Picture this scenario: you’re driving along a Washington State highway, and on your right, you spot a cyclist pedaling on the shoulder, sharing the road with speeding cars and massive trucks. Perhaps you’ve even been that cyclist navigating the highway yourself. While highways may offer certain conveniences compared to rural roads, they also present substantial dangers for cyclists.
In larger Washington cities, highways might be even riskier than in places like Kennewick, where traffic is less congested. Nonetheless, our state’s freeways still accommodate cyclists, leading to bicycle accidents on these busy routes. Although some parts of Washington’s highways prohibit cyclists, the majority of them remain open to both large, fast vehicles and small, unprotected bicycles. At Telaré Law, we recognize that Kennewick might not be the safest place for cyclists, and we’re here to highlight the risks and offer support.
Kennewick’s Concerns for Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety
According to the Tri-City Herald, pedestrian and cyclist safety on Tri-Cities’ roads, including Kennewick, is a significant concern. Startling statistics show that one out of every seven traffic fatalities in recent years involved pedestrians or cyclists. From 2016 to 2020, out of 108 traffic fatalities in Benton and Franklin counties, 15 of them were pedestrians or cyclists, with pedestrians accounting for the majority. The data revealed that both Kennewick and Richland each experienced five pedestrian deaths during this five-year period, while Pasco recorded three pedestrian deaths and one cyclist fatality. Benton City also reported one pedestrian fatality during this timeframe.
Despite the absence of updated data for 2021, recent accidents indicate that these concerning trends persist. Local authorities have actively addressed this issue, with Benton County securing a $60,000 grant for the Tri-Cities Walker Safety Project, aimed at reducing pedestrian deaths through public awareness and enhanced law enforcement at high-risk intersections. Additionally, community engagement in planning infrastructure projects has become vital in proactively addressing pedestrian safety concerns. This includes initiatives like adding pedestrian and cyclist paths during interchange redesigns and investing in walkable areas and sidewalks to create safer environments for both pedestrians and cyclists.
Unfortunately, it appears that the laws allowing cyclists on highways are not changing anytime soon, and we believe this is a critical issue that deserves attention.
Challenges on Washington State Highways for Bicyclists
Cycling on Washington State highways can be a daunting and risky experience. While our state boasts stunning landscapes and diverse terrain for cyclists, sharing the road with fast-moving cars and trucks comes with inherent dangers. Let’s explore some of the perils that Washington State highways pose for bicyclists:
- High-Speed Traffic: Many Washington State highways have high speed limits, making them unsuitable for cyclists who travel at considerably slower speeds. This speed differential can lead to unsafe passing situations.
- Narrow Shoulders: Some Washington highways lack designated bike lanes or wide shoulders, leaving cyclists with limited safe riding space and increasing the risk of being sideswiped by passing vehicles.
- Limited Visibility: Curves, hills, and blind spots are common features on Washington highways, reducing visibility for both cyclists and motorists. This limited visibility can make it challenging for drivers to anticipate cyclists’ presence.
- Distracted and Impaired Drivers: Like other areas, distracted and impaired driving are concerns on Washington State highways. Drivers not fully focused on the road pose a significant threat to cyclists.
- Heavy Traffic: Some highways experience high traffic volumes, especially during peak hours, leading to tight spaces and an increased potential for accidents involving cyclists.
- Lack of Infrastructure: While some highways may offer designated bike lanes or signage, others may lack proper infrastructure for cyclists. Insufficient road markings and signage can cause confusion for both cyclists and motorists.
- Inexperienced Drivers: Tourists and inexperienced drivers unfamiliar with Washington’s highways may not be accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists, resulting in unpredictable interactions.
To enhance safety for cyclists on Washington State highways, it’s crucial to take precautions such as wearing high-visibility clothing, using lights and reflectors, and obeying traffic laws. Choosing less-traveled routes and seeking dedicated bike paths and trails can significantly reduce the risks associated with highway cycling. Staying vigilant, maintaining clear communication with motorists, and practicing defensive riding techniques are essential for a safer biking experience on Washington’s highways.
How Telaré Law Can Assist in Kennewick Bicycle Accident Cases
While we strongly recommend avoiding highways on a bicycle, we understand that you may find yourself cycling on busy roads. If a motor vehicle hits you due to negligence or recklessness, you are entitled to compensation. Legally, cyclists have the right to be on the highway, and drivers must watch out for them. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a freeway accident, contact Telaré Law today.
We have a long history of success in personal injury cases, particularly bicycle accident cases, which are unfortunately common in Washington State. Your well-being is our top priority, and we will gather evidence, investigate the parties involved, and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. We understand the challenges you face, both physically and financially, and will handle the paperwork and legal complexities so you can focus on healing. Schedule a no-cost consultation with a Kennewick bicycle injury lawyer from Telaré Law by calling our office or filling out our contact form.