Earlier this summer on our Fayetteville personal injury law blog, we had mentioned that a fatal bicycle accident had brought attention, once again, to the dangers cyclists face each day on our roads. Although cyclists have every right to be on our North Carolina roads, other motorists do not always abide by our state’s traffic laws or pay attention to their surroundings as they should. Some cyclists have decided that it is safer for them to just assume that other motorists do not see them or will not yield to bikers when they should.
The fatal accident occurred on July 4. The cyclist, a father of three, was hit by a truck. Police later reported that the driver of the truck had failed to slow down for the cyclist in order to avoid hitting the man. Cycling communities in North Carolina and throughout the entire U.S. have lost too many fellow bikers in similar accidents. To remember those who have been killed in tragic accidents and to remind drivers about bicyclists’ rights on the roads, some communities are now placing “ghost bikes” at fatal crash sites.
The memorial that is now at the crash site along the six-lane highway in Raleigh is just one of more than 600 reported ghost bikes throughout the entire U.S. Ghost bikes are placed at serious and fatal accident sites and are often painted white so that the bikes stand out. One website, ghostbikes.org, collects stories that have been submitted by those who have lost family members, friends and fellow cyclists in bicycle accidents. Although there are hundreds of stories of fatal accidents that appear on the site, hundreds of other bicyclists are injured and killed each year in car accidents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 600 cyclists were killed in 2010. That same year, the NHTSA recorded more than 50,000 accidents between bikers and motor vehicles that had resulted in injuries. When drivers do see ghost bikes on our roads, they should be reminded of not only one accident, but thousands of accidents that have occurred and resulted in serious or fatal injuries. Cyclists do have a right to be on our roads, and they have a right to be just as safe as any other motorist.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Where cyclists die, ‘ghost bikes’ rise in tribute,” Allen Reed, Aug. 7, 2012