Cyclist deaths are rising nationwide — here are the 20 most dangerous cities to ride a bike in

Cory Seamer / ShutterstockA bike memorial in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Biking is getting deadlier all across the US.
  • A new report form the US Department of Transportation estimates that cyclist deaths increased by 10% last year, while overall traffic fatalities decreased slightly.
  • New York City is the most dangerous city to bike in, and cyclist fatalities are already 50% higher this year than they were in all of 2018.

Biking in cities is host to a series of hazards, from potholes and ignored bike lanes, to getting doored by oblivious drivers and passengers. It’s also becoming deadlier.

So far this year, 15 cyclists have been fatally struck by cars in New York City, a 50% increase over the entirety of last year. The spate of cyclist deaths has spurred Mayor Bill de Blasio to declare that “we have an emergency on our hands.”

It’s not the only city where biking might be getting riskier. According to a new report from the US Department of Transportation (DOT), preliminary data from 2018 show that cyclist deaths are estimated to have increased by 10% last year, even though overall traffic fatalities are estimated to have fallen slightly.

Another new release published by the DOT contains comprehensive data from 2017 on both a state and city level. Here are the most dangerous cities to ride in, according to that report.


20. Louisville, Kentucky is dominated by drivers, but the city has planned a 100-mile “<a href=”https://louisvilleky.gov/government/parks/louisville-loop-trail”>Louisville Loop</a>” trail to encourage more cycling.

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Population:621,349

Total traffic fatalities: 89

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 2.20%


19. Houston, Texas voters approved a $US100 million bond-funded <a href=”https://houstonparksboard.org/about/bayou-greenways-2020″>effort</a> to create 150 miles of bike and hiking trails connecting the city’s bayous by 2020.

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Population:2,312,717

Total traffic fatalities: 245

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 2.40%


18. Albuquerque, New Mexico boasts <a href=”https://www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation/recreation/bike/bike-map”>400 miles</a> of bike trails, including an extensive network of bike lanes in the city and high-intensity mountain biking paths right outside.

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Population:558,545

Total traffic fatalities: 84

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 2.40%


17. Jacksonville, Florida has been <a href=”https://www.news4jax.com/traffic/jacksonville-2nd-most-deadly-city-in-nation-for-bicyclists”>described</a> as one of the deadliest cities in the nation for cyclists, although the number of cyclists killed in Tampa has historically been higher.

Population:892,062

Total traffic fatalities: 145

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 2.80%


16. Milwaukee, Wisconsin trails Madison in terms of cycling population, but the city was the state’s <a href=”https://bikeleague.org/content/milwaukees-road-gold”>first</a> to construct raised bike lanes.

Population:595,351

Total traffic fatalities: 70

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 2.90%


15. Chicago, Illinois has a long and storied <a href=”https://www.chicagodetours.com/biking-in-chicago-history/”>history</a> of bike advocacy; former mayor Richard M. Daley once stated that his goal was to make it “the most bicycle-friendly city in the US.”

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Population:2,716,450

Total traffic fatalities: 147

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 4.10%


14. Portland, Oregon has a larger proportion of bike commuters than any other major US city, <a href=”https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Where_We_Ride_2017_KM_0.pdf”>according</a> to the 2017 American Community Survey.

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Population:647,805

Total traffic fatalities: 48

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 4.20%


13. Sacramento, California has seen a large rise in bike commuters over the last five years, with nearly a <a href=”https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Where_We_Ride_2017_KM_0.pdf”>40% increase</a> since 2006.

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Population:501,901

Total traffic fatalities: 69

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 4.30%


12. Las Vegas, Nevada’s share of bike commuters has <a href=”https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Where_We_Ride_2017_KM_0.pdf”>dropped</a> sharply since 1990, even though Southern Nevada is home to <a href=”https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/jul/31/making-las-vegas-a-bike-town-improvements-aim-to-c/”>over 800 miles</a> of bike lanes and shared roadways.

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Population:641,676

Total traffic fatalities: 45

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 4.40%


11. Charlotte, North Carolina’s share of self-identifying bike commuters grew by <a href=”https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Where_We_Ride_2017_KM_0.pdf”>over 500%</a> in the last decade, although cyclists still only make up 0.2% of the commuting population.

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Population:859,035

Total traffic fatalities: 103

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 4.90%


10. Fresno, California has experienced a decline in bike commuters over the years, and a 2016 initiative to build a bike and pedestrian pathway has been <a href=”https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/marek-warszawski/article204039154.html”>stalled</a>.

Population:527,438

Total traffic fatalities: 61

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 4.90%


9. Los Angeles, California is a city of drivers, but the number of bike commuters has <a href=”https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Where_We_Ride_2017_KM_0.pdf”>grown</a> over the past two decades to nearly 20,000.

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Population:3,999,759

Total traffic fatalities: 257

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 5.40%


8. Phoenix, Arizona plans to add 1,080 miles of bike lanes by 2050 as part of a <a href=”https://www.phoenix.gov/T2050/Elements”>larger initiative</a> to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure.

Population:1,626,078

Total traffic fatalities: 249

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 5.60%


7. Austin, Texas is home to one of the state’s two bike advocacy organisations is considered <a href=”https://www.bikeleague.org/content/new-platinum-new-gold-bicycle-friendly-communities”>Texas’s premier city for cycling</a>.

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Population:950,715

Total traffic fatalities: 80

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 6.30%


6. Washington, DC is home to <a href=”https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Where_We_Ride_2017_KM_0.pdf”>over 18,000</a> cyclists as of 2017, making up 5% of the city’s commuters.

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Population:693,972

Total traffic fatalities: 31

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 6.50%


5. Boston, Massachusetts has <a href=”https://www.boston.gov/transportation/vision-zero”>committed</a> to eliminate fatal traffic accidents by 2030. The state’s Department of Transportation recently released a <a href=”https://massdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=c80930586c474a3486d391a850007694″>draft</a> of its first bike-geared plan in a decade.

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Population:685,094

Total traffic fatalities: 27

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 7.70%


4. San Francisco, California <a href=”https://www.visionzerosf.org/”>aims</a> to have zero traffic fatalities by 2024. Four times more commuters walk than bike, but the city is considered <a href=”https://sf.curbed.com/2016/9/19/12982284/sf-bike-friendly-city-cycling”>one of the most bike-friendly</a> in the US.

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Population:884,363

Total traffic fatalities: 25

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 8.00%


4. San Jose, California, where under 1% of the population commutes via bike, <a href=”http://www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=3705″>hopes</a> to make 5% of all trips by bike by next year.

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Population:1,035,317

Total traffic fatalities: 45

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 8.90%


2. Seattle, Washington has a vibrant bike culture and is frequently named a top city in terms of bike-friendliness — but local cyclists have their <a href=”https://www.seattletimes.com/business/seattle-named-no-1-city-for-bicyclists-but-could-they-be-priced-out/”>doubts</a>.

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Population:724,745

Total traffic fatalities: 30

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 10.00%


1. New York, New York has tens of thousands of bike commuters, and the cycling population is growing. Despite <a href=”http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/cycling-in-the-city.pdf”>over 1,400 miles</a> of bike lanes and a <a href=”https://www1.nyc.gov/site/visionzero/index.page”>Vision Zero</a> transportation initiative, biking remains dangerous.

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Population:8,622,698

Total traffic fatalities: 207

Percentage of total traffic fatalities who were cyclists: 10.60%

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