Police in Des Moines say that a local bicyclist is in critical condition after being hit by a car while out for a weekday morning ride. According to authorities, 26-year-old Luke Sudbrock was riding his bicycle early Friday morning when he was rear-ended by another vehicle.
Police say that the accident took place on Scott Avenue near 36th Street. They were able to locate the driver of the vehicle, a 68-year-old who they say was not impaired at the time. According to a police report, the driver says he did not notice the bicycle until it was too late to avoid hitting him.
Police say the accident occurred in low light and the bicyclist in question did not have any flashing lights attached to his bike, making him more difficult to see. Additionally, the accident took place in an area without bike lanes, something that makes it much more difficult for cyclists to safely maneuver. The police were clear that even though there are no bike lanes in the area, the cyclist has a right to be on the roadway. Police say they are continuing to investigate the accident and have not decided whether charges will be filed against the driver.
Though the victim in this case thankfully survived the accident this is sadly not always the case. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 618 bicyclists died in similar collisions involving passenger vehicles in 2010. The recent Des Moines accident is one of the tens of thousands of crashes that occur each year between bicycles and passenger vehicles that often leave cyclists seriously wounded. Government statistics show that 52,000 bicycle injuries occur each year due to accidents involving cars.
Though bicycling can be treacherous, it does not have to be. If other drivers would pay better attention and watch for cyclists then many of these accidents could be avoided entirely. Bicyclists are allowed to be on Iowa roadways and should be given room to maneuver safely. This means that cars should never pass too closely to a bicycle, as a small shift could prove fatal. Drivers should stay alert and avoid other distractions, keeping an eye out for bicyclists who might approach from the sides. Bicyclists can do their part to increase safety by making sure to wear a helmet that properly fits your head. Helmets are the last line of defense for bicyclists and can often be what prevents cyclists from sustaining a debilitating or deadly injury.