Thanks to advocacy efforts across the country, the number of bicyclists on American roads has increased substantially over the past decade. As more riders are on the road, the likelihood of bicycle-related accidents increases. While many cities have taken steps to make roads a safer place for bicyclists, others have not. Until all cities embrace bicycle culture and initiate changes to the infrastructure, bicycle-related accidents will continue to be problematic.
Overview of Bicycle Accidents in the United States
Statistics show that while the overall number of bicycle accidents in the country is declining, the number of fatal bike accidents is on the rise. In 2015, there were 45,000 reported bicycle accidents in the United States, down from 50,000 reported accidents in the prior year. However, the number of fatal accidents increased by more than 12 percent during this same time.
Overall Decline in Bike Accidents
If more bicyclists are on the road than ever before, why are bicycle accidents happening less frequently? The answer may be due to the fact that advocacy groups have been successful in getting towns and cities across the country to embrace the bicycling culture.
“An increasing number of cities have added safety features – including bike lanes and protective medians – to its existing infrastructure,” says Sherwin Arzani, an attorney who handles bicycle accidents in Los Angeles, CA. Others have also ramped up efforts to engage the community about bicycle safety.
Drivers are encouraged to be alert of bicyclists and careful when sharing the road. Bicyclists have more information available to them about their legal obligations on the road and how they can help to prevent bike accidents.
Significant Increase in Fatal Bike Accidents
Fewer bike accidents are happening on American roads. However, a larger percentage of these accidents tend to be fatal. Why?
Reasons that the number of fatal bike accidents has risen include:
- New bicyclists are less familiar with safe biking practices
- Drivers are not using caution when sharing the road with bicyclists, and
- Cities are planning, but have not implemented changes to infrastructure to support bicyclist safety.
Urban Bicycle Accidents
Statistics show that urban bicycle accidents (1) tend to happen more frequently and (2) result in more serious injuries. In fact, approximately 70 percent of all fatal bike accidents happen in our nation’s cities. Cities tend to have much more heavily-traveled roads and less flexibility to install bicycle safety features than suburban and rural areas.
Most Dangerous Cities for Bicyclists
Statistics show that the following cities tend to be the most dangerous for bicyclists:
- Albuquerque, NM
- Tucson, AZ
- Las Vegas, NV
- Phoenix, AZ
- San Jose, CA
- Columbus, OH
- San Francisco, CA
- Memphis, TN
- Philadelphia, PA
- Los Angeles, CA.
Most of these cities have seen a staggering increase in the number of bicyclists on the roads. San Francisco, for example, saw a 13 percent increase in riders between 2011 and 2016. The number of riders in Albuquerque has risen by more than 46 percent since 2000.
Safest Cities for Bicyclists
Smaller cities tend