Bicycling in Washington, DC, and elsewhere is a great way to save on gas and stay fit. But it can pose some dangers, especially if the rider or other road users fail to take proper precautions. Bicycle accidents in Washington, DC are relatively uncommon compared to some other states. However, riders and drivers should always be aware of the risk on the roads.
According to various researchers, bicycle-related accidents and injuries are increasingly haunting the U.S. and the world. Even if the rider observes safety precautions, some drivers tend to be either notorious or fail to watch out for bicycle riders. That’s why you need to arm yourself with information related to bike crashes and consider the services of a seasoned lawyer.
This article will take a deep look into bicycle accident statistics in Washington, DC, and the most common causes of these crashes.
The Latest Bicycle Accident Statistics
Washington is known to be a relatively safe state for bicycle riders. The year 2007 saw it scooping the 11th position in the list of states where bicycle-related fatalities and injuries were lower. That year recorded just seven of such fatalities.
And recently, the League of American Bicyclists awarded Washington, DC as the most bicycle-friendly state in the U.S. This body uses several criteria when ranking states, including improved infrastructure plus growing ridership.
Despite this state’s bike-friendliness, accidents are inevitable wherever vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles meet. The Washington State Department of Transportation reported that the total number of bicycle accidents in Washington, DC in 2017 was 1,205. The injuries ranged from severe to minor.
In most cases, bicyclists use the same street as the rest of the traffic. The great proximity to vehicles increases the chances of getting in an accident. While most accidents tend to happen in urban areas where the traffic tends to be thick, the COVID-19 pandemic changed things a bit.
Where and When Do Bicycle Accidents in Washington, DC Happen Most Often?
The year 2020 witnessed the closure of businesses, travel restrictions, and expanded telework, thanks to the pandemic. So the transit habits of people in Washington, DC and worldwide changed tune. Open Data DC reveals that bicycling habits and bicycle accidents in Washington, DC were also affected.
Injuries and fatalities related to bicycle accidents usually increase in the summer months, from June through to September. But from the top-line look, the summer peak of these accidents seemed to have flattened in 2020. The pandemic-infested period between March and August last year saw the total number of bicycle accidents in Washington, DC dropping by almost 60 percent year-over-year, from 404 to 163.
According to Vision Zero Data, as of August 2020, the overall traffic deaths in Washington numbered 29, as compared to 27 in 2019. The District didn’t report any fatality involving bicyclists in 2020.
Generally, intersections and business centers tend to be the most notorious hot spots of bicycle crashes. Available data indicate that almost a quarter of bicycle accidents happened when the rider attempted to cross the roadway. The leading reasons tend to be a failure of some drivers to notice the riders, and some vehicle drivers simply ignore the right-of-way rule.
Bicycle accident statistics from Greater Greater Washington show that in 2019, ward 2 reported the highest number of total bike crashes (175), followed by ward 6 (100). Of course, the spikes are because these two areas consist of government agencies, the National Mall, offices, businesses, and surrounding museums. Other wards also reported bike accidents, ranging between 5 and 75 in each of them.
How the Pandemic Shifted Bicycle Accidents in Washington, DC
Come 2020, the total number of bike crashes dropped across most wards. The figures ranged from 5 to 75 in each area, with wards 5 and 8 showing no significant change.
Of course, due to lockdowns and other health measures, there were a significantly reduced number of commuters in greater downtown. This led to fewer bicycle accidents in Washington, DC. You remember the museums no longer received tourists and closed offices and businesses meant workers and clients were home. So, although fewer bicycle accidents occurred, a significant percentage of them took place around residential neighborhoods.
The regions around Union Station and within Farragut Square were found to be the most notorious in 2019. But the year 2020 saw the crashes clustering in various parts of the District. They no longer frequented the regions around Union Station and within Farragut Square, Foggy Bottom, and Dupont Circle. The crashes seemed to be concentrated in Petworth and U St. / Shaw neighborhoods.
It’s unclear how long this pandemic-induced shift will last. But we expect things to go back to normal as the pandemic slowly lifts off and people jump onto their bikes and ride to town.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Washington, D.C.
Bike accidents occur due to several reasons:
- Open car doors: apart from moving cars, parked cars can also cause accidents for cyclists. A driver may quickly open their parked car’s door into an oncoming bicyclist’s path. While such accidents comprise less than 2% of the total, the cyclist may sustain serious injuries or even die.
- Riding against traffic: some cyclists believe that riding against the flow of traffic is safer. But experts have proven that riding in the same direction as traffic is safer. Bicycle accident statistics show that almost 25 percent of all bicycle accidents are due to riding against the traffic. Car drivers may not be watching out for bicycles that are coming towards them.
- Sideswipes: accidents involving cars veering out of their lanes into a bicycle’s lane are common. In most cases, such drivers try to pass the blame to the cyclist by claiming that they went too far to the left.
- Rear-end at a stoplight: some drivers fail to notice cyclists at a stoplight. So they end up hitting them from behind while overtaking. Such accidents are common at sunset due to the blinding effect of the sun’s rays. Poor visibility due to other things like weather and smoke may also lead to such accidents.
- Crossing an intersection: distracted drivers fail to watch out for cyclists due to the low profiles of the bicycles. Therefore, the driver may turn directly into a bicyclist at an intersection, leading to an accident.
- Distracted cycling: using headphones and texting are some of the things that distract bicyclists from paying attention while riding.
Other causes include driving under the influence of alcohol, driving impaired, and aggressive driving.
Why are Bicycle Accidents in Washington, DC Still High?
The 21st century ushered in changes in city roads, including embracing bike-friendly and walk-oriented designs. Over the years, Washington, DC has been trying to reduce and eliminate bicycle-related fatalities. Between 2007 and 2009 alone, the state spent USD 18 million on programs geared towards making bicycling safe.
But a lot of work still needs to be done. Piecemeal implementation of traffic-calming practices and bicycle lanes can lead to more confusion. Additionally, some cyclists still think riding against traffic is safer than riding with it.
Many bike lanes don’t extend for a long distance, and some drivers simply ignore the importance of sharing roads with other users. And even if the drivers try their level best, large vehicles like trucks and cars are still notorious when it comes to sharing road spaces. Any blind spot to a truck driver can turn out to be a death trap for bicycle riders, pedestrians, and other users.
Then the issue of asymmetry can’t be ignored; cars and trucks are high-speed, lethal weapons, and the drivers enjoy the protective shield. And speed kills – literally – a vehicle knocking a bicycle rider at 36 to 45 miles per hour is 4x more likely to kill them than one moving between 26 to 30 miles per hour. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) reports that 70 percent of bicyclists who lose their lives in traffic involve accidents where the posted speed was 30 miles per hour or above.
Distracted riders and drivers add to the dangers. Aggressive drivers are also on the increase, thanks to narcissists and their selfish attitudes. Negligent drivers who lead to bicycle crashes should definitely be brought to justice for causing injuries, damages, and fatalities to the riders.
Long-Term Trends Over Time
18.6% of fatalities due to bicycle accidents in Washington, DC in the period between 2013 and 2017 involved bicycle riders and pedestrians. These groups also accounted for 22% of severe injuries over the same period.
Incidents of fatalities and serious injuries involving bicyclists and pedestrians have also been going up. In 2005, 13% of total traffic fatalities involved bicycle riders. While the period between 2006 and 2015 saw the figure remaining the same or going down each year, 2016 reported a peak (17%).
From 2011 to 2015, the total number of bicyclists and pedestrians that lost their lives in traffic crashes was about 412. The number increased to 474 in the period between 2013 and 2017. Serious injuries also went up from 1992 to 2351 during those two periods.
The Best Bicycle Accident Lawyers in D.C.
The District of Columbia is trying to make the streets safe for every user. And as a bicyclist, you try your level best to stay on the right side of the law. But drivers don’t always watch out for bicycle riders sharing the same road. Other drivers are just narcissists- they don’t want to share the road with other users. But all is not lost.
If a car injures you while bicycling, a reputable bicycle accident lawyer at Regan Zambri Long in D.C. can come to your aid. They will assist you in getting the compensation you deserve without any hassle.
With our services, be sure to receive compensation for damages ranging from suffering, medical costs, lost wages, and much more. So go ahead and call Regan Zambri Long if you have been injured in a bicycle accident in D.C.