Everyone who rides a bike on roadways in the Bay area and throughout the United States should be aware of the risks of accidents and injuries. However, many people may not realize just how many bicyclists are injured while riding. If you are going to ride a bike, you should be aware of the risk factors and the prevalence of crashes so you can take necessary precautions to avoid injuries.

Nationwide Bicycle Accident Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA , traffic related fatalities have decreased significantly over the past decade, with 10,000 fewer people killed in traffic collisions in 2013 than in 2004. However, bicycle accident fatalities have actually increased in the same time period, from 727 bicyclists killed in 2004 and 743 dying in 2013. This indicates that while safety measures have increased regarding motor vehicles, the same measures may not have been taken regarding sharing the road between cars and bicycles. In addition to the 2013 fatalities, 48,000 more bicyclists sustained injuries in a crash with a motor vehicle.

California Bicyclists are at a High Risk

California routinely has the highest number of bicycle-related fatalities of anystate in the United States. In fact, of the 743 nationwide deaths in 2013, almost 20 percent of those occurred in the state of California. While the number of bicyclists who were fatally injured did decrease to 128 in 2014, the state is still leading in deadly bicycle accidents. In addition, reports indicated that San Francisco was a rare city in which the number of bicycle-related fatalities had increased over recent years and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition called for greater safety measures to eliminate traffic-related bicycle accidents.

Risk Factors for Bicyclists

Risk factors for bicycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities can be varied.

Here are some NHTSA statistics related to bicycle accidents and risk factors:

  • Bicyclists ages 20 to 24 years had the highest rate of injury in accidents.
  • Bicyclists ages 55 to 59 years had the highest rate of fatal accidents.
  • The majority of serious bicycle accidents happened in urban areas (68 percent) versus rural areas (32 percent).
  • 57 percent of accidents happened outside of intersections, 34 percent of accidents occurred at an intersection, and 9 percent happened in other, unspecified locations.
  • The time period with the most bicycle accidents was 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • 83 percent of bicyclists killed and/or injured in accidents were male riders.
  • Approximately 24 percent of bicyclists who died in accidents had alcohol in their system and 20 percent had a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
  • 464 riders who were killed in 2013 were not wearing helmets.

While the above bicycle statistics do show certain trends and risk factors both in California and throughout the United States, it is important to remember that a crash between a bicycle and a car can occur under almost any circumstances. For this reason, you should always be highly aware of your surroundings when riding your bicycle in the Bay Area or anywhere else.