Officials: Pedestrian, cyclist deaths jumped 10% in ’15

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Pedestrian and cyclist deaths rose 10 percent last year in Metro Detroit, according to a study released by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Crashes killed 103 pedestrians and 14 cyclists, according to the SEMCOG analysis of 2015 data. Cyclist deaths have risen for three years straight while pedestrian fatalities have gone up since 2007, when 64 died.

The uptick matches statewide trends, according to SEMCOG.

“Bicycle and pedestrian crashes tend to result in more serious injuries and fatalities than crashes only involving motor vehicles,” said SEMCOG executive director Kathleen Lomako in a statement. “This is why we all need to do our part to prioritize safety as part of a region-wide push to enhance the walking and biking components of southeast Michigan’s transportation system.”

The SEMCOG study provided details about recent pedestrian and cyclist deaths, including likely locations, times and victims of deadly incidents:

■Around 55 percent of bicycle fatalities and serious injuries occur near or in an intersection and more than 65 percent of pedestrian crashes happen when the walker is in the roadway instead of a designated crosswalk.

■Less than 3 percent of bicycle deaths and serious injuries occur within a marked bicycle lane.

■Pedestrians and cyclists are most at risk during summertime afternoons. But that might have to do with more people being out during those peak hours. Men are involved in more than 62 percent of pedestrian crashes and about 80 percent of bicycle crashes.

The study delved further into specific locations that put people at-risk for a serious crash.

More than 10 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on expressways, often while motorists try to fix flats or other issues with their vehicles along the roadway.

Pedestrians and cyclists are not necessarily safe on side streets, officials said. More than 73 percent of fatalities occur on city surface streets, while more than 18 percent of fatalities occur on low-speed local streets.

Analyzing the data is crucial to curbing fatalities, SEMCOG officials said.

“Knowing when, where and how crashes are most likely to happen gives us the best chance to develop and apply strategies that can save lives,” Lomako said.

Officials are hosting a series of workshops to help raise awareness and increase pedestrian/cyclist safety, SEMCOG announced in its statement.

“Finding out more information about how to educate the public, especially the driving public, was especially important to us,” said Troy Jeschke, Richmond planning and economic development director.