Louisiana has again been named one of the most dangerous states for cycling. According to statistics, the state was second nationally in bicyclist deaths. In 2015, Louisiana was the third most dangerous place for cycling in the country after a record high rate of related deaths. This report has sparked debates regarding why riding a bicycle for transportation or recreation is so risky.
For some people, this announcement came as no surprise. Several reasons can be attributed to this worrying trend. According to some analysts, one of the main challenges is hostility to cyclists by some motorists. This is because some of them believe the roads are only designed for cars and trucks. According to an article in Forbes, some motorists hate cyclists. The surveys analyzed by Forbes originate in Australia, but their findings will resonate with cyclists in the United States, the United Kingdom, and many European countries. The negative attitudes towards cyclists stem from pro auto mobility principles. Besides the disregard for environmentalism, the motorists’ attitudes towards bikes for transportation or leisure can prove dangerous and even fatal.
Louisiana’s Stormy History With Cyclist Safety
Statistics from the Department of Transportation showed that over 90 cyclists lost their lives in the state between 2015 and 2018. Nationwide, the number of riders who died in 2016 was 840. Usually, cycling-related accidents occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and most of the victims are men.
Louisiana is known for its deadly hit and run crashes, many of which involve cyclists. According to Don Redman of the American Automobile Association, in 2016, about 2,000 people died because of hit and run accidents. The statistics offered by the A.A.A. Foundation for Traffic Safety paint a grim picture: since 2006, a staggering number of about 700,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred in the United States. Moreover, 65% of those who died in these crashes were pedestrians and cyclists.
Bike safety sparked many discussions after an activist was killed in 2018 while cycling in a popular spot in West Feliciana Parish. Some cyclists in Louisiana have also been victims of drunk driving. In 2015, a renowned English and linguistics professor lost her life while walking her bike in the same area.
Are motorists – driven by their dislike towards cyclists – hitting them on purpose? Everybody hopes not. Among the leading causes leading to such high numbers of hit-and-run crashes and deaths in Louisiana, the authorities count impaired driving (caused by alcohol and drugs’ influence) and distracted driving (usually caused by using a cell phone while driving). In Louisiana, motorists have to deal with an all-cellphone ban for novice drivers, school bus drivers, and teen drivers. The texting ban applies to all drivers and represents primary enforcement. But are these provisions enough?
In 2002, another distinguished scholar and high school student died after being hit by a truck while cycling. Stakeholders have raised concerns and have suggested numerous solutions for the problem.
One of the initiatives was changes in legislation to protect bicycle and motorcycle riders. A bill was proposed in 2016.
Safety Bills Keep Dying on their Tracks
One of the bill’s recommendations was up to a five-year jail term for motorists found guilty of offenses that cause the death of cyclists and pedestrians. According to the supporters, motorcycle and bicycle users are vulnerable road users, and they should be protected by the law.
The bill was passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, but later it died in the House after falling short of the minimum votes required for approval. Some people blame the state representative for the death of the bill. However, he refuted the claims during an interview and said that he supports cycling in Louisiana.
According to him, the recommendation to imprison negligent motorists for hitting a cyclist would affect many school-going kids, and it was unacceptable. He also stated that many roads in the state are scenic but dangerous, and motorists have a hard time trying to get around bicyclists.
Leaders in West Feliciana Parish have been considering introducing new cycling rules, which have also been controversial. Some acknowledge bicycle deaths are common on the roads, but they believe one of the best solutions for the problem is educating the state’s residents on various road safety laws.
State laws require motorists to stay at least three feet away from a bicycle while passing. Motorists found harassing or throwing objects to cyclists can be penalized. Between 2007 and 2016, it is estimated that there were more than three bicycle deaths per 100,000 people.
Safety Requirements for Cyclists
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a handful of cycling safety rules for children and adults. Wearing a helmet is the first among them, together with ensuring that your bike is in perfect shape every time you take it on the road. According to the N.H.T.S.A., you should always be on the lookout for hazards and always follow traffic rules to a tee. Avoiding riding at night and controlling your bicycle at all times are also common-sense rules that you should consider. Of course, it is all traffic participants’ responsibility to avoid crashes and accidents, but you should take extra measures as well.
Follow these rules of the road if you want to have the best possible shot at staying safe.
Ensure Effective Communication
Ride predictably and follow all traffic regulations. By doing so, other drivers can keep a safe distance and hence reduce the number of accidents. Be clear with your intentions while on the road and ensure you maintain eye contact with drivers and other road users.
Go for Tight and Bright Clothing
This reduces the chances of your clothes catching in the gears and gears. If you decide to wear other types of clothes, you need to tie them up in a knot. You also need to wear reflective clothing at all times. Riders are required to have front and backlights at night.
If you’re planning to go biking in the near future, please visit this website to learn more about safety requirements for cyclists. If you are involved in an accident and the motorcyclist is at fault, be sure to get an experienced attorney who can fight to protect your rights.