Shift in Analysis Method Urged in Bike Safety Studies


By Charles Pekow — The way transportation planners judge bike safety may be using the wrong criteria. A data analytics firm suggests counting the number of bike miles ridden, instead of crashes per capita, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses to rank states for bike safety.

A cyclist just after being hit by a car driver. Photo by Dave Iltis

Streetlight Data’s new Special Report: Bike Safety Shift ( says that using this new criteria makes some states look safer by comparison than the federal calculations would indicate. (Note: Streetlight Data notes that comparisons may not be meaningful in the smallest states with the fewest crashes that didn’t include enough data to make valid comparisons.)

That said, Wyoming, the least populated state, came out best because no cyclist was killed in a car/bike collision during 2018 and 2109, the years studied. Under the new criteria, Utah comes out as the 5th safest state to ride. It finished 8th by NHTSA’s method. Under the old criteria, Colorado came out as the 8th riskiest state to bike. New Mexico came out as the 5th riskiest state under both systems.


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