Headphones, Smartphones, cyclists, pedestrians, motorists. You’re likely to see all of these things while riding your bike at a park, especially in urban areas. That is, if you’re even looking up at the world while you’re out in it.
Technology has caused many of us to withdraw into ourselves, resulting in countless isolated clusters of people all doing their own thing. We’re in our own heads when we walk or jog or bike, or even drive. We’re engrossed in our thoughts, our days, our relationships, our jobs, our music, our conversations, our calls, and our texts. We have the Internet in our pockets, so why not multitask and listen to an audiobook while we ride?
Bicycle Injuries on the Rise
Turns out, the answer is because it isn’t safe. Inattention leads to accidents, and multi-use urban spaces like Central Park are actually more dangerous for cyclists than city roads. Bike crash statistics from the NYC Department of Transportation show that in 2013, Central Park had 5.5 times as many single-bike crashes and 5 times as many bike-on-bike crashes as surrounding areas. It also had more bike-pedestrian crashes than any other of the city’s 76 precincts, save one.
Even the famous aren’t immune. U2 frontman, musician Bono, has been in the news recently for his involvement in what the hospital where he was being treated called a “high-energy bicycle accident [that involved an attempt] to avoid another rider.” The Central Park crash left him with serious injuries — he broke his arm in six places, fractured his eye socket, hand and shoulder blade, and now has a titanium elbow. Bono is quoted as saying he blames himself fully for the accident, but regardless of who was at fault, the incident further suggests that it’s quite possible to get very hurt on a bike, even when there aren’t any 4-wheeled vehicles involved.
Bike Parks in Macon, GA
Closer to home, we have the shared-use Ocmulgee Heritage Greenway, a beautiful area to enjoy whether on foot or on a bike. But a 2009 report from the University of British Columbia that examined types of infrastructure and crashes found that multi-use trails, those that mixed pedestrian and bike paths, posed the highest risk for cyclists.
Although barriers can be integrated to create separate lanes for cyclists and walkers/joggers to use, they don’t work unless everyone is paying full attention. Simply painting a white line on the pavement and calling it a bike lane does not effectively stop the sharing of the space. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general, bikers must be cautious not to get a false sense of security that they are somehow safer riding in a park than on a street. It may be the opposite.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident or have more questions about this topic, we invite you to contact the Mann Law Firm by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you.