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The most and least deadly big US cities for bicyclists

People participate in the Summer Streets program free of car traffic in New York City.People participate in the Summer Streets program free of car traffic in New York City.

Lev Radin/Getty Images

  • When it comes to cyclists sharing road space with cars and trucks, certain places are more dangerous than others.
  • Tucson, Arizona; Detroit, Michigan; and Jacksonville, Florida, were the deadliest big cities for cyclists in 2020.
  • Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona were the deadliest states when it came to cyclist crashes with motor-vehicles.

American roads have become increasingly dangerous for bicyclists and others using pedal-powered transport.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US, many turned to bicycles for safer transportation and recreation, powering a bike boom in the US. In the spring of 2020, bike shops across the country faced surging demand and the country contended with a national bicycle shortage.

But while motor-vehicle traffic plummeted in 2020 as the pandemic froze much travel, road deaths of all kinds from crashes increased by 6.8% from 2019 to 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2020, 938 people riding bicycles and other two-wheeled nonmotorized vehicles powered by pedals or riding tricycles and unicycles (referred to by the NHTSA as pedalcyclists) were killed in motor-vehicle crashes — 9% higher than the 2019 figure, NHTSA reported. Several hundred other cyclists were killed in non-traffic accidents, according to the National Safety Council.

But certain cities and states tend to be particularly unfriendly to cyclists. Tucson, Arizona, was the deadliest big city for cyclists with 1.26 deaths per 100,000 people, according to NHTSA data on US cities with more than 500,000 people. Detroit, Michigan, was the second-deadliest with 1.2 deaths per 100,000 residents, and Jacksonville, Florida, was third with 1.09 deaths per 100,000.

The safest big cities for bikers and other kinds of cyclists were Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; El Paso, Texas; and Denver, Colorado, where no cyclists were killed in motor-vehicle crashes in 2020. 

At the state level, Florida and Louisiana had the highest cyclist fatality rates in the country in 2020, with 0.78 and 0.73 cyclist deaths per 100,000 residents, respectively, according to NHTSA. Arizona, Michigan, and New Mexico were the next deadliest states for cyclists.

No cyclists died in accidents with motor vehicles in Montana and South Dakota in 2020, and Nebraska and Virginia had the next-lowest fatality rates among US states.

A view from Montrose Harbor over Lake Michigan and Chicago skyline. Chicago, Illinois, United States, on October 14, 2022.A bicyclist rides along Montrose Harbor on Lake Michigan with the Chicago skyline in the background on October 14, 2022.

Beata Zawrzel/Getty Images

The vast majority of cyclist deaths — 79% — happen in urban areas, according to a fact sheet from NHTSA. And the share of cyclist fatalities is higher in the summer months, according to NHTSA. Over the last decade, cyclist fatalities have climbed slightly as a percentage of overall road deaths caused by motor vehicles — from 2.1% in 2011 to 2.4% in 2020.

There are a range of ways to measure how hospitable an area is to cyclists. The League of American Bicyclists, a national advocacy group, scores US states on their friendliness towards bikers based on a slew of factors, including infrastructure, funding, education, traffic laws and practices, policies, and planning. The League ranks Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington as the best states for cyclists, and Wyoming, Nebraska, and Mississippi as the worst.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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