Preliminary statistics of bicycle/vehicle crashes show bicycle crashes and crashes resulting in injuries in Iowa are dropping. The overall popularity of bicycling and bicycle use has been growing. The increased frequency of bicycling coupled with declining number of crashes suggest bicycling is becoming safer. Data surrounding impaired drivers and younger bicyclists is causing concerns for bicycle advocates.
The Iowa Bicycle Coalition, a statewide bicycle advocacy organization, compiles bicycle crash data annual to evaluate the efficacy of bicycle safety programming. The data is compiled from police reports following bicycle and vehicle crashes. Some information, such as single bicycle crashes without motor vehicle involvement, is not included.
“Overall, the numbers of crashes are declining,” says Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. “But, we would prefer to see the crash rates drop further and fatal crashes eliminated.”
The most crashes occur on city streets with speed limits from 25 to 35 mph. Crashes on secondary rural highways have been declining to 6% while local roads are where 68% of the bicycle crashes happen.
“Despite the perception of risk, bicycle crashes typically result in minor injuries,” said Wyatt. Out of all the 2014 crashes, 85% resulted in a minor injury, possible injury, or no injury at all.
Drivers impaired by drugs, alcohol, or medications have seen an uptick over the past two years causing some concern in the bicycle community. Also alarming is the amount of younger bicyclists involved in crashes. Over half (53%) of bicycle crashes involve people under 24 years of age.
The Iowa Bicycle Coalition is continuing a strategy to improve traffic safety and reduce crashes. Among their efforts is a revamped driver education program and bicycle rodeos for children. More information on the report can be found at www.iowabicyclecoalition.org.