Bicycle riding is a wonderful form of recreation for people of all ages. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of bicyclists on the streets increased, as people began looking for ways to exercise since gyms and sports facilities were shut down.
Oddly, even with the diminished number of cars on the road and reduced number of automobile accidents, many cities reported increases in the number of bicycle accidents during this time. It seems totally illogical, yet preliminary statistics for 2020 bear it out.
Preliminary data showing increased bicycle accidents in 2020 per number of cars on the road
Outdoor Magazine, a respected publication focused on the outdoors since 1977, published its researched statistics on why bicycle accidents increased in 2020. Here are some of their more interesting findings.
- An estimated 675 cyclists were killed in accidents during 2020. The previous year’s bicycle fatalities totaled 846. In proportion to the number of cars on the road in 2020, this number is incredibly high.
- Even though there was a decrease in the number of bicyclist deaths in 2020, traffic was reduced by 41 percent for months at a time in 2020.
- More than one-fourth of bicycle fatalities were caused by hit-and-run accidents in 2020.
- The states with the highest numbers of cyclist fatalities were California (118), Florida (90), New York (44), Texas (44 each), and Louisiana (34). Louisiana had the highest number of cyclist deaths per million residents at 7.3 fatalities per one million residents.
- Bicycle deaths were almost equal on urban roads and rural roads in 2020. About a third of the bicycle deaths occurred on these two types of roads.
- Arterial roads continue to be very dangerous for bicyclists because of the speed limits and road designs.
- The warmer months from May through August saw the highest number of bicycle deaths in 2020. The highest number of cyclist deaths in 2020 was in July, with 84 fatalities
Why is the number of bicycle accidents increasing?
Bicycle accidents have been on the increase in the past ten years, increasing by 37 percent. Governments on the federal, state and local levels have worked hard passing new programs and measures to ensure the safety of bicyclists. More bicycle lanes in more cities have been installed and bicycle advocacy groups continue to push for more national bicycle infrastructure. Still, the number of accidents has increased.
Experts have identified a few reasons why this is happening.
- There are more SUV’s and trucks on the road. A bicyclist in an accident with these types of vehicles has a greater chance of death because of the weight and strength of these vehicles.
- Driver distraction remains a leading cause of bicycle accidents.
- Increased speeds on roads contribute to more serious bicycle accidents and rider fatalities.
- Driver unwillingness to share the road continues to contribute to the number of bicycling crashes.
With the pandemic hopefully diminishing across the nation, and we continue to reopen and return to more normalcy, it will be important to see if the number of bicycle accidents continue to increase as cyclists share the road with more and more motor vehicles.
Please, stay safe out there.
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