Cycling’s popularity as a sport, leisure activity, and method of transportation has increased in recent years in North Carolina, particularly in cities. Asheville is no exception: bike lanes and ‘share the road’ public outreach campaigns have permeated many areas of the city, and cyclists are a common sight on roadways.

Cyclists are uniquely vulnerable to motor vehicle accidents. They must travel with normal traffic, leaving them exposed to the flow of vehicles in downtown Asheville, on Patton Avenue and in other areas where traffic frequently becomes dangerous. In this post, we’ll continue our discussion on the conditions in Asheville that come together to make it so unsafe for the people who live and vacation here, focusing on the dangers that people face while traveling by bicycle in Western North Carolina.

Cycling On The Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is as treacherous as it is beautiful, particularly for people who choose to travel it by bike. As recently as 2015, the Asheville Citizen-Times noted an increase in the occurrence of motor vehicle accidents on the Parkway, including bicycle accidents. Driver inattention and excessive speeds were noted as the most important factors in these accidents.

Reckless drivers, blind curves, and narrow roadways all converge to make the Parkway a hazardous road to travel even for people who are not on bikes. Cyclists riding through tunnels have become involved in accidents simply because drivers could not see them. Even if a driver attempts to avoid an accident with a bicyclist, there is often little room on the roadway for a car to evade a collision.

In these cases, public outreach is vital to increasing awareness of the cyclists riding the Blue Ridge Parkway. A signage campaign conducted by National Park Service that lasted from 2002 to 2011 resulted in a decrease in motor vehicle accidents. The signs identified unique features of the roadways in problem areas; greater driver awareness of these road conditions led to a decrease in the number of accidents in the years the NPS studied. A program aimed at reducing bicycling accidents might look similar. Frequent warning signs about the presence of cyclists, especially in problem areas or areas on the Parkway where cyclists frequently travel, could have a similar decreasing effect on the numbers of bicycle accidents.

Cycling On Major Roadways

Of all the hazards cyclists face, impatient or inattentive drivers are likely to be most dangerous. Drivers who ride closely behind cyclists or who do not give them enough clearance when passing them often cause accidents by misjudging the amount of space cyclists need to remain safe. In addition, distracted drivers may weave in their own lane or onto the shoulder where a cyclist is riding. They may also miss a cyclist’s lane change or turn onto a roadway because of their distractions. As the number of Asheville car accidents increase so does the hazard for cyclists and pedestrians on our roads.

In an effort to reduce the number of bicycle accidents caused by drivers passing bicycles on one-lane roadways, North Carolina’s state legislature enacted new laws in 2016 that changed rules for drivers when interacting with cyclists. Drivers are now allowed to pass bicycles and mopeds in no-passing zones, as long as the driver can allow four feet of clearance between car and bicycle and the cyclist is not making a left turn. The law also makes it possible for aggressive drivers to receive harsher punishments if their actions cause a bicyclist to become involved in an accident.

Smart Growth

As Asheville and other areas in Western North Carolina continue to grow and attract more cyclists and pedestrians, more bicycle accidents are likely to follow if bike-friendly urban development is not incorporated into the cities’ plans for growth. Bike lanes are now a staple of certain areas in Asheville, which is great. However, cyclists traveling along Swannanoa River Road, Patton Avenue, and other roads without bike lanes remain at risk.

Residents of neighborhoods can often push for bike lanes to be added to their neighborhoods. This provides residents with bike lanes they can use themselves and those other cyclists might use to avoid traffic on major roadways, which could lessen the occurrence of bike accidents. Public pressure is often the only way for citizens to make a change that results in safer roadways for everyone.

Contact an Asheville Bicycle Accident Lawyer After a Bike Accident

If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway or another area in Asheville, you are likely undergoing extensive physical therapy and other treatments to help heal soft tissue injuries or to aid in recovery after surgery. Recovering after a serious bicycle accident can take months or years, during which accident victims are often unable to work. At your free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, we’ll discuss your case, identify how we can help you, and get to work on resolving your case. If you need help with lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses, contact our Asheville person injury team today. Give us a call or email today to see how we can help.

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