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Concerns regarding the high rate of bike-car crashes in Iowa

Although the summer months are coming to an end, Iowa residents often continue with their outdoor activities such as bicycle riding. In fact, many residents will continue to travel by bike well into the winter months. Because of that, it is always important for bicycle safety to be considered. Bike riders should understand the rules of the road and where and how it is safe for them to travel. Additionally, drivers should always be cognizant of bicyclists traveling on or near the roadways throughout the year.

Many Iowans have expressed concern regarding the increasing numbers of bike accidents in Des Moines and throughout the state. In one incident, a 50-year-old Des Moines woman was riding her bike in front of her husband's bike, which was pulling their 5-year-old son in a car behind his bike. It was around 4:05 p.m. when a vehicle that was turning into a parking lot collided with the woman's front wheel of her bike.

The impact of the crash caused the woman to vault into the car door. The driver of that vehicle sped off, hitting two pedestrians before being apprehended. The woman suffered a broken collarbone and several bruises. Additionally, she endured post-traumatic stress disorder, making it challenging for her to feel safe riding her bicycle today.

The concern about bicycle accidents comes with much support because more than 300 cycling accidents occurred in Iowa each year between 2005 and 2014. This has resulted in over 4,000 bike-car crashes during that time period.

Although fatal bicycle crashes have declined in the state, the rate of bike-car collisions is still occurring at an alarming rate. The groups most effected are millennials, fitness conscious riders and those in their 50's. According to data, these types of accidents are due to recurring trouble spots on roadways and the carelessness of both cyclists and drivers. This indicates that both changes to the roadways and public awareness need to be addressed in the effort to reduce these types of crashes.

While improving roads and making them safer for cyclists by providing bike lanes and safe areas to cross the road and increasing public knowledge about bike safety could help reduce bike-car collisions, this will not completely eliminate these types of crashes.

When a bicycle accident occurs, it is important that victims understand their rights and options. In situations involving a car collision with a bike, it is important to understand the cause. This could help those injured hold a liable party responsible for his or her injuries and damages through a legal cause of action.

Source: The Des Moines Register, "Why does Iowa have so many bike-car crashes?" MacKenzie Elmer, Sept. 5, 2015

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