Bicycling has been a growing trend in the United States, particularly in urban metropolitan areas. Many urban cities have been bicycle-friendly for years, while others are just now catching up by installing bike lanes and bike paths to allow bicyclists safer ways to travel alongside motor vehicles. For bicycling to truly become an alternative to cars, cities will need to continue to focus on ways to reduce the number of bicycling accidents and fatalities.
Report Shows Bicycle Fatalities Are Rising
While there has been an overall decline in the number of bicycling fatalities since the late 70s, a report recently released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that bicycling fatalities have been rising over the last few years. Between 2010 and 2012, there was a 16% increase in the number of bicyclists who were killed in accidents with motor vehicles.
Bicycling Fatalities By Year
Below is the total number of bicycling fatalities from 2010-2012:
- 2010 – 621 fatalities
- 2011 – 680 fatalities
- 2012 – 722 fatalities
The GHSA report showed that the states with the most bicycling fatalities were Texas, California, New York, Florida, Michigan, and Illinois. The common thread amongst those six states is that all are densely populated with multiple urban areas. Those two factors lead to an increase in the number of bicyclists on the road, which provides more opportunity for crashes with motor vehicles. In fact, nearly 70% of all bicycling fatalities occur in urban areas and more than 33% occur at intersections.
The highest bicycle fatality rate belonged to the following cities:
- Las Vegas
These cities had the highest number of deaths for their populations. The cities with the highest number of bicycle fatalities, according to NHTSA data, were Los Angeles, New York City, and Phoenix City. These were also the cities with some of the highest traffic fatalities overall.
More Bicycling Fatality Statistics
The vast majority of cyclists who are killed in accidents with motor vehicles are adult males. Males over 20 years old account for 74% of the fatalities. Males under the age of 20 account for 14%. The remaining 12% of the fatalities are women.
The dangers of driving a car while under the influence of alcohol are well-known to the American public. However, the report shows that bicycling while intoxicated can be just as dangerous. In 28% of the cycling fatalities, the cyclist had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. That figure is just slightly lower than it is for motor vehicle fatalities (33%).
Many of the cycling fatalities could be prevented if cyclists were more vigilant about wearing a helmet. Helmets have been shown to prevent serious injury and death, yet nearly two out of three cyclists who were killed between 2010 and 2012 were not wearing a helmet. The report suggests that passing helmet laws would reduce the number of cycling fatalities. Currently, no state requires adult cyclists to wear a helmet.
Because cyclists are relatively unprotected, accidents involving motor vehicles can be very dangerous. However, there are a number of things cyclists can do to help prevent accidents and protect themselves from injury.
- Follow all traffic laws
- Wear a bicycle helmet
- Do not ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol
- Use extra caution when approaching and crossing an intersection
- Avoid urban settings and use designated bike paths and trails where possible
Were You Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle, you should contact an attorney as quickly as possible to learn about your legal rights. At Arnold & Itkin, we have recovered over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements in 5 years for our clients. Contact our bicycle accident attorneys today to learn how we can help you.