Bikes vs cars: Battling for control of the streets

More and more people are choosing to bicycle to work, school or the grocery store, creating a turf war on for control of the road.

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According to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments survey of households, about 3.3 percent of D.C. residents regularly bike to work. The same survey found an average of 87,500 bicycle trips every day across the Washington region.

The growing number of bicyclists on the roads have drivers complaining. The number one complaint: bikers don't play by the rules. They run stop signs and stop lights, don't stop in traffic, and will even bike in oncoming traffic lanes.

Bicyclists also have plenty of complaints about drivers, including blocking or driving in bike lanes, and making a right turn without checking. And it can have deadly consequences.

Every year, about 700 bike riders die in the U.S.

Kim Kruse nearly became one of them in August 2009. An experienced and competitive cyclist, she was riding in a bike lane in Arlington when she was hit by an SUV.

"I just said, 'This is going to hurt,' she recalled. "It was so sudden. There was no time to prepare."

She was taken to Fairfax Inova hospital, where orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Steve Malekzadeh used screws to repair her shattered wrist and crushed pelvis.

"To this day, I think if she hadn't been wearing a helmet we would be having a very different conversation," Dr. Malekzadeh said.

It's a type of trauma doctors are seeing more and more. Fairfax Inova reports a 25-percent increase in the number of traumas from bike accidents in the past few years.

According to Shane Farthing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association there's no easy solution. Bikes and cars will have to lean to share the road.

"We all have to figure out how to follow rules that will let us co-exist together, and that starts by both of us agreeing to follow the rules," he said.

WABA has a list of resources for smart, safe cycling.

Here's more information on the CoG study on bicycle uses.

MWCoG Bike Walk Study2008

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