Denver bicyclists are less likely to be in crashes but more likely to be seriously injured

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DENVER (KDVR) — Bicycles are a smaller part of Colorado’s traffic crashes than other vehicle types, but they are slightly more likely to result in serious injury, according to state and city data.

The Colorado Department of Transportation keeps records back to 2002 on the number of fatalities in the state’s traffic accidents. It groups them according to their type – drivers of motor vehicles over the age of 65, drivers at or under 65, motor vehicle passengers, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicycles.

Bicycles are the state’s smallest share of traffic crash deaths.

From 2002 to 2020, bicyclists were an average 2% of the states crash fatalities, about six times less than the annual share of pedestrian fatalities.

City data can get even more specific.

According to data from the Denver Police Department, there have been over 190,000 motor vehicle accidents in Denver since 2013. About 2,460, or 1%, involve bicycles.

This means a far different accident load per day or week.

Denver has 70 motor vehicle accidents a day. Motor vehicle accidents involving a bicycle, in contrast, happen on average about once a week.

Bicycle accidents are also highly concentrated in certain neighborhoods.

Of the bicycle accidents since 2013, just over half happen in the dozen city core neighborhoods of Congress Park, Westwood, Cheesman Park, Highland, Baker, City Park West, Lincoln Park, Civic Center, North Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, Union Station, Central Business District and Five Points.

Bicycle accidents are more likely to cause serious injury than crashes in total, but only slightly more likely to result in death.

Since 2013, only 0.2% of Denver’s crashes caused a fatality. About ten times as many, 2%, caused serious injury.

The rate of fatalities per crash rises when Data Desk only looks at bicycle crashes, but the numbers are small enough for that increase to be a statistical blip. Since 2013, 0.08% of Denver bicycle crashes resulted in a death.

Injuries, however, clearly increase in bicycle crashes.

Six times as many bicycle crashes, or 12%, lead to serious injuries as the overall Denver motor vehicle crashes.

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