Bike Accident Statistics: A Reality Check For Cyclists

bike accident statistics, bike crash facts, bay area bike crash, bicycle lawyer, michael stephenson


It can be easy to think that a bicycle crash will never happen to you. But bike accident statistics suggest that it is far more likely than you may think.

At Bay Area Bicycle Law, we almost never see a client who isn’t surprised that they are in our office. Of course, everyone hears about bike crashes — but it is hard to imagine that you’ll be the one affected, until it happens to you. Many cyclists find that being willfully ignorant of the dangers of the road is easier than thinking about the many serious dangers that bike accident statistics reveal.

California, perhaps surprisingly, is particularly dangerous for cyclists:

  • In 2012, 338 cyclists were killed in California
  • In 2012, California had the highest number of cyclists killed in any state that year
  • Cyclists make up 2% of deaths caused by motor vehicles nationally, but in California, they account for 4% of motor vehicle deaths

In this post, we wanted to share some bike accident statistics with you so that you can be informed about the real facts of what it is like on the roads for cyclists today.

Of course, we hope we’ll never see you in our office. We want every cyclist to ride their bike for their whole life without incident. But we also believe it is valuable for cyclists to be informed about the risks that they face, which is why we are highlighting some of the most serious bike accident statistics for you in this post.

In 2014, 726 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles

That accounts for just under two people being killed on their bikes by a car every day of the year in the United States.

Motor vehicle impacts account for 29% of bicycle crashes nationally, which are some of the most serious kinds of crashes and some of the most likely to cause the cyclist’s death. As you can imagine, it’s hard to get hit by a car in a way that *isn’t* serious, as a cyclist.

Many cyclists are lucky never to experience severe road rage from a driver — the kind that makes you wonder if they’ll try to hurt you. But even a driver who isn’t paying you any mind — or perhaps, especially those who aren’t paying you close enough attention as a cyclist — can be just as deadly as an aggressive driver. And with those drivers, you may not even get a warning that you are in danger.

Texting drivers, tired drivers, distracted drivers…no matter what their excuse, they can cause you serious harm when you encounter them on the road. This is why it is so important for cyclists to be visible, following the rules of the road, and communicating clearly when possible with the drivers around them at all times.

The number of estimated cyclist injuries climbed to 50,000 in 2014, up from 48,000 in 2013

Just because many cities and drivers are becoming much more aware of and cautious with cyclists, that does not mean you are immune to injury. Unfortunately, sometimes, bike accident statistics to show an increase in crashes and injuries — which means there is no excuse for being less cautious on the roads.

The total cost of bicyclist injury and death is over $4 billion per year

When we talk about damages in a legal case, we are talking about the costs you incur as a result of being in a crash. It’s not just your medical bills or the cost of a new bike, but it’s also the lost wages, lost earning potential, and the lost ability to function in the world the way you used to.

Whether it’s a spouse losing out on your income because you can no longer work or losing money every month because you now need regular physical therapy or medications, the costs of bicycle crashes are far larger, last longer, and spread wider than many people realize.

As few as 10% of bike accident injuries are ever reported to the police

So often, cyclists feel they have to just pick themselves up and ride on after a crash. Unfortunately, this is often a mistake.

Calling the police to the scene of a bicycle crash is no different than calling them for a car crash. In the moment, you may not have any idea how serious your injuries are or whether the driver who hit you was behaving recklessly.

If this information comes to you later, not having called the police or having a traffic collision report that recounts the facts of the incident (including who was at fault, witness statements, and other evidence), can make it harder to pursue a successful claim against the driver.

Bike accident statistics in an average crash

While anyone on a bike is susceptible to a crash, bike accident statistics show that many crashes have several factors in common:

  • The average age of cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles is on the rise: 45 years old in 2014, 39 in 2004, 32 in 1998, 24 in 1988
  • 88% of cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles are male
  • 71% of bicyclist fatalities occur in urban areas
  • 20% of bicyclist fatalities occur between 6:00 pm and 8:59 pm
  • 19% of bicyclists killed in 2014 had blood alcohol levels of 0.08 or higher
  • In 2012, 66% of fatally injured bicyclists were not wearing helmets

So while you may feel invincible when you’re riding your bike, the truth is that you are not. We can’t control the world around us (or the drivers with whom we share the road), and the more you are aware of the very real dangers of cycling, the more seriously we hope you’ll take your own safety when you are out on your bike.

If you are ever in a bicycle crash, please don’t hesitate to call us. You can call 1-866-Bicycle-Law or 415-446-8717 to speak with an experienced bicycle lawyer who can give you advice on your case — confidentially and for free.


Please be aware that these case results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and case values turn on small facts and differences. Thus, the results achieved on one case do not necessarily mean the attorney will achieve the same result, or a similar result, even for a case which may have some similarities.