On two wheels
Bicycling in Arlington might be hazardous to your health, according to sobering new data about cyclist deaths.
A study released this month by CarInsurance.org puts Arlington at No. 13 among the 20 most dangerous U.S. cities for cyclists.
To identify the most dangerous cities for cyclists, researchers at CarInsurance.org analyzed fatality data for 2014-17 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau. They ranked cities by the number of cyclist fatalities per 100,000 bicycle commuters. Only cities with at least one cyclist death per year and at least 100,000 residents were included in the analysis.
Here’s how Arlington fares in the study:
- Annual cycling deaths per 100,000 bicycle commuters: 262
- Annual cycling deaths per 1 million residents: 2.6
- Total cycling deaths (during four-year period): Four
- Share of deaths involving a cyclist who wore a helmet: Zero
- Number of bicycling commuters: 382
It’s worth pointing out that the total number of cycling deaths in Arlington over the four-year period was four, which works out to one per year.
Susan Schrock, a spokeswoman for the City of Arlington, confirms four cycling deaths happened in the city from 2014 to 2017. However, she says CarInsurance.org incorrectly reported the number of helmet-wearing cyclists who died. In one of the four cases, the cyclist was wearing a helmet.
Furthermore, Schrock says, police records show three of the four cyclists who were killed were found to be at fault.
“When reviewing the data, Arlington is tied with four other cities when it comes to the number of fatalities over the four-year timeframe,” Schrock says. “Overall, Arlington has among the fewest fatalities for a city of our size and number of residents.”
What appears to be the most recent cycling death in Arlington happened September 7, 2019. Terry Eason, 63, of Mansfield died after he was thrown off his bicycle and crashed into a tree at River Legacy Park.
Perhaps the most recent high-profile cycling accident in Arlington occurred in May 2019. Lyft driver Steven Turner was arrested and charged with failure to stop and render aid after hitting and injuring an off-duty police officer who was patrolling AT&T Stadium on a bike.
Medical City Arlington advises cyclists to always wear a helmet. The City of Arlington requires all children under age 18 to wear a helmet when riding a bike; for adults, wearing a helmet is optional.
“We treat far too many bike injuries that could have easily been prevented by following a few simple and inexpensive safety tips,” Dr. Siddhartha Rath, medical director of trauma services at Medical City Arlington, said in a 2018 release. “One of the most important precautions for anyone on two wheels is head protection.”
Arlington shares a spot on the CarInsurance.org list with San Antonio, which ranks 16th. Here’s the data for San Antonio:
- Annual cycling deaths per 100,000 bicycle commuters: 243
- Annual cycling deaths per 1 million residents: 2.2
- Total cycling deaths (during four-year period): 13
- Share of deaths involving a cyclist who wore a helmet: 8 percent
- Number of bicycling commuters: 1,340
The nonprofit group Bike San Antonio complains that San Antonio’s bike-friendliness score from the People For Bikes organization is only 1.5 out of 5, ranking it 284th out of 512 cities.
Bike San Antonio says it’s been working for several years to improve bike safety in the city. “We’ve gone door to door, created petitions, attended city meetings, rallied cyclists to attend public meetings, and more,” the group says on its website.
In November 2019, the San Antonio City Council authorized spending $6 million for protected bike lanes on parts of Avenue B and Alamo Street. Cycling advocates also have called for protected bike lanes on Broadway Street.
The $6 million allocation for bike lanes follows the traffic deaths last year of two prominent San Antonio cyclists — Tito Bradshaw and Dr. Naji Tanios Kayruz.
In an April 2019 statement about Bradshaw’s death, San Antonio City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales said: “As a cyclist, City Council member, mother and neighbor, I mourn such devastating losses and am determined to double down on my efforts to make our streets safe for everyone who uses them — cyclists, pedestrians, micromobility users, and vehicle drivers alike.”