02

Blog

Are All Bicycle Crashes Reported?

No, they are not. And they should be!

The first issue is that many bicycle crashes are not being reported into the State of Maine Crash Database, which leads to incomplete and inaccurate state-wide crash reporting data and arguably also leads to uninformed priority setting and budgetary decisions.  The crashes that are unreported and/or underreported on a state level are sometimes, but not always, reported locally as “incidents,” “crimes” or other events.  In some cases, there is a local or municipal incident report, criminal report, animal control officer report or some other type of record of the crash. However, because these records (when they are even made) never leave the local level, they are not incorporated into the Maine Crash Database and we end up without a centralized bicycle crash database.  The crashes that go unreported on a state level generally fall into these categories:

  1. “no contact” crashes  (e.g. crashes where a car runs a bicyclist off the road, turns in front of or next to a bicyclist and the bicyclist takes an evasive action and crashes);
  2. “minor” bodily injury crashes (e.g. crashes were a bicyclist is not transported to the hospital from the scene; crashes where the cyclist or officer does not immediately identify a significant head injury; crashes where bicyclist goes into “superman” or “superwoman” mode and reports being okay, when s/he is not and needs to be checked out);
  3. “stationary” motor vehicle crashes (e.g. “dooring” crashes and crashes where bicyclist hits parked—or allegedly parked—motor vehicle);
  4. animal-related crashes (e.g. unleashed dog runs in front of bicyclist or attacks bicyclist; deer, squirrel and other wild animal crashes);
  5. work zone crashes  (e.g. crashes caused by unmarked hazards in a work zone and/or failure to warn of upcoming work zone hazards);
  6. surface condition crashes (e.g. crashes caused by potholes, sand, gravel, etc.);
  7. “criminal” or “intentional” crashes (e.g. bicyclist harassment that results in a crash);
  8. hit” and run crashes (both contact and no contact “hit” and runs, meaning sometimes the mv actually hits the bicyclist and leaves and sometimes the mv causes the bicyclist to be run off the roadway without actually colliding with the bicyclist and then leaves); and
  9. “mechanical” and/or user error crashes (e.g. brakes don’t work; bicyclist loses control of bike).

The second issue is that our crash reporting forms could be improved to ensure better reporting about bicycle crashes. There is not a standard form used across the country, and the quality of crash-report template varies widely. Studies have shown that templates can be improved to better record bicycle crashes.

The third issue is implementation and consistency of bicycle crash reporting among LEOs.   Many officers simply do not understand bicycle law, bicycles, bicycle damage, bicycle injuries (including concussions and DVT—injuries that may not be readily apparent at the scene of the crash) and/or why it is critical that they preserve information and evidence regarding a bicycle crash, especially when the bicyclist is physically or mentally compromised after a crash. This is something that needs to be addressed with education and agency resources.

Accurate reporting of bicycle crashes is crucial to ensure fairness to cyclists and equity in transportation planning and funding.  We will continue to push for better reporting.

 

Comments

Ghost bike in New Orleans
Charlie Thomas Nov 26, 2019

Recently, I was in a spirited discussion about whether Louisiana needs a law to act as a middle ground between serious criminal charges and petty traffic tickets when a bicyclist is hit or killed. Someone asked whether Louisiana law should hold a driver, who didn’t have the “intent” to hurt someone, criminally accountable. This led […]

Read More
Bike Law Ambassador
Bruce Hagen Nov 18, 2019

Trena, as her friends and family call her, is also Joshua’s mom, she works in accounting, a born and raised Atlantan and perhaps the most enthusiastic daily user of the controversial Atlanta Streetcar.  What was at first just a weight loss goal quickly turned into an unexpected journey of self-discovery, transformation and purpose. Today Trena […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 17, 2019

Today, we at Bike Law join the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (“FEVR”) in commemorating the 2019 World Day of Remembrance, honoring and remembering the many millions of people killed, injured and impacted by traffic crashes, and recognizing that “life is not a car part.”    We ask you to watch and pass along this […]

Read More
Brendan Kevenides Nov 11, 2019

A federal government agency is making a controversial recommendation to all 50 states that all bicyclists be required to wear helmets.   Mandatory bicycle helmet laws are a terrible idea.  Cycling as a form of recreation and transportation offers a myriad of benefits to the individual and the community as a whole.  An adult or child […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 07, 2019

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, the family of Kathleen (“Kate”) Kirsch placed a ghost bike in her honor near the site of the tragic September 13, 2019 motor vehicle operator versus bicyclist collision that ultimately led to the loss of her life. Ghost bikes are public memorials parked on public ways near fatal crash sites […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Nov 01, 2019

November 1, 2019: Daylight Savings ends this Sunday, November 3rd, and we are counting down to fewer day time hours and the most dangerous time of year to ride a bike in the U.S. With approximately 65% of all crashes occurring in low light conditions, and the number of fatal crashes at a 30 year […]

Read More
Load More