Bicyclists | 2005

Two percent of motor vehicle-related deaths are bicyclists. The most serious injuries among a majority of those killed are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent. Thompson, R.S.; Rivara, F.P.; and Thompson, D.C. 1989. A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. New England Journal of Medicine 320:1361-67. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have helmet 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 phone 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, especially because more than 80 percent of bicyclist deaths are persons 16 and older.

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 782 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2005. This is down 22 percent since 1975 but 25 percent more than in 2003.

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2005

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2005
Year Male Female Total*
Num % Num % Num
1975 820 82 183 18 1,003
1976 751 82 163 18 914
1977 730 79 192 21 922
1978 714 80 178 20 892
1979 759 81 173 19 932
1980 782 81 183 19 965
1981 748 80 181 19 936
1982 720 83 144 17 864
1983 700 84 130 16 830
1984 684 82 153 18 838
1985 732 84 137 16 869
1986 789 85 140 15 929
1987 826 88 114 12 940
1988 773 86 128 14 901
1989 696 85 126 15 822
1990 732 86 121 14 853
1991 715 86 121 14 836
1992 627 87 90 13 717
1993 702 87 104 13 806
1994 687 86 109 14 796
1995 699 84 128 15 828
1996 654 86 107 14 761
1997 712 88 99 12 811
1998 658 87 99 13 757
1999 656 87 94 13 750
2000 613 89 76 11 689
2001 657 90 72 10 729
2002 590 89 73 11 663
2003 554 88 71 11 626
2004 626 87 96 13 722
2005 683 87 97 12 782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Eighty-six percent of bicyclists killed in 2005 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.

Bicyclist deaths by helmet use, 1994-2005
Year No helmet use Helmet use Total*
Num % Num % Num
1994 776 97 19 2 796
1995 783 95 34 4 828
1996 731 96 27 4 761
1997 785 97 23 3 811
1998 741 98 16 2 757
1999 698 93 42 6 750
2000 622 90 50 7 689
2001 616 84 60 8 729
2002 589 89 54 8 663
2003 535 85 58 9 626
2004 602 83 87 12 722
2005 673 86 76 10 782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Twenty-three percent of bicyclists killed in 2005 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. This is 26 percent higher than in 1982.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured bicyclists with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2005
Year Bicyclists killed Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08
Num Num %
1982 864 159 18
1983 830 129 16
1984 838 123 15
1985 869 105 12
1986 929 130 14
1987 940 140 15
1988 901 140 15
1989 822 123 15
1990 853 143 17
1991 836 157 19
1992 717 115 16
1993 806 146 18
1994 796 138 17
1995 828 169 20
1996 761 140 18
1997 811 150 19
1998 757 159 21
1999 750 174 23
2000 689 157 23
2001 729 173 24
2002 663 154 23
2003 626 145 23
2004 722 148 20
2005 782 181 23

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred most often in June and October and between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2005
Month Deaths %
January 37 5
February 42 5
March 43 5
April 62 8
May 78 10
June 92 12
July 66 8
August 86 11
September 82 10
October 95 12
November 56 7
December 43 5
Total 782 100
Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2005
Time of day Deaths %
Midnight-3am 53 7
3am-6am 32 4
6am-9am 65 8
9am-noon 85 11
Noon-3pm 89 11
3pm-6pm 156 20
6pm-9pm 180 23
9pm-midnight 114 15
Total* 782 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age and gender

Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have gone down dramatically since 1975 (79 percent), while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older have increased dramatically (96 percent).

Percent of bicyclist deaths by age, 1975-2005
Year < 16 ≥ 16 Total*
Num % Num % Num
1975 675 67 323 32 1,003
1976 605 66 306 33 914
1977 613 66 306 33 922
1978 570 64 320 36 892
1979 552 59 373 40 932
1980 529 55 431 45 965
1981 479 51 438 47 936
1982 413 48 446 52 864
1983 434 52 392 47 830
1984 410 49 415 50 838
1985 424 49 435 50 869
1986 435 47 485 52 929
1987 443 47 494 53 940
1988 393 44 502 56 901
1989 371 45 449 55 822
1990 292 34 551 65 853
1991 300 36 530 63 836
1992 297 41 418 58 717
1993 303 38 500 62 806
1994 294 37 495 62 796
1995 278 34 542 65 828
1996 248 33 507 67 761
1997 248 31 560 69 811
1998 229 30 526 69 757
1999 211 28 537 72 750
2000 191 28 496 72 689
2001 155 21 570 78 729
2002 153 23 503 76 663
2003 143 23 481 77 626
2004 149 21 569 79 722
2005 142 18 632 81 782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

About 7 times as many bicyclist deaths in 2005 were males compared with females. At every age more male than female bicyclists were killed and the rates of bicyclist deaths per million people were higher for males than females. The highest rate of bicyclist deaths per million people occurred for 13-15-year-old males.

Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2005

Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2005
Age Males Females Total*
Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate
0-8 18,334,821 23 1.3 17,521,347 11 0.6 35,856,168 34 0.9
9-12 8,344,706 38 4.6 7,948,521 7 0.9 16,293,227 45 2.8
13-15 6,625,942 54 8.1 6,311,379 9 1.4 12,937,321 63 4.9
16-19 8,541,332 34 4.0 8,111,201 3 0.4 16,652,533 37 2.2
20-24 10,856,936 45 4.1 10,180,924 6 0.6 21,037,860 51 2.4
25-29 10,268,169 32 3.1 9,797,533 6 0.6 20,065,702 38 1.9
30-34 10,153,091 30 3.0 9,924,119 8 0.8 20,077,210 38 1.9
35-39 10,563,375 56 5.3 10,438,579 9 0.9 21,001,954 65 3.1
40-44 11,376,664 76 6.7 11,483,846 9 0.8 22,860,510 85 3.7
45-49 11,106,575 81 7.3 11,377,948 10 0.9 22,484,523 91 4.0
50-54 9,788,780 62 6.3 10,208,962 3 0.3 19,997,742 65 3.3
55-59 8,425,070 49 5.8 8,928,608 4 0.4 17,353,678 53 3.1
60-64 6,201,648 24 3.9 6,800,215 4 0.6 13,001,863 28 2.2
65-69 4,721,791 25 5.3 5,409,653 6 1.1 10,131,444 31 3.1
≥ 70 10,690,846 48 4.5 15,967,823 2 0.1 26,658,669 50 1.9
Total* 145,999,746 677 4.6 150,410,658 97 0.6 296,410,404 782 2.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Where they died

More bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2005 (66 percent compared with 30 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2005
Year Urban Rural Total*
Num % Num % Num
1975 497 50 506 50 1,003
1976 470 51 444 49 914
1977 543 59 375 41 922
1978 532 60 350 39 892
1979 541 58 367 39 932
1980 563 58 390 40 965
1981 528 56 371 40 936
1982 490 57 364 42 864
1983 502 60 324 39 830
1984 491 59 346 41 838
1985 515 59 353 41 869
1986 567 61 361 39 929
1987 532 57 406 43 940
1988 525 58 374 42 901
1989 520 63 302 37 822
1990 523 61 330 39 853
1991 539 64 297 36 836
1992 448 62 265 37 717
1993 491 61 313 39 806
1994 477 60 318 40 796
1995 540 65 284 34 828
1996 494 65 265 35 761
1997 519 64 289 36 811
1998 479 63 277 37 757
1999 484 65 266 35 750
2000 422 61 251 36 689
2001 478 66 251 34 729
2002 450 68 211 32 663
2003 435 69 189 30 626
2004 477 66 242 34 722
2005 520 66 238 30 782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Thirty-four percent of bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 1975-2005
Year Intersection Non-intersection Total*
Num % Num % Num
1975 263 26 734 73 1,003
1976 215 24 699 76 914
1977 238 26 684 74 922
1978 252 28 640 72 892
1979 284 30 647 69 932
1980 249 26 715 74 965
1981 245 26 684 73 936
1982 238 28 626 72 864
1983 223 27 607 73 830
1984 239 29 599 71 838
1985 251 29 618 71 869
1986 276 30 652 70 929
1987 266 28 674 72 940
1988 269 30 632 70 901
1989 256 31 566 69 822
1990 245 29 606 71 853
1991 261 31 575 69 836
1992 243 34 473 66 717
1993 259 32 545 68 806
1994 245 31 551 69 796
1995 276 33 549 66 828
1996 232 30 525 69 761
1997 264 33 544 67 811
1998 227 30 529 70 757
1999 247 33 500 67 750
2000 226 33 461 67 689
2001 228 31 499 68 729
2002 234 35 429 65 663
2003 208 33 418 67 626
2004 253 35 467 65 722
2005 267 34 513 66 782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Road types

Fifty-nine percent of bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 34 percent occurred on minor roads.

Total bicyclist deaths on roads by road type, 1987-2005
Year Interstates and freeways Major roads Minor roads All road types*
Num % Num % Num % Num
1987 38 4 540 57 358 38 940
1988 36 4 502 56 356 40 901
1989 44 5 455 55 320 39 822
1990 60 7 480 56 313 37 853
1991 44 5 476 57 316 38 836
1992 55 8 398 56 249 35 717
1993 66 8 435 54 293 36 806
1994 67 8 423 53 302 38 796
1995 66 8 454 55 301 36 828
1996 40 5 443 58 266 35 761
1997 28 3 476 59 289 36 811
1998 31 4 453 60 264 35 757
1999 27 4 438 58 276 37 750
2000 18 3 418 61 215 31 689
2001 31 4 440 60 253 35 729
2002 25 4 383 58 251 38 663
2003 22 4 382 61 216 35 626
2004 20 3 455 63 227 31 722
2005 30 4 464 59 262 34 782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Forty-six percent of bicyclist deaths among children (younger than 16) and 63 percent among people 16 and older in 2005 occurred on major roads. Child bicyclists were more likely than older bicyclists to have been killed on minor roads (53 percent compared with 29 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by age and road type, 1987-2005
Year Child bicyclist deaths (< 16) Adult bicyclist deaths (≥ 16)
Interstates and freeways Major roads Minor roads All road types* Interstates and freeways Major roads Minor roads All road types*
Number % Number % Number % Number Number % Number % Number % Number
1987 12 3 204 46 225 51 443 25 5 334 68 133 27 494
1988 5 1 171 44 212 54 393 30 6 328 65 142 28 502
1989 8 2 158 43 202 54 371 36 8 296 66 117 26 449
1990 3 1 134 46 155 53 292 55 10 341 62 155 28 551
1991 5 2 136 45 159 53 300 39 7 334 63 157 30 530
1992 9 3 134 45 147 49 297 45 11 263 63 102 24 418
1993 11 4 134 44 154 51 303 54 11 299 60 139 28 500
1994 7 2 119 40 166 56 294 58 12 302 61 133 27 495
1995 12 4 123 44 143 51 278 52 10 329 61 154 28 542
1996 3 1 111 45 132 53 248 36 7 331 65 130 26 507
1997 4 2 112 45 126 51 248 23 4 363 65 162 29 560
1998 5 2 105 46 118 52 229 26 5 347 66 145 28 526
1999 3 1 80 38 125 59 211 24 4 357 66 150 28 537
2000 1 1 87 46 86 45 191 17 3 330 67 128 26 496
2001 6 4 75 48 71 46 155 25 4 361 63 182 32 570
2002 1 1 65 42 84 55 153 24 5 312 62 166 33 503
2003 1 1 61 43 81 57 143 20 4 320 67 135 28 481
2004 3 2 64 43 79 53 149 17 3 388 68 147 26 569
2005 0 0 66 46 75 53 142 30 5 396 63 183 29 632
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References