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Ohio cyclists may be safer, but crash data makes it hard to know

The weather is warming up nicely and that means that a lot more bicycle riders are taking to the road. The big question that anyone who rides or who has children who do should be asking themselves is whether they are as up to speed as they can be about maximizing their safety on the road.

The next question they might want to ask is whether the drivers of cars and trucks who are sharing the road with bicyclists are doing all they can to keep everyone safe. If a study by the League of American Bicyclists is accurate, we can't be sure awareness is as high as is it could be. 

Faced with the fact that federal tracking of preventable bike accidents involving cyclists and motorists is only done on a limited basis, the organization decided to dig deeper into the issue to see if it could flesh out some details. The League looked at newspaper, TV and blog reports on 628 fatal accidents. They supplemented that with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

What the League says it found was not encouraging. Put the media stories together with the government data and the organization says you still come up with a pretty hazy view about vehicle-bike accidents and what the contributing factors to them might have been.

On the bright side, the study found that the more people who bike in a state, the less likely bikers are to be killed. And in this regard, Ohio is doing fairly well.

The state's Department of Transportation recently announced that Ohio ranks 16 in the nation in the League's 2014 Bicycle Friendly States listing. It says that's a 50 percent improvement over the previous ranking and that it reflects the state's recognition that cycling is a growing means of transportation.

Now the question is whether that will translate into fewer cyclist lives lost.

Source: Streets Blog USA, "8 Takeaways From the Bike League's Study of Cyclist Fatalities," Angie Schmitt, May 22, 2014
Source: Ohio Department of Transportation, "‚ÄčOhio Ranked 16th as Most Bicycle Friendly State," Steve Faulkner, May 1, 2014

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