The Low Road

Urban cycling 7


Part VII: Cycling Safety Facts

Cyclists’ fears are well founded. Cycling is by nature dangerous, and city streets are perhaps the most dangerous areas to ride.

Bike lanes are rare and parked cars line the roadside; drivers may pull out unexpectedly or open their doors without warning. In heavy traffic, there may be little room to maneuver.

Most cyclists have had close calls when drivers take sudden right turns directly in front of them. And during rush hour, drivers are often stressed out or talking on their cell phones.

Consider these facts:

• 57 million Americans rode a bicycle in the last year, according to a 2002 report prepared by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

• nearly 500,000 people commute to work by bicycle, according to a 2000 U.S. Census estimate.

• 784 bicyclists were killed in accidents in 2005, up 26 percent from two years earlier, according to a U.S. DOT report released last year.

• 86 percent of those fatalities involved cyclists who weren’t wearing helmets.

• 720 cyclists died in accidents involving motor vehicles.

• 45,000 cyclists were injured in 2005, up 9.8 percent from the previous year.

• 66 percent of the bicycle fatalities occurred in urban areas, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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