Bicyclists | 2007

Less than two percent of motor vehicle crash 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-one 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 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, especially because 85 percent of bicycle 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 696 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2007. Bicyclist deaths were down 31 percent since 1975 but up 11 percent since 2003. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (55 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (25 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2007

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2007
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 687 88 97 12 784
2006 675 88 94 12 769
2007 614 88 82 12 696
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Ninety-two percent of bicyclists killed in 2007 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.

Bicyclist deaths by helmet use, 1998-2007
Year No helmet use Helmet use Total*
Num % Num % Num
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 676 86 77 10 784
2006 730 95 37 5 769
2007 642 92 49 7 696
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Twenty-eight percent of bicyclists age 16 and older killed in 2007 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured bicyclists age 16 and older with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2007
Year Bicyclists killed Estimated bicyclists killed with BAC ≥ 0.08
Num Num %
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 583 166 28

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2007 occurred most often during June-July and September-October and between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2007
Month Deaths %
January 38 5
February 49 7
March 46 7
April 45 6
May 66 9
June 76 11
July 72 10
August 59 8
September 74 11
October 70 10
November 54 8
December 47 7
Total 696 100
Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2007
Time of day Deaths %
Midnight-3am 49 7
3am-6am 48 7
6am-9am 81 12
9am-noon 83 12
Noon-3pm 91 13
3pm-6pm 112 16
6pm-9pm 138 20
9pm-midnight 93 13
Total* 696 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age and gender

Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have declined 84 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older increased 80 percent.

Percent of bicyclist deaths by age, 1975-2007
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 18 636 81 784
2006 111 14 653 85 769
2007 106 15 583 84 696
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

More than 7 times as many bicyclist deaths in 2007 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 45-49 year-old males.

Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2007

Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2007
Age Males Females Total*
Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate
0-8 18,755,929 10 0.5 17,916,449 3 0.2 36,672,378 13 0.4
9-12 8,141,785 34 4.2 7,771,646 10 1.3 15,913,431 44 2.8
13-15 6,435,793 42 6.5 6,131,343 7 1.1 12,567,136 49 3.9
16-19 8,824,724 33 3.7 8,384,083 5 0.6 17,208,807 38 2.2
20-24 10,852,937 31 2.9 10,179,459 5 0.5 21,032,396 36 1.7
25-29 10,776,189 33 3.1 10,281,517 7 0.7 21,057,706 40 1.9
30-34 9,906,361 46 4.6 9,626,859 2 0.2 19,533,220 48 2.5
35-39 10,654,911 48 4.5 10,521,549 6 0.6 21,176,460 54 2.6
40-44 10,963,823 51 4.7 11,021,006 12 1.1 21,984,829 63 2.9
45-49 11,302,842 78 6.9 11,558,531 10 0.9 22,861,373 88 3.8
50-54 10,292,071 54 5.2 10,721,316 3 0.3 21,013,387 57 2.7
55-59 8,847,222 49 5.5 9,389,037 5 0.5 18,236,259 54 3.0
60-64 6,927,866 37 5.3 7,547,951 3 0.4 14,475,817 40 2.8
65-69 5,019,063 17 3.4 5,733,378 3 0.5 10,752,441 20 1.9
≥ 70 10,957,382 44 4.0 16,178,135 1 0.1 27,135,517 45 1.7
Total* 148,658,898 607 4.1 152,962,259 82 0.5 301,621,157 696 2.3
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Where they died

Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2007 (71 percent compared with 28 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2007
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 539 69 243 31 784
2006 555 72 209 27 769
2007 492 71 194 28 696
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Thirty-eight percent of bicyclist deaths in 2007 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2007
Intersection Non-intersection Total*
Num % Num % Num %
263 38 433 62 696 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Sixty-two percent of bicyclist deaths in 2007 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 33 percent occurred on minor roads. Forty-five percent of deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 and 30 percent of deaths among bicyclists 16 and older occurred on minor roads.

Bicyclist deaths by age and road type, 2007
Road type Child bicyclist deaths (<16) Adult bicyclist deaths (≥ 16) All ages*
Num % Num % Num %
Interstates and freeways 2 2 24 4 26 4
Other major roads 56 53 371 64 431 62
Minor roads 48 45 176 30 227 33
All road types* 106 100 583 100 696 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References