How to Avoid Becoming a Statistic: The Shocking Rise of Cycling Deaths in America

Have you ever felt unsafe while riding your bike on the road? Do you know someone who has been injured or killed in a cycling accident? If so, you’re not alone. Motorcyclist and pedal-cycling fatalities have reached a multi-decade high in 2021, according to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Whether you are a casual cyclist or a hardcore enthusiast, it’s important to be aware of the dangers and how to avoid them.

The Grim Reality of Cycling Deaths

The NHTSA report reveals that proportion of people killed “outside the vehicle” (motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motor vehicle occupants) has increased from a low of 20 percent in 1996 to a high of 34 percent in 2021. Correspondingly, the proportion of people killed “inside the vehicle” (occupants of passenger cars, light trucks, large trucks, buses, and other vehicles) has declined from a high of 80 percent in 1996 to 66 percent in 2021.

To be more exact, 966 pedal cyclists and 5,932 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2021. This is the highest number of deaths in one year since 1975, when 1,003 cyclists and 3,106 motorcyclists died on the road. This latest statistic marks a back-to-back annual increase in national cycling deaths. To compare, in 2020, 948 cyclists and 5,506 motorcyclists were killed on roadways.

So, what’s behind this disturbing trend? There are several factors that may contribute to it, such as:

  • More people are cycling for recreation, fitness, or transportation, especially during the pandemic.
  • More drivers are distracted by their phones, navigation systems, or other devices.
  • Roads are more congested and poorly designed for cyclists’ safety.
  • More cyclists are riding at night or in low-visibility conditions without proper lighting or reflective gear.

How to Protect Yourself on Your Bike

While some of these factors are beyond your control, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of becoming a statistic. Here are some of the best practices for cycling safety:

  • Wear a helmet that fits properly and meets safety standards.
  • Follow the rules of the road and obey traffic signs and signals.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic and use designated bike lanes or paths whenever possible.
  • Be visible and predictable. Use lights and reflectors at night or in low-light conditions, and wear bright or reflective clothing. Signal your intentions before turning or changing lanes.
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Watch out for hazards such as potholes, debris, or opening car doors. Avoid riding too close to parked or moving vehicles. Keep an eye on drivers’ behavior and anticipate their actions.
  • Be respectful and courteous to other road users. Don’t ride aggressively or recklessly. Yield to pedestrians and give them plenty of space, and communicate with drivers and other cyclists by using hand signals or verbal cues.

Take Action Now!

Cycling is a great way to stay fit, have fun, and reduce your environmental impact. However, it also comes with some risks that you need to be aware of and prepared for. By following this advice, you can enjoy your bike ride without putting yourself or others in danger.

If you are concerned about the rising number of cycling deaths in America, you also can take action by supporting organizations that advocate for safer roads and better policies for cyclists. Some of these include:

  • The League of American Bicyclists
  • People for Bikes
  • Bike Law
  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

You also can contact your local representatives and urge them to invest in cycling infrastructure and education programs.

Don’t let fear stop you from riding your bike or motorcycle, but don’t be complacent either! Be smart, be safe, and be a part of the solution.

We at the Herd Law Firm, PLLC, are drivers, bike riders, and motorcycle riders, too! We support drivers, bikers and motorcyclists injured on the road, and have successfully represented such victims seeking the assistance and compensation they so need and deserve.

Read the full NHTSA report here.



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