Bicycling is becoming more popular across the country, for commuting, exercise, and leisure. However, in the event of a traffic crash between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist, the bicyclist is the more vulnerable party and more likely to be injured or killed than a motor vehicle occupant. In 2019, there were 846 bicyclists killed in a traffic crash in the United States. In citing concern about the level of bicycle fatalities, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) identified key recommendations for improving safety, including collection of better crash data, increased training for law enforcement to understand laws designed to protect bicyclists, partnerships with bicycling and community organizations regarding safety messaging and public education campaigns about infrastructure improvements.
Historically, road safety efforts focused on changing human behaviors to prevent crashes. The Safe System approach reframes efforts to save lives by expecting crashes to happen and focusing attention on reducing the severity of injuries when a crash occurs. By understanding the nuances of bicycle crashes, transportation professionals can better address every aspect of crash risks and implement multiple layers of protection to ensure that everyone traveling on California roadways will go safely. Analyses presented in the bicycling program area include fatal and serious injuries to bicyclists, other cyclists, and passengers on bicycles. Bicycle crashes are defined as crashes where one or more victims is a bicyclist, other cyclist, or bicycling passenger.