For many California residents, cycling is a pleasant alternative to a traditional commute. Yet, when speed limits increase, so, too, do the threats faced by cyclists, because the faster a car travels, the lower the chance of a cyclist surviving if that car comes in contact with one.
According to People Powered Movement, cyclists face serious threats anytime a car comes in contact with them, regardless of how fast the car travels. However, if the car travels at a speed that exceeds 60 mph, the chance of a cyclist surviving, if struck, becomes virtually nonexistent.
How speed impacts injury rates
Studies show that a cyclist’s odds of suffering a serious injury when a car strikes him or her rises quite a bit when only moderate increases in speed take place. For example, when a car traveling at 16 mph strikes a biker, the biker suffers a severe injury in about 10% if cases. Yet, when cars travel at 23 mph, a quarter of all cyclists struck are going to experience a severe injury.
How speed impacts fatality rates
While the typical suburban street has a speed limit that falls somewhere between about 25 mph and 30 mph, vehicles do not have to travel that fast to kill a cyclist. When a car travels at 23 mph and hits a biker, the biker dies in about 10% of instances. When cars travel at 32 mph, a quarter of cyclists struck by the vehicle are going to die.
Studies show that when speed limits decrease, so, too, do the number of serious injuries and fatalities suffered by cyclists.