Florida Tops the List of Deadliest Places to Ride a Bike

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Photo: picture alliance / Contributor (Getty Images)

If you’re getting on a bicycle anytime soon in the great state of Florida, you may want to say goodbye to your family first. Cycling is dangerous no matter where you hit the road, but according to a new analysis of federal highway data, Florida takes 7 of the 10 top spots for biking deaths, as reported by the Guardian.

The injury law firm Bader Scott used National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data to tally the number of road accidents that killed cyclists between 2017 and 2021, narrowing the search to America’s 200 most populated counties. Florida had an unusually grim showing.

The worst was Pasco County, just outside of Tampa, Florida. Only 562,000 people live in Pasco, but the county reported a whopping 40 cycling deaths during the period in the data set. Looked at another way, for every 100,000 residents, about 7.12 of them died on a bicycle.

The only other states that made the list were Louisiana and California. Here’s the Hall of Shame in its entirety:

  1. Pasco County, Florida: 40 cycling deaths; 7.12 deaths per 100,000
  2. Sarasota County, Florida: 24 deaths; 5.53
  3. Manatee County, Florida: 21 deaths; 5.24
  4. East Baton Rouge County, Louisiana: 23 deaths; 5.04
  5. Pinellas County, Florida: 48 deaths; 5
  6. Orleans County, Louisiana: 19 deaths; 4.95
  7. Volusia County, Florida: 27 deaths; 4.88
  8. San Joaquin County, California: 37 deaths; 4.75
  9. Marion County, Florida: 17 deaths; 4.52
  10. Hillsborough, Florida: 66 deaths; 4.52

If you’re noticing a pattern, that’s because road accidents are a systemic issue. The narrative around crashes usually centers on individuals making bad decisions, but road design works like a machine that pipes drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians through it. Changing infrastructure is an expensive and labor-heavy process, but putting in the work to prioritize safety saves lives.

Sadly, cyclists share an unusually high percentage of the fatality burden. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cycling makes up just 1% of all trips in the US, but 2% of people who die in road accidents are on a bike. Every week, about 17 cyclists die on American roads. Yearly, US cycling deaths add up to about 1,000, and an additional 130,000 cyclists are injured.

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