Bicyclist Safety Must Be A Priority

Posted by Content Coordinator on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014



bike fatalities1In 2013, after one year of tracking, the League of American Bicyclists completed its Every Bicyclist Counts initiative.

This year, the U.S. Department of Transportation will decide how it will hold states accountable for public safety on our nation’s roadways. The League strongly believes that the Federal Highway Administration needs to set a national performance measure for safety that includes non-motorized safety.

Based on our experience with Every Bicyclists Counts, there is a clear role for the USDOT and state DOTs in reducing the number of bicyclist fatalities and improving our understanding of the risks bicyclists face.

As it stands, the vast majority of national data on traffic fatalities comes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Data reported by FARS is the best currently available at the national level, but it’s limited in the amount of information it provides and leaves much to be desired in the timeliness of its data releases.

As March 2014 the most current data available in the online FARS data tables is from 2011. Information from 2012 is available in the much less user-friendly FARS Query System.

In creating our Every Bicyclist Counts data collection we consciously modeled our data on what is collected as part of FARS, but also added data elements in the hope of learning more about fatalities — and ultimately how they might be prevented.

From February 2011 to February 2013 we proactively gathered information for Every Bicyclist Counts from monitoring media and public outreach. We captured 628 fatalities overall and 552 in 2012 alone. In 2012, FARS reported 726 bicyclist deaths.

While we were not able to capture all fatalities in 2012, or over the longer time period of the Every Bicyclist Counts initiative our data is largely consistent with FARS where both data sources have comparable data.

Our Every Bicyclist Counts dataset is limited to fatalities and depended upon public sources and input. The majority of the information captured by Every Bicyclist Counts came from newspaper reports (56% of all reported sources), TV reports (25%) and blogs (19%).

Through these sources we collected information on 76% of the bicyclist fatalities reported in FARS in 2012. Since the Every Bicyclist Counts dataset is limited to fatalities it does not contain any information on injuries, near-misses, or general exposure to risks.

TABLE : Fatalities and Commuting Rates in the States with the 10 Largest Commuting Populations, 2008-2012

Download full version (PDF): Bicyclist Safety Must Be A Priority

About League of American Bicyclists 
“The League began as the League of American Wheelmen (LAW) in 1880, and was responsible for defending the rights of cyclists from its start. The League of American Wheelmen is credited with getting paved roads in this country before the reign of the automobile.” 

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