Bicyclists | 2010

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,not just young bicyclists. Eighty-nine percent of bicycle deaths are persons 16 and older. During the past few years, only about 1 in 10 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 616 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2010, a two percent decrease from 2009. Bicyclist deaths were down 39 percent since 1975. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (55 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (35 percent). In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes.

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2010

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2010
YearMale Female Total*
Number%Number%Number%
1975 820 82 183 18 1,003 100
1976 751 82 163 18 914 100
1977 730 79 192 21 922 100
1978 714 80 178 20 892 100
1979 759 81 173 19 932 100
1980 782 81 183 19 965 100
1981 748 80 181 19 936 100
1982 720 83 144 17 864 100
1983 700 84 130 16 830 100
1984 684 82 153 18 838 100
1985 732 84 137 16 869 100
1986 789 85 140 15 929 100
1987 826 88 114 12 940 100
1988 773 86 128 14 901 100
1989 696 85 126 15 822 100
1990 732 86 121 14 853 100
1991 715 86 121 14 836 100
1992 627 87 90 13 717 100
1993 702 87 104 13 806 100
1994 687 86 109 14 796 100
1995 699 84 128 15 828 100
1996 654 86 107 14 761 100
1997 712 88 99 12 811 100
1998 658 87 99 13 757 100
1999 656 87 94 13 750 100
2000 613 89 76 11 689 100
2001 657 90 72 10 729 100
2002 590 89 73 11 663 100
2003 554 88 71 11 626 100
2004 626 87 96 13 722 100
2005 687 88 97 12 784 100
2006 675 88 94 12 769 100
2007 616 88 83 12 699 100
2008 624 87 92 13 716 100
2009 549 87 79 13 628 100
2010 533 87 83 13 616 100

Seventy percent of bicyclists killed in 2010 reportedly were not wearing helmets. Information on helmet use became available in FARS in 1994.

Bicylist deaths by helmet use, 1994-2010
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 70 94 15 93 15 616 100

Twenty-three percent of bicyclists age 16 and older who were killed in 2010 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, 1982-2010
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 547 128 23

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2010 peaked during the warm weather months of July, August, and September (12 percent in each month) and were least likely to occur during the winter months of December, January, and February (5 percent, 4 percent, and 5 percent, respectively).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2010
MonthDeaths%
January 25 4
February 32 5
March 49 8
April 49 8
May 59 10
June 51 8
July 74 12
August 73 12
September 75 12
October 51 8
November 50 8
December 28 5
Total 616 100

Bicyclist deaths in 2010 occurred most often during the hours of 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (18 percent) and 6 p.m.-9 p.m. (23 percent).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2010
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 37 6
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 24 4
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 70 11
9 a.m. - Noon 56 9
Noon - 3 p.m. 76 12
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 113 18
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 139 23
9 p.m. - Midnight 101 16
Total* 616 100

Age

Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have declined 90 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older have increased 69 percent. Deaths of bicyclists younger than 16 were 11 percent of all bicyclist deaths in 2010.

Percent of bicyclist deaths by age group, 1975-2010
Year<16 ≥16Total*
Number%Number%Number%
1975 675 67 323 32 1,003 100
1976 605 66 306 33 914 100
1977 613 66 306 33 922 100
1978 570 64 320 36 892 100
1979 552 59 373 40 932 100
1980 529 55 431 45 965 100
1981 479 51 438 47 936 100
1982 413 48 446 52 864 100
1983 434 52 392 47 830 100
1984 410 49 415 50 838 100
1985 424 49 435 50 869 100
1986 435 47 485 52 929 100
1987 443 47 494 53 940 100
1988 393 44 502 56 901 100
1989 371 45 449 55 822 100
1990 292 34 551 65 853 100
1991 300 36 530 63 836 100
1992 297 41 418 58 717 100
1993 303 38 500 62 806 100
1994 294 37 495 62 796 100
1995 278 34 542 65 828 100
1996 248 33 507 67 761 100
1997 248 31 560 69 811 100
1998 229 30 526 69 757 100
1999 211 28 537 72 750 100
2000 191 28 496 72 689 100
2001 155 21 570 78 729 100
2002 153 23 503 76 663 100
2003 143 23 481 77 626 100
2004 149 21 569 79 722 100
2005 142 18 636 81 784 100
2006 111 14 653 85 769 100
2007 106 15 586 84 699 100
2008 94 13 618 86 716 100
2009 85 14 543 86 628 100
2010 65 11 547 89 616 100

Where they died

Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2010 (71 percent compared with 28 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2010
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 438 71 173 28 616 100

Thirty-five percent of bicyclist deaths in 2010 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2010
Intersection Non-intersectionTotal*
Number%Number%Number%
215 35 401 65 616 100

Sixty percent of bicyclist deaths in 2010 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 35 percent occurred on minor roads. Fifty-seven percent of deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 occurred on minor roads, while 63 percent of deaths among bicyclists 16 and older occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways.

Bicyclist deaths by age group and road type, 2010
Road typeAge < 16 Age ≥ 16All ages*
Number%Number%Number%
Interstates and freeways 1 2 25 5 26 4
Other major roads 25 38 343 63 369 60
Minor roads 37 57 174 32 214 35
All road types* 65 100 547 100 616 100

References