Cycling fatalities have not been this high in decades. They recently hit a 25-year high in California, exposing just how dangerous things have gotten for cyclists all over the state.
Just how high are they? Recent reports put them at 3.9 deaths in cycling accidents for every 1 million people in the state. That’s the highest that the state has seen since the middle of the 1990s.
Think about it for a moment. Cycling deaths have not reached these levels since Bill Clinton was in the White House. Friends was just starting out on TV.
It is worth noting that it has not been a linear fall since the 90s, though. Ever since about 1994, the rate dropped yearly until roughly 2005. It then rose again steeply to spike around 2006. It then fell again and continued to do so until about 2010. That’s when it started rising again, with some bumps, to reach the most recent statistics — those from 2018.
The drop in the 90s and afterward was largely due to the implementation of more bike-friendly roads. Cities began to build more bike lanes, for instance. Awareness went up among drivers. Bikes became more of an accepted part of mainstream transportation culture.
It’s easy to say that perhaps the rise in deaths recently is tied to the increase in population, but do not forget that using a rate accounts for that. It’s not just the number of deaths that have increased, but the number per 1 million residents. That way, you can compare the stats over the decades.
What is clear is that cycling is very hazardous, and riders who get hit by negligent drivers must understand their legal rights.