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Bicycle-auto crash rates high in Dallas and Denton Counties

Dallas and Denton Counties share a common statistic that makes neither county proud. Both areas recorded some of the highest auto-bicycle collision rates in North Texas last year. According to state transportation officials, the counties had nine car accidents involving bicyclists in 2012 for every 100,000 vehicle registrations.

Over half of Denton’s 280 motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles in the last four years occurred in the city of Denton. The majority of city crashes were near two universities. State officials reported that 85 percent of Denton’s auto-bike or pedestrian collisions since 2008 caused injuries. There were five deaths.

Local police recorded the reasons for those crashes. Pedestrians and bicyclists were just as likely to be faulted for a crash as a motorist. While safety projects and awareness campaigns are encouraged to reduce collisions, some officers believe drivers and cyclists need to come to an understanding.

Attitudes about road sharing often differ widely among motorized and pedal-driven vehicles. A Denton resident pointed out that cars have obvious, visible turning and brake signals that bikes lack. Some car drivers feel bikes have no place in traffic. Meanwhile, many cyclists believe their road privileges are violated.

Many state residents are choosing to ride bicycles for recreation, fitness and cost-saving reasons. The bikes aren’t going away, so government officials have to work out plans to allow bicyclists to feel safe and motorists to feel comfortable.

Denton, like many other Texas communities, is adapting street plans to accommodate a rising population and an increase in foot traffic and cyclists. Street designs now incorporate designated bike lanes.

Road sharing among vehicles of various sizes isn’t an occasional or unusual instance. Cars are much smaller than tractor-trailers, but the two seem to coexist most of the time. Road use belongs to all street-legal vehicles, the same as accident victims share rights to request compensation from negligent drivers.

Source: dentonrc.com, "Rough road relations" John D. Harden, Sep. 21, 2013

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