May 19, 2023 - News

Phoenix bicycle deaths declined but still higher than U.S. average

Bicyclist fatalities in major U.S. metro areas
Data: The League of American Bicyclists via NHTSA; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

There were about five fatal bicycle crashes on average for every million Phoenix residents between 2017 and 2021, per data from the League of American Bicyclists via National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • We had the 13th most cyclist fatalities across big cities, but our rate is actually down 12% from 2012 to 2016.

Why it matters: Bicycle use exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many cities scrambling to install new bike lanes and adopt other measures to keep riders safe and encourage cycling.

  • Cycling is tied to myriad associated benefits for city residents, including cleaner air and better public health.

Tucson had the second highest rate of fatal accidents per million residents.U.S. residents between 2017 and d2021 — up 5% from 2012-2016.

  • Tucson has the second highest rate of fatal accidents per million residents.

The intrigue: Cities are grappling not just with an upswing in traditional bicycle use, but also a boom in e-bikes used by residents, tourists and delivery workers.

  • The challenge, however, is figuring out how to best integrate the zippier pedal-assist bikes: Do they belong in bike lanes with slower traditional two-wheelers or should they be among the cars and trucks, where Vespa-style scooters travel?

What's next: Cities nationwide are applying for state and federal money — including some set aside as part of the 2021 infrastructure law — to further develop their bike trail networks and other cycling infrastructure.

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