Bicycling and pedestrian statistics and facts for Missouri

Has the bicycle fatality/injury rate in the U.S. been increasing or decreasing?
For the overall U.S. trend, (U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for pedestrian and bicyclists fatalities for 1986 to 2000), see:
A similar chart, 1976 to 1998 is at
These sources have the same basic data, up through 2002, in text format:
NHTSA's Traffic Facts 2003 for the entire United States shows that 4749 pedestrians were killed (11.1% of total) and 70,000 injured (2.4% of total). 622 bicyclists were killed (1.5% of total) and 46,000 injured (1.6% of total). The total number of roadway injuries (including motor vehicle and non-motor vehicle) and deaths reported in 2003 were 42,643 killed and 2,889,000 injured. (Note however, that these statistics are based on police reports, which only report injuries in which a motor vehicle is directly involved. Many non-motorized injuries are never reported in this system. According to analysis of emergency room data, bicycle injuries comprise about 12% of Missouri roadway injuries, compared to approximately 1.5% of reported injuried according to police reports.)

All of these sources show an overall trend of a lower number of bicycle fatalities over the years.

HOWEVER--the reason for this trend is not a good one. The simple reason is that, historically, children have been responsible for the greatest proportion of bicycle-related deaths.

But the amount of childhood bicycling (and other outside physical activity by children) has dramatically decreased over the past 20-30 years. With greatly reduced bicycling by children, there have been greatly reduced childhood accidents.

Meanwhile, bicycle accidents involving adults have actually been increasing.

This trend (decreasing childhood bicycling fatalities, increasing adult fatalities) is summarized in this chart:
Bicycling and pedestrian injury/fatality data for Missouri
One problem we have in Missouri is that we do not have adequate statistics and data. For instance, we know how many bicycle-motor vehicle collisions there are, but not how many bicycle injuries there are that do not involve motor vehicles. And, even worse, we do not have a good handle on how much bicycling goes on across the state.

We have the same situation for walking--good statistics on motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians, but no good measure of how much walking happens across the state.

At a time when public health authorities across the country are encouraging cities to make their streets safer for walking and bicycling to combat a growing obesity epidemic (estimated death toll 300,000 per year in the United States--and growing), it is especially unfortunate that so little money and effort is spent making the streets safer for bicycling and walking.

As you can see in the Missouri figures below, approximately 9-10% of Missouri traffic fatalities each year are bicyclists and pedestrians. Yet only in 2002, only 1.1% of federal transportation funds spent in Missouri were on bicycle and pedestrian projects; the average spending per Missouri resident on bicycle/pedestrian facilities and safety is about $1.35 per year. Missouri spends only 0.3% of it's federal highway safety allotment on bicycle and pedestrian safety programs. See
At at time when, by any rational measure, authorities should be *encouraging* bicycling and walking and doing everything in their power to make bicycling and walking safer, they are spending almost no money.

One of the biggest reasons more people do not bicycle and walk is because they perceive it as unsafe. One reason people perceive it as unsafe is because they perceive that the authorities will not to anything to change unsafe driving habits. Or even to punish unsafe drivers who injure or kill. Or even keep such proven unsafe drivers off the streets. Or even make drivers whose careless or negligence has killed others take a simple defensive driving course before they are allowed to drive again.

Pedestrian and Bicycling-Involved Traffic Accidents In Missouri*
2000 9 killed (0.9%), 749 injured (1.5%)
2001 6 killed (0.6%), 655 injured (1.3%)
2002 16 killed (1.5%), 641 injured (1.3%)
[Note that the number of cyclists killed jumps around rather randomly, as, statistically speaking, small numbers do. No great significance can be ascribed to the year-to-year changes in such a small sample.]

2000 87 killed (8.8%), 1587 injured (3.2%)
2001 82 killed (8.4%), 1528 injured (3.2%)
2002 90 (8.3%) killed, 1483 injured (3.1%)
- By way of comparison, in the year 2000, 42 motorcyclists were killed and 1008 injured in Missouri.

- Of all traffic crashes, less than one percent involved a bicycle. Of all fatal crashes, 0.6 to 1.5 percent involved a bicycle. In 2002, there were 185,786 traffic crashes in Missouri. They resulted in 1,208 deaths and 72,599 injured people.

- About 75 to 80 percent of the crashes occurred in urban areas, and the rest in rural areas.

- About 75 percent occurred on a city street.

- More than 80 percent of the bicyclists were male.

- Traffic crashes involving bicycles take the greatest toll on young people. The average age of the bicyclists involved was about 20 years. In 2002, half of the 16 killed were below the age of 21. Of the 641 injured, 413 of them (64 percent) were below the age of 21.

- Nearly half the traffic crashes involving bicycles occurred in the three most populous areas: St. Louis County (20.8 percent), St. Louis City (14.6 percent) and Jackson County (13.4 percent). At least 4 percent took place in each of the following counties: Greene, Boone and St. Charles.

* Source: Missouri State Highway Patrol

Court cases involving bicyclists or pedestrians injured or killed by motorists
* A bus driver drove through a crosswalk while turning through an intersection. The bus struck Susie Stephens, who was crossing in the crosswalk, knocking her under the rear wheels of the bus and crushing her to death.
Result: Failure to yield, $500 fine. 4 driver's license points.

* A man was fumbling around trying to find something on the floor of his pickup when he drove off onto the shoulder of a road on a bright, clear, sunny day when he rammed into and killed bicyclist Michael Brady, who was riding on the wide shoulder. The driver had 19 convictions for speeding and other driving violations between 1986 an d 1999.

Result: 1 year suspended sentence, 2 years probation. License revoked for one year. Driving school required. (Much of this not required by the law, but at judge's discretion.)

* A woman sped through a School Zone, illegally changed lanes to pass other cars stopped at a crosswalk, and then ran over UMKC student Pei Chen in a crosswalk, killing her.
Result: Misdemeanor charge, a slap on the wrist. 4 driver's license points (same as driving through a stop sign twice).

Other recent cases that come to mind in the St. Louis area are a cyclist stopped to make a left-hand turn who was hit by a motorist swinging wide to make a turn (result: no ticket written for the driver), a cyclist who was assaulted on more than one occasion by students hanging out the windows of school buses passing too closely (result: school bus company took no action), and a cyclist who was run off the ride by a motorist while riding in a park (result: motorist charged with assault for pulling a knife, but no consequences for attempted homocide by vehicle).