Pennsylvania Fatal Bicycle Accidents
In the period from 1997 to 2014, 45 people died in bike crashes in Philadelphia – Pennsylvania’s largest city. Pennsylvania doesn’t rank among the deadliest states for cyclists. It occupies the 36th position in the national chart with an average annual death rate of 1.3 per one million residents.
The number of cyclist deaths in the state was 21 in 2010. It went down to 11 in 2011, and a slight increase was registered the next year – 16. Annual reports by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation paint a more thorough picture as far as bike collisions are concerned.
Detailed Fatal Bicycle Accident Statistics
The 2015 report suggests that bicycle-related crashes represent only one percent of all collisions that occurred across the state. These have contributed to 1.3 percent of the traffic deaths. In comparison, bike crashes totaled 1.1 percent of all collisions in 2014, and they caused 1.6 percent of all deaths.
In 2015, there were 1,272 bicycle crashes and 16 deaths. This is a decrease from 1,309 crashes and 19 deaths in 2014. Data for 2013 suggests there were 1,383 bike crashes and 11 deaths, for 2012 – 1,369 crashes and 16 fatalities and finally for 2011 – 1.316 deaths and 11 fatalities.
Children in the five to 14 age group are the most vulnerable group of cyclists. A fourth of all injuries were sustained by members of this age group. Individuals in the 15 to 19 age group sustained 14.6 percent of all injuries.
Most of the deaths occurred during the day – 56.3 percent. Only 6.3 percent of all fatal outcomes happened at night. Of all deaths, 63 percent took place on state roads, and a smaller percentage occurred on local roads. There have been no reports of death on the highway or driveways.
To put things in perspective, only 1.5 percent of all bicycle crashes had a fatal outcome. In comparison, the figure is 52.5 percent for passenger cars, 47.7 percent of vans and SUVs, 16 percent for motorcycles and 11.8 percent for heavy trucks.
According to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, there are two factors that could contribute to increased cyclist safety in the state. These are better road design and having a bigger number of people commuting on bikes (the so-called safety in numbers phenomenon).
In 2012, the city adopted a Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan to create a citywide network of bicycle lanes. The project envisioned the setting up of 130 miles of bike lanes and other facilities for cyclists. Previously, Philadelphia added 200 miles of marked shared lanes during a repaving project. On top of these two initiatives, the city also has 62 miles of biking-friendly streets.
As far as the development of infrastructure throughout the state goes, the Transportation Advisory Committee has put together a bicycle and pedestrian policy overview. According to the Committee, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has improved its policy significantly since the 1990s.
A Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan gained approval in 1996, highlighting statewide improvements to encourage bicycle commuting. Implementation occurred in the following years, predominantly in 1998.
A Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan was adopted in 2000, and a mobility plan was enforced in 2006. Both of them put primary emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle planning.
A Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan set two important goals that Pennsylvania had to accomplish by 2015 – double the percentage of trips taken on foot and by bicycle and reduce the number of fatalities among cyclists.
One final policy worth mentioning is the Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan from 2013. The plan highlights the need for more investment in bicycle infrastructure.
Some of the challenges that Pennsylvania is still struggling with in terms of maximizing cyclist safety include lack of sufficient funding, local coordination issues, lack of clearly defined targets and inconsistent educational/safety awareness initiatives.