Cyclist fatalities continue to rise, and research shows that New York sees more than its fair share. Bike deaths have become so common across the state in recent years that New York is now the fourth-deadliest state in the nation for cyclists.
According to Outside, bike fatalities nationwide have reached their highest level since 1990. In 2018, 857 cyclists lost their lives on U.S. roadways, and the number of cyclists dying has increased each year since 2010.
Urban areas are more dangerous
While New York cyclists face higher injury and death risks than bicyclists in many other states, those who travel by bike in New York City face even more notable dangers. While the city saw 10 cyclist deaths in 2018, this figure rose to 29 in 2019, raising important questions about what is contributing to the increase.
Speed is a common contributor
Many fatal bike crashes involve excessive speed. Between 2015 and 2019, speed was a factor in 9% of all U.S. bike fatalities.
Speed limits have risen in many areas of the country, and higher speed limits bring with them higher injury and fatality rates. Until 1995, cities and towns could not set speed limits that exceeded 65 mph. When communities increased their speed limits, the number of cyclist deaths they experienced rose as well.
Other factors play a role
Alcohol played a role in 16% of all vehicle-bicycle collisions between 2015 and 2019. Furthermore, hit-and-run crashes constituted a fifth of all incidents that caused cyclist deaths during that span.
Motorists are driving more and using cellphones more when doing so. With so many distracted drivers on the roads, the risk of a collision rises.
Americans have also increasingly favored larger cars, trucks and SUVs, which are more likely to cause bicyclist deaths than smaller passenger vehicles. When SUVs and trucks strike cyclists, those bike riders face a 50% higher chance of dying than riders in collisions with traditional sedans.