Why Have Bicycle Fatalities Increased in Recent Years?
Why have cycle fatalities spiked?
After reaching a high in the mid-1970s, cycling fatalities began to decline and fell from about 1,000 nationally in 1973, to 623 in 2010. Then, the number of fatalities began to increase. This was slowly at first, to 682 in 2011 and then by greater rates until it hit 840 in 2016.
Biggest increase in California
The biggest increase of cycling deaths has been in California. The number of cycling fatalities stood at 100 in 2010. The number of fatalities increased to 123 in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It peaked at 147 in 2013, before falling to 128 in the state in 2014.
The demographic of the average person killed in a cycling accident has changed dramatically from just 30 years ago, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times in 2014. The percentage of riders 20 years old and older who died in a cycling accident stood at 21 percent in 1975. In 2012, that percentage had increased four fold to 84 percent. Adult men made up 74 percent of those killed in cycling accidents in 2012. Factors in the change and the increase in deaths could be fewer people using helmets.
In addition, it may include people driving while impaired by alcohol, according to the LA Times. In 2012, about two-thirds of people who died in cycling accidents were not wearing helmets and 28 percent of the riders 16 and older had blood alcohol levels of .08 percent or higher, which is the level that people are considered impaired in most states.
Efforts Declining Fatalities
Another factor in the rise in the number of bike deaths could be the mixing of vehicles and bikes in urban areas, according to the newspaper story.
The article suggested building more marked bike lanes, adding bike boxes, a space in a lane before an intersection solely for bikes, building separate bike traffic signals with “go” green lights just for cyclists, and building bike boulevards that travel through a network of traffic-calmed roads that parallel urban roads.
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