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Bike share programs: how safe are they?

Bike share programs are becoming more popular as an alternative method of transportation. Approximately twenty-five cities in the U.S. have such programs, and other cities are looking into adopting the program in their own metro areas. Since Denver has a high number of bicycling enthusiasts as well as an unfortunate amount of traffic congestion near downtown, it is not surprising that Denver has  adopted a thriving bike share program.

Easy in design and use, the program functions much like a subway system, except that instead of getting on a subway car at a subway station, a bicycle is chosen at a bike station and ridden to the bike station nearest a person’s destination, where the bicycle is returned. As with the use of other public transportation, a daily pass, weekly pass, or annual membership can be purchased which allows users access to the program anywhere, anytime. Denver’s bike share program has eased the traffic congestion in the metro area while proving to be a convenient, healthy, and environmentally-friendly way to get around the city.  But your Denver accident attorney asks this key question: is it safe?

Canadian and American researchers published a study in the American Journal of Public Health in which the scientists had attempted to determine if the fact that bike share programs do not provide helmets with the bikes has any impact on the incidence of head-related injuries. The study concluded that in cities with bike share programs, the likelihood that a serious bicycle-related injury involved a head injury increased by 14 percent. Although the study did not show causation, the fact that the increase only occurred in cities with bike share programs, together with the fact that using the programs entails either carrying around your own helmet or not wearing one, it is a fair conclusion that failing to include helmets with the bikes in the programs is one of the reasons for the greater number of head-related injuries.  

Your Denver accident attorney points to another troubling statistic: from 2011-2012, there was a 6.4 percent increase in fatalities of bicyclists in motor vehicle accidents. In all, there were 726 bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2012 (statistics taken fromNHTSA).  From 2011-2013, 40 percent of all bicyclist fatalities were due to rear-end collisions with motor vehicles; although these types of accidents represent only a small percentage of collisions between bicyclists and motor vehicles, they nonetheless cause the most fatalities.  After rear-end collisions, the second factor causing the most fatalities is careless driving. 

The many important benefits of bike share programs make looking for safety solutions a worthwhile endeavor. One solution has already been stated: wearing a helmet. The helmet could be rented with the bike at the stations rather than relying on people to bring their own. There could be some sort of disposable liner for the helmet to satisfy sanitary/hygiene concerns. Another solution that almost everyone agrees would improve the safety of bicyclists is having the bike share route include dedicated bike lanes with bike-only traffic signals. In cities that have dedicated bike lanes, preferably separated by something physical such as planters, bicyclists and non-bicyclists alike report feeling safer and better about their area of town.  

Bike share programs are the future of transportation, so improving their safety is incumbent on everyone.  If you are a bicyclist and have been involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, contact Denver accident attorney Jordan Levine at Levine Law today to discuss your legal options

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