It's December. The winter season has officially started. In some parts of the country, that means bicycles are in the garage. Most people consider it to be too cold to be out peddling. But in Portland, the high was in the 50s today.
The truth of the matter is that there are some hardy folk who ride year round. And, as one writer for BicyclePaper.com observed recently, some people are so committed to two-wheeling that they commute to work on their bikes throughout the year. She herself says she prefers winter riding because it's her main source of outdoor activity during the colder months.
But with the activities come inherent risks. The days are shorter. That means there's a better chance that a commuter is likely to be riding to and from work in the dark. Add in the common elements of rain and negligent motorists who don't pay due attention to what's around them and you have conditions that lead to accidents that leave victims seriously hurt or killed.
According to data from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the number of bicycle crashes is trending downward. The bureau's 2012 report, reflecting back on 2011, says that reported bike crashes fell that year for the first time since 2007.
Meanwhile, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that the number of deaths involving cyclists in 2013 rose nationwide by 1.2 percent, the highest since 2006.
With biking as popular as it is in our region, it requires everyone to take exercise greater caution, now and always. Riders have as much right to the road as motorized vehicles. They also have the right to seek just compensation if they become hurt due to someone else's negligence.
Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "Roadway deaths fall nearly 25 percent in a decade, fatality rates at a historic low," Troy Green, Dec. 19, 2014