The latest numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the number of bicyclists killed on our roads went up from 623 in 2010 to 677 in 2011 — an increase of 8.7%.
Does that mean cycling is getting more dangerous?
Of course not – at least, not necessarily.
We don’t know what the exposure rate is. We don’t know how many miles people rode in 2011. And compared to 2005, when 786 cyclists were killed, the number is a big improvement. There are a few things that we do know:
- Over the past 30 years, the average age of cyclists killed in traffic crashes has more than doubled from 20.8 years of age to 42.
- Cyclists make up more than 2% of all traffic fatalities for the first time since 1993.
- Cyclists and pedestrians together now account for 15.6% of fatalities
We also know that the percentage of Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds going to improve non-motorized safety was a paltry 0.33 percent in 2011. 0.33 percent! On top of that, the new transportation bill eliminated the Safe Routes to School program set-aside for education programs AND made bike education programs ineligible for funding under the old enhancements program.
There is a basic inequity about this situation. Bicyclists and pedestrians account for 15.6% of fatalities, 12% of all trips and yet just 1.5% of transportation funds are spent on the two modes — and virtually none of that goes to education. Why is it that traffic safety seems to be improving for people inside cars, but decreasing for cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists?
These are the issues we are addressing at the National Bike Summit this year. We are asking Congress for “A Fair Share for Safety” and for better data. We want members of Congress to understand the impact of cutting funding for bike education. You can help us make the case more effectively by joining us at the National Bike Summit in 2013.
Andy Clarke was appointed to the position of Executive Director in April of 2004 after successfully leading efforts to create, interpret and implement the various transportation programs that are available to improve conditions for bicycling and walking as the League’s State and Local Advocacy Director. Before joining the League in February 2003, Clarke was on contract to provide technical assistance to the highly regarded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center on site at the Federal Highway Administration. He is on the Board of Directors for America Bikes, and a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals.