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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.

19 comments

  • Larz

    I’m sure everyones experience with bikers/motorists differs but usually both can “share the road” easily enough.. It’s when people “insist” that this certain portion of the road belongs to them, that’s when you have problems. Both bikers and motorists can be equally guilty in this regard.

  • Kenny McGrady

    The reason the number of bicyclist accidents have increased is the attitude of the bicyclists have gotten worse. Bicycle riding used to be something you did in a park or in your neighborhood. Now Bicyclists want to ride on main roads. The speed limits on these roads are anywhere from 35-55 mph, bicycles are not built for those speeds and they just tie up traffic because these bicyclists insist on riding on roads that don’t have bicycle paths. From spring through summer Ashcake Road in Hanover gets all backed up because this narrow road seems to be a magnet for bicyclists. Its time that our legislators start addressing these issues and restricting bicyclists to safer areas to ride. They restrict them from riding on the highways, they should limit them to riding on roads that the speed limits are 35 mph or less. It would severely cut down on accidents. If I was driving my car 15-20 mph less that the posted speed limit and tying up traffic I would get a ticket, its time that law enforcement start ticketing bicyclists for impeding traffic as well.

    • Gerry

      Make them wear reflective gear and install lights on their bikes too!!! Also, make them wear helmets and protective gear!!! And make them register their bikes, get licenses and pay property taxes on the bikes!!!

    • Hill

      McGrady.. What planet are you from? The Richmond area used to be much more bicycler friendly, and especially 20 or more years ago. BTW, most of the major metro areas I have lived in are so much more bicycler friendly than the entire Richmond area. It is the small people with your self-centered “me first” attitude that is the problem.

  • Michael Gilbert

    Kenny,

    There are so many things wrong with your comment I don’t even know where to start.

    First, you have absolutely no empirical evidence for your empirical claim about attitude.

    Second, your personal belief about attitude is likely due to confirmation bias.

    Third, see Virginia code 46.2-800, “Every person riding a bicycle… shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”

    Restrict cyclists to safer areas to ride? Who defines that? What gives you the right to dictate my mode of transportation? I’m sure you’re a champion of freedom of choice – does that not apply here?

    You have a problem with cyclists “impeding traffic” by traveling below the speed limit (not sure what that means given 46.2-800), but do you have a problem with vehicles not impeding traffic, [presumably] by traveling above the speed limit? That’s what your statement implies. Does that mean you travel at precisely the speed limit every time in your motor vehicle?

    And Gerry… troll fodder for the masses. Hope you’re smart enough to realize freedom and coercion are antonyms.

    Michael

    • Michael Gilbert

      Also, the best advice I’ve ever been given is to ride as if no one sees you. Otherwise assumptions cause you to price risk incorrectly.

    • Kenny McGrady

      First I am so impressed with the fancy words. That is usually a sign of someone BSing and trying to sound smarter than they are. Anyway you prove my point that the legislation on this issue needs to be changed. Yes it is legal for the bicyclists to be on these roads that needs to be changed.

      It is not a freedom of choice issue, it’s a safety issue. They already restrict you from riding on the highways. I don’t follow your logic on speeding. Your not impeading traffic when you speed.

      When it comes to the attitude of bicyclists I think you proved that in your pompous attitude and unrealistic impression of what your freedoms actually are. Why do you think laws exist?

  • Joe

    After watching the cyclists around the fan/downtown/etc, there’s be a vast reduction in the number of accidents if the cyclists would simply obey every traffic law. The sad part is, they don’t.

  • Romaine Cheney

    I wish drivers would respect the bicyclists more. At the same time, some bicyclists don’t follow the rules of the road either. There is a gentleman who rides through red lights at Skipwith and Three Chopt all the time and then glares are drivers who have right of way.

  • Al H.

    I’m a cyclists, and while I do coast stop through stop signs, I *always* yield to cars, even if I have the right of way, use hand signals when turning, and front/rear lights. Am I still breaking the law by not fully stopping? Yes. But comparing cyclists and drivers is redundant; it’s no secret that (many) drivers like (many) cyclists in the City have the same mentality of coasting through a stop sign and cross walk when approaching a 4-way stop.

    And while some cyclists are aggressive towards cars, what should we call the drivers that honk and curse at me weekly for biking within the legal boundaries of the road? For the record, the RPD does reprimand cyclists who break the laws; I’ve been pulled over twice for improper lighting when my one of my lights has been out.

    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but statistically drivers are rarely held accountable for striking cyclists; Bike/Walk RVA published the article months ago. Incidentally, “sun glare” is a horrible justification for the incident in this article, and the only accountable factor in the accident was an inattentive driver or cyclist. Unfortunately, the article cleverly fairs to mention who the glare allegedly affected, but I’m going to guess it was the driver, since how clueless do you have to be to hit a person on a bike then drag him under your SUV?

    • Al H.

      …just so no one thinks I’m car-bashing here, I run in the morning and frequently come close to being hit by cars that coast through crosswalks/stop signs.

    • Kenny McGrady

      If they are honking and cursing you you are probably encroaching into the lane forcing the car to hit its brakes. If there is not enough room for you to stay to the right and not encroach into the lane maybe you should not be bicycling on that road.

      • Al H.

        Kenny: I always run in neighborhoods where there are no walk/don’t walk signs, where pedestrians always have the right of way at the crosswalks. Nonetheless, Stopping at stop signs means stopping behind the stop sign and crosswalk, not coasting through them in the event that you can make it through without fully stopping.

        Bikes riding on approved cycling roads are permitted to ride as far into the road as what the law calls the “door zone.” That is, just outside the area where the door of a car in the parking lane would reach when open as to avoid hitting car doors. Evidently, this is still encroaching for some motorists.

      • Michael Gilbert

        Kenny,

        I would again ask you to peruse (you know, that means examine) the code of Virginia, specifically 46.2-905: “Any person operating a bicycle… shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway…”

        And just so practicable also does not confuse you, I’ll give a hint: the law is not to ride as far to the right as possible. Cyclists are legally allowed to (and should) ride far enough LEFT to avoid doors, debris, and other road hazards, regardless of cars that may be honking and cursing behind you. So a cyclist abiding by the law as stated in 46.2-905 is probably not encroaching the lane given your illegal view of what constitutes encroachment.

        How much simple syrup do you drink in the morning…

        Michael

  • Steve

    The increase in total crashes could be explained by an increase in the total number cyclists on the road. Across the country more people are riding more miles, for commute, shopping, school and personal business, not just for recreation. The miles and hours ridden have increased far faster than the number of crashes.
    Therefore, surprisingly, the cyclist crash rate is actually falling, not rising!
    Cyclist safety should certainly be improved, but it’s now better than before.

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