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Bike Crash Fatalities on the Rise in the U.S.

Cyclist in the City

Pennsylvania Also Sees an Increase in Bike Accident Deaths in 2021

According to the NHTSA, there were 938 bicycle crash fatalities in 2020 (up from 859 in 2019 and 871 in 2018). Each year, the number of bike crash fatalities has increased. This is a problem that we also see here in Philadelphia and across the state of Pennsylvania overall. Though the total number of bike crashes has been trending downwards since 2016, the number of fatalities has increased in 2020 and 2021.

In 2021, in Pennsylvania, there were 770 crashes involving bikes, with 24 fatalities. Pedestrian fatality rates have also increased. In Philadelphia, there were 195 bike crashes, with 15 people being seriously injured and 7 people killed. Philadelphia has adopted a Vision Zero plan to combat traffic-related crashes, injuries, and deaths.

Philadelphia’s Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a policy that began in Sweden in 1997 with the goal of eliminating all traffic-related fatalities and injuries. Combined with a strategy to improve health, mobility, and safety for all, Vision Zero policies have been popping up worldwide, and Philadelphia was an early adopter of the program in 2016. These programs encourage people to utilize alternative modes of transportation, including public transit, biking, and walking. In Philadelphia, Vision Zero has manifested in initiatives to improve the overall safety of the city’s transportation system.

Philadelphia’s Vision Zero plan emphasizes the following:

  • Safe speeds
  • Safe streets
  • Safe people
  • Safe vehicles
  • Safety data

In particular, the Philadelphia Vision Zero plan is working to address speed-related crashes and fatalities. In Philadelphia alone, 36% of traffic-related fatalities are linked to driving issues such as speeding, failing to yield, and other aggressive driving behaviors.

Vision Zero Action Plan 2025

The goal of Philadelphia’s Vision Zero plan is to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2030. Part of achieving this goal is found in Philadelphia’s Vision Zero Action Plan 2025. This plan began in 2020 and is a five-year plan that looks at the City’s approach to Vision Zero and works to develop a safe systems approach. Instead of focusing on a transportation system that requires perfect adherence to rules and regulations, the safe system approach attempts to account for human error. This means that transportation systems are proactively designed with the fact that people make mistakes taken into account. This plan has been developed collaboratively with the help of governmental agencies, advocacy groups, and other community organizations.

What You Can Do to Reduce Bike Crash Fatalities

Despite the city’s commitment to reducing crash fatalities, the increase in bike crash fatalities is concerning. While it may be attributed to the increase in more people using bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, at Piscitello Law, we are still concerned that so many of Philadelphia’s and Pennsylvania’s cyclists are being injured and killed.

Our law firm strongly believes in the Vision Zero plan and philosophy, and we are a proud sponsor of the Vision Zero Conference. We understand how vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians are and how vital education and awareness are in preventing accidents, injuries, and deaths. Keep reading for some helpful tips for cyclists and drivers on improving safety and reducing accidents.

Bicycle safety tips for cyclists:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet
  • Wear reflective gear when riding, especially at night
  • Install lights on your bicycle, white in the front, red in the back
  • Obey all signals, stop signs, street signs, and road markings
  • Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it
  • Assume that vehicle drivers cannot see you
  • Always signal appropriately
  • Watch out for pedestrians
  • Be aware of cars and trucks entering and exiting driveways, construction sites, etc.

Safety tips for drivers:

  • Share the roadway with cyclists and pedestrians
  • Use the Dutch Reach (use your right hand) when opening your car door
  • Check for cyclists/peds in intersections and when making turns
  • Look out when entering and exiting roadways from parking lots and driveways
  • Always signal before changing lanes or making a turn
  • Always check to your right and behind you before turning right on a red light
  • Check your blind spots before changing lanes or making a turn
  • Don’t rely solely on backup cameras
  • Obey all traffic laws and posted signs and road markings
  • Don’t speed; we know that speed is high contributing factor to injury/death
  • Don’t text and drive distracted

What to Do If You or a Loved One Is Injured

If you or a loved one is injured in a bike crash, your first step should be to seek medical treatment for your injuries. You should also report the accident to local law enforcement. Once you have seen to your immediate needs, reach out to an experienced attorney, especially if your accident was caused by another driver's reckless or negligent behavior.

A personal injury attorney can help you with the following:

  • Determining liability in your case
  • Negotiating with insurance companies
  • Negotiating with healthcare providers
  • Filing a lawsuit should that be necessary
  • Seeking compensation for your injuries
  • Representing you in court

Even if you have health and/or car insurance, it is worth discussing your case with one of our lawyers. Fighting with an insurance company is the last thing you want to do after an accident. Insurance companies will often do everything they can to avoid paying a claim. Additionally, it can be difficult for the average person to cover all their accident-related expenses, even if their insurance company pays out. A skilled attorney can help represent you in these matters and help you get the care and compensation to which you are entitled.

After a bike crash, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:

  • Medical treatment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Damaged property

To find out if you have grounds to seek compensation through a personal injury claim, reach out to Piscitello Law. Attorney Joe Piscitello is an active member of Pennsylvania’s cycling community, and we are here to advocate for you and your loved ones after a crash.

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