Arizona is the third most dangerous state for bicyclists
New research has revealed that Arizona is the third most dangerous state for cyclists, after Florida and Louisiana, respectively.
The research by personal injury law firm Dolman Law studied data over 10 years from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see which states had the highest percentage of bicyclist deaths according to the population.
Arizona comes in third, with 3.69 deaths per 100,000 people, due to 265 fatalities between the start of 2010 and the end of 2019, which is 57% higher than the national average. In Arizona, it is legal for bicyclists to share traffic lanes with motorists. However, each city in the state is allowed to determine its own bike laws.
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The analysis revealed that between 2010 and 2019 a total of 1,341 people were killed in cyclist accidents in Florida, which when compared to the state’s population, equates to 6.18 deaths per 100,000 people in the state – the highest rate in the nation, and 162% higher than the national average.
Florida’s total number of cyclist fatalities makes up 17.4% of all American cyclist deaths from 2010-2019, and the Sunshine State has the second highest number of cyclist deaths per year, almost the same numbers as California, despite having just over half the total population in comparison. New bicycle safety laws came into effect in Florida last year, and although it ranks high for infrastructure and funding, many areas still require bicyclists to cross dangerous high speed roads in order to travel.
Louisiana sits in second place, with 210 bicyclist deaths in the ten year period, which equates to 4.5 bicyclist deaths per 100,000, 91% higher than the national average. Louisiana’s neighbors Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi all have rates below the national average. The state spends a comparatively low amount of funding on bike safety projects, with a report from the League of American Bicyclists ranking Louisiana grade D for infrastructure and funding for bike safety.
Delaware is the fourth most dangerous state for bicyclists, with 3.51 deaths per 100,000. Despite introducing laws to better equip bicyclists, and ranking third best for federal spending on biking and walking, Delaware’s bicyclist fatalities are some of the highest of all states in relation to its population, 49% higher than the national average. Even after introducing the Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act in 2017, bicyclist deaths have risen higher.
South Carolina ranks in fifth place, as the state has 3.5 deaths per 100,000 after 178 total bicyclist fatalities between 2010 and 2019. Throughout the 10 year study, the state has seen the average number of bicyclist deaths rising each year. In South Carolina, bicyclists must use dedicated bicycle lanes, however bicyclists must ride as close to the right side of the road as possible if there is no bicycle lane present or if there is only an adjacent recreational bicycle path available.
At the other end of the scale, Nebraska is the safest state for bicyclists, after recording only 15 fatalities in 10 years. This equates to the state having 0.78 deaths per 100,000 people, even though the state is not seen as particularly bike-friendly in comparison to others. While in most cases the state grants bicycles with the same rights as vehicles, Nebraska has been rated last or near-last for funding and planning by the League of American Bicyclists. The state has adopted the Safe Passing Law but is missing key policies such as the Complete Streets policy and Idaho stop law.
California is ranked sixth most dangerous state for bicyclists. While the Golden State contributes the highest number of total bicycle fatalities out of any other state in America (1,355 in ten years), it ranks in sixth place as it has 3.42 deaths per 100,000, 45% higher than the national average. While California is regarded as a bike-friendly state due to its programs, education, planning and widespread ridership compared with other states, the safety figures place California as the sixth most dangerous for bicyclists. Most bicyclist deaths in America happen in California, making up 17.5% of the national total. Bicyclist fatalities in Florida and California combined make up over one third of the total bicyclist deaths in America.
New Mexico comes in seventh place, with 2.91 bicyclist deaths per 100,000 and 61 deaths in total, 23% higher than the national average. New Mexico, compared to other states, does not currently have strict laws in place that protect people who ride bikes. New Mexico’s Department of Transportation has invested in the New Mexico Prioritized Bicycle Network Plan and the Rio Grande Trail Master Plan in 2018. However the state lags behind others in terms of formal legislation and education.
Michigan is eighth, with 2.55 bicyclist deaths per 100,000 people and 255 bicyclist deaths over the decade. With its history as the heart of the American auto industry, ridership numbers are middle of the road. The Great Lakes State does have a cycling culture, with plenty of scenic routes and nature trails, and also hosts the biggest mountain bike races in America. Michigan has incorporated bike safety policies into regional planning and has passed laws that protect bicyclists on the road, such as the Safe Passing Law and Complete Streets policy. However, distracted driving laws only prohibit drivers from using a device in a person’s hand or lap. This means that drivers can still use hands-free devices to text, which can result in crashes due to distracted driving.
Colorado is ranked the ninth most dangerous state to be a bicyclist, with 2.42 deaths per 100,000 people and 138 deaths in total. Colorado has been a leader in terms of policy and legislation, and has taken action to prioritise bicyclists. Alongside adopting key safety policies, Colorado has a regional bike plan and is awarding grants to state communities to fund bicycle-friendly projects in an effort to improve safety and reduce emissions. A bicyclist in Colorado is also defined as a Vulnerable Road User (VRU), which provides legal protection to bicyclists. Even with these measures in place, the average number of bicyclist fatalities per year has risen across the 10 year period, signifying just how dangerous biking in the mountainous state can be.
Rounding off the list at number 10 is Nevada. Nevada has 2.27 bicyclist deaths per 100,000 people due to 69 bicyclist deaths in the 10 year period. Nevada has a historic bicycling culture that dates back to early settlement and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, for the most part. Some key bicycle safety laws have been incorporated, and a statewide bike plan has been introduced. However, Nevada does not forbid riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the state does not require bicyclists to wear helmets. While the state’s Department of Transportation has made efforts to improve bicycle safety, federal spending on biking remains one of the lowest in America.
Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson from Dolman Law said: “As local and national governments promote greener solutions and alternative transportation methods, biking is becoming an increasingly popular method of how we get around. As more of us take up biking, whether it’s to go to work, for leisure or to spend time with our families, we should pay attention to the safety figures and laws that protect us and our children. These findings show that Florida is the most dangerous state for bicyclists, and the state’s Department of Transport has taken significant action to improve the safety of its bicyclists, including reporting a zero fatality and serious injury traffic safety target. However the high number of bicyclist fatalities, which is still growing each year, shows that there is still more work that needs to be done to make traveling safe. While some states have taken comprehensive measures to make bicycling a viable method of transport, others still have a long way to go before bicycling can be a safe option for people of all ages.”
The research was conducted by Dolman Law Group, which is an award winning personal injury and civil trial law firm.