Who Causes Cyclists’ Deaths?

Via Freakonomics:

When it comes to sharing the road with cars, many people seem to assume that such accidents are usually the cyclist’s fault — a result of reckless or aggressive riding. But an analysis of police reports on 2,752 bike-car accidents in Toronto found that clumsy or inattentive driving by motorists was the cause of 90 percent of these crashes. Among the leading causes: running a stop sign or traffic light, turning into a cyclist’s path, or opening a door on a biker. This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise: motorists cause roughly 75 percent of motorcycle crashes too.

This data, from David Tomlinson in Toronto, analyzed 2,572 cyclist/motorist collisions from 1997-1998 and found that cyclists were at fault less than 10% of the time.

The Project Freeride site also shows data that illustrates cyclists safety in numbers.  This figure depicting cycling ridership in the Netherlands from 1980-1998 shows a huge correlation between increased ridership and fewer fatal accidents.

A 30% increase in cycle traffic is associated with a two- third reduction in risk, e.g. a decrease of the total number of fatal cycling accidents


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One thought on “Who Causes Cyclists’ Deaths?

  1. Leslie Couture says:

    I have been in two bad accidents involving other vehicles: The first by someone driving a truck and the other by another cyclist. The driver of the vehicle was running a light. The cyclist was passing on a curve in a heavily wooded area. He was also listening to music. Both lessons happened when I was rather new at cycling. I have since learned to anticipate bad decision making on the part of others – which kind of takes the pleasure away from cycling – except for those times of freedom when you manage to find yourself riding in the middle of the night and have the city streets alone to yourself, or out on one of the few country roads left. On second thought, there’s still early Sunday mornings….

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