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Few consequences for drivers after car-bike crashes

Cycling accidents are a growing problem here in Kentucky and around the country as the quest to be healthier and preserve the environment encourages people to trade four wheels for two. More than 850,000 people bike to work each day, according to a cycling organization. This means that bikes and cars must coexist on the roads each day, although anecdotal evidence about injuries and fatalities suggest that the two groups are not living completely in harmony.

Taking notice of this, many cities across the country are adding bike lanes in downtown areas, hoping to help divide cyclists from pedestrians and motorized vehicles.

One major problem is that while bicycles are allowed on the road, roadways are not necessarily built to accommodate a bike in traffic. Complaints by motorists of cyclists slowing down traffic or blocking a lane are a perfect example of this problem – bikes are allowed to be there but cars as the native inhabitants are better suited to the environment.

Studies in several states have found that drivers are at fault in more than half of all cycling fatalities. Still, it is rare to see a news story about a cycling accident in which the driver is charged with a crime. In many cases where a driver says that they accidentally hit a bike, they might get a warning or a citation from police but they are rarely held accountable for the loss of a life. A cycling advocate told a reporter recently that he has never seen charges brought against a driver who killed a cyclist absent a D.U.I. case or a hit-and-run, both of which are crimes unto themselves.

Source: New York Times, "Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?" Daniel Duane, Nov. 9, 2013

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