Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just a few pieces of broken glass

... remain on the street at the site where a hit & run driver threw a commuting cyclist into a parked car early this morning. The cyclist's hand shattered the glass covering the left taillight of the parked car. This caused injuries severe enough to require hand surgery today. The cyclist's father says that he'll be fine... of course after weeks or months of pain and disability.

I don't know enough about the crash to begin to assess blame, except for the obvious part: the law (KRS 189.580) requires the operator of a vehicle involved in an injury crash to stop and render aid, and to report the crash to authorities. The driver can avoid some further legal consequences by reporting the crash within 10 days, but she or he has already failed to stop and render aid.

The crash took place on westbound Grinstead Drive at Bayly Avenue at about 6:30 AM today. The injured cyclist is not aware of any witnesses. The car hit him from behind and he was unable to provide any vehicle description beyond "a red car." At this point, it is probably a red car with some damage to the front bumper. If you know anyone who may have seen or heard the crash, please urge them to call the LMPD non-emergency number (574-7111) during business hours and file a report.

I recently found a huge repository of Kentucky traffic crash data and am working to mine as much useful information as possible regarding crashes in our area involving bicycles. I'll let you know what I find. To start, here's a thought-provoking statistic:

In Louisville Metro over the past 5 years (2004-2008), 11 bicyclists lost their lives in traffic crashes. Using conservative estimates of bicycle usage from a recent national study, I calculated that this equates to one fatal crash per 7.5 million miles of bicycling in Louisville Metro. Given the poor bicycling behavior seen around here every day, we could certainly improve this rate dramatically. If we also got help from motorists (less speeding, distracted driving, and DUI, and simply paying better attention), we could probably cut our fatal crash rate by a factor of 10.

Dropping our bicycling fatality rate deserves our concerted effort. Nonetheless, even at the current fatality rate, the extension-of-life benefits of bicycling vastly outweigh the risk of death while riding.

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