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What state has the most bicycle deaths every year? Ours!

bicyclecrash.JPGIt's not a big surprise that California leads the nation, year after year, in bicycle fatalities. We have the most people. We have more bicyclists. We have the most miles of roads and highways of any other state. And we know that the car is king in California.

The most recent statistics show California averaging 113 deaths per year. The next highest bike fatality state is Florida with 110.

(Florida actually has the worst record, if you look at deaths per million of population. The safest is Maine, averaging only one fatality annually.)

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that adult men account for three out of every four cyclist deaths. Boys age 20 or younger make up 14 percent of cyclist fatalities. Adult females constitute 10 percent of fatalities. Girls 20 or younger account for only 2 percent. As might be expected, more death occurred in cities than outside cities.

Safety note: in 65 percent of bike fatalities, riders were not wearing helmets.

The surge in bike deaths might be explained by an increase in the number of bicyclists. Unfortunately, no reliable stats exist on whether more bicycles are actually on the road.

Stereotypes challenged

A common stereotype of bicyclists is that they are young white hipsters wearing spandex clothing. But the GHSA's numbers show that more and more people are using bikes as basic transportation, to get them to and from work or school.

U.S. Census Bureau figures show that across the nation and especially in sunny climates like California's, most bikers are in lower-income brackets.

These people are not biking to make an environmental statement or for the exercise of it. Minority people and immigrants are as likely to ride bikes as anyone - to get where they are going.

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