Bike Accidents in Phoenix, such as the one Wednesday between moving vehicles and a bicycle that resulted in fatal injuries to an 11-year-old girl are not rare in Phoenix. The accident took place near 20th Avenue and Indian School Road, where a two-stage crosswalk connects a shopping area on the northern side of the street with residences on the south.
According to Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump, the child, Bu Meh, pedaled ahead of her father and out into the roadway from the protected median without waiting for traffic to stop. She was hit by a car in the center lane, then proceeded into the curb lane, where she was hit by another vehicle. Crump noted that Meh was not wearing any protective equipment.
The city averages between 450 and 500 accidents a year involving bicycles and vehicles, resulting in around 10 deaths per year, according to the city’s Street Transportation Department. Many of them take place near the same intersection where the child was killed. Indian School Road at 23rd Avenue, 27th Avenue and Interstate 17 has some of the highest numbers of bike-vehicle accidents in the past five years in Phoenix, city records show.
In such accidents, the person on the bicycle rarely has a chance. In other words, "lack of safety equipment" likely made no difference here.
“A bicyclist can be doing everything right and still end up wrong,” said Sandy Adams, traffic-education program manager for Glendale, which has averaged 36 bicycle accidents a year since the start of 2007, with two deaths since then. Nationally, more than half a million people annually are treated in emergency rooms after bicycle accidents, and more than 700 people are killed. In 1975, two-thirds of those who died were younger than 16. Now, that has reversed, with 86percent of deaths among those older than 16.
No one can really explain why, other than children are a captive audience for bicycle-safety education programs.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Arizona has consistently been in the top 10 for bicycle traffic fatalities. In 2009, the state ranked fifth in the nation, although it is the 16th-most-populous state. The state saw 19 bicycle traffic fatalities in 2010 and 25 in 2009. The states with more deaths are considerably more populous — California, Florida, Texas, New York and others.
Making the city better for bikes is a tough job, he said, with funding and political will lacking. “We have a long way to go,” he said, “but if we don’t start, we’ll never get anywhere.” Kerry Wilcoxon, traffic-safety supervisor for the Phoenix Street Transportation Department, said the city is working on improvements to bicycle infrastructure, including more bike lanes, marked crosswalks, over- and underpasses, and the like.
He said the child killed last week was taking advantage of such an improvement — the double crosswalk on Indian School Road near 20th Avenue. It didn’t help.
"Use the crosswalk". That is what we teach our children.
"When you are in the crosswalk, cars have to stop for you." (Except when they don't).
As a Phoenix Bicycle Accident Lawyer, I see the problem is that children don't understand traffic. They don't drive, so they don't understand the rules of the road. They don't know what drivers see or do. They simply don't have the educational capacity or experience to understand. Previously, we represented a family of a 15 year old girl who died while in a crosswalk, crossing a busy road. She was not running. When she started crossing, traffic was stopped at a red light 1/4 of a mile away. While in the midst of her cross, the light turned green. She obeyed her parents' safety warnings: Use the crosswalk. It did not save her when an eastbound car hit her in the curb lane.
There is no substitute for good engineering. There is no substitute for safe crossing practices. There is absolutely no substitute for driver attention, and no substitute for parental control.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this tragedy.