The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released a detailed overview on the deadliness of our roadways in 2021, the most recent year for which complete statistics are now available. The report shows that in 2021 bicyclist fatalities continued their decade-long climb. From a low of 623 bicyclist deaths in 2010, eleven years later fatalities climbed to 966 people killed while biking. This is the highest number since 1975, more than four decades ago.
People are killed while riding bicycles in all 50 states, but the ten states with the most deaths account for nearly 65% of all bicyclist deaths. More than 50% of people killed while biking are killed in just the top five states: Florida, California, Texas, New York, and Arizona. In those five states, there have been large increases in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, with a modest increase in California and a small decrease in the number of bicyclist deaths in New York.
For many years, California had the most bicyclist deaths, but Florida has passed California and appears to be breaking away. Florida has a per bicycle commuter fatality rate roughly three times higher than California, and that fatality rate increased at a higher rate between 2012-2016 and 2017-2021. Florida has the highest rate of bicyclists killed per capita at 7.6 bicyclists killed per one million people, more than twice the rate in California. In Florida, bicyclists account for 4.9% of traffic fatalities, which has actually decreased slightly over time as all traffic deaths in Florida rose at a rate nearly twice the national average over the last decade.
Massachusetts, the #1 Bicycle Friendly State, based on last year’s ranking, had only 7.2 bicyclist fatalities on average and 192 fewer bicyclist deaths than Florida in 2021. The per bicycle commuter fatality rate in Massachusetts is 2.6 deaths per 10,000 bike commuters, or about 16 times less deaths per commuter than Florida. In Massachusetts, bicyclist deaths decreased on average between 2012-2016 and 2017-2021 for all metrics that we track.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published its 2021 Fatality data on its Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST). With this initial update, we are focused on select bicycle-related data, updating the following charts:
- Figure 1.4.1: Number of Annual Bicyclist Fatalities
- Figure 1.4.3: Percent of All Traffic Fatalities that are Bicyclists
- Figure 2.4.6 – Number of Bicyclist Fatalities by State
- Figure 2.4.7 – Number of Bicyclist Deaths by State Over Time
- Figure 2.4.8 – Bicyclist Fatalities per Bicyclist Commuters by State Over Time
- Figure 2.4.9 – Bicyclist Fatalities per Capita by State Over Time
- Figure 2.4.10 – Bicyclist Fatalities as a Percent of All Traffic Fatalities by State Over Time
Look to data.bikeleague.org for additional updates on traffic fatality statistics in the near future, in addition to data on commuting, funding, planning, and public health.