As more people take to the roads on their bikes with warmer weather, United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asks both drivers and cyclists to help reduce the number of cyclist fatalities. 698 cyclists were killed in America in 2007. Everyone needs to pay attention when using the roads, whether they’re walking, biking, or driving, LaHood said.
More and more Americans are taking up cycling, including a dramatic increase in bicycling by baby boomers. Whether they’re riding for fun, exercise, or to save on gas, more baby boomers are riding bicycles, according to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics. Unfortunately, this aging trend can also be found in NHTSA’s latest fatality statistics.
For the tenth straight year, the average age of persons killed on bicycles has increased. Research shows that in 1997 the average age of a person killed in a bicycle crash was 31; in 2007 it increased to over 40. "Our roads and communities must be built to allow people to get around safely outside of their cars, on bike or on foot,” Secretary LaHood said. “These statistics show that our transportation program needs to have a much greater focus on making our roadways safe for bicyclists."
Since 1992, the Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has provided more than $4.5 billion in federal aid for bicycle and pedestrian safety programs. The States have used Federal-aid funds to construct shared use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians, and to provide bicycle lanes and bicycle parking, and other highway safety features to reduce fatalities and to increase bicycle use. FHWA also actively promotes bicycle safety through Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and the National Center for Safe Routes to School. These efforts balance FHWA’s commitment to easing traffic congestion with keeping roads safe for all users.
“The most important thing bicyclists and motorists need to remember is that they both share the road equally,” said NHTSA’s Acting Deputy Administrator Ron Medford. Recent data shows that the 698 bicyclist deaths in 2007 accounted for two percent of all traffic fatalities with an additional 44,000 injured in traffic crashes. To avoid the risk of becoming a fatality, motorists and cyclists are urged to take extra precaution when driving and riding.