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Fatality Facts 2021Bicyclists

Overview

Each year about 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. Although child bicyclist deaths have declined over the years, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have quadrupled 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., & 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), 3016-3018.

Some vehicles are equipped with crash avoidance technologies that detect cyclists and may automatically brake prior to impact. These technologies have the potential to prevent crashes with cyclists if they are able to detect cyclists both crossing in front of and traveling in line with vehicles.Cicchino, J. B. (2023). Effects of a bicyclist detection system on police-reported bicycle crashes. Proceedings of the 27th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s .Posted May 2023.

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2021 were highest during September (12%) followed by October (11%).
Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2021
MonthDeaths%
January 62 6
February 45 5
March 76 8
April 64 7
May 85 9
June 83 9
July 96 10
August 79 8
September 119 12
October 104 11
November 65 7
December 83 9
Total 961 100
Bicyclist deaths in 2021 peaked during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (22%).
Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2021
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 75 8
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 77 8
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 104 11
9 a.m. - noon 95 10
Noon - 3 p.m. 88 9
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 147 15
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 210 22
9 p.m. - midnight 163 17
Total* 961 100

Where they died

In 2021, 85% of bicyclists were killed in urban areas. Bicyclist deaths occurred about equally in rural and urban areas in 1975.
Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2021
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 610 76 189 24 800 100
2018 686 80 176 20 868 100
2019 682 80 174 20 856 100
2020 753 80 185 20 942 100
2021 816 85 140 15 961 100
Thirty-five percent of bicyclist deaths in 2021 occurred at intersections.
Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2021
Number%
Intersection 340 35
Nonintersection 621 65
Total* 961 100
Sixty-five percent of bicyclist deaths in 2021 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 32% 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 (52% vs. 30%).
Bicyclist deaths by age group and road type, 2021
Road type< 20 years ≥20 yearsTotal*
Number%Number%Number%
Interstates and freeways 2 2 22 3 24 2
Other major roads 35 43 575 67 625 65
Minor roads 42 52 261 30 306 32
Total* 81 100 862 100 961 100
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