INDIANAPOLIS — The number of Indiana bicyclists involved in traffic collisions increased 7 percent from 2009 to 2010, with 9 percent of those individuals experiencing serious or life-threatening injuries. Young bicyclists, ages 8 to 20, accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of fatal and serious injuries.
These are among the findings of the Bicycle Collisions in Indiana report, a study conducted by the Indiana University Center for Criminal Justice Research, a research center affiliated with the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
The study was conducted on behalf of Bicycle Indiana, a statewide nonprofit membership organization that promotes safe bicycling; educates bicyclists, motorists and policy-makers; and advocates for laws, policies and infrastructure to increase bicycling in Indiana. It was funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana State Department of Health.
The number of fatalities associated with a bicycle crash increased from a total of seven in 2009 to 14 in 2010, and the number of serious injuries increased from 64 to 81 over the same period. However, over a longer period of time, from 2006 to 2010, the number of injuries and deaths associated with bicycle crashes decreased.
Bicycle Indiana Executive Director Nancy Tibbett said, “We are committed to reaching bicyclists, motorists and policymakers with information that will raise the profile of bicycling in Indiana not only as a viable means of transportation, but also as an enjoyable and safe form of recreation. The data from this report will help continue to guide our educational efforts.”
According to the study, bicyclists in 2010 were six times more likely to be killed in an accident than a motorist, and 17 times more likely to be killed in a hit-and-run collision. In addition, the relative risk of a fatal injury as a result of distracted driving collisions was 80 times greater for a bicyclist than an automobile occupant.
“We looked at the effects of location and a variety of other factors on bicycle collisions and the severity of injuries,” said Dona Sapp, senior policy analyst at the Center for Criminal Justice Research and author of the report. “We found that bicyclists were more likely to sustain severe injuries in crashes on suburban and rural roads and paths than on urban ones. This is likely due in part to the fact that people driver faster in these areas, and suburban and rural roads are not necessarily built to be bicycle friendly.”
In Indianapolis, 96 percent of bicycle accidents occurred within a 1-mile radius of bicycle paths. Specifically, the largest number of bicycle collisions occurred around the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Michigan Avenue, New York Street and White River Greenway trails.
“It makes sense that we would see higher incidents in areas where there is a higher concentration of cyclists,” Tibbett said. “Still, we’re confident that with greater education for cyclists and motorists, we can reduce those numbers significantly.
“As an advocacy group, Bicycle Indiana promotes the passage of laws and policies that protect bicyclists,” Tibbett said. “We will share the data with state lawmakers, local elected officials and metropolitan planners as they consider bicycling policies and legislation as well as transportation infrastructure needs.”
The IU Public Policy Institute is a collaborative, multidisciplinary research institute within the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The institute serves as an umbrella organization for research centers affiliated with SPEA, including the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment and the Center for Criminal Justice Research. The institute also supports the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.