FORT WAYNE – When cars and pedestrians or bicyclists meet, the results are often ugly. But the fault of those crashes, a new local study says, is almost evenly divided between those driving the cars and those on foot or wheels.
Urban Transportation Advisory Board members Tuesday heard a report that indicates that of the 211 vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents studied from 2009 to 2011, motorists were at fault in 95 of them, while pedestrians were at fault in 116 accidents.
The numbers were similar for cars-versus-bicycles. In the 225 accidents studied in the same time period, bicyclists were at fault 111 times and motorists were to blame 114 times.
Jerry Foust, senior transportation planner for the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council, said there was an average of 11,327 accidents in Allen County each year from 2009 through 2011, so the percentage of pedestrian and bicycle crashes is actually rather small – each representing less than 1 percent of the total.
Still, when thousands of pounds of metal meet someone on foot or on a bike, it can be devastating, and most cities are trying to encourage more pedestrians and bicyclists. In fact, the Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday considered an ordinance updating its traffic laws to better address the growing number of bicycles on city streets.
Foust said the aim of the study was to help planners and policymakers by giving them better information on when, where and why accidents occur.
For both pedestrians and bicyclists, most accidents occurred on arterial streets – heavily traveled major roads one step down from an interstate or state route.
Most pedestrian accidents took place midblock, meaning the person was jaywalking, and most bicycle accidents took place on-street, rather than at a crossing or intersection.
Only two bicycle accidents, of the 225 studied, took place in bike lanes, the figures indicate.
Of the 95 pedestrian accidents where motorists were at fault, the report said, 39 were from driver inattention and 38 from a failure to yield.
For bicycle accidents, when the motorist was at fault, the crash was caused by a failure to yield in 75 instances, and it was because of driver inattention an additional 21 times. When the bicyclist was at fault, it was the rider who failed to yield on 39 occasions; 22 accidents were caused when the bicyclist ran a red light.
The study showed the vast majority of accidents for both groups occurred in daylight when the weather was clear.
Its not visibility, Foust said. Most of the time its daylight and clear.