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The number of cyclists dying on U.S. roadways has reached its highest point in three decades. This is unfortunate and also surprising because many of these deaths occurred during a time when communities were making efforts to make their cities and towns more bicycle-friendly.

According to Bicycling, 857 people died while riding their bikes in the United States in 2018 following an uptick in bike deaths that starred around 2011. This figure is alarming and undisputable, and many people believe the increase stems from a similar set of circumstances.

Statistics surrounding U.S. bike deaths

In 2010, there were 618 cyclist fatalities nationwide, which was the lowest number of them seen on U.S. soil in 40 years. Since then, though, the number of people dying on bikes each year has ticked upward, rising 37% over the course of nine years.

Risk factors for bike deaths

Research shows that while bike deaths, in general, have spiked in recent years, some riders are more likely to suffer them than others. Female cyclists are more likely to die in crashes than their male colleagues. Also, cyclists who ride in urban areas face a higher risk of dying in a bike crash than those cycling in less-urban areas.

Contributors to bike deaths

Many safety advocates attribute the rising number of cyclist deaths to a number of similar factors. Vehicles have grown larger and heavier over time, and this means that cyclists struck by vehicles may be less likely to survive the impact.

People are also driving more than ever and using their phones while doing so more than ever. These factors, too, likely impact fatality numbers. Many large communities also enacted Vision Zero initiatives in recent years that seek to make their areas safer for cyclists. However, many communities that were participating in Vision Zero plans have slowed their efforts due to politics or community pushback.