In 2018 there were 857 bicyclists and other pedalcyclists who died in traffic crashes nationwide, an increase of 6.3% from the 806 in 2017 (NCSA, 2020). In addition, approximately 47,000 bicyclists were injured. Bicyclists accounted for 2.3% of total traffic fatalities and 1.7% of total people injured. Of the bicyclist fatalities during 2018:
- Teens 15 to 19 years old had the highest fatality rates among those under 20 years old (2.51 fatalities per hundred thousand population), followed by 10- to 14-year-olds (0.91 fatalities per hundred thousand population);
- The average age of cyclists killed was 47, and 35 for cyclists injured;
- Cyclists 25 to 64 represented 65% of all bicycle fatalities;
- 86% of the bicyclists killed and 81% of those injured were male; and
- 20% of bicyclists killed had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher, with alcohol use by either bicyclist, driver, or both reported in 37% of fatal crashes.
The majority of bicyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas (79% in 2018), and at non-intersection locations (60% in 2018) (NCSA, 2020). The proportion of urban bicyclists fatalities in the last 10 years has increased from 69% in 2009 to 75% in 2018.
Crash Trends. From 1998 to 2014, bicyclist fatalities fluctuated from 600 to 800 per year. The most recent upward trend in fatalities pushed the number of fatalities over 800 in 2015, where it has remained (see figure below). The increased number of fatalities may reflect increases in riding. (See trends in riding below.) There are, however, substantial fluctuations in fatalities year-to-year that may not be explained only by exposure.
Source: NCSA (2020)
A study assessed the burden of injured bicyclists admitted to hospitals in terms of length of hospital stay in days, total hospital charges, and non-routine discharge (Hamann et al., 2013). Non-routine discharges included death, transfer to a nursing or other short-term hospital, or home health care. The data came from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. In total, more than $1 billion of hospital charges, $425 million for motor-vehicle crashes, and $588 million for non-motor vehicle crashes, per year resulted from bicycle crash injuries. Despite non-motor vehicle collisions (18,457) accounting for nearly 2.7 times as many admissions as collisions with motor vehicles (6,877) from 2002 to 2009, the total economic costs of longer hospital stays for those involved in motor vehicle collisions was 72% higher than the same costs for the non-motor vehicle collisions, not including further care associated with non-routine discharges.
There has been a slight rise in the average age of bicyclists killed over the past decade, from an average of 41 in 2009 to 47 in 2018 (NCSA, 2020). Comparing the 5-year period from 2014 to 2018 with the period from 2009 to 2013, fatalities increased most among bicyclists 25 to 34 years old and those 45 and older, particularly for bicyclists 55 to 64 (48% higher) and bicyclists 65 to 74 (52% higher) (see figure below). It is likely that much of these differences relate to changes in population age distributions over this time period, including the rapid expansion of older age groups since 2000. It is unclear whether increases in amounts or types of riding or other changes in exposure among these age groups may also play a part in the increases in fatalities among those in the 45-and-older age groups. Fatalities decreased among those younger than 20, and the greatest decrease was seen for those 5 to 9 (24% lower).