The big story out today is that year-to-year bicycle fatalities are up 8.7% from 2010 to 2011
Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949, federal safety officials said Monday.
Overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent, to 32,367. The decline came as the number of miles driven by motorists dropped by 1.2 percent.
There were a total of 677 pedalcyclist fatalities in 2011, up from 623 in 2010. But 677 is still the 5th least deadly year out of the last 30. So, they're ignoring the larger trend.
This kind of fluctuation is pretty common. There was an even bigger spike in 2004, when bicycle fatalities went up more than 15%. In 2009 they dropped by 12%. There were still 109 fewer fatalities in 2011 than in 2005, the recent highpoint. Statistically, we were probably due for a correction. The data is a bit noisy, but the general trend is down, even as bicycling miles appear to be going up.
The increase in bicycle deaths probably reflects more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure, said Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies.
Washington, D.C., for example, reports a 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004. The city also tripled its bike lane network during the same period.
“Our culture is beginning to move away from driving and toward healthier and greener modes of transportations,” Adkins said. “We need to be able to accommodate all these forms of transportation safely.”
And furthermore, while deaths are up 8.7%, injuries are down 7%. So even this year's data is a mixed bag. If the upward trend in fatalities continues, then that is something that should generate concern, and 677 fatalities is still to many, but I'm not sure how much can be drawn from one year's data.