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While there aren’t many definitive statistics about bicycle usage in the U.S., with cities from Chicago to New York to Portland installing an increasing number of bike lanes and promoting bicycle shares and safety, it’s pretty clear that cycling, as a primary means of transportation, is on the rise. According to a National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors, reported by bicyclinginfo.org, “approximately 57 million people, 27.3 percent of the population age 16 or older, rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002,” the latest year for which data is available.
With the increase in the number of bicyclists on the road comes a surge in stories about bike-related accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and also reported by bicyclinginfo.org, in 2009 there were 630 fatalities and 51,000 cyclist injuries in the U.S. While this may seem like a heavy statistic, it’s actually significantly lower than years’ past—according to bicyclinginfo.org, “in 2000 the number of fatalities dipped below the 700 mark for the first time in the past decade.” This is likely due to an increase of awareness about cyclists on the road, given their increasing popularity.
Yet with more cyclists comes the possibility that they, too, can be dangerous vehicles. After Arlington Heights resident Nick Pagano lost his wife of 55 years because of a cyclist-caused accident, Pagano is seeking legal change that would restrict the use of bicycles in certain pedestrian walkways, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The crash that led to the death of Barbara Pagano, 74, is the first of its kind for the Arlington Heights Park District, which is now considering ways to make its most popular park safer,” according to the Tribune. The idea that cyclists could be eliminated from park pathways all together isn’t feasible, however, because “the trail was built using grant money specifically intended for bike trails,” reports the Tribune.
Yet a “grieving Nick Pagano said the incident could have been prevented,” because the young cyclist who hit and killed his wife “was there on a group ride with more than two dozen others.” This kind of activity en masse is what’s dangerous, he told the Tribune.