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Bicycle Accident Statistics: 2023 Cycling Risks Report

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Cycling accidents are the unfortunate outcome of riding in, through and around a busy and sometimes congested world. Using a bike for commuting, exercise, in a sporting context or as a hobby is in itself good for you – with multiple physical and mental health advantages. 

The attitude of us all – you, your neighbours, your fellow road users and your national authorities – towards cycling as a pastime, a mode of transport is bound to influence the numbers of accidents occurring annually.

The global spotlight has been on data collected in the last 24 months, which follows an intense period of investment in cycling infrastructure. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, capital spending on cycle lanes and changes to legislation have all served to keep bicycles on the road.

As the density of cyclists increases, especially in big cities, there are signs that this will reduce the rate of accidents involving two wheels. Road users should slow their speed and become more aware of other road users as the space fills with more occupants. It does seem there is safety in numbers.

Accidents involving other categories of road user vary across major cities (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)

Statistics of Cycling Accidents

  • 50% of crashes are a single bicycle accident (HOPE)
  • 21% of crashes are a bicycle-bicycle crash (HOPE)
  • 34% reduction in pedal cyclist casualty rates per billion miles travelled in 2020 in the UK compared to the previous 12 months (UK Government)
  • Between 2004 and 2020, in Great Britain, fatalities increased by 5%, serious injuries by 26%, but in the same period pedal cycle traffic grew by 96% (UK Government)
  • Between 2004 and 2020, in Great Britain, the index of pedal cycle traffic rose faster than that of serious injuries and that of slight injuries (UK Government)
  • Cyclists had a 9% share of all road users for serious injuries on EU roads in 2019 (European Commission)

Bicycle vs Car Accident Statistics

  • 195 vs 4,891 – casualty rate per billion passenger miles (car occupants vs pedal cyclists) in 2019 in Great Britain (UK Government)
  • 89,331 vs 16,884 – casualties in reported road accidents (car occupants vs pedal cyclists) in 2019 in Great Britain (UK Government)
  • 1,498,000 injured in passenger cars, in 2019, in the USA, in traffic crashes (NHTSA)
  • 49,000 injured as pedal cyclists, in 2019, in the USA, in traffic crashes (NHTSA)
  • 19,203 hospitalisations of drivers or passengers, in 2019, in Australia, in road crashes (Australian Government)
  • 7,302 hospitalisations of pedal cyclists, in 2019, in Australia, in road crashes (Australian Government

Cycling Accident Statistics by Country

Bicycle Accident Statistics UK

  • In 2020, 16,294 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents (RoSPA)
  • 3% reduction in reported road casualties in Great Britain by pedal cyclists in 2020 compared to 2019 (UK Government)
  • 5% reduction in reported road casualties in Great Britain by pedal cyclists in 2020 compared to 2010 (UK Government)
The total number of pedal cycle casualties reported in Great Britain has decreased since 2014 despite the rate of cycling increasing (see below) (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)
The total number of pedal cycles travelled in Great Britain has increased in the same period that the number of recorded casualties has fallen (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)

Bicycle Accident Statistics USA

  • The likelihood of an injury to cyclists caused by an accident decreased as the total amounts of cycling in 68 Californian cities increased (BMJ)
  • 3% reduction in pedal cyclist fatalities involving motor vehicles in the USA in 2019 compared to 2018 (US Department of Transportation)
  • 2% of the total number injured in traffic crashes, on average, between 2010 and 2019 in the USA were pedal cyclists (US Department of Transportation)
  • 37% reduction in non-fatal injuries involving cyclists in traffic crashes and non-traffic incidents reported in 2019 compared to 2010 (National Safety Council)
  • $23bn cost of bicycle injuries and fatalities each year including spending on health care and lost work productivity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Bicycle Accident Statistics Australia

  • 64 pedal cyclists on Australian roads were involved in injury requiring hospitalisation per 100,000 of population in Australia in the 12 months from 1 July 2020 (Australian Government)
  • 1.2% of pedestrian injuries recorded by emergency departments, hospitals and police were caused by collisions with cyclists in Melbourne between 2006 and 2016 (O’Hern & Oxley)
  • Overall crash rate of 0.29 per 1,000 cycled kilometres of 2,038 cyclists in Sydney over a six week period (O’Hern & Oxley)
  • 46% of cyclists had been involved in at least one crash a 12-month period (HOPE)

Bicycle Accident Statistics Netherlands

  • 138 fatalities on roads on average per year from 2012-2020 were citizens using bicycles (European Commission)
  • 4,920 serious injuries involving cyclists on roads in 2019 (European Commission)
  • 17.6 billion kilometres travelled by bicycle in 2019 (KiM)
  • Since a ban on mobile phone use while cycling came into effect, handheld calls on phones while cycling has decreased from 33% of respondents to 27.7% (KiM)
  • Two respondents in total indicated they received a fine for mobile phone use in a Netherlands survey in 2019 (SWOV)

Cycling Accident Statistics by City

Bicycle Accident Statistics London (H3)

  • As a result of the increased rate of cycling, the risk of a fatality or serious injury fell by 24% from 2019 to 2020 and 30% from a baseline of 2005-2009 figures (TfL)
  • 2% increase in slight casualties to cyclists in 2020 despite a 46% increase in total cycling kilometres travelled compared to the year before (TfL)
  • 49.6% reduction in cyclist fatalities after the introduction of 20mph zones (WHO)
  • 62 injuries involving a pedal cycle and a Transport for London bus in 2020 (TfL)

Bicycle Accident Statistics NYC

Bicycle Accident Statistics Amsterdam

  • Nearly 70% of cycling accidents do not involve other road users (City of Amsterdam)

Bicycle Fatality Statistics

  • 846 pedal cyclist fatalities in 2019 in the USA involved motor vehicles (US Department of Transportation)
  • 3% reduction in pedal cyclist fatality rates in 2020, in Great Britain, compared to 2019 (UK Government)
  • 1,985 fatalities on roads on average per year from 2012-2020 in the EU were citizens using bicycles (European Commission)
  • 56% of fatalities on roads in 2020 in the EU using bicycles occurred on urban roads (European Commission
  • 68% of all cyclist fatalities in 2019 in the EU occurred in the daytime during the working week. (European Commission)
  • 141 fatalities of cyclists in road accidents reported to the police in 2020 in the UK (RoSPA)
  • In 2019, pedal cyclists accounted for 2.3% of all traffic fatalities involving other road users in the USA (US Department of Transportation)
  • In 2019, pedal cyclists accounted for 6% of road fatalities in the UK – 100 out of 1,752 (UK Government)
  • 78% of fatalities of pedal cyclists involving motor vehicles in the USA in 2019 were in urban areas (US Department of Transportation)
SOUrce: Canva.com

Bicycle vs Motorcycle Safety Statistics

  • 3,485 fatalities on roads on average per year from 2012-2020 in the EU were citizens using motorcycles (European Commission)
  • 5,051 vs 4,891 – casualty rate per billion passenger miles (motorcyclists vs pedal cyclists) in 2019 in Great Britain (UK Government)
  • 105 v 29 – fatality rate per billion passenger miles (motorcyclists v pedal cyclists) in 2019 in Great Britain (UK Government)

Cycling Safety Statistics

  • 34% of all trips in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, were made by bicycle following implementation of safe cycling infrastructure (WHO)
  • 6% increase in rate of bicycle use in Seville between 1990 and 2015 following the strengthening of bicycle infrastructure (WHO)
  • 5% increase in rate of bicycle use in Portland between 1990 and 2015 following the strengthening of bicycle infrastructure (WHO)
  • Reducing other vehicle travel speed to 30km/h proven to be effective in reducing seriousness of injury to cyclists (WHO)
  • Mandatory bicycle lights proven to be effective in reducing seriousness of injury to cyclists (WHO)

Cycling Injury Statistics

  • Between 2020 and 2021, 20,270 pedal cyclists in total were injured and admitted to hospital in England (RoSPA)
  • An increase of 1km/h in mean vehicle speed could result in a 3% increase in the incidence of crashes resulting in injury to cyclists (WHO)
  • 3.6 times – increase in risk of a collision when cycling against the traffic (WHO)
  • Between 2020 and 2021, 14,072 pedal cyclists of 20,270 in total were injured and admitted to hospital in England following a non-collision transport accident (eg. losing balance, slipping on ice) (RoSPA)
  • 21% of cyclists in a behavioural study, in the USA, admitted to using an electronic device whilst cycling (WHO)

Cycling Health Statistics

  • Cycling for 20 minutes on most days reduces mortality risk by at least 10% (WHO)
  • Active commuting associated with a 10% decrease in risk for cardiovascular disease (WHO)
  • Active commuting associated with a 30% decrease in type 2 diabetes risk (WHO)
  • Cancer-related mortality is 30% lower amongst bike commuters (WHO)
  • A shift from car travel to active travel for journeys up to 16km in length could reduce carbon emissions from vehicles by 40% (WHO)

Talking Points

Accidents involving bicycles may be unavoidable. We know that they happen every day. There are risks involved in riding anywhere. Plenty of accident statistics show that these might happen with no other road user involved.

Some accidents can be avoided. Incidents involving carelessness or recklessness on the part of anyone involved would surely back this up. The law and national sentiment towards cycling also plays a significant role in not only the number of accidents, but the range of severity too.

Bicycle accidents occur frequently around the world. The reported figures are likely to be lower than the actual number because most of the data comes from official sources like hospitals. Incidents which result in the cyclist dusting themselves down and continuing their day without any official intervention are not recorded.

Unfortunately there are many shortcomings in the quality and detail of statistics – many of the sources in this report publish what these are – because there are so many reporting bodies and parties involved. It’s therefore difficult to draw accurate conclusions and actions, especially as these stats are coming from around the world, where reporting methods are not the same.

The data support a mixed picture. The rate at which cyclists are involved in accidents is increasing. However, the reason for this appears to be that this is because more cyclists are taking to the roads these days. And the result in Great Britain is supporting the idea that the rate of accidents is increasing slower than the rate of cyclists coming onto the roads of the nation.

SOURCE: Unsplash.com

In the EU, it has been acknowledged that whilst the number of cyclist fatalities has largely stagnated since 2010, cycling’s popularity has increased in the same period. 

It’s clear that some of the statistics are significantly influenced by the reduction in other forms of road transportation between the early part of 2020 and the end of the same year. The global pandemic obviously took millions of vehicles off the roads and this skewed the results for that year. Inevitably, this made cycling safer in that period.

Some governments and local authorities will have taken stock of the increased levels of cycling on their roads and captured this information to see if they can improve their networks and sustainability of cycling in towns and cities. But then the groups advocating the continued need for vehicle transportation in and around cities will want to have their say.

The polarisation between those for and against cycling in cities will doubtless influence the decision-making made on infrastructure and the legal framework, which will in turn influence the accident rates across major cities. 

A great example is the recent changes to the Highway Code in the UK, aimed at reducing accident levels at hotspots by introducing a hierarchy of road users – from large lorries down to pedestrians.

Feedback from most road users is that it was poorly communicated and is not widely known or adopted by those who are considered the least vulnerable and should be taking the most action.

The stats seem to support the idea that improved cycling infrastructure reduces accidents involving cyclists. Both in popular cycling cities and less popular cities. A traffic company reported lower accidents in Amsterdam as a result of taking mopeds off the cycle lanes. And then over in South America, a non-cycling city like Bogota saw a huge increase in cycling participation following a structured improvement to cycling safety.

Bicycle safety plays a huge part in whether the public decides to ride bikes or not. It’s never easy to motivate ourselves to get on the bike in all weathers or when other transport opportunities are available. 

Reported accidents differ by their type in different parts of the world and there does seem to be a link between the national attitude towards the activity. Of course, where there is a greater density of cyclists, the type of accident will more likely be between two cyclists.

In cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, you are more likely to have a cycling accident which does not involve a motor vehicle than you are in London. Segregated bike lanes, investment in cycling as a transport mode and the legal framework all play a part in this.

In addition to the support network offered by city authorities, it seems that experience plays a part in reducing accident statistics. Bad weather, lack of awareness of other road users and bike lane occupants are all factors in increasing accident statistics. And also the use of electronic devices whilst riding! It was interesting to read that this is outlawed in the Netherlands. 

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