Every year, the World Day of Remembrance (WDoR) memorializes all people killed and seriously injured on roads and acknowledges the critical work of emergency services. It also draws attention to the inadequate government response to culpable road deaths and injuries. And WDoR promotes better support for road traffic victims and their families as well as action to prevent and eventually stop road traffic deaths and injuries.
Sadly, many of the victims of such road violence are bicyclists. As pointed out in Jody Rosen’s recent book, Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle, we live on a bicycle planet. Worldwide, more people travel by bicycle than by any other form of transportation. The number of bicycles manufactured in China this year will exceed the total worldwide production of automobiles. Almost half of all global households own a bicycle, more than those that have a car. Outside of North American and Europe, bikes keep cities running and commerce flowing. The cost in terms of traffic deaths and injuries, however, is incredibly high.
As biking grows in popularity in the United States, we are not immune to rising rates of death and injury on roads and streets. More can and must be done to protect vulnerable road users.
WDoR 2022 is putting the spotlight on justice, with an emphasis on traffic law enforcement, thorough crash reconstruction and investigation to determine whether a crime was committed and to prevent recurrence, and criminal prosecution and civil compensation where appropriate.
FABB applauds and supports these goals for our county. FABB maintains close contact with the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) to keep lines of communication open on traffic safety issues and with other members of the justice system.
- In late 2021, we hosted Lt. Jason Long, FCPD’s Traffic Safety Supervisor, and Det. Rodney Posey of the FCPD Crash Reconstruction Unit to learn more about the crash reconstruction process. For more on their presentation, see our blog here and here.
- Earlier this year, FABB hosted Pia Miller, Fairfax County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney for Community Justice, for a discussion of how the criminal justice system handles court cases arising out of car-bike crashes. FABB remains concerned that justice system regularly resorts to plea deals rather than full prosecution under the law in cases involving bicyclist fatalities. You can read about her thoughtful responses and advice here.
- FABB advocated for years with state legislators for passage of the Vulnerable Road User Law (§ 46.2-816.1.), which since mid-2020 has increased penalties for careless or distracted drivers who harm a cyclist, pedestrian, or e-scooter rider.
- FABB continues to work with other advocacy groups in the Old Dominion to update and improve Virginia’s very strict legislation on contributory negligence, which prevents recovery of compensation for damages if an individual contributed in the slightest way to the injury they suffered in a crash.
- FABB also has pressed government to improve data collection on crashes involving bikes. Fortunately, most crashes rarely involve fatal or life-threatening injuries, but, as a result, they don’t fall under the criteria for a crash reconstruction investigation, currently damage over $1,500 or death or major injury. We need better data to improve road safety.
Please take a few moments to remember the victims and their families today. Although Fairfax County has avoided any bicyclist fatalities through this date in 2022, our roads and streets remain deadly as shown by the number of pedestrians killed in the county this year.