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Staying Safe on a Bike in Los Angeles: Safety & Death Stats You Should Know

Roughly 2 percent of deaths from motor vehicle crashes each year are bicyclists. If you’re a bike rider in Los Angeles – whether you ride casually or you commute by bike or however you use it – you’re statistically in more danger these days.

The IIHS has a lot of data collected, and when you put it together, it can be a little scary…

For some hard numbers: 817 bicyclists died on US roads in 2015, an increase of 12.2 per cent over 2014, and the highest number since 1995. But while about 45,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic in 2015, there were roughly 50,000 in 2014 – down 10 percent. In other words: while bicycle injuries from accidents are down, fatalities are up.

U.S. CYCLIST DEATHS BY YEAR

Year Total
2010 621
2011 680
2012 730
2013 747
2014 723
2015 817

 

HELMET USE

According to data from 2015, 54 percent of bike deaths involved riders not wearing a helmet, whereas only 17 percent were known to be wearing a helmet. The other 29 percent are not clear whether the rider was wearing a helmet properly.

U.S. PERCENTAGES OF ALL DEATHS BY HELMET USE

Year Not Wearing Helmet Wearing Helmet Unknown
2010 69% 15% 16%
2011 66% 15% 19%
2012 64% 17% 19%
2013 62% 17% 21%
2014 59% 16% 24%
2015 54% 17% 29%

 

In recent history, the overall percentages of deaths involving riders known to have been without a helmet is falling, from 69 percent in 2010 down consecutively each year to 54 percent in 2015.

And the overall percentages of deaths where the rider was wearing a helmet has stayed about the same, between 15 and 17 percent each year.

But the number of deaths where we don’t have that data has risen consecutively each year, from 16 percent in 2010 to 29 percent in 2015. That’s a big difference.

URBAN AREAS

In 2015, 70 percent of bicyclists were killed in urban areas like Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City…right here at home. Over the last four decades, there’s been a shift from bicyclist deaths split 50-50 in urban and rural areas to now 70 percent of all bike accident deaths occurring in cities.

U.S. CYCLIST DEATHS BY AREA TYPE

Year Rural Urban
1975 50% 50%
1985 41% 59%
1995 34% 66%
2005 31% 69%
2015 30% 70%

 

WHEN AND WHERE

We can also see that peak hours for bike deaths is between 6 and 9 PM, with more deaths occurring in the summer than other months.

In Los Angeles, this starts from the golden hour when the sun sets (and drivers have to squint or block their own view to avoid the blinding light) and goes through happy hour…in short, motorists present a very large danger for bicyclists during these hours. Riders without proper lighting and reflectors are most at risk.

Finally: data shows us that 54 percent of cyclist deaths occur on major roads, whereas only 29 percent occur on minor roads.

WHAT THIS MEANS

In Los Angeles, statistically, the most dangerous time and place to ride your bike is on a major street around sundown.

That doesn’t mean you should only be careful then. Bike accidents can happen any time, any place, for any reason.

It’s no secret that L.A. has become more congested with cars in that time. And in recent years, bicycle use has risen — partly as a response to that congestion, partly as a response to the economic recession that started in 2008. Some people enjoy bicycling, some people ride for better health.

There are many reasons for taking up a bike rather than a car here in Los Angeles. But whatever your reasons are, it’s more important than ever to remain safe while riding.

So wear a helmet, get the proper reflectors and lights, and take those side streets!

And if you’ve been injured in a bike accident, call a trusted Los Angeles bike accident lawyer right away. Contact the Power Legal Group to ensure your losses are recovered and your bills are paid.