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This page will be continuously updated with the latest bicycle death statistics for bicycle-related crashes in California and across the USA.

Page last updated: September 2020

USA Bicycle Death Statistics

On average, 742 cyclists die in fatal bicycle accidents each year.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). From 2007 to 2018, 8,908 cyclists have died across the U.S. We took that number and divided it by 12 to get the average.

2018 was the deadliest year for cyclists with 857 recorded deaths. Bike death statistics appear to be on the rise.

national bike death statistics between 2007 and 2018

 

Here are the annual fatality numbers: 2007 = 701, 2008 = 718, 2009 = 628, 2010 = 623, 2011 = 682, 2012 = 734, 2013 = 749, 2014 = 729, 2015 = 829, 2016 = 852, 2017 = 806, 2018 = 857.

 

California Bicycle Fatal & Non-Fatal Accident Numbers

In 2018, California lost 155 people to bicycle accidents. In 2017, there were 145 victims of fatalities and 11,116 cyclists injured.

From 2013 to 2018, 720 cyclists have died on California streets. (NHTSA)

That averages out to 144 bicycle fatalities per year over a 6-year span.

From 2016-2018, California’s cyclist Fatality Rating was 3.9 meaning 3.9 cyclist deaths per million people (CaliforniaHealthline). In comparison, Florida led the nation with a 6.8 rating. The rest of the United States averages around 2.9 deaths per million people.

For individual counties in California, Los Angeles County leads all others in the state in bicycle fatalities.

The numbers for some of the deadliest counties between 2016-2018:  (CaliforniaHealthline)

Deadliest counties for cyclists in California

In 2017, Los Angeles was tied for 2nd with Phoenix for the American city with the highest bike death statistics.  They both reported 14 fatal accidents that year. New York City led the nation in fatalities with 22 in a year.

Here are some of the California Counties with the most bicycle non-fatal injuries from 2007-2013:

most dangerous California counties for bicycle injuries

Bike Deaths Statistics According to Time of Day

The time of day cyclists ride, statistically, makes a big difference in how much risk they face. Rush hour is the most dangerous time to be on the roads for anyone, but for bicyclists, dusk and sundown can also be very hazardous.

These are the national findings on when the most accidents happen (IIHS):

most dangerous time for bicycle fatalities

In California, 78.6% of bicycle accidents happened during daylight hours.  15.1% took place at night with street lights present. 1.7% on roads where no streetlights were present. Accidents at dusk or dawn accounted for 3.8% of accidents. (CDPH)

Bicyclist deaths in 2018 were highest during September (12%) and lowest during March (5%).

Fatalities on City Streets and Country Roads

Nationally in 2018, 79% of accidents happened in urban settings.  21% of accidents took place in rural areas. (IIHS)

national bike death statistics by road type

3% of bicycle fatalities happened on Interstates and Freeways.

63% happened on other major roads.

29% happened on minor roads.

Deaths of bicyclists younger than 20 were more likely to occur on minor roads compared with deaths of bicyclists ages 20 and older (44 percent vs. 28 percent).

Age/Gender in Bicycle Fatalities

The age and gender of the cyclist is a significant factor in fatal bike accidents. Understanding the reason for the many differences might help in making the streets safer for cyclists.

In 2018 adult men died on bicycles much more than anyone else, nationally (IIHS).

National bike death statistics by age and gender

From 2016 through 2018 in California, nearly eight men lost their lives in bicycle accidents for every woman who died. According to census figures, California men are about twice as likely as women to commute to work by bike. (CaliforniaHealthline)

Bike death statistics in California of the ages of victims in fatal accidents in 2017 looked like this (CAL OTS):

California bike death statistics by age

CYCLIST DEATHS AND IMPAIRMENT

In 2018, out of 806 bicyclists killed (ages 16 and up) a stunning 20% had a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or above (IIHS). That percentage has stayed between 19% and 22% each year for six years.

According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 across the nation out of 782 cyclist deaths:

  • 289 (37%) Involved alcohol
  • 195 (25%) happened when the cyclist was impaired.
  • 55 (7%) happened when the motor vehicle driver was impaired.

In California in 2016, out of 154 cyclists’ deaths:

  • 57 cyclist deaths occurred when alcohol was involved.
  • 39 happened when cyclists were impaired.
  • 11 happened when the motor vehicle driver was impaired.

Cyclist Helmets Statistics

California law does not require riders to wear helmets once they turn 18.

fatal bike accidents with and without helmets

Nationwide, sixty-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2018 were not wearing helmets. Helmet use was unknown in 24% of incidents. (IIHS)

In California in 2017, out of 11,148 injured bicyclists, 2,663 were reported as wearing helmets.  8,485 cyclists were not wearing helmets. That means 76% of California cyclists were not wearing a helmet when their accident occurred. (CHP)

STAYING SAFE WHILE CYCLING

In 2018, nationwide there were 424,350 emergency department-treated injuries after bicycles and bicycle accessories related accidents (InjuryFacts). Cyclist deaths accounted for 2% of all motor-vehicle traffic fatalities.

The numbers only underline the dangers that many cyclists face on the streets every day. Hopefully, in looking at the injury and fatality statistics, one can map out a cycling strategy that can increase the odds of avoiding an accident.

Some things you can avoid and other things, like careless or distracted drivers, will always be threats at any time or place you ride. If you have been in a bicycle accident of any kind, please don’t be shy to contact us and see what your options are for compensation.

COVID-19 Update: Bay Area Bicycle Law, P.C. is working safely from home and remains available to discuss your case with you. Call us now for your free consultation: (415) 466-3104