Motor vehicle deaths rose one percent from 2010 to 2012, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. During that same time period, bicyclist fatalities rose 16 percent. The troubling trend is largely the result of accidents affecting a specific demographic – adult males in urban areas. Adults in general were once a small percentage of those killed in bicycle accidents. In 1975, people over the age of 20 made up on 21 percent of bicyclist fatalities. By 2012, that figure had risen to 84 percent. Adult males made up nearly three-quarters of the total of bike fatalities.
Several other trends were identified by the GHSA. Nearly 70 percent of bicycle deaths occurred in urban areas. Crashes between bikes and cars in Illinois, California, Florida, New York, Michigan and Texas alone made up 54 percent of the total bicycle fatalities across the nation. Many of those deaths were suffered by the growing number of people who commute by bicycle.
While the profile of a fatal bicycle accident has changed somewhat over the years, some factors have remained the same. Alcohol is still a prevalent factor in many bicycle fatalities. Among victims 16 years of age and older, 28 percent had blood alcohol concentrations over .08. Two-thirds of victims were not wearing helmets when the accident occurred. These figures are in line with previous years, but represent highly preventable problems.
The number of bicycle deaths may only rise as more people choose to commute by bike. The 2013 Census indicated that there were 62 percent more bicycle commuters than in 2000. Increasing gas prices and urban congestion have both been cited as reasons for the increase.
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, “Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups,” 27 October 2014