As cyclist enthusiasts, we want you to be safe on the road. But time and time again, it seems much of that focus on safety comes exclusively from the cyclist. When it comes to safety matters, reciprocation from motorists often does not happen. Some drivers blatantly threaten cyclists, refusing to share the road while subscribing to intimidation tactics. Other drivers, though, are simply neglectful, seemingly ignorant of the growing presence of cyclists.
Every day, cyclists face dangers on the road, often leading to serious injuries and death. Outside magazine recently reviewed every cyclist death in 2020 and came up with a list of relevant statistics. Such findings should be a wake-up call for motorists. Among them include more than a quarter of all cyclist fatalities occurred in hit-and-run accidents, and death rates on rural roads nearly matched those on urban streets. Also, California, the nation’s most populous state, had the most cyclist fatalities with 118.
Hit-and-run accidents, arterial roads
Here are some of the key findings from the magazine:
- Nearly 700 cyclists died on U.S. roads last year. The vast majority were men, who comprised 80.1% of the victims. Women accounted for 12.8%. Unknown accounted for 7.2%
- Hit-and-run accidents accounted for more than a quarter of the fatal accidents in 2020. That number was 26.1%.
- The states with the most cyclist deaths were California (118); Florida (90); New York (44); Texas (44); and Louisiana (34). While populous states such as California and Florida had some of the most cyclist deaths per million residents, Louisiana tops that list. That state recorded 7.3 fatalities per million residents.
- Death rates on rural roads were nearly the same as those on urban streets. The magazine reported that rural roads often do not have intersections with traffic lights and seldom have shoulders to accommodate cyclists. Deaths are nearly equal in urban areas (35%); rural areas (33.1%); and the suburbs (31.9%).
- Arterial roads are the most dangerous for cyclists, accounting for 65.4% of cyclist fatalities. These roads have multiple lanes that include traffic signals and heavy traffic along with speed limits of more than 30 miles per hour. Among the hazards on arterial roads include vehicles turning right on red lights along with cars making unprotected left turns.
- California had one of the country’s deadliest roads. Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach was one of three roads in the country to record three cyclist deaths in 2020. Beach Boulevard does not have a bike lane.
- The warmer months of the year accounted for the most fatalities, however, there was one fall month among the top five. In descending order, they are July (84); August (81); June (67); October (67); and May (66).
How many more times must we declare the importance of sharing the road and being aware of cyclists? We must continue to do so. It is crucial to encourage municipal, county and state governments to invest more in creating protected bike lanes and intersections as well as educate drivers about safer driving habits among the presence of cyclists.