Beebe urges safety, and "Be prepared to yield the right of way even if you have the right of way."
Beebe Healthcare in Lewes has seen an increase in traumatic bicycle accidents.
Emergency doctors treated 11 patients with significant traumatic injuries - head injuries, bone fractures and organ lacerations - between May 1 and July 1.
According to Dr. Kevin Bristowe, Beebe’s Medical Director of Emergency Services, only four occurred during the same period last year.
“Several injuries have been so severe they have required transfer to a Level One trauma center,” he said.
Most severe bicycle accidents involve an automobile, but that’s not always the case.
Inexperienced, unsafe or inattentive cyclists can put themselves and others at risk. Bristowe said there are large numbers of cyclists on the new coastal trails.
“Lewes has made major investments in trails, and people who haven’t been on bikes in 30 years are out there,” said James Wilson, executive director at nonprofit Bike Delaware. “It’s just growing pains.”
At least six of the 11 patients who have suffered significant traumatic injuries this year were not wearing a helmet. In 2018, only one of Beebe’s four traumatic injury patients had a helmet.
“All bicycle crashes without a helmet can be serious,” said Ryan Marshall, Beebe’s public relations content coordinator.
The locations are not public information, unless they involve a police report. Delaware State Police have reported on two so far this year, one in Kent County and one in Wilmington.
According to the Lewes Police Department, they investigated in June after a Newark bicyclist suddenly veered into traffic on Savannah Road and was struck by a car. She was not wearing a helmet and suffered a severe head injury.
Most recently, on July 4, a 27-year-old Annapolis woman was struck while crossing Coastal Highway in South Bethany Beach while cycling. She was not wearing a helmet and died of her injuries a few days later.
Per Delaware law, anyone under 18 must wear a helmet while riding a bike, but Bristowe and the Delaware Department of Transportation recommend that all cyclists do.
Bristowe also warned cyclists not to talk on a cell phone or text while riding.
Bike Delaware’s Wilson said his first and foremost piece of advice for cyclists is to be in control of their bike. Secondly, be aware of motor vehicle traffic, especially at intersections.
“Be prepared to yield the right of way even if you have the right of way,” he said.