1:58 PM EDT, June 5, 2012
As more and more bike lanes pop up across Indiana, a new study shows traffic collisions involving bicycles are also on the rise. Now, advocates are pushing for more education along with the added bike access.
The technicians at the Bicycle Garage Indy (BGI) at the downtown Bike Hub have seen a jump in bicycle's hit by cars recently.
"This is the damage that a car did to this bike's front wheel," said BGI technician Jamey McPherson, while spinning a badly wobbling tire. "The rider ended up doing pretty well. He's just bruised with a little bit of road rash."
McPherson hasn't just heard about the accidents, he's got his own road rash from a driver who took an illegal turn right in front of him a couple months ago.
"He clipped the back part of my bike and taco’ed (sic) the rear wheel,” McPherson said. “I was on his hood for a second. Then he stopped."
McPherson escaped serious injury thanks to his own quick braking and a good helmet, but a new statewide study, titled "Bicycle Collisions in Indiana" and conducted by the Indiana University Center for Criminal Justice Research (CCJR), found there are more and more crashes happening and many don’t end well.
Between 2009 and 2010 the study found a 7 percent increase in cyclists involved in traffic collisions and 9 percent of those suffered serious injury or died.
"It points out that we need to really work on education," McPherson said.
That's exactly what Bicycle Indiana has been trying to do in response to the study. Last month, the organization rolled out an educational campaign for driver's education students aimed at helping everyone learn how to share the road.
"It's all about expectations,” Executive Director Nancy Tibbett said, “what to expect from the motor vehicle driver and what to expect from the bicyclist."
The city of Indianapolis, along with Mayor Greg Ballard himself, has been pushing to aggressively expand bicycle commuting and bike lanes in the metro area, which is why McPherson says it's an issue that certainly isn't going to go away on its own.
"Before there were cyclists on the road, you could get away with some bad driving habits,” McPherson said. “Now, those bad driving habits are turning into wrecks."
The full Bicycle Collisions in Indiana report can be found on the Center for Criminal Justice's website or on Bicycle Indiana's website.