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10 Riskiest and 10 Safest States for Bicyclists Identified by StreetLight Data

New data compares bicycle crashes to bicycle ridership across the US 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, bike riding found new peaks in popularity across America. Bicycle safety is also now a top priority for many states as people welcome the annual “bike season,” and begin to traverse U.S. streets and roadways en masse once again. To shed data-driven light on this important topic, StreetLight Data, Inc. (StreetLight), the leader in Big Data analytics for mobility, today unveiled its unique Bike Safety Shift: Top 10 Riskiest States report. In its analysis, StreetLight Data highlights the top 10 riskiest and top 10 safest states for cyclists.

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StreetLight’s analysis includes a new Metric, fatalities per bicycle miles traveled (BMT), rather than the historical standard: fatalities per capita. This methodology contrasts findings issued by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which tracks cycling fatalities and ranks states by fatal crashes per capita. StreetLight Data’s cycling-centric analytics was developed to create a more actionable context for bicycle safety data.

“It doesn’t make sense to measure bike risk per-capita data when not everyone in the state rides bikes,” said Laura Schewel, CEO and co-founder of StreetLight Data. “Because of the availability of Big Data, we can for the first time measure bike risk per mile biked nationwide , and even compare areas to each other. As budgets are passed and projects are planned, the new data can help better inform planners and other officials as they prioritize where to invest to improve safety.”

For its analysis, StreetLight used de-identified and aggregated Location-Based Services (LBS) and GPS data. StreetLight’s proprietary machine-learning algorithms then sorted these data into trip activity by various modes, including vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian. The contextual analysis performed by StreetLight’s changes which states are perceived to be the most dangerous, and the safest, for cyclists.

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StreetLight Data’s Top 10 Riskiest States for Bicyclists

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When recasting national rankings by bicycle miles traveled, Colorado and Indiana drop out of the Top 10 most dangerous states for cyclists and are replaced by newcomers Mississippi, and West Virginia. The new ranking also reshuffles the other eight states, which is good news for Florida, California, Arizona, and Louisiana. 

  1. Delaware (#2 on FARS* per capita report)
  2. South Carolina (#4 on FARS)
  3. Florida (#1 on FARS)
  4. Louisiana (#3 on FARS)
  5. New Mexico (#5 on FARS)
  6. Oklahoma (#9 on FARS)
  7. Mississippi (Not in the FARS top 10)
  8. West Virginia (Not in the FARS top 10)
  9. Arizona (#7 on FARS)
  10. California (#6 on FARS)

* FARS = Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System

StreetLight Data’s Top 10 Safest States for Bicyclists

As for lower-risk states, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico remain in the same position on both the FARS per-capita-based list and StreetLight’s BMT-based list. . West Virginia, North Carolina, and Mississippi are in the mid-to-upper range of per-capita rankings, but recasting by BMT reveals much higher risk for cyclists. (Note, for statistical purposes, this list does not include states with fewer than five fatalities in 2018 and 2019 combined.)

  1. Massachusetts (#1 on FARS per capita report)
  2. New York (Not in the FARS top 10)
  3. Illinois (#7 on FARS)
  4. Pennsylvania (#4 on FARS)
  5. Utah (#8 on FARS)
  6. Tennessee (#2 on FARS)
  7. Minnesota (Not in the FARS top 10)
  8. Missouri (#5 on FARS)
  9. Arkansas (#3 on FARS)
  10. Washington (Not in the FARS top 10)

For further relevance, planners can combine StreetLight’s Bicycle Origin-Destination (O-D) or Zone Activity Metrics with safety data to identify heavily traveled cycling areas that lack existing Infrastructure. The data can also help pinpoint optimal areas for safety measures. Combining StreetLight’s cycling analytics with local insights creates a richer perspective on bike safety, and helps planners prioritize where to invest.

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