Bicycle deaths continue to rise in New Jersey in 2017

Bicyclist deaths are on the rise both in New Jersey and across the country thanks to more bike commuters.

The number of people being killed while riding bicycles continues to grow, both in New Jersey and across the United States. As The Record reports, in 2015 nationwide cyclist fatalities rose more than 12 percent, well ahead of the rise in motor vehicle accidents, while in New Jersey they are on pace to continue to rise in 2017 for the third straight year. The alarming increase in fatal bicycle accidents is due to a number of factors, including more adults biking for work and pleasure and an increase in overall motor vehicle traffic.

Bicycle deaths surge nationwide

In 2015, the most recent year for which national figures are available, there were 818 cyclists killed in accidents across the country. That is a 12.2 percent rise from the previous year and well above the seven percent increase in overall U.S. traffic fatalities. That 818 figure is also much higher than the 621 cyclists who died in 2010, suggesting that rising cyclist deaths are becoming a long-term trend.

In New Jersey, meanwhile, the figures are likewise grim. In 2016 there were 17 cyclist fatalities in the state, up from 16 the year before. Furthermore, 2017 is also shaping up to be an even deadlier year. Figures from the State Police show that nine cyclists were killed in New Jersey during the first eight months of the year, two more than were killed at the same point last year.

More cyclists and drivers

The reason cyclist fatalities are rising is down to a confluence of two major factors: an increase in cycling combined with an increase in overall motor vehicle traffic. As the Bucks County Courier Times reports, the number of Americans who commute to work via bicycle has grown by 20 percent since 2010. Unfortunately, while more Americans are taking to biking, road infrastructure largely favors automobiles, with dedicated bike lanes and bike-only traffic lights hard to come by. Even worse, about half of bicyclists killed in accidents do not wear helmets and in New Jersey there is no law that requires helmet use.

Furthermore, due to an improving economy and still relatively cheap gas prices, the number of cars and trucks on the road has likewise gone up. Combined with the fact that there are more cyclists, that increase in overall traffic creates more opportunities for collisions to happen, which for cyclists are often serious.

Personal injury law

Cyclists are especially vulnerable to being seriously injured if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident, which means that the cost of their recovery is also likely to be higher. In many cases, the person at fault in a bicycle accident is not the cyclist, but the motor vehicle driver. For cyclists who have been hurt, especially if the accident may have been caused by a driver's negligence or recklessness, it is important to talk to a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can show injured clients what claims they may be able to file and how to most effectively pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to.