The Most Dangerous Places for Cyclists

The Most Dangerous Places for Cyclists

Key Takeaways

  • Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona are the states with the highest incidence of fatal bike accidents per million residents. 

  • Houston, Los Angeles, and Tampa are the most dangerous cities for cyclists. 

  • Over one in four cyclists don’t wear helmets during rush hour, from 5-7 p.m. 

  • 82% of cyclists are scared to bike in their city. 

Cyclist Health and Safety

There’s no denying the health benefits of cycling. It’s a low-impact exercise that increases your heart rate and tones your muscles without stressing joints, but that doesn’t mean it’s without risk.

If you’re a bike commuter, be particularly diligent in the modern age of city cycling. If you’re a casual rider, you are absolutely still at risk of the dangers of city cycling. 

Velotric recently conducted a study to assess the safety of cycling in the U.S. We’ve discovered the most dangerous places to ride as well as when and how most bike accidents occur. 

Read on for ways to stay safe out there and learn from others’ unfortunate experiences.

Bike Accidents Across America

There are only so many factors you can control when it comes to your safety on the road. Traffic accidents are bound to happen, but where in the U.S. do most occur? We analyzed road accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find out.

With nearly 1,000 deaths and more than 130,000 injuries from bike crashes each year, how safe is it to ride a bicycle in America these days? It may depend on where you ride.

Cities aren’t getting any safer, and this is especially true for cyclists. While some cities are taking huge steps toward getting more cars off the road by opening the streets up with bike lanes, there’s still plenty with a ton of work to do. 

Cities without bike lanes simply aren’t well-equipped to handle cyclists, especially during rush hour traffic. A few particular cities have a big problem with rush hour cycling accidents, and coincidentally, they are very non-bike friendly. 

Number of Bike Accidents in Recent Years by State

Worst Cities for Biking

In 2020, Houston, Texas, had more fatal bicycle crashes involving a motor vehicle than any other city in the U.S. — a total of 20. The second most dangerous city was Los Angeles, California, with 14 crashes. 

But these accidents aren’t the only reason LA residents are on a mission to make their city more bike-friendly. Air pollution and heavy traffic are other concerns that plague the people who live there, whether they cycle or not. 

Six Florida cities also ranked in the top 10. Our state-by-state comparison shows that Florida has had the largest number of fatal bike accidents, with 7.44 per 1 million residents, followed by Louisiana (7.15). 

In Arizona, the third most dangerous state for cyclists, the number of accidents dipped to 4.32. AZ cities to be most wary of include Tucson and Phoenix, and nearby Las Vegas, Nevada. Next to Arizona, neighboring New Mexico is no stranger to cyclist fatalities either. In particular, Albuquerque has one of the highest numbers of cyclist deaths. 

Best Cities for Biking

As of 2022, the best city for bikers is Utrecht, Netherlands (the number of cyclists here clocks in at an impressive 51% of their population). The top 20 cities for bikers are all in Europe, but a few cities in the United States tend to treat cyclists a bit nicer. 

Those cities include:

  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Urban areas like Chicago, Illinois, and Detroit, Michigan

Some states like Massachusetts are working to improve cycling experiences, creating their first bicycle transport plan in ten years. It’s no secret that New York City is built more for walking than riding. However, with the city government attempting to expand bike infrastructure, hopefully, this will train. 

Cycling Dangerously

What can cyclists in these areas do to protect themselves? Let’s review some bike safety basics and see where today’s cyclists could improve.

When cycling on public roadways, you can’t control what drivers and other cyclists do. 

What you can control are the precautions you take. Now that we’ve seen where the most accidents have occurred, let’s see what might have been done differently to prevent them based on our survey of 1,000 cyclists. 

Fortunately, about 73% of the cyclists we surveyed said they wear a helmet while riding. But a shocking 27% said they don’t, and 18% wear no safety gear at all! How many of the accidents we tallied up might have resulted in minor injuries instead of traffic fatalities if every cyclist had outfitted themselves with the proper gear?

This includes visibility enhancers to ensure others on the road can see you at all times, which can be especially challenging at night. That’s why reflective gear and lights are so important for cycling after sunset or in the early morning. Even so, far too many cyclists said they don’t wear a reflective vest (82%) or bright clothing (53%) while riding.

Spoke reflectors are also an effective safety measure, but 65% of our respondents said they don’t use those, either. Electric lights are even better since they don’t require an external light source to improve visibility. Regardless, 73% said they don’t wear flashing lights, and 52% don’t use lights on their bike. 

Let’s make something clear: If you’re going to ride at night, wear something that will make you visible to other cyclists and drivers. Cyclists put themselves and others at considerable risk if they go out with nothing. Helmets with lights at the rear, like the Lumos Matrix MIPS Helmet, offer an extra layer of protection while riding in low-light conditions. 

We also found that more than one-quarter of cyclists haven’t been wearing helmets while riding in rush hour traffic. You’re about to find out why that’s especially risky.

The Riskiest Times To Ride

It’s just as important for cyclists to be vigilant about their safety riding at night as during certain times of the day. Next, we’ll look into when bike accidents have occurred and gauge how safe cyclists feel on their hometown roads.

Even though riding at night comes with unique visibility concerns, we found that most accidents have occurred during the day. The hours between 3-5 p.m. might be the most dangerous time to be on the road since 37% of those we surveyed have had an accident during this time. This makes up the bulk of “rush hour,” the 3-7 p.m. period when road traffic tends to be heaviest.

While approximately one in six cyclists said that they’ve been in an accident, almost half (47%) said it involved flipping over their handlebars. Nearly as many (37%) said it included a collision with a car. It’s no wonder that 82% reported feeling at least some level of fear about riding a bike in their home city.

After all, a car offers its driver far more protection from injury than a bike does for its rider. But 36% of cyclists said they don’t feel their city has the right infrastructure to keep them safe, such as dedicated bike lanes and reduced speed limits in certain areas. But potential legislation aside, it’s clear that many cyclists could improve their road safety on their own with a few adjustments.

Be prepared before and during your ride. While many cities aren’t quite prepared to host an influx of cyclists, you can still ensure safety is the highest priority by increasing your precautions. 

Setting Cyclists Up for Safety

America has some work to do when it comes to cyclist safety, and doing so could help more than just cyclists. Cities can become healthier by increasing residents’ access to the safe, low-impact exercise offered by cycling. Even non-cycling residents can enjoy reduced air pollution and traffic thanks to fewer cars on the road.

But it takes time to implement these measures at a city or state level, so take control of your own safety in the meantime. Wear and install the right safety gear to increase your visibility and reduce the potential harm caused by a collision. 

Houston, Los Angeles, and Florida residents, in particular, should take every precaution we’ve listed! But no matter where you live, be especially vigilant while riding in rush hour traffic.

If you are cycling in a city, be diligent no matter what time it is. If you’re cycling at night, be sure you have the proper attire and lights so you are visible to all drivers. 

Hopefully, your city has bike lanes available. If it doesn’t, be extra careful if you decide to ride in the street or near motorists. Basically, keep your head on a swivel, everyone! City life is extraordinarily unpredictable, so be prepared. 

Methodology 

We collected data on more than 900 bicycle accidents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System to see which states and cities have had the highest incidence of fatal bicycle crashes. 

Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) is a nationwide census that provides NHTSA, Congress, and the American public with yearly data regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This data is from 2020, which is the most current FARS data available today. We also conducted a survey of 1,000 bicyclists to explore their safety habits.

About Velotric Bike

It’s about time you got a bike that suits all of your needs — mainly safety and style. 

With a team of experts, Velotric develops Ebikes that are simple, reliable, and stylish.

At Velotric, we are dedicated to producing the highest-quality electric bikes and accessories on the market. Our bikes are safe, modern, environmentally-friendly, and are made to take you wherever life goes. 

Don’t believe us? Well, not to brag, but our Discover 1 model recently became UL2849 and UL2271 certified — two of the hardest safety standards to achieve in the Ebike industry. 

While our bikes are loaded with tons of cool features and admittedly look pretty darn cool zipping down the street, we haven’t sacrificed an ounce of safety. It’s always our first priority so you can ride with your mind at ease. Combine all of this with our high-powered battery and full speed and assist control, and you’ll be cruising to your destination like it’s nobody’s business with Velotric. 

Looking cool and getting to your destination in style are obviously some of the bonuses, but the most important thing is always safety. We have done our part in creating a safe and efficient transportation method, but we can’t do it alone. Wear your 360-degree coverage helmet to look sleek and stay safe. 

Good luck, and be safe out there; we’re counting on you! 

Sources:

Bicycle Safety | Transportation Safety | Injury Center | CDC

Report Says LA Has Most Polluted Air in United States | NBC Los Angeles

Home | Streets For All

Los Angeles has the 6th worst traffic in the US, study finds | Fox

Bicycle Safety | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The Importance of Wearing a Bicycle Helmet | Cleveland Clinic

4 Ways Cities Can Design Safer Roads for Cyclists | World Resources Institute

These are the top 10 most bike-friendly cities in the world – San Francisco and Portland didn't make the list | CNBC

Why US Cities Are Investing in Safer, More-Connected Cycling Infrastructure | Urban Institute

The Next Generation of Storytelling | ArcGIS StoryMaps Timeline

NYC DOT Taking New Steps to Expand Bike Infrastructure and Encourage Safe Operation of E-bikes as Overall Bike Ridership Reaches All-time High | New York City DOT

How to bike safely through the dark winter months | Washington Post


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