2022 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheet: Bicycle Safety

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. In 2020, there were 938 bicyclists killed in a traffic crash in the United States. American Indian/Alaska Native persons had the highest per capita rate of bicyclists deaths, followed by Black and Hispanic persons; the differential was smaller than for other categories of traffic deaths by race.

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. 

The United States Department of Transportation uses the Safe System Approach to work towards zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries. The Safe System Approach recognizes that people may make unsafe decisions and designs a system with many redundancies in place to protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable road users. The Federal Highway Administration names safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care as key elements of a Safe System. These elements together create multiple layers of protection to improve safety. 

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. 

Garrett Fortin
Jill F. Cooper
Publication date: 
September 12, 2022
Publication type: 
Fact Sheet