A closer look at bicycling dangers in NC, area


North Carolina’s ranking as the “10th most dangerous state for cyclists” does not begin to tell the story of bicycling in the state or Asheville. It’s not just middle-aged white males in spandex that are the victims when a bicyclist meets a motorist. African-Americans represent a disproportionately high percentage of bicycling-related deaths and crash victims. From 1997 through 2010, according to NCDOT statistics, 117 of the 328 bicyclist fatalities in N.C. were African-Americans. That’s 35.7 percent of the fatalities for a state that is 21.5 percent African-American. During that same time period, African-Americans comprised 42.2 percent of the state’s 13,639 bicyclist crash victims where African-American children made up 51 percent of N.C.’s 4,140 child bicyclist crash victims.


This trend is present in Asheville as well. From 1997 to 2010, African-American bicyclists were 22.4 percent of the bicycling crash victims (47 of 210), a rate well above the population proportion of 13.4 percent. Approximately 44 percent of child bicyclist crash victims were African-American. These statistics should alert us to equity issues that need to be addressed in how we design and invest in streets, how we enforce the laws for and rights of vulnerable road users, how we educate motorists, and how we view bicyclists.


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