Other than riding a bicycle, they seemed to have very little in common beside the fact that they died on the same weekend this month and that their deaths got minor mention in the local press.
Ronald Michael Peter Hill, 30, died at the scene when he was struck by a car in Tulsa, about 9 p.m. on Aug. 11. Several hours later, Albert Arnold, 57, died at an intersection in south Los Angeles. The death of Joseph Lee Stanley, 42, on a Sacramento street came just after midnight Sunday morning, about 20 hours after Arnold died.
In all three cases, the driver involved kept going, which is not uncommon in collisions between cars and bicyclists.
At least three other cyclists — one in Oregon and two in Washington state, ages 53, 19 and 50 — would die before the weekend played out.
Forty years ago, riding a bike was child’s play, and the overwhelming majority of those killed in bike crashes were children. Over the years, biking for fitness and as part of the daily commute has changed that dramatically. According to a report released Thursday, the average age of cyclists killed in collisions in 2015 was 45.
The report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, with funding from State Farm insurance, also determined that the increase in bike deaths of 12.2 percent in 2015 outpaced the rise in overall traffic fatalities.
“More of us are getting out and riding our bikes, and that’s great,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the safety association, “but we’re seeing [cycling] deaths go up by about 55 deaths per year.”
The report also found: Alcohol was a factor in 37 percent of fatal bike crashes, with drivers doing the drinking in 12 percent of the cases and bike riders drinking in 22 percent, the latter a decline from 38 percent 10 years ago;
●Though it’s estimated that 45,000 cyclists were injured in crashes in 2015, the report said police probably record a fraction of those crashes because bikes don’t get towed from crashes and cars rarely need towing after colliding with a cyclist;
●The majority of fatal bike crashes — 72 percent — took place on the roadway rather than at intersections;
●Distracted driving was to blame for 76 cyclist deaths out of 818 in 2015;
●More than half of cyclists killed were not wearing a helmet;
●Bike fatalities were evenly split at 47 percent between those riding in daylight and those riding after dark, though only 20 percent of bike rides take place after dark;
●A third of people surveyed said they had biked in the past year, but the number of children biking to school has dropped from almost half to 2.2 percent since 1969.
In some of the 55 cities that have established bike-share programs, infrastructure that regulates and separates cyclists from drivers lags behind systems that already have a combined 42,000 bikes on the road. There have been just two crashes fatal to cyclists involving shared bikes since the first bike-sharing program opened in 2010, the report said.
The report recommended more marked bike lanes, more clearly defined bike lanes that separate riders from cars, bike boxes at traffic signals that give riders a head start when a light turns green and traffic signals that provide an advanced green signal specifically designated for cyclists.
“When we bike, we have as much right to the road as when we drive,” said Vicki Harper, spokeswoman for State Farm. “Unfortunately, when bikes and cars collide, cyclists are much more susceptible to serious injury or death.”
The GHSA is a coalition of state roadway safety officers, and the report suggested that each state should include cycling safety programs in its comprehensive highway safety plan.
The report commended Congress for its requirement that states “fully integrate nonmotorized accommodation in all surface transportation projects.” But it chastised lawmakers for restricting the ability of states to use federal highway funds for cycling safety education and enforcement programs.