Officials call for safer year for cyclists in Georgia
Highway safety officials in Georgia are calling on residents to make 2013 a safer year for cyclists.
In 2012, cyclist fatalities increased 28 percent. Nearly 75 percent of all bicycle accidents resulted in injuries. Safety officials say the increase is because of increased cyclists on the roads as more Georgians look for cleaner and healthier commuting options.
Bicycle fatalities made up about two percent of overall traffic fatalities in Georgia.
"Bicycling will only to continue to grow in Georgia, both as a healthy recreational activity and as a sensible, enjoyable means of transportation," said Brent Buice, executive director of Georgia Bikes!. "To ensure that all of Georgia's road users can return home to friends and family safely, we must respect each others' right to our public roads, obey the law, be attentive, and work together to build safe facilities for all."
"We are always striving toward zero deaths on Georgia roads," Blackwood said. "With cyclists, we must strive harder for that goal, as this section of the transportation population can be much more vulnerable in a crash."
Bicyclist deaths were on of the few areas that increased from 2011. Pedestrian fatalities and crashes between trains and cars also increased in 2012.
Several local governments have or are adopting measures to increase bicycle safety including adding bicycle, pedestrian, and transit accommodations into the infrastructure. In addition, Governor Nathan Deal signed a law in 2011 that requires motorists give cyclists three feet of space on the roads.
"As the number of cyclists on the road grows, the number of crashes will increase, but not at the same rate as before," Watkins said. "We theorize that as more cyclists are on the road, those driving vehicles will get used to seeing cyclists and begin to restructure how they drive, and eventually, sharing the road becomes second nature."