Saturday, July 17, 2010

State Bike Fatality Stats Missing Some Data

Falls, they are the most common type of bicycle crash accounting for more than 50% of all crashes. The past month has seen an unusual spike of bike fatalities not involving motor vehicles

  1. June 9th Lee Jordan fell off his bike during a bicycle club ride on East Lake Boulevard in Evesham. The fall left Jordan paralyzed and he succumbed to his injuries on July 9th at Cooper Medical Center in Camden.
  2. On June 11th Herbeth J. Vasquez-Tuch, 29 got off a RiverLINE train with his bike, rode it on the platform then tveered left and was struck by the front of the train at the Cass Street Station in Trenton. It's not clear whether he rode off the raised platform or turned left on the street at the Cass Street grade crossing.
  3. On July 11th in North Bergen Justin Sanchez, 14 lost control of bike while riding downhill on 43rd St near the Town Hall and was taken off life support later in the week.
  4. The next day on July 12th in Teaneck Jamie Ariza, 24, apparently lost control of his bicycle as he rode near the Teaneck Armory at the intersection of Teaneck Road and Ward Plaza

Yet NJ State Police which keeps an excellent online talley of traffic deaths has yet to record any of these fatal crashes in that database. In fact three of the four counties involved Bergen, Burlington and Hudson counties all show 0 pedalcycle deaths. The total number of pedalcycle deaths listed in the database stands at 7.

It's unclear if these fatalities will be included in the crash statistics, it may be that only bicycle crashes involving motor vehicles are counted. If that's the case then we are chronically underreporting bicycle fatalities. This is critical when it comes to highway safety funding as it is in theory supposed to be distributed by percentage of all crashes or fatalities. Things like pavement smoothness standards, repairing longitudal cracks and potholes, shoulder sweeping removing or improving steel plates covers can help reduce loss of control crashes.

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