In some climates, bicycling year-round is considered extreme sport. Not so here in Anchorage. Biking in all seasons is a matter of proud tradition. That's why this city lays claim to the title of birthplace of the Fat Bike. It's also why Anchorage hosts such cycling-boosting events as the 2019 Big Fat Ride.
Of course, the prevalence of bicycles on the road during all kinds of weather also means increased risk of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions that end in serious or fatal injury. When conditions are inclement, riders and drivers bear increased responsibility to watch out for each other. And where negligence can be shown after an accident, victims have a right to seek compensation and have responsible party held to account.
Death rates point out the need
Evidence of the need for greater awareness is easy to come by. Data collected by Alaska's Highway Safety Office notes that there were 79 traffic fatalities in 2017. That represented a decrease over the previous year. The bad news is that in 2018, there were 80 fatalities.
It's in the shadow of such statistics that a recent report on KTVA caught our eye. The lead of the story focused on an effort underway in Anchorage to boost cycling and driving safety through an initiative known as Vision Zero.
Backers of the effort say the goal is to increase awareness among drivers and cyclists alike to such a degree that injuries and deaths from collisions become a thing of the past. The steps proposed to accomplish this involve fostering collaboration among relevant government entities and community interest groups to leverage reliable data to:
- Design safer streets.
- Bolster public awareness.
- Enforce laws.
- Evaluate progress.
Everyone can agree that this is a laudable goal. While the comprehensive plan is assembled though, can we also all agree that we can start to make a difference now? Drivers can do a better job of "seeing" cyclists. And cyclists can make a point of riding with traffic, wearing reflective safety gear and signaling their intentions.
We are all stakeholders in this.