A new report finds a dramatic rise in the number of collisions between cars and bicycles in Iowa in recent years. Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says they’ve closely tracked statewide cycling statistics since 2008.
“We’ve seen fatal crashes that have been dropping over the past few years but non-fatal crashes have been on the rise, about 11% they’re up,” Wyatt says. “Even more alarming is major injuries have risen about 30% over the past three years.”
The report finds fatal bicycle crashes have fallen, dropping from eight deaths in 2010 to three in 2012, while bicycle crashes resulting in injuries have risen from 400 in 2010 to 467 in 2012.
Compared to driving, Wyatt says, bicycling is still very safe in Iowa. According to the report, the most crashes happen in areas where the speed limit is 25 miles an hour, during daylight hours.
“One of the things that is climbing the most is crashes on non-intersection locations with no special features,” Wyatt says. “That grew from 100 crashes in 2010 to 142 crashes in 2012. We’re also seeing younger groups, that 16-to-24-year-olds, those crashes are rising and we know that age group is bicycling more than their other generational peers.”
Cycling activists are lobbying Iowa legislators to pass a bill requiring all motor vehicles to maintain at least a three-foot distance when passing bicyclists. It’s about an arm’s length. “It’s room for the bicyclist so they can maintain control and certainly don’t get struck,” Wyatt says.
“The really important part about this bill is that three-foot distance is a number that can be taught. It can be taught in driver’s ed. It can be a question on the driver’s exam and it can be included in the driver’s manual. If young drivers coming up can specifically learn that number, it’s going to be important.”
Bills calling for the three-foot distance have been introduced in both the Iowa House and Senate. Wyatt says more than 20 states have passed similar laws.
Find a link to the full report at: iowabicyclecoalition.org/2012-iowa-bicycle-crash-report