The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Illinois Had The Fifth-Most Bike Fatalities From 2010 To 2012

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 28, 2014 7:00PM

Photo credit: Frank Rico

As the number of Americans bicycling as a form of transit has risen, so have the number of bicycling fatalities. That’s the main takeaway from a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Between the years of 2010 and 2012, Illinois ranks fifth in the nation among bike fatalities, according to the report.

The report’s author, former Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Chief Scientist Dr. Allan Williams, analyzed fatality data from 1975 until the present to discover some astounding changes in bicyclist crash patterns. For example, cyclists age 20 and over accounted for over 84 percent of cycling deaths in 2012, compared to 21 percent in 1975. In urban areas, where cycling has long been a transit option, the percentage of fatalities rose from 50 percent in 1975 to 69 percent in 2012

Image credit: Governors Highway Safety Association

The most alarming statistic from the report is the percentage of bicycling deaths where the cyclist was under the influence of alcohol. Twenty-five percent of cycling fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired cyclist.

Image credit: Governors Highway Safety Association

But don't equate "fifth-highest" with "fifth-worst." Jim Merrell of the Active Transportation Alliance told the Sun-Times “when you break those numbers down by the number of people biking [as a whole], we’re more in the middle of the pack.” An estimated 125,000 ride a bike every day in Chicago and cycling in the city has tripled since 2000.

These numbers, whether your view of the world is glass half-full or half-empty, should prompt cyclists in Chicago to re-familiarize themselves with the rules of the road, be safe out there and wear a helmet; according to the report, two-thirds of bike deaths in 2012 were not wearing a helmet.