GR surveys residents on bicycle safety

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids is looking for feedback about how to make its streets safer for bicyclists.

It is conducting an online survey that will help shape a campaign to decrease the number of crashes involving bicycles and cars. The survey, which takes between 10 and 15 minutes, is open until April 29.

>>Online: Take the survey

People who take the survey can enter to win an iPad Mini, a $100 gift certificate to Freewheeler Bike Shop or a Grand Rapids swimming pool pass.

The survey is part of a three-year bicycle safety education project aimed at creating a “share-the-road culture,” which is funded by a $485,000 federal grant and a local match, according to a Tuesday release from the city.

Some drivers get annoyed with bicyclists on the road, but Grand Rapids Managing Director Suzanne Schulz said it’s not only legal for them to ride on the road, it’s also safer.

“Bicyclist are considered legal road users, which means they have a right to be in the road, just like a car,” Schulz said, adding that they also have to follow the rules of the road.

The city says the Greater Grand Rapids are has the second-highest rate of fatal bicycle crashes among Michigan’s largest cities. Schulz said the rate is three times higher than the state average.

The majority of the bike-involved crashes are the fault of the people behind the wheels of vehicles. The highest number of crashes are caused by cars making right-hand turns.

According to the city, figures from the Michigan Department of Transportation show there were 194 crashes involving vehicles and bicycles in Kent County in 2011, 96 of which were in Grand Rapids. 77 percent of the Kent County crashes resulted in injury or death. Schulz said statistics show that bicyclists are seven times more likely than drivers to be injured in a bike-vehicle crash.

The city plans to launch its bike safety education campaign in the fall.

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