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11 Reasons Why Bicycling in the U.S. Is Exceptionally Dangerous

11 Reasons Why Bicycling in the U.S. Is Exceptionally Dangerous
AP Photo/Peter Dejong

It’s great for the environment. It’s salubrious. And it’s good, clean fun.

However, how safe it is varies considerably from country to country, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the club of the world’s more developed nations. And of the OECD’s 34 members, Americans are not only among the world’s least avid cyclists; they are also among the most likely to get killed. Here are a few interesting—if morbid—takeaways. Pedal safely!

OECD

  • Roughly “17% of all cycling fatalities were involved in a hit-and-run crash in which one (or several) of their crash opponents fled the scene (2005-2011, FARS) – presumably the motorist(s). This is nearly four times the rate of hit-and-run involvement for all recorded traffic fatalities over the same period in the United States (4%).”
  • “Investigating officers on the scene of fatal bicycle crashes in the United States found no contributory factor on the part of the motorist in 46% of cases.”
  • “An overwhelming majority of fatal bicycle crashes occur in dry or clear atmospheric conditions – 94% in the USA and 87% in Europe.”
  • “One quarter of (deceased) cyclists for which an alcohol test was performed returned blood alcohol values above 0.08 mg/ltr which constitutes a drink-driving offense in all 50 US states.”
  • “In the United States, most fatal bicycle-vehicle collisions involved a passenger car or light truck  (Sports Utility Vehicle) though 10% of fatal bicycle collisions involved a large truck.”

OECD

  • “In the United States, 36% of all fatal bicycle crashes for the period 2005-2011 occurred in junctions with another 4% in driveways (commercial and private) most likely caused by entering or exiting motor vehicles.”
  • “In the United States, the share of fatal bicycle crashes occurring in low-speed zones was lower than in Europe – possibly because low-speed traffic calmed zones are relatively less common in the United States.”
  • “In the United States, 27% of deceased cyclists for which helmet use was recorded wore helmets in 2010 and 2011.”
  • “Red light running by cyclists … is an often-cited contributory factor in fatal and serious injury bicycle crashes (at least in the United States).”
  • “Motorists were charged with traffic violations in nearly one third of all fatal bicycle crashes and investigating officers identified a crash-contributing factor on the part of the motorist in over half of all fatal bicycle crashes.”
  • “Data from the United States indicate that cyclists were imputed with an improper action in 68% of fatal bicycle crashes (though, as noted earlier, this may be biased as the cyclist was not able to give their version of events).”

This post originally appeared on Quartz. More from our partner site:

Top Image: In Amsterdam, cyclists find safety in numbers (AP Photo/Peter Dejong).

Keywords: Bicycle Safety, Bicycle

Matt Phillips writes about finance, markets and economics for Quartz. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for seven years, most recently covering the aftermath of the Great Recession and the relentless descent of U.S. interest rates. All posts »

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