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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Braving the Deep, Deadly South on a Bicycle | MSN News

The 'ghost bike' rests on a tree along Poindexter Drive in south Charlotte, N.C., as a tribute to Carl Hedrick, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver on May 1, 2011.
Ken Spicer’s grandkids were expecting him when they heard the accident. From inside the house it sounded like a car had hit a post. But they knew differently when they heard their grandfather, age 70, cry out for help.
“I was knocked up into the air,” Spicer remembers. “My head hit the windshield, I came down on the hood, and then down onto the pavement.” While biking to his son’s house he’d been hit by a neighbor driving a white Subaru SUV. “The next thing I remember I was lying in both lanes of the street, in the most excruciating pain of my life,” he says. He had traveled all of three blocks.
This kind of accident can, and does, happen anywhere. But if you live where Ken does, in the Deep South — outside Charleston, South Carolina, in Ken’s case — this kind of accident is more likely to occur. Much more likely.
According to a benchmark study, released last year by the National Alliance for Biking and Walking, the states of the southern U.S. are the most dangerous per biker, and per bike mile traveled, by a wide margin. If you bike in South Carolina you are 10 times likelier to be hit and killed by a car than if you bike in Oregon, one of America’s safer states for cyclists. In North Carolina, eight times more likely. In Louisiana, seven. If you bike in Mississippi, that number is close to 13.

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