Virginia is one of the safest places for cycling in America. The League of American Bicyclists ranked the state the ninth most bike-friendly nationwide, third for its bicycle infrastructure, and fourth for bicycle planning and assessment.
And yet Virginia Beach – a coastal city in Virginia home to nearly 1.8 million people – ranked 37th in a list of U.S. cities with the most annual bike fatalities. The town has a yearly bike fatality rate of 140.4 per 100,000 commuters or about four per one million residents.
How dangerous is Virginia Beach to cyclists?
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, bike crash data over five years in Virginia Beach averaged around just over 105 crashes each year:
- 2010: 97 crashes
- 2011: 112 crashes
- 2012: 102 crashes
- 2013: 109 crashes
- 2014: 107 crashes
By comparison, the jurisdiction with the next highest number of bike crashes, Fairfax County, had an average of over 94 crashes yearly.
Injuries and fatalities
Within the same 2010-2014 period, Virginia Beach had an annual average of over 102 bike injuries in crashes. But as high as this number is, the city’s yearly average for bike fatalities during the five years was a low 0.8.
Why is the risk of bike accidents so high in the city?
There is no simple answer to this question. There may be bigger automobiles on the road, which are deadlier to cyclists. Distracted driving cases have also increased in the past few years, and it only takes a momentary lapse in attention for a driver to hit a cyclist.
Still, the League of American Bicyclists has suggested that the core of the problem is that automobile drivers continue to be prioritized when designing streets in America at the expense of cyclists.
Virginia Beach is a dangerous city for cyclists. If you are a cyclist in the area, obey all road rules, remain vigilant while riding, wear a helmet and visible clothing, and ride defensively. And if you ever get into an accident with a car, seek immediate medical attention before considering legal recourse.