Cycling Deaths Are Rising Faster Than Driving or Walking Deaths, New Study Suggests

From Cycling

After a nearly decade-long decline, deaths on U.S. roadways started rising again two years ago as gas prices dropped and more Americans got back in their cars. Now, a new study has found that cyclist deaths increased at a higher rate than those of drivers, walkers, or any other road user. Researchers also saw an uptick in the age of the victims.

In 2015, the most recent year with available data, bicyclist deaths rose by 12.2 percent to 818, up from 726 in 2014. According to the report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and funded by State Farm, that’s the highest number of cycling deaths since 1995.

An average of 55 additional cyclists have died each year since 2011. While that seems like a lot—and cyclists are indeed seeing their death rates rise faster than those of other groups—it still constitutes only a small portion of the more than 35,000 total traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2015. (Overall roadway fatalities rose by 7.2 percent.)

In decades prior, children and teens made up the bulk of cycling deaths, but that has changed dramatically, according to the report. The average age of a cyclist who died riding in 2015 was 45, and the vast majority—85 percent—were men. In 1975, there were 786 deaths of cyclists under age 20, compared to 212 over 20. In 2015, there were only 91 deaths for those under 20 and 720 deaths for those over 20.

Researchers found that most of the fatalities involved incidents where the driver of the car did not see the cyclist, while the cyclist expected the driver to yield and instead was unable to avoid a collision.

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