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Fort Collins Looks To Reduce Hit & Run Bike Accidents

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) - A student at Colorado State University remains in intensive care after being hit by a car while riding his bike home from class this week.

Police are still looking for the driver. It's the latest in a rash of hit-and-run bicycle accidents in Northern Colorado and city officials are looking to slow the trend.

Approximately 1,000 people in Fort Collins have been injured in bicycle versus vehicle crashes over the last couple of years, and the numbers continue to rise.

"We are seeing a general upward trend in crash frequency, bicycle crash frequency in Fort Collins over the past few years," said Joe Olson, Fort Collins Traffic Engineer.

It's a growing pain in the city.

"As ridership increases crashes are probably going to increase as well," Olson said.

More bikes on the road yield an increase in crashes, and with CSU in the center of town, students are at high risk, such as Michael Patterson, 21, who was critically injured Monday night in the hit-and-run while riding home from class.

Olson says since 2008, 923 people were injured in bike versus vehicle collisions in Fort Collins, with four of them being fatal. By September a total of 141 have been reported so far this year. Every year the numbers continue to rise.

Emergency room doctors at Poudre Valley Hospital have watched the injuries increase.

"When you're a bicyclist and you get hit by something that's heavy and doesn't yield, pretty much your whole body is at risk," said Dr. Schott Johnston, Emergency Room Medical Director at Poudre Valley Hospital.

Johnston says both the rider and the driver carry the responsibility.

"People in the cars need to be aware of bicyclists and show a proper respect and room," he said. "Not all cyclists use good sense, you know, if they're cutting in and out of traffic."

As cycling continues to increase in Northern Colorado, the number of crashes will follow suit, but the city of Fort Collins is fighting against that.

"We're trying to take a lot of different efforts to try and deal with the crashes and try to reduce the opportunities for the crashes to happen," Olson said.

City leaders say they've added more bike lanes this year, and they've also increased the time allotted for cyclists to cross the street at traffic signals. They say they are going to continue education for both riders and drivers.

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