AUSTIN, Texas. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 467,000 people were injured in bike-related accidents in 2015 alone. These injuries, whether they prove to be fatal or are not fatal, cost U.S. citizens an estimated $10 billion each year in medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. U.S. roads are notoriously poorly-designed for bikers. While many cities are working to make improvements in their roads, many cities continue to fall behind when it comes to providing the basics, like designated bike lanes for riders.
A recent article in Vox explored how the Dutch transformed their cities to make them safer for bikers. While many like to think that European cities are just better designed for bikers, the reality is that the Dutch took conscientious steps to make their cities more bike-friendly. One of the ways the Dutch did this is by placing physical dividers between faster moving vehicles like cars and trucks and bikes. Concrete medians, planters, or other dividers were installed, protecting bikers from the risk that a driver would swerve onto their lanes. Interestingly, the Dutch decided to divide vehicles by speed, not by vehicle type. Slower vehicles, like bikes, were relegated to the slower-moving and protected lanes of traffic, while faster-moving vehicles were put on the other side of these barriers.
In areas of Dutch cities where cars share the roads with bikers, other traffic slowing measures are in place, like speed bumps, or cobblestones.
City design in Dutch cities also includes intersections. In Dutch cities, bike lanes are raised through the intersection and there are barriers in place to protect bikers from turning vehicles. The Dutch also differentiate between sport bike riding and transportation bike riding, and buy bikes designed for each purpose. Finally, children are taught proper bike safety in school, instilling a culture of bike riding and safety at a young age.
Interestingly, according to the CDC, the majority of bike deaths don’t occur at intersections. While wearing a helmet and practicing bike safety when riding on the street is important, if the Dutch are any lesson to us, it appears that we need to do more. Cities need to do more than just implement bike lanes. They need to instill a culture in drivers and bikers that fosters safety for all road users. In fact, once the Dutch changed their biking culture, riders stopped wearing helmets. While we don’t advocate ditching your helmet anytime soon, the Dutch example shows how far changing driving culture can impact bike safety.
One way riders can impact culture is by fighting back when drivers break the law or cause injuries. If you or a loved one was hurt in a bike accident in Austin, Texas, the Robson Law Firm are personal injury lawyers who may be able to help you seek damages for your losses. Our car accident lawyers are committed to protecting the rights of injured individuals. Visit our firm at https://robsonlawfirm.com/ to learn more.
Robson Law Firm
1114 Lost Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 345-8200