to 11 percent of the North Carolina crashes involved sidewalk riding. Three-fourths of bicyclists riding on a sidewalk, crosswalk, or driveway crossing in these crashes were also riding facing traffic. The problem is further compounded since bicyclists are often traveling faster than pedestrians and may not have enough time to avoid a vehicle pulling across the sidewalk. Traffic Speed Speed influences both the severity of crashes that occur as well as the likelihood of occurrence, and has been identified as a contributing factor in all types of crashes. National data suggest that 31 percent of crashes were speed-related. Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit or racing was identified as a contributing factor for drivers in 30 percent of all fatal crashes in 2005 (NHTSA, 2005 data). Fatality rates are also higher for crashes on higher speed limit roadways, climbing from about 2 per 1,000 crashes at speeds of 48 km/h (30 mph) or less to more than 14 per 1,000 at 88 km/h (55 mph) or more. Fatal bicyclist injuries were more than six times as prevalent, and disabling injuries were nearly twice as prevalent, than for all bicyclist crashes in North Carolina when excessive speed was indicated. Bicyclists are vulnerable road users, and the impact of higher speeds on crash severity is obvious. Parking and Driveways The number of potential conflict areas increases when driveways are frequent or closely spaced and on-street parking is provided. Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to left-turning motorists who may not observe approaching bicyclists before making left turns into driveways or side streets. Serious injury can also occur when bicyclists ride too close to parked vehicles. Motorists exiting a parked vehicle without checking behind may open a door or step out in front of a bicyclist. "Dooring" crashes are related to presence and configuration of on-street parking and adjacent travel or bike lanes. In a study conducted by Hunter et al. (1996), bicyclist-side, on-street parking was present in nearly 12 percent of crashes. Helmet Use While helmets may not have an impact on the frequency of crashes, numerous studies have found that use of approved bicycle helmets significantly reduces the risk of fatal injury, serious head and brain injury, head injury, and middle and upper face injury among bicyclists of all ages involved in all types of crashes and crash severities. Relative risk reductions estimated in a meta-analysis of 16 peer-reviewed studies were 60 percent for head injury, 58 percent for brain injury, 47 percent for facial injury, and 73 percent for fatal injury (Attewell et al., 2001). Where Crashes Occur Area type The majority of bicycle/motor vehicle crashes occur in urban areas, typically around two-thirds but varying with population densities and other factors, reflecting the greater populations and more frequent riding that typically occur in urban areas. In 2005, 69 percent of bicyclist III-7
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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED EXHIBIT III-5 Bicyclist Injury Distributions for Rural and Urban Crash Locations, 20002003, North Carolina Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Crashes. (Source Data NCDOT/PedBike Division) Rural Urban 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Evident Killed Unknown None Disabling Possible Injury Type fatalities nationwide also occurred in urban areas (NHTSA, 2005 data). However, rural crashes do tend to be more serious, reflecting higher speed roads and types of crashes that occur in rural areas, and result in a higher proportion of fatal and serious injuries (Exhibit III-5). In North Carolina, rural crashes accounted for 34 percent of all crashes over a recent 3-year period but comprised 53 percent of the fatal injuries and 57 percent of the disabling injuries. Location Type Nearly one-half of all bicycle traffic crashes occurred at intersections, another 4 percent were intersection-related, and driveways and other junctions accounted for about 22 percent of crashes in the FHWA study (Hunter, et al., 1996). About one-fourth of crashes occurred at non-intersection locations with no distinguishing features. Data from North Carolina crashes found that about 42 percent occurred at intersections or were intersection-related. More fatal bicyclist crashes tend to occur at non-intersection locations (70 percent), while the majority of injury crashes (62 percent) occur at intersections (NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2003 and 2005). Road Type The types of roads on which crashes occur likely vary from state to state. In the FHWA study, crashes occurred most frequently on local streets (34 percent), followed by county routes (28 percent), state routes (18 percent), U.S. routes (8 percent), and Interstate routes (0.2 percent). Other road types accounted for 13 percent of bicyclist crashes (Hunter et al., 1996). III-8