Michigan Car Accidents Involving Bicyclists are Down, but Fatalities are Up
Summer is here and thousands of people in Michigan are choosing to give their cars a little bit of a break and start riding their bikes more often. With so many people hitting the road on their bikes this time of year, it’s important for motorists to be particularly mindful to watch out for cyclists. Recently-released statistics from the Michigan State Police show that although the number of car accidents involving bikes was down in Michigan in 2015, the number of people killed in these accidents went up.
The number of fatal bicycle accidents in Michigan in 2015 was the highest it’s been the past 18 years.The trend of fewer car/bike accidents but more fatalities is true even in areas that have a reputation for being bike friendly, such as Ann Arbor. Being home to the University of Michigan and many thriving businesses, it’s only natural that Ann Arbor would have a lot of traffic from pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s estimated that about 12% of Ann Arbor residents regularly use their bikes to commute to work and another 12% ride their bike to work at least 10 times per year.
To keep up with this trend, Ann Arbor has taken steps to adjust its infrastructure to make roads safer for cyclists, earning them lots of recognition for being a bike-friendly city. However, some avid bicyclists in Ann Arbor told MLive that although adding things like bike lanes and extra lighting are great steps to take, those things can only do so much to prevent accidents. In many cases, regular bike riders say they frequently have problems with drivers who aren’t educated about how to share the road with cyclists.
The data also reveals many other trends about car accidents involving bikes. Although you might think the accident rate would be higher on weekends when people have more free time, it was actually highest on weekdays during the hours of 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM, when people are often on their way home from work. The overwhelming majority of accidents, 93%, happened on roads that do not have a dedicated bike lane. Over 40% of accidents involved riders who had been riding on the sidewalk before the accident. Out of all types of roadways, two-lane roads had the highest rate of accidents. Nearly 5,000 car accidents with bikes happened on two-lane roads in 2015, whereas roads with three, four, and five lanes all hand about 1,000 accidents each.
Although fatal accidents involving cars and bikes happen most frequently during the spring and summer, the latest numbers show an alarming increase in accidents during the winter months. During the years 2011 to 2014, just 11% of fatal bike accidents happened between the months of November and February. In 2015, that number sharply rose to 27%.