There were 88 reported bike versus car crashes in Athens-Clarke County between Jan. 1, 2012 and March 11, 2014, said Sgt. Von Anderson of the West Traffic Division in ACC.
Of the 88 reports, 50 resulted in visible injuries, 13 resulted in serious injuries and 1 resulted in a fatality. The one fatality happened last month when 19-year-old Tobias Smith was killed when struck by a car from behind.
Anderson wrote in an email that 58 of the reported crashes had the driver of the car listed as having the “primary contributing factors” for the crash, meaning the driver violated a law which had been determined to be a factor in the cause of the crash.
When an accident occurs between a bicycle and a car, the traffic division tries to analyze both physical and testimonial evidence in order to as determine and document what happened as accurately as possible.
“The ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions are usually not that hard to determine by using our training and experience to analyze the evidence,” Anderson wrote. “The ‘why’ tends to be the hard part most often.”
Anderson wrote police have to address the possible “human factors” that could have caused the crash. These factors bring up questions such as “What was the driver/rider paying attention to? Was he/she in a hurry? Were there issues involving impairment? What could they have seen, or not seen based upon the conditions at the time of the crash?”
Anderson wrote after police gather this information as accurately as possible, they determine if a violation of law occurred. If a violation occurs, that action is determined to be the “contributing factor” in causing the crash.
Charges are filed when appropriate, Anderson wrote, however, in almost all occasions, when a violation of law occurs that leads to a crash, the responsible driver or rider is charged.
Of the 88 reported bike and car collisions, 29 of the reports had the bicyclist listed as having the primary contributing factors. In one case, police were unable to determine the contributing factor.
Anderson said ACC police support the bicyclist’s rights to travel on the public roadways. But there’s no denying the tense relationship that exists between drivers and bikers on the road.
When searching “driver biker hate” on Google, a site called “Drivers Hating Cyclist on Twitter” comes up displaying tweets of angry drivers expressing their annoyances with cyclists. A Chicago Business article named “Why everyone hates bicyclists — and why they hate everyone back” appears, and another Chicago Magazine article below that poses the question, “Why Do Drivers Hate Cyclists?” in the headline.
Haley Peeples of Bowman, said she often feels annoyed when driving with bikers on the road but does not get angry.
“I can get pretty annoyed with them, but at the same time I realize it might be their only form of transportation,” said Peeples, a junior health promotion and behavior major. “I feel like some type of bypass would be a safer option for them, but I know that’d probably cost a lot of money.”
Jacob Maddox, an international affairs and romance languages major, rides his bike around campus and said he doesn't feel his rights are disrespected.
“At times, I can feel a bit unsafe, especially at night,” said the junior from Dalton. “But as long as I’ve got my helmet and reflectors on my bike, I feel good about riding.”