The appeal of living in an urban area is often the ability to have everything within walking or cycling distance. Residents can save money and time by avoiding long commutes as well as keep active.
Residents might expect roads and sidewalks to become safer every year, but this has not been the case according to a new Washington State Department of Transportation report. The data states that since 2013, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities doubled while their cases of critical injuries rose sharply.
Considering this shocking report, officials wondered why this increase is happening. The population size of Washington certainly hasn't doubled, so this isn't a likely factor. However, WSDOT does offer several factors that could be related.
Some cases could relate to the cyclist's or pedestrian's decisions. In almost half of these fatal accidents, they were traveling under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The state often campaigns against drunk driving, but seldom warns residents about the dangers of drunk biking. This oversight also applies to distractions like texting. Cyclists may maximize safety by riding sober and distraction-free as if they were in a car.
However, cyclists still face problems outside their control, according to the WSDOT. Issues like speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving and poor infrastructure can also risk the life of a pedestrian or cyclist. These factors call for better traffic law enforcement as well as better individual responsibility of Washington drivers.
Cyclists should be able to enjoy Seattle's bike lanes and paths without fear of an accident striking at any moment. While the Seattle area has yet to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, drivers still need to follow the law. When they don't pay attention or drive impaired, another resident could suffer an accident with consequences that last a lifetime.