How Safe are Bicycles?

A cyclist in a bike lane

How Safe are Bicycles?

Bicycling is a great way to get exercise, explore your surroundings, and reduce your carbon footprint. However, it's important to be aware of the safety risks involved before you hit the road.

The biggest risk to cyclists is collisions with motor vehicles. In 2020, there were 1260 bicycle deaths. Over 800 of them were involved in motor vehicle crashes. The rest were non-traffic incidents. This is reported on by the National Center for Health Statistics mortality data.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to bicycle accidents, including:

  • Distracted driving: Drivers who are talking on the phone, texting, or eating are more likely to be involved in accidents with cyclists.
  • Failure to yield: Drivers who fail to yield to cyclists at intersections or when passing are also a major hazard.
  • Speeding: Drivers who are speeding are more likely to hit cyclists, and they are also more likely to cause serious injuries or death when they do hit them.
  • Lack of visibility: Cyclists who are not wearing bright clothing or using lights at night are more likely to be hit by drivers.

There are a number of things that cyclists can do to reduce their risk of being involved in an accident:

  • Obey all traffic laws. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, and yielding to pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • Be predictable. Signal your turns and lane changes, and ride in a straight line when possible.
  • Be visible. Wear bright clothing and use lights at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for distracted drivers, pedestrians, and other hazards.

In addition to the risk of collisions with motor vehicles, cyclists also face a number of other safety hazards, such as:

  • Falls: Falls are the most common type of bicycle injury. They can be caused by a variety of factors, such as potholes, uneven pavement, and debris on the road.
  • Road hazards: Cyclists can also be injured by road hazards such as broken glass, nails, and wires.
  • Dog bites: Dog bites are another hazard for cyclists. Be sure to slow down or stop if you see a dog approaching.

Despite the risks, cycling is a relatively safe activity. With proper safety precautions, cyclists can minimize their risk of injury.

Here are some additional tips for staying safe while cycling:

  • Wear a helmet. A helmet can help to protect your head in the event of a fall.
  • Maintain your bike. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and that your brakes are working properly.
  • Ride defensively. Assume that drivers don't see you and be prepared to stop or take evasive action at any time.
  • Be aware of the weather conditions. Avoid riding in heavy rain or snow.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure your safety while cycling.

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