How Many Cyclists Get Hit by Cars Each Year and What Can We Do to Fix It?


bicycle crashed under car
I have been seriously riding a bicycle for 50 years and have been lucky enough to never be hit by a car. I consider myself to be a very defensive cyclist and often find myself anticipating trouble. That has helped a lot because there have been many close calls. It does not mean I will never be in a car accident but that I have been proactive. I could get hit today even though I am careful. It can happen at anytime to anybody. I decided to look into how many cyclists get hit by cars each year and what we can do to fix it. Here is what I found.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 938 cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles in the United States in 2020 alone. In 2021 it was 961. These numbers are not just statistics; they represent lives lost, families shattered, and communities impacted.

So, how many cyclists get hit by cars each year, and what can we do to fix it?

The answer to the first part of the question is not straightforward because different sources provide different statistics based on different parameters. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1,000 bicyclists died in traffic crashes in the United States in 2019. The National Safety Council (NSC) reported a slightly lower number of cyclist deaths in 2019, at 846. Both organizations agree that the number of deaths has been increasing in recent years.

The number of non-fatal injuries to cyclists due to collisions with cars is even more difficult to quantify because many incidents go unreported or do not require medical attention. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were an estimated 38,886 non-fatal bicycle-related injuries in the United States in 2020.

So, what can we do to fix this problem and make cycling safer for everyone?

One solution is to improve infrastructure to make cycling safer. This includes building more bike lanes and protected bike paths, reducing car speeds in areas with high levels of bicycle traffic, and implementing traffic calming measures like roundabouts and speed bumps. Additionally, improving road design, such as creating dedicated bike lanes, can prevent many of these incidents. I feel much safer riding my bicycle in Santa Fe, New Mexico than I do in Lubbock, Texas. They truly seem to have thought about cyclists in their infrastructure design while cyclists are an afterthought to the planners in Lubbock.

Another solution is to educate both drivers and cyclists on how to share the road safely. Drivers must be aware of cyclists on the road and give them plenty of space when passing. On the other hand, cyclists must follow traffic laws and wear reflective clothing or use lights at night to make themselves visible to drivers.

Finally, policymakers can implement laws and regulations to protect cyclists, such as minimum passing distances for cars, holding drivers accountable for collisions with cyclists, and improving legal representation for cyclists involved in collisions.

The number of cyclists killed or injured in collisions with cars is a significant problem that requires a multifaceted solution. Improving infrastructure, educating both drivers and cyclists, and implementing policies that protect cyclists are all essential steps in making cycling safer for everyone. With concerted efforts, we can reduce the number of tragic accidents and create a safer environment for cyclists on our roads.

Be safe!

Here is my next post:  Beyond the Lycra: Cycling Adventures for the Un-Competitive Soul


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