Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Some bike crash stats and common biking errors

According to the League of American Cyclists (League Cycling Instructor Manual version 2/14/05), and somewhat surprisingly, 83% of all bike crashes do not involve cars. Falls due to loss of control, flats, mechanical failure or hazards constitute 50% of all crashes, bike vs bike crashes 17%, dog vs bike crashes 8% and other crashes 8%.

Among cyclist vs motorist crashes, the causes are varied:
  • Wrong side of the street riding -- facing traffic (14%, cyclist at fault)
  • Left turn in front of the bicyclist (13%, motorist at fault)
  • Right turn in front of the bicyclist (11%, motorist at fault)
  • Left turn from the right side of the road (11%, cyclist at fault)
  • Failure to yield from driveway (9%, cyclist at fault)
  • Running a stop sign or signal (8%, cyclist at fault)
  • Running a stop sign or signal (8%, motorist at fault)
  • Error while overtaking (8%)
  • Opening a car door in the path of the bicyclist (7%, motorist at fault)
  • Failure to yield from driveway (6%, motorist at fault)
  • Bicyclist swerves in front of a car (5%, cyclist at fault)
  • Motorist doesn't see bicyclist (3%)
  • All others (5%)

After a car hit rider Felix Sellier, 1920 Tour de France
(uploaded to Flickr Commons by Nationaal Archief)
Surprisingly, car vs cyclist collisions make up only 17% of all bike crashes!

During group road rides with our participants (mostly 10-14 years old), we've definitely noticed some common mistakes that have led to some close calls (and a few accidents). Avoiding these common mistakes (and reminding others) helps to keep everyone safe -- here goes:
  • Riding too close to the road lip between the road and the gravel shoulder resulting in lose of control as the front wheel crosses the lip.
  • Loss of control and crashing as the front wheel crosses into a gravel or sandy shoulder. This risk happens most often with narrow tire road bikes.
  • Riding too close to the rider in front so as when the front rider slows down or brakes the following rider slams into the front rider.
  • Not understanding that all passing of other riders happens on the left so forward riders get startled as a rider unexpectedly passes on the right.
  • The front tire of a rear cyclists crossing into the rear tire of the forward cyclist resulting in the rear cyclists bike going down. Never ride with the possibility of wheels touching.
  • Hitting mailboxes with a fist causing erratic bicycle movements followed by crashing.
  • Pulling out into traffic without checking for fellow cyclists and/or cars behind resulting in following cyclists and cars having to jam on their brakes.
What are some other common mistakes you have noticed among group bicycle riders?


  1. being in a group ride i have noticed that cyclists sometimes try to 'pull of tricks' which resolves into a crash

  2. We had a rider fall last Sunday as his front tire went flat. He went to turn in to the shoulder and lost control. Fortunately it was at low speed and he did not get hurt.

    Another accident we had was a situation where a car coming towards us moved into our lane as it was passing pedestrians. The lead rider braked hard, and other riders piled into him. Verbal communication, yelling braking, might have helped, although much of the blame goes to the driver of the car creating an unsafe situation.

    There was a rider hurt last year by hitting a long narrow crack in the road and losing control. This was at dusk, and the rider did not have a light.

    Crossed wheels is probably the most common preventable accident.