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Thursday, October 30, 2014

California Ranks No. 1 in Bike Deaths

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Slow down - FLICKR/WVS
Turns out, California isn't a bike-friendly state after all. According to a new study released this week, California is leading the nation in bike-related deaths with a 23 percent increase between 2010 and 2012. 

The Governor's Highway Safety Association released a new study which shows that cyclists killed increased 16 percent across the nation; Between 2010 and 2012, 338 cyclists were killed in California, followed by 329 in Florida and 143 in Texas. 

Meanwhile, other motor vehicle fatalities increased by a mere one percent over the same time period. 

Perhaps not surprising, two-thirds of cyclists who died across the nation in 2012 were not wearing helmets, while more than one-fourth of those who died had been drinking alcohol. Men accounted for 88 percent of the fatalities, the report showed. 


Between 2010 and 2012, the greatest numbers of bicyclist deaths occurred in high population states with many urban centers: California (338), Florida (329), Texas (143), New York (138), Illinois (80), and Michigan (72). These six states accounted for more than half (54 percent) of all bicyclist fatalities during this time period. This likely reflects the amount of bicycling exposure and interaction with motor vehicles in these states. Table 1 indicates that during the three-year period from 2010 to 2012 in which bicyclist deaths were increasing nationwide, almost half the states (23) averaged five or fewer deaths per year, and 11 states and D.C. had fewer than five total deaths during this period. In one or more years, 14 states had zero bicyclist deaths. Vermont and Wyoming had the fewest numbers of deaths (one per state) in the three-year-period.
The report suggests things cities can can do to make life a little safer for cyclists, including:
  • add more marked bike lanes; 
  • bicycle boulevards, a network of traffic-calmed roads that parallel urban arterials; 
  • bike boxes, a space in a lane before an intersection solely for bikes, generally placed to the right in front of the queue, providing bicycle visibility and protection against cars turning right across the bike’s path; 
  • and separate bicycle traffic signals with advance green lights for cyclists. 
Now here's what you can do to help: wear a helmet, follow traffic laws (stop at red lights), and don't bike home wasted from the bar.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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