Data lacking on bicyclist fatalities

I want to clarify the data and recommendations in our recent report on bicyclist safety (“Report on bike deaths misses chance to focus on real problems,” Editorials, Nov. 2).

We agree that there has been an increase in cycling, and we acknowledge this in the report. But there is no reliable method to make an accurate determination of the rate of bicyclist deaths because reliable data on the number of bicycle trips or miles traveled are not available.

The purpose of the report was to highlight the need to make cycling safer through a variety of research- and data-proven solutions. This includes making engineering changes to better accommodate cyclists on the roads, slowing vehicles down through lower speed limits, and encouraging bicyclists to take measures to protect themselves when they are out on the roads.

One critical piece of the cyclist safety puzzle is increased helmet use. It is clear from research literature, as well as data on injuries following universal helmet laws in Canada and Australia, that helmets protect against head injuries, which are a frequent cause of cyclist deaths. Our report pointed out that in 2012, 65 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were not wearing helmets.

What we hope individuals take away from our report is that everyone needs to know that more can be done to reduce the number of bicyclist fatalities, and municipalities and bicyclists have a role to play in making the roads safer for all.

Jonathan Adkins is executive director of Governors Highway Safety Association.