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Utah sees record high bicyclist fatalities in 2022

Two emergency services personnel assist a person on the ground.
Justin Haslam after he was hit by a car biking through Sardine Canyon

Justin Haslam sets off on his road bike. A rarer sight these days, after he was hit by a car.

“I told my wife Kim, that if I was to die, that she should remarry,” Haslam said. “It was like sarcasm and a joke. But you know, it's probably something I shouldn't have said in hindsight.”

Ten years ago Haslam was riding through Sardine Canyon from Logan to Ogden. Just as he was approaching the first exit towards Brigham City, a car hit him.

“That was the last thing that I remember,” he said. “Ended up landing my back apparently. And the reason I know that is because I've got scars up and down my back from it.”

Chad Harris was riding in Smithfield when he got hit.

“I ended up with a fractured skull, fractured maxilla, broken zygoma, six ribs broken punctured lung, two arms broken,” Harris said.

For some, an injury is a grave reminder to be cautious. “I love cycling and nothing's gonna stop me from doing it,” Harris said.

For others, an injury can end a hobby they love. “I hardly road bike anymore,” Haslam said. “It makes me pretty nervous.”

Though 2022 isn’t over, Zero Fatalities reported 15 cyclists killed in vehicle related crashes, the highest in more than 30 years. With numbers like this, helmets aren’t enough to keep bikers safe. Utah law states if you are biking, you should be alongside traffic and avoid riding on sidewalks.

“When I come to a stoplight or something like that, I'm in the lane of the car, so they notice me there,” Haslam said.

“Being safe as a cyclist means paying attention, heads up watching, being very defensive in what you're doing,” Harris said.

Harris says he stays aware, but distracted motorists are often to blame in auto-bicycle crashes. It was one of them that hit Haslam.

“Somebody in the car had kind of reached over to the other side, trying to grab something, and kind of pulled the steering wheel over towards me as well,” Haslam said

“Drivers have the responsibility to watch out and be careful,” Harris said.

A long time lover of NPR and radio reporting, Clayre Scott joined UPR in August of 2021 as the producer of the weekly podcast UnDisciplined. She began reporting in 2022 and now enjoys telling stories through sound and getting weekly texts from her family after hearing her on the radio. Along with her work at UPR, Clayre is attending Utah State University to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism, with time on the side to study Political Science and Art History.