According to the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), about 10% of the city’s adult residents — close to 800,000 people — say they ride a bike “at least several times a month.” Another 544,000 say they ride a bicycle “a few times per year.” No matter how often you like to ride, warm, breezy summertime is the perfect season to hit the road. However, according to a joint report on New York City bicycle accidents, it’s also the most dangerous season — and we’re right at the start of its deadliest month.
Fatal Bicycle Accidents in NYC Peak During Summer
The DOT, NYPD, Department of Parks and Recreation, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene combined resources to release a report on bike crashes in New York City from 1996 to 2005. During this time period, more than 3,460 cyclists were seriously injured in collisions, like dooring accidents and intersection accidents.
Tragically, 225 cyclists also lost their lives during the report period. Even though the yearly injury figure decreased by nearly 50% over the decade, annual cycling fatalities remained nearly unchanged from year to year.
Accidents can occur under any conditions, but some factors are especially dangerous, appearing repeatedly in high numbers of crashes. For example, almost 90% of the accidents reported took place at intersections, while nearly 95% of the fatalities involved cyclist or driver errors. But traffic layouts and driver negligence aren’t the only variables that influence the likelihood or frequency of accidents — even the time of year has an effect.
According to the report, the month of August had more cycling deaths than any other month of the year, accounting for 37% of the fatalities despite making up just over 8% of the year. Even when figures for adults and minors were separated, August still had the highest fatality totals in each age category. July followed closely behind, followed by June with 26% of the reported fatalities.
Age also seems to play a role in determining the statistical likelihood a fatal accident by month. For instance, the number of minor fatalities during June and July was nearly identical, but adult fatalities surged. The largest discrepancy happened during May, which had more adult fatalities than June (though still fewer than July), but significantly fewer minor fatalities — about the same number as March, when most people are still avoiding the chilly wind and potentially messy roads.
September and October also had high fatality counts compared to the rest of the year. September had the second highest number of cyclist fatalities overall, slightly surpassing the month of July. Fatalities were at their lowest during the months of January and February, which were also the only months during which no minors were killed.
Wednesday Most Dangerous Day of the Week for Deadly Bike Crashes
Days of the week and times of day were also analyzed in the report. Wednesday was found to be the deadliest day of the week for cyclists in New York City, accounting for 18% of the fatalities. Tuesday was statistically safest, but still accounted for 10% of the deaths reported. The report suggested that these differences were probably caused by “random variation” rather than attributing the gap to any specific factors.
Surprisingly, “When fatal bicycle crashes were examined by day of the week, no major differences were noted between weekdays and weekends.”
With regard to time of day, the report determined that fatal accidents were more likely to take place at night or during the afternoon than in the morning, despite the potentially dangerous morning rush created by commuter traffic. Specifically, fatalities peaked during between the hours of 3:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M. (38%). Another 20% occurred between 8:00 P.M. and 12:00 A.M., followed by 19% between 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M, and 15% between 5:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. The period from 12:00 A.M. to 5:00 A.M. was statistically safest, but still accounted for about 8% of the reported cycling deaths.
This data suggests the evening commute is more hazardous than the morning commute, which may be attributable to factors like dim light, driver fatigue, and drivers’ impatience to return home after a long workday, which can lead to aggressive driving that endangers cyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists.
If you were hit by an MTA bus or hit by a taxi while riding your bike, you could be entitled to compensation. The Manhattan wrongful death attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw have over 30 years of combined experience representing injured cyclists and their family members. Call our law offices at (718) 843-0300 to set up a free legal consultation.