With four-wheel and two-wheel vehicles jamming roadways, German bicycles accidents are growing. Fingers are pointing as injuries and death rise.
German Bicycles Accident Statistics
According to Spiegel, 76,000 cyclists were injured and 462 killed in 2010. German bicycles accidents are rising despite the availability of 31,000 kilometers/19,262 miles of exclusive paths and lanes. Half of the fatalities are a combination of the elderly and very young. Bikes are tangling with other bikes, pedestrians, autos, trucks, and trams.
Transportation Mix Impacts German Bicycles Accidents
Germans use a rich mix of transportation options. The following comparison shows how Germans use more bicycles and mass transportation than the U.S.
This fills the German streets with bikes, cars, and trams. Many of the roadways are narrow. Some of the surfaces are cobbled or rutted with tram rails.
Vehicles are not the only moving obstacles driving German bicycles accidents. Cyclists and pedestrians share wide sidewalks, separated by lines and painted bicycle icons. The constant chirping of bike bells announces on-coming riders. Despite clear rules, collisions with pedestrians, especially tourists are more common.
Options to Minimize German Bicycles Accidents
Police seek stronger laws believing some cyclists ignore traffic signs and rules. Young ‘Rambo-riders’ swerve between vehicles at high speeds, generating serious German bicycles accidents.
Alcohol is another problem. Fines, ranging from €800 to €5,900, penalize cyclists with 0.8 to 1.8 per thousand in a breathalyzer test.
Bicycle associations believe the overall German cycling infrastructure is not keeping up with the increasing number of two-wheel commuters. Lanes need widening and repair. The government spends €85 million on bicycle lanes per year. Cyclists want 10X in more government investment. Regardless of the funding, narrow roadways, carving through municipalities, are difficult to widen.
Head injuries kill or seriously maim cyclists. My observation is too many two-wheeled commuters do not wear helmets. Despite stacks of biking laws, the government does not insist on head gear. A helmet requirement may not reduce German bicycles accidents, but may decrease grave injuries.
The trust principle is the foundation of German biking laws. Cyclists trust motorists and pedestrians to follow rules. Others trust bicyclists to stay within designated lanes. Fuel prices motivate more pedaling commuters. Increased training may reduce collisions.
Germany strives for a greener and healthier environment. Walking down a sidewalk brings a chorus of rings from two-wheel carbon-less vehicles. Keeping cyclists and cars apart, and reducing German bicycles accidents, will help everyone breathe easier.