Fatality Facts 2017Bicyclists

Overview

Each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. Although child bicyclist deaths have declined over the years, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975.

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.

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

Posted December 2018.

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2017 were highest during August (11 percent) and lowest during February and March (6 percent each).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2017
MonthDeaths%
January 58 7
February 45 6
March 45 6
April 68 9
May 61 8
June 74 10
July 75 10
August 88 11
September 80 10
October 72 9
November 58 7
December 53 7
Total 777 100

Bicyclist deaths in 2017 peaked during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (21 percent).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2017
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 60 8
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 48 6
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 85 11
9 a.m. - noon 71 9
Noon - 3 p.m. 91 12
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 123 16
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 161 21
9 p.m. - midnight 130 17
Total* 777 100

Where they died

In 2017, 75 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, 1975-2017
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 628 74 219 26 848 100
2017 554 75 187 25 777 100

Thirty-six percent of bicyclist deaths in 2017 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2017
Number%
Intersection 277 36
Non-intersection 500 64
Total* 777 100

Fifty-nine percent of bicyclist deaths in 2017 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 33 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 (53 percent vs. 30 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by age group and road type, 2017
Road type< 20 years ≥20 yearsAll ages*
Number%Number%Number%
Interstates and freeways00 22 3 22 3
Other major roads 42 42 414 62 461 59
Minor roads 54 53 203 30 257 33
All road types* 101 100 669 100 777 100