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Bike riding isn't just for kids

Riding a bike has changed. Kids and adults alike embrace the all-American activity, but it's not just for recreation. Bicycle commuting has increased in recent years as doctors emphasize physical fitness and others embrace green practices. Today, 5.5 percent of Austinites in the city core commute to work, while a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association finds that just 2.2 percent of children bike to school.

There are different safety issues with more adults on bikes. Adults interact more with cars and at all hours of the day, putting them in greater risk of collision. Using the most recent data, the GHSA study showed a 12.2 percent increase in fatal bike accidents in 2015, with the average age of the cyclist killed as 45 years-old.

A closer look at bike fatalities

The rise in bike fatalities isn't a standalone statistic--traffic deaths have risen in recent years too--but it outpaces car accident deaths and points to a troubling trend. Too many accidents are happening and, often, they can be avoided.

Notable statistics from the study:

  • 72 percent of fatal bike crashes occur in the road, not at intersections
  • 54 percent of cyclists killed were not wearing helmets
  • The majority of fatalities were men
  • The majority of fatalities were in urban settings
  • Fatal bike accidents occur both during daytime and evening hours, though at a higher rate after dark

In 1989, the majority of fatal bike accidents affected teenagers. The age has increased steadily since, with an average age of 45, according to the 2015 data.

Sharing the road, sharing the rules

Cyclists are vulnerable when sharing the road with cars. Anytime a bicycle and car collide, the cyclist is far more likely to be injured--and injured severely. Because bikes and cars share roadways, it's important to obey the rules of the road and to follow protocol if you are in an accident, such as filing a police report.

Anytime that you're injured in a crash, you should file a report and immediately seek medical treatment. Damages may be obvious--such as cuts, bruises and broken bones--but they may also include soft tissue injuries, concussions and traumatic psychological effects. An experienced attorney can help you to quantify your injuries and understand the true extent of damages beyond the medical bills and time away from work.

Bicycles offer a great way to stay in shape, explore the city and to enjoy the fresh air, but they are also vulnerable to the bigger vehicles that share the road. Just because a bike is smaller, doesn't mean that a cyclist doesn't have the same rights.

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