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Bicyclist, pedestrian deaths at highest level since early 1990s: report

Photo: ChristinaFelsing/iStockphoto

Washington — More pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities occurred in 2016 than in any other year over the past quarter century, and the rate of such deaths is growing rapidly, a recent report from the League of American Bicyclists shows.

Examining 2016 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the advocacy group found that 835 bicyclists were killed, the most since 836 deaths were recorded in 1991. Additionally, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in 2016, the highest total since 6,482 in 1990.

Although American Community Survey census data shows a 50% increase in bicycle commuters since 2007, the researchers contend that the risks for this group need not rise as their numbers do. They point to Oregon, which reported the nation’s lowest rate of bicyclist fatalities per bike commuter – 1.7 deaths per 10,000 – despite a 46.5% increase in bike commuters from 2007 to 2016.

“This suggests that bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are not inevitable when people bike and walk more, but may be reduced through proactive policy, infrastructure, education and other community investments in biking and walking,” the report states.

The League of American Bicyclists offers numerous recommendations for bike commuters, including:

  • Share the road – laws that apply to drivers also apply to bicyclists.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Be visible and predictable at all times; wear bright clothing and use signals before you change lanes or turn.
  • When choosing a route, consider distance, traffic volume and road condition.
  • Replace worn tires.

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