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Hilton Head Island bicycle accidents on decline

Biking activists are happy to say that Hilton Head Island has become a safer place for bikers as a result of years of focused efforts to improve safety. In fact, Hilton Head was awarded a silver medal from the League of American Bicyclists for their sustained efforts to cultivate an environment welcoming to bikers.

Beyond the testimony of area cyclists, a reduction in the number of bicyclists hit by a car or otherwise injured in accidents with motor vehicles may attest to the success of their efforts. Only nine bicycle accidents with motor vehicles occurred in the first half of 2012, down from 16 last year and also well below the average of 14.

Yet, activists say that there is no single issue that can be attributed to this reduction in accidents. Rather, they say a series of citywide improvements is largely responsible for the reduction. Improvements to pathways, road signs, and crosswalks all contribute to lower bicycle accidents and better pedestrian safety. Also, landscaping changes have helped improve visibility for both drivers and pedestrians.

Given the increasing use of bicycles and other environmentally friendly means of transportation, the efforts seem to be paying off. The moves may also make good economic sense for the area: estimates for bicycle use during peak tourist months put the number of bike rentals around 20,000 to 30,000 people.

However, the primary concern for measures such as these is likely the welfare of pedestrians. Since serious injuries can result from a pedestrian accident with a motor vehicle, taking precautions against such incidents is in the city's best interest.

When accidents do happen, the livelihoods of the injured can be in serious jeopardy. Victims can lose their ability to work or be forced into a situation where long-term medical expenditures will be necessary to cope with the damage.

In these instances, pedestrians can turn to legal options for assistance. Still, the best route is likely the one adopted by Hilton Head Island officials: taking all possible measures to avoid the accidents in the first place.

Source: The Island Packet, "Cyclists see fewer bike vs. car wrecks reported on Hilton Head," Tom Barton, Aug. 21, 2012

1 Comment

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