A New Tool: Portland Bicycle Accidents Mapped by MIT

Bicycle InjuryOregon Public Broadcasting reports that MIT is mapping all of Portland’s bicycle accidents as a part of a project called “You Are Here.”  The project is being worked on by MIT Media Lab’s Social Computing Group.  Portland is one of five cities included in the project so far, but there are hopes that eventually 100 cities will be mapped.  The other mapped cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cambridge, Mass.

The You Are Here project has made the map of Portland bicycle accidents available here.  It depicts 1085 bike crashes in Portland from 2010-2013.  MIT gathered the data for the map from Portland Police Department Bicycle Crash Reports and Google Maps.  The map can be explored by city, street, or location.  The stated reason for the map is “to show where crashes tend to happen—like Broadway, Division Street and Hawthorne Boulevard—in the hope that those streets might be made safer for riders.”  While not part of the intent of the project, these maps could be an excellent tool for bicycle accident victims and attorneys to determine patterns and possibly causes of accidents.

How common are bicycle accidents?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that while only 1% of trips in the United States are taken on a bicycle, bicyclists are more at risk for crash related injury or death than those who take their trips in cars.  In 2010 almost 800 bicyclists were killed in U.S. accidents.  Fatal or non-fatal, the accidents can be extremely costly.  In 2005 the lifetime medical and productivity loss costs from such accidents were approximately $5 billion.

Those between ages 15 and 24, and those over age 45 are at the highest risk for fatal accidents, while those aged 5-24 have the highest rates of non-fatal accidents.  Most bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas, and perhaps surprisingly, not at intersections.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a very large gender gap in what it calls “pedalcyclist” accidents, both fatal and non-fatal.  Pedalcyclists include not just bicyclists, but also unicyclists and tricyclists, so long as the vehicle is only powered by pedals.  In 2011 85% of the pedalcyclists killed and 78% of those injured were male.  The agency also reports that alcohol was involved in more than 37% of fatal pedalcyclist crashes, and that in 31% of those cases, someone involved had a BAC of over 0.08.  So while one may typically think of DUI accidents involving motor vehicles, driving while intoxicated can also lead to bicycle crashes.

Even if a bicycle accident is not fatal, it can still result in serious injuries.  Last March, Eugene’s KVAL reported on Trudy Maloney.  Ms. Maloney was riding her bike in 1986 when a car ran a red light and struck her.  According to the report she did not get back on her feet for three years, and it took an additional three years on top of that for her to recover enough to go to school.  Before her recent retirement, she worked with people who had suffered from traumatic brain injuries.  More than 155,000 traumatic brain injury survivors live in Oregon.  Some of them suffered those injuries in bicycle accidents, and unfortunately not all of them will be as successful as Ms. Maloney in recovery.  This is why new tools, like MIT’s map, are so important.  Anything that can help prevent accidents and can help hold those responsible for crashes responsible will improve the lives of potential and actual victims.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact an experienced Oregon bike accident attorney for help with your claim.

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