NJ Cyclist Fatalities Double in 2008

According to data released by the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety, 2008 has seen the highest number of bicyclist fatalities in the state in at least six years. Director Pam Fischer announced yesterday that 21 cyclists were killed through December 17 of this year – up from 11 fatalities each in 2006 and 2007. The 91% spike in bicyclist fatalities contrasts starkly with a 21% decline in overall traffic deaths from 2006 to 2008.

MTR called Highway Traffic Safety to confirm these numbers, which differ slightly from some published reports. Officials from Highway Traffic Safety said that most of the victims were adults, and that most of the crashes occurred in the state’s urbanized areas. Those officials speculated that the slow economy and fluctuating gas prices have encouraged increasing numbers of New Jerseyans to bicycle for local errands and to commute to work.

In response, Highway Traffic Safety has planned new programs to educate adults about safe bicycling and to increase helmet use. These are a good step in the right direction, but bicyclists need safer roads too. New Jersey’s bike-friendly infrastructure has been making progress in recent years, but has not been keeping pace with the growth in cycling. According to TSTC’s Skimping on Sidewalks report, NJDOT will spend less of its capital budget on bicycle/pedestrian projects in fiscal year 2009 than it did in FYs 2007 and 2008.

Bicycling is an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly way to get around – New Jersey needs to ensure that it is safe as well.


3 Comments on "NJ Cyclist Fatalities Double in 2008"

  1. Lydia Sugarman | December 20, 2008 at 4:16 pm |

    Yes, let’s focus on educating bike riders because it’s their fault they’re being run down by careless, self-entitled motorists who do not know or follow the rules of the road and common courtesy, who refuse to acknowledge cyclists’ rights as well as the fact that a 150-lb person on a 19-lb. bike is no competition for a 4,000-lb motorized vehicle being operated by some self-engrossed a—— on her cell phone!

  2. I have to point out that cycling helmets rarely save lives when a cyclist is hit by a car. Studies have demonstrated that car drivers will drive closer to a helmeted cyclist than a bare headed one, resulting in more accidents, thus putting helmeted cyclists at more risk.

    Helmets may also lead to cyclists taking more risks, and the consensus outside of the US where people cycle much more, is that helmets are a bad idea. Few cyclists are seen wearing helmets in Denmark or the Netherlands and the rate of fatalities and “driver failure” is far lower.

    To make cycling safer, get more people to cycle and put car drivers on a bicycle too!

    Please check the facts before posting on the internet…

  3. Ian, that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. ONE study done a couple of years ago showed that motorists give riders with helmets less passing distance than those without. Even so, there are other ways to get a head injury on a bike that don’t involve colliding with a vehicle. As someone who has crashed without a helmet and avoided serious head injury because of this, your advice is horrible and it is you who should check your facts before posting.

    re: the article – not sure that an educational outreach campaign is the answer, as the vast majority of drivers will not ever get the message. Unless the state is prepared to run a multi-million dollar TV ad campaign, it won’t work… very few people will get the message. Motorist enforcement is key, since drivers get away with murder (literally) on a regular basis with little consequence.

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