Bicyclists | 2013

Each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Sacks, J.J.; Holmgreen, P.; Smith, S.M.; and Sosin, D.M. 1991. Bicycle-associated head injuries and deaths in the United States from 1984 through 1988. How many are preventable? Journal of the American Medical Association 266(21):3016-8. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent. Elvik, R. 2013. Corrigendum to: "Publication bias and time-trend bias in meta-analysis of bicycle helmet efficacy: A re-analysis of Attewell, Glase and McFadden, 2001". Accident Analysis and Prevention 60:245-53.  Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have helmet use laws applying to young bicyclists; none of these laws applies to all riders. Local ordinances in a few states require some or all bicyclists to wear helmets. A nationwide telephone survey estimated that state helmet use laws increase by 18 percent the probability that a rider will wear a helmet. Rodgers, G.B. 2002. Effects of state helmet laws on bicycle helmet use by children and adolescents. Injury Prevention 8:42-46. Helmets are important for riders of all ages, not just young bicyclists. Eighty-four percent of bicycle deaths are persons 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Trends

A total of 741 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2013, a 2 percent increase from 2012. Bicyclist deaths were down 26 percent since 1975.  In 2013, 84 percent of bicylist deaths were age 20 or older. Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 86 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have increased 195 percent. In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (46 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (22 percent). 

Bicyclist deaths by age and gender, 1975-2013
Year<20 years ≥20 yearsTotal*
Males FemalesMales Females
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
1975 638 64 148 15 180 18 32 3 1,003 100
1976 568 62 130 14 180 20 33 4 914 100
1977 543 59 159 17 184 20 33 4 922 100
1978 531 60 140 16 182 20 37 4 892 100
1979 534 57 130 14 219 23 42 5 932 100
1980 511 53 132 14 268 28 49 5 965 100
1981 477 51 127 14 260 28 53 6 936 100
1982 428 50 91 11 288 33 52 6 864 100
1983 463 56 85 10 233 28 45 5 830 100
1984 405 48 98 12 268 32 53 6 838 100
1985 435 50 86 10 288 33 50 6 869 100
1986 459 49 85 9 322 35 54 6 929 100
1987 470 50 77 8 353 38 37 4 940 100
1988 415 46 75 8 353 39 52 6 901 100
1989 374 45 75 9 320 39 51 6 822 100
1990 319 37 56 7 403 47 65 8 853 100
1991 290 35 66 8 419 50 55 7 836 100
1992 290 40 51 7 335 47 39 5 717 100
1993 304 38 58 7 395 49 46 6 806 100
1994 293 37 61 8 387 49 48 6 796 100
1995 263 32 63 8 430 52 64 8 828 100
1996 246 32 52 7 402 53 55 7 761 100
1997 271 33 48 6 438 54 51 6 811 100
1998 235 31 41 5 421 56 58 8 757 100
1999 229 31 44 6 425 57 50 7 750 100
2000 201 29 30 4 410 60 46 7 689 100
2001 174 24 31 4 479 66 41 6 729 100
2002 157 24 32 5 426 64 41 6 663 100
2003 159 25 29 5 394 63 42 7 626 100
2004 144 20 44 6 478 66 52 7 722 100
2005 149 19 30 4 532 68 67 9 784 100
2006 131 17 23 3 539 70 71 9 769 100
2007 120 17 25 4 489 70 58 8 699 100
2008 111 16 24 3 509 71 68 9 716 100
2009 95 15 23 4 454 72 56 9 628 100
2010 81 13 18 3 452 73 66 11 621 100
2011 81 12 23 3 497 73 76 11 680 100
2012 100 14 17 2 535 73 72 10 730 100
2013 97 13 12 2 541 73 85 11 741 100

Sixty-three percent of bicyclists killed in 2013 reportedly were not wearing helmets; helmet use was unknown for 20 percent. Information on helmet use among bicyclists in fatal crashes became available in 1994.

Bicylist deaths by helmet use, 1994-2013
YearNo helmet useHelmet use Unknown Total
Number%Number%Number%Number%
1994 776 97 19 2 1 0 796 100
1995 783 95 34 4 11 1 828 100
1996 731 96 27 4 3 0 761 100
1997 785 97 23 3 3 0 811 100
1998 741 98 16 200 757 100
1999 698 93 42 6 10 1 750 100
2000 622 90 50 7 17 2 689 100
2001 616 84 60 8 53 7 729 100
2002 589 89 54 8 20 3 663 100
2003 535 85 58 9 33 5 626 100
2004 602 83 87 12 33 5 722 100
2005 676 86 77 10 31 4 784 100
2006 730 95 37 5 2 0 769 100
2007 646 92 50 7 3 0 699 100
2008 654 91 59 8 3 0 716 100
2009 573 91 52 8 3 0 628 100
2010 429 69 94 15 98 16 621 100
2011 450 66 100 15 130 19 680 100
2012 469 64 123 17 138 19 730 100
2013 464 63 127 17 150 20 741 100

It is estimated that 21 percent of bicyclists age 16 and older who were killed in 2013 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. Imputations for missing BACs were provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's multiple imputation model beginning in 1982.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured bicyclists age 16 and older with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2013
YearBicyclists killedEstimated bicyclists killed with BACs ≥ 0.08
NumberNumber%
1982 446 124 28
1983 392 108 28
1984 415 100 24
1985 435 89 20
1986 485 112 23
1987 494 124 25
1988 502 126 25
1989 449 115 26
1990 551 131 24
1991 530 148 28
1992 418 108 26
1993 500 134 27
1994 495 129 26
1995 542 162 30
1996 507 130 26
1997 560 144 26
1998 526 152 29
1999 537 168 31
2000 496 152 31
2001 570 166 29
2002 503 146 29
2003 481 139 29
2004 569 141 25
2005 636 178 28
2006 653 182 28
2007 586 155 26
2008 618 155 25
2009 543 149 27
2010 552 128 23
2011 613 151 25
2012 662 170 26
2013 678 145 21

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2013 were highest during the months of June, August and September (12 percent, 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively) and lowest during the months of January and February (5 percent and 4 percent respectively).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2013
MonthDeaths%
January 38 5
February 32 4
March 47 6
April 54 7
May 77 10
June 87 12
July 68 9
August 86 12
September 83 11
October 72 10
November 51 7
December 46 6
Total 741 100

Bicyclist deaths in 2013 peaked during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (21 percent).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2013
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 38 5
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 38 5
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 85 11
9 a.m. - noon 79 11
Noon - 3 p.m. 85 11
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 130 18
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 159 21
9 p.m. - midnight 124 17
Total* 741 100

Where they died

In 2013, 68 percent of bicyclists were killed in urban areas, comabered with 32 percent in rural areas. In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred about equally in rural and urban areas.

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2013
YearUrban Rural Total*
Number%Number%Number%
1975 497 50 506 50 1,003 100
1976 470 51 444 49 914 100
1977 543 59 375 41 922 100
1978 532 60 350 39 892 100
1979 541 58 367 39 932 100
1980 563 58 390 40 965 100
1981 528 56 371 40 936 100
1982 490 57 364 42 864 100
1983 502 60 324 39 830 100
1984 491 59 346 41 838 100
1985 515 59 353 41 869 100
1986 567 61 361 39 929 100
1987 532 57 406 43 940 100
1988 525 58 374 42 901 100
1989 520 63 302 37 822 100
1990 523 61 330 39 853 100
1991 539 64 297 36 836 100
1992 448 62 265 37 717 100
1993 491 61 313 39 806 100
1994 477 60 318 40 796 100
1995 540 65 284 34 828 100
1996 494 65 265 35 761 100
1997 519 64 289 36 811 100
1998 479 63 277 37 757 100
1999 484 65 266 35 750 100
2000 422 61 251 36 689 100
2001 478 66 251 34 729 100
2002 450 68 211 32 663 100
2003 435 69 189 30 626 100
2004 477 66 242 34 722 100
2005 539 69 243 31 784 100
2006 555 72 209 27 769 100
2007 500 72 197 28 699 100
2008 491 69 222 31 716 100
2009 436 69 191 30 628 100
2010 444 71 174 28 621 100
2011 468 69 208 31 680 100
2012 503 69 225 31 730 100
2013 502 68 239 32 741 100

Thirty-eight percent of bicyclist deaths in 2013 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2013
Intersection Non-intersectionTotal*
Number%Number%Number%
280 38 461 62 741 100

Sixty-one percent of bicyclist deaths in 2013 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 35 percent occurred on minor roads. Deaths of bicyclists younger than age 20 were more likely to occur on minor roads compared with deaths of bicyclists age 20 and older (42 percent vs 34 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by age group and road type, 2013
Road type< 20 years ≥20 yearsAll ages*
Number%Number%Number%
Interstates and freeways 1 1 22 4 24 3
Other major roads 62 57 392 63 455 61
Minor roads 46 42 211 34 261 35
All road types* 109 100 626 100 741 100

References