The most recent data the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has regarding fatal bicycle accidents in Champaign, Illinois, indicates that in 2011 there were two fatal victims of bicycle accidents. However, more victims were injured. Unfortunately, many of these accidents happen because drivers fail to see bicyclists and proper bicycle safety measures were not present to mitigate the risk.
In recent years, as a trend among residents to become more health conscious and more environmentally conscious has appeared, bicycling has seen a large influx as a healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. The money saved on gas is a draw for many as well. However, are we keeping up with safety here in Illinois as this trend continues?
According to the League of American Bicyclists, there are presently five cities in Illinois that qualify as being a bicycle-friendly community. Urbana is one of those cities and Champaign is hoping to join the ranks this year as well.
In Champaign’s aim to become the sixth city in the state that can be considered a bicycle-friendly community, the city laid close to nine miles of lanes designated for sharing the road with bicyclists in the last few years. This added safety and visibility measure is now primarily is the downtown and campus areas. Additionally, efforts are being made to engage and educate the community about the safest way for bicyclists and motor vehicle operators to interact.
It is the responsibility of everyone to adhere to traffic laws. In doing so, it is important to remember that the roadways across Illinois are for travelers of all kind, not just cars, we need to share our roadways. If a driver fails to share the road in a negligent manner and a bicyclist is injured or killed, that driver could be facing a seriously draining lawsuit when they are held financially liable for the damage enacted against the bicyclist.
Source: The News-Gazette, “Champaign, Urbana to do their best to become even more bicycle-friendly,” Patrick Wade, Jan. 13, 2013