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Bike accidents on the rise in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Richmond leaders said they are working with traffic engineers, consultants and bicycling instructors on a bike safety plan to educate the public as the number of accidents involving bicycles continues to climb.

Leaders are also working with police to identify the intersections with a high number of bicycle crashes.

Police said a female bicyclist was struck and dragged by an SUV Thursday morning at an intersection in the Fan. Investigators believe sun glare is to blame.

CBS 6 News checked into the number of bicycle accidents in Richmond and the surrounding counties.

According to AAA, Richmond has had three times the number of accidents from 2010 to 2012 compared to Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover.

LOCALITY 2010 2011 2012
Richmond 60 71 78
Henrico  17 24 22
Chesterfield  19 17 14
Hanover 3 9 6

And year after year, the number of bike crashes has increased in the city, which have resulted in more fatalities compared to neighboring counties.

LOCALITY 2010 2011 2012
Richmond 1 1 2
Henrico  0 0 0
Chesterfield  0 0 0
Hanover 0 1 0

“It’s troubling, just in general or concerning. I guess in that we want to address that. Regardless of what we have up coming with bicycle event,” Jakob Helmboldt, Richmond’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trails Coordinator, said

Helmboldt, who heads up the city’s pedestrian and bicycle trails, said he thinks Richmond is on its way to becoming a bike-friendly city.

“There’s a lot of places you can get to by bike. We don’t have the infrastructure in place yet. That’s what we’re really working on right now,” Helmboldt said.

The director of Bike Walk RVA for the Sports Backers took it a step further and could for the city to make real changes.

“While traffic collisions happen, poor street design played a role [in Thursday's accident],” Max Hepp-Buchanan said in a statement. “Cars parking too closely to the corners of the intersection have created inadequate sight-lines for anyone trying to make their way across Monument Avenue, regardless of their mode of travel. This condition is not unique to the intersection of Monument and Mulberry – it exists all over the Fan and Museum District. Something needs to be done to fix this situation.”

“The last thing we want is for this to happen again,” Executive Director of the Sports Backers Jon Lugbill said in a statement. “We can build a better environment for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike. It’s time for real bicycle infrastructure in Richmond that makes riding feel comfortable and that offers people a safe way to navigate the city.”

Maneuvering around Richmond on a bike can be tough, cyclist Timothy Lane Mullins admitted. While his bicycle is his daily mode of transportation, he worries about unresponsive drivers.

“I might say I’m a little skiddish when I ride. I ride like a cat. I’m always kind of aware of my surroundings,” Mullins said. “I don’t take for granted that car is going to stop.”

Which is why Mullins uses the roads less traveled to prevent from having a crash.

“It’s just not a good situation and you have to be aware of that,” Mullins said.

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