A collision on Sunday that killed a Baldwin motorcyclist marked the twenty first deadly bike crash Maine has seen thus far this 12 months. That determine matches the overall variety of deadly bike crashes in all of 2021.
With the 12 months barely greater than half over, Maine is on tempo to exceed the variety of deadly bike crashes it has seen yearly over the previous 5 years, in response to Maine Division of Public Security spokesperson Shannon Moss.
The rise spurred state highway security officers to kind a particular bike security job pressure final week to research and tackle the rise, mentioned Christopher Eire, director of the driving force license companies division of the Maine Bureau of Motor Autos.
State officers haven’t recognized a definitive trigger for the rise in deadly crashes involving bikes. The crashes have concerned individuals of all age teams and driving expertise ranges, and the deadly crashes are divided about evenly between these involving different autos and people through which cyclists have crashed alone, Eire mentioned.
However the improve has occurred amid an uptick of motorcyclists on the highway and receiving coaching to earn their bike endorsements.
The brand new job pressure investigating the rise in bike fatalities entails the Maine Bureau of Freeway Security, the Bureau of Motor Autos and the Division of Transportation. It’s led by Lauren Stewart, director of the Maine Bureau of Freeway Security.
The group is beginning by reviewing varied elements which will have contributed to every deadly bike crash and on the lookout for tendencies, Eire mentioned. The elements embrace the time of day when the crashes occurred, highway circumstances, climate, the drivers’ ages, and whether or not they had been carrying helmets.
Of those that have died in bike crashes thus far this 12 months, about two-thirds weren’t carrying helmets, in response to Moss.
Bike riders in Maine are usually not required to put on a helmet, with state legislation requiring them just for riders who’re beneath 18, these with a learner’s allow and those that have accomplished their driving check throughout the final 12 months. Passengers of operators required to put on a helmet additionally should put on one.
“From a state security perspective, it’s nicely understood that carrying a helmet is a crucial contribution to rider security,” Eire mentioned.
Whereas the state works to seek out attainable options, Eire mentioned all drivers needs to be cautious of motorbike riders, particularly when coming into intersections, as they are often troublesome to see.
As soon as the duty pressure collects extra knowledge on this 12 months’s bike crashes, it plans to debate the rise in fatalities with bike teams and those that practice riders, Eire mentioned.
In 2020, Maine had 27 crashes leading to 29 deaths, in response to Moss. The 12 months earlier than, Maine noticed 25 crashes leading to 27 deaths. In 2018, 23 bike crashes resulted in 23 deaths, Moss mentioned.
On Sunday, John Washington, 32, of Baldwin collided with a car pushed by Sheila Beal, 70, from Newfield, on the intersection of routes 5 and 25 in Cornish. Washington, who was carrying a helmet and was alone on the bike, was pronounced lifeless on the scene, police mentioned.
Final week, Michael Hutchins, 47, of Somerville died from his accidents after he crashed his bike right into a grove of bushes on Valley Street in Somerville. He was not carrying a helmet, in response to police.
On July 2, Merle Web page, 60, of Corinna died when he crossed the centerline of Route 7 in Corinna and collided with an oncoming car, police reported. Web page wasn’t carrying a helmet.
Final month, one other 4 individuals in Maine died after crashing their bikes.
Along with extra deadly bike crashes, Eire mentioned state companies have observed an uptick within the variety of motorcyclists on the highway. The pandemic, in addition to financial shifts in individuals’s lives and rising fuel costs, could also be contributing to this, he mentioned.
About 3,000 individuals yearly took bike security programs — which individuals should go earlier than they’ll obtain a state bike endorsement — in Maine from 2017 to 2020. In 2021, nevertheless, greater than 4,000 Mainers took a motorbike security course, in response to Eire.
“Through the pandemic, people had a while, funds and so they had been on the lookout for a method to get out of the home,” he mentioned. “Financial elements additionally are inclined to drive individuals towards totally different modes of transportation. We noticed one thing related in the course of the recession in 2008.”
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