Bicycle trips account for only 1% of all trips in the United States.1 However, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash related injury and deaths than occupants in motor vehicles.2
How big is the problem?
Deaths and Injuries
In 2015 in the United States, over 1,000 bicyclists died and there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries.3
Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.3
What are the major risk factors?
- Adults aged 50 to 59 years have the highest bicycle death rates.3
- Children (5-14 years) and adolescents (15-19 years) have the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries, accounting for more than one-third of all bicycle-related injuries seen in U.S. emergency departments.3
- Males die 6 times more often and are injured 4 times more often on bicycles than females.3
- Most bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas and at non-intersection locations.4
- Among bicyclist deaths, 37% had alcohol involvement either for the motor vehicle driver or bicycle rider.4
How can bicycle-related injuries and deaths be prevented?
Effective interventions to reduce injuries and fatalities to bicyclists include the following:
Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash.5 All bicyclists, regardless of age, can help protect themselves by wearing properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride.
Bicycle helmet laws
Bicycle helmet laws are effective for increasing helmet use and reducing crash-related injuries and deaths among children and adults.6
Interventions that have shown promise for reducing injuries and fatalities to bicyclists include the following:
Active lighting and rider visibility
- Fluorescent clothing can make bicyclists visible from further away than regular clothing during the daytime.6
- Retro-reflective clothing can make bicyclists more visible at night.6
- Active lighting can include front white lights, rear red lights, or other lighting on the bicycle or bicyclist. This lighting may improve the visibility of bicyclists.6
Roadway engineering measures
Information about roadway engineering measures, like bike lanes, that can improve safety for bicyclists is available from The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Centerexternal icon.
- Pucher J, Buehler R, Merom D, Bauman A. Walking and cycling in the United States, 2001–2009: Evidence from the National Household Travel Surveys. Am J Public Health 2011;101(S1):S310-S317).
- Beck LF, Dellinger AM, O’Neil ME. Motor vehicle crash injury rates by mode of travel, United States: using exposure-based methods to quantify differences. Am J Epi 2007;166:212-8.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Available at www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Accessed on 06/13/2017.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts, 2015 data – bicyclists and other cyclistsexternal icon. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation; 2017. (Publication no. DOT HS 812 382).
- Attewell RG, Glase K, McFadden M. Bicycle helmet efficacy: a meta-analysis. Accid Anal Prev 2001;33:345-52.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasures guide for State Highway Safety Offices, 8th editionpdf iconexternal icon. (Report No. DOT HS 812 202). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2015.