According to consumer market data from the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA), during the 2012 fiscal year (the most recent year in which data has been made available), 18.7 million bicycles were sold in the United States. A huge portion of our country’s population has taken to recreational cycling as a means of have fun, enjoying the outdoors and staying in shape. Looking at the statistics, it’s clear that this number will only continue to swell, and with a growing number of cyclists now sharing the road with automobiles, we can expect to see a noticeable increase in bicycle accidents.
Many experienced cyclists make the mistake of dismissing traffic injuries and fatalities involving bicyclists as something that happens to other people; less experienced people. However, it is rarely that simple. In any given year, almost 800 bicyclists are killed in a collision with an automobile, and it is estimated that some 515,000 emergency hospital visits stem from bicycle related injuries. These statistics don’t show that 515,000 people are irresponsible or unskilled cyclists, they prove that these accidents can and do happen to anyone. (Center for Disease Control & Prevention)
This bares even more truth in the busy streets of Chicago, where it seems like everyone is rushing to get to one place or another. Just as pedestrians are substantially more likely to be injured or killed by a vehicle in the city, bicyclists also assume a much greater risk in an urban environment. When cycling near traffic, it is important to never assume that a driver sees you, and always be ready to take evasive action to avoid a collision. In many cases, bicyclists are just as likely to go unseen on the road as motorcyclists, and to make matters worse, they don’t benefit from the sound of an engine as a means of alerting drivers of their presence.