Fatality Facts 2016Bicyclists

Bicyclists

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. The odds that a bicyclist will wear a helmet are 4 times higher after a helmet law is enacted than before a law is passed.Karkhaneh, M.; Kalenga, J-C.; Hagel, B.E.; and Rowe, B.H. 2006. Effectiveness of bicycle helmet legislation to increase helmet use: a systematic review. Injury Prevention 12:76-82. Helmets are important for riders of all ages, not just young bicyclists. Eighty-seven percent of bicyclist deaths are persons ages 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).

Posted December 2017.

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2016 were highest during June (12 percent) and lowest during February (5 percent).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2016
MonthDeaths%
January 62 7
February 44 5
March 58 7
April 60 7
May 70 8
June 101 12
July 75 9
August 95 11
September 84 10
October 74 9
November 66 8
December 46 6
Total 835 100

Bicyclist deaths in 2016 peaked during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (22 percent).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2016
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 63 8
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 43 5
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 109 13
9 a.m. - noon 89 11
Noon - 3 p.m. 96 11
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 118 14
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 182 22
9 p.m. - midnight 131 16
Total* 835 100

Where they died

In 2016, 71 percent of bicyclists were killed in urban areas. Bicyclist deaths occurred about equally in rural and urban areas in 1975.

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2016
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 40 892 100
1979 541 60 367 40 932 100
1980 563 59 390 41 965 100
1981 528 59 371 41 936 100
1982 490 57 364 43 864 100
1983 502 61 324 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 63 265 37 717 100
1993 491 61 313 39 806 100
1994 477 60 318 40 796 100
1995 540 66 284 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 63 251 37 689 100
2001 478 66 251 34 729 100
2002 450 68 211 32 663 100
2003 435 70 189 30 626 100
2004 477 66 242 34 722 100
2005 539 69 243 31 784 100
2006 555 73 209 27 769 100
2007 500 72 197 28 699 100
2008 491 69 222 31 716 100
2009 436 70 191 30 628 100
2010 444 72 174 28 621 100
2011 468 69 208 31 680 100
2012 503 69 225 31 730 100
2013 505 68 242 32 747 100
2014 511 71 212 29 723 100
2015 565 71 234 29 828 100
2016 567 71 235 29 835 100

Thirty-six percent of bicyclist deaths in 2016 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2016
Number%
Intersection 302 36
Non-intersection 533 64
Total* 835 100

Sixty-seven percent of bicyclist deaths in 2016 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 25 percent occurred on minor roads. Deaths of bicyclists younger than 20 were more likely to occur on minor roads compared with deaths of bicyclists ages 20 and older (37 percent vs. 23 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by age group and road type, 2016
Road type< 20 years ≥20 yearsAll ages*
Number%Number%Number%
Interstates and freeways 3 3 31 4 34 4
Other major roads 55 54 495 68 558 67
Minor roads 37 37 169 23 209 25
Unknown 6 6 28 4 34 4
All road types 101 100 723 100 835 100