Columbus has a fairly good record for bicycle safety and infrastructure. The League of American Bicyclists has listed the city as a bronze award recipient for bike-friendliness since 2015. This award resulted from the city’s efforts to encourage and educate bicyclists and its Dragonfly trail network.

But there is still more work to do. According to the League of American Bicyclists, the city needs to connect its multi-use trails to on-street bikeways. And the city can implement safety measures to decrease the number of bicycle accidents that occur.

Columbus Bicycle Crash Statistics

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), Columbus had 105 bicycle crashes from 2013 through 2022, or roughly 10.5 crashes per year. In 2022, there were only four collisions, representing the lowest number during that period since 2015.

The drop in 2022 was significant compared to the peak in 2018. However, the low sample numbers create a noisy record that jumps around. As a result, it is not clear whether the drop resulted from random chance or a real safety improvement.

Bicycle Crash Outcomes

Miraculously, Columbus had zero fatal bicycle collisions between 2013 and 2022. It had 73 non-fatal injury collisions – or roughly seven injuries per year. 

The non-fatal injury crashes caused:

  • Six serious injuries that incapacitated the rider
  • 34 visible injuries that did not incapacitate the rider
  • 30 riders who complained of pain or other symptoms without visible injuries
  • Three unknown injuries

These statistics establish the dangers posed by riding a bicycle. Since it has no passenger compartment, riders risk injuries when they strike cars, strike the pavement, or get ejected from their bicycles. The injury rate for bicycle crashes in 2022 was 69.5%. In other words, cyclists who were hit by cars had a 69.5% chance of suffering an injury.

These numbers are not surprising given the difference in size and speed between bicycles and the motor vehicles that hit them. They are also not unexpected given that only 12 riders in bicycle crashes, or roughly 11%, were wearing helmets when they were hit.

Causes of Bicycle Crashes

A bicycle accident can result from many causes. 

Some of the more common causes, according to GDOT, include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to yield the right of way at an intersection
  • Senior drivers
  • Young drivers
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving

According to GDOT, distracted driving played a role in 36 bicycle crashes. Since bicycles are smaller, distracted drivers can fail to spot them on the roads. 

Senior drivers crashed into 31 bicycles. Drivers over 65 face many physical conditions that may affect their driving abilities, including dementia, vision loss, and arthritis. Seniors may also take medications that cause drowsiness or otherwise affect driving.

Teenagers and young adults hit 33 bicyclists. Young drivers face different problems that make them more prone to crashes, including inexperience. They also have a high risk of using electronic devices while driving.

Strangely, nearly 24% of bicycle crashes in Columbus involved a hit-and-run crash. These crashes happen when drivers hit bicyclists and then leave without stopping at the accident scene. 

According to one study, the national hit-and-run rate for all traffic crashes usually falls between 11% and 12%, depending on the year. Thus, a 24% bicycle hit-and-run rate is extremely high.

Dangerous Times To Ride

According to GDOT, the most dangerous day to ride your bicycle between 2013 and 2022 was on Friday. Nearly 25% of Columbus bike crashes happened on this day. The safest days to ride during the period were Sunday and Tuesday. Each of these days only accounted for about 9.5% of the city’s bicycle crashes.

The most dangerous time of day to ride was during the afternoon commute. The peak time for bicycle collisions fell between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. The number of crashes per day fell on weekends and leveled out with no significant peaks.

Dangerous Intersections in Columbus, GA

Over the ten years ending in 2022, about two-thirds of bicycle crashes happened at intersections. Collisions with bicycles at intersections tend to take two forms. First, drivers can turn left across the path of an oncoming bicycle. 

They may do this for several reasons, including:

  • Failing to see the cyclist
  • Trying to beat the bicycle through the intersection
  • Misjudging the cyclist’s speed or distance

Drivers who commit this error may hit the bicycle broadside. Alternatively, the cyclist may crash into the side of the vehicle. In either case, the driver who failed to yield bears the liability for the crash.

Second, drivers may turn right and hit a bicyclist on the shoulder or in a crosswalk. This error almost always happens when drivers fail to look to the right before making a right turn.

Some of the most dangerous intersections in Columbus for bicycle crashes include:

  • Cusseta Rd. and 23rd Ave.
  • GA-22/Wynnton Rd. and Lockwood Ave.
  • 23th Ave. and 23rd St.
  • 10th St. and Broadway Ave.
  • Front Ave. and Dillingham St.
  • College Dr. and University Ave.

These intersections had multiple bicycle accidents. Not coincidentally, they were also some of the busiest intersections in the city.

Columbus Bicycle Infrastructure

Columbus has made significant investments in the Dragonfly trail network. 

This network provides 29 miles of multi-use trails for pedestrians and cyclists, including:

  • Chattahoochee Riverwalk
  • MLK, Jr. Trail
  • Follow Me Trail
  • Fall Line Trace

The 10th Street Connector and Linwood Connector link these trails to each other. Together, they form a roughly E-shaped trail system running along the Chattahoochee River with three trails extending east from it.

These trails provide scenic rides and access to the city’s tourist attractions. But they do not necessarily serve bike commuters. One of the suggestions by the League of American Bicyclists in granting the city’s bronze award was that it needs to provide more on-street bike facilities.

Specifically, it suggested that the city add bike lanes or other facilities so cyclists can reach homes and businesses using bikeways. The city has future projects planned to meet this goal.

Riding Your Bicycle Safely in Columbus, Georgia

Columbus has a good reputation for bike-friendliness. Just remember to stick to the trail system, remain vigilant, and wear a helmet when you ride. If you follow these tips, you should be able to ride safely.