Alabama is one of the most dangerous places for bicyclists, ranking fourth in the nation for the rate of cyclist deaths.
That’s according to a benchmark study released by the National Alliance for Biking and Walking. In fact, as a more recent report by The Atlantic points out, the Deep South in general has a horrible track record when it comes to cyclist safety.
Our Birmingham personal injury lawyers note 10 states in the country had the highest pedalcyclist fatality rates: Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Delaware and Arkansas.
Nine out of 10 are in the south.
If you bicycle in Alabama, you are approximately 10 times more likely to be struck and killed by a vehicle than if you engaged in the same activity in Oregon.
Part of the problem appears to be the lack of funding that Southern states allocate to improving bicycle and pedestrian safety. A recent report by Advocacy Advance indicates that Southern states comparatively spend the smallest percentage of their transportation revenue on bicycle and pedestrian initiatives.
Alabama spends less than 0.05 percent of its transportation budget on biking and pedestrian initiatives.
It varies widely from state-to-state, with some spending as little as 1 percent and some spending as much as 20 percent.
Of course, it’s not a whole lot better on a national scale. The advocacy organization found that an average of 5.4 percent of all federal transportation dollars are planned to be spent on projects that are solely intended for bicycling and walking facilities (safe bike paths, ample and accessible crosswalks and sizable medians).
On the advocacy center’s Alabama score card, about 94 percent of all the state’s transportation projects are absent any type of bicycle or pedestrian facilities.
Some of this may be mitigated in the future if legislators are successful in passing S. 2004, also known as the Safe Streets Act of 2014.This bill would require that within two years of passage, every state would have to use a Complete Streets model in all of its federally-funded transportation projects. With exceptions for highways and other thoroughfares that were never intended for pedestrian or cyclist use, all other streets would have to be designed with accommodations for all users.
Complete Streets take into consideration safety and accessibility for everyone. This is important because for years, roads have been designed solely with motor vehicle drivers in mind. Alabama is not the only state guilty.
More people are riding bicycles than ever before, whether for financial reasons or for health reasons or simply because it’s enjoyable. Additionally, we’re going to start seeing more and more pedestrians on the road, as a report by Transportation for America points out the aging baby boomer generation is going to be more frequently taking to the streets on foot as they become too old to safely drive.
Given all this, it’s high time we rethought our street design approach.
Braving the Deep, Deadly South on a Bicycle, March 7, 2014, By Aaron Reuben, The Atlantic