Bicyclist deaths down, injuries up

Bike route
A cyclist rides along the Jefferson Avenue bike route in St. Paul, Minn. Friday, Oct. 21, 2011.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety show that five bicyclists were killed in accidents on state roads last year. That's lower than any year since 2007. But the number of bicyclists injured in accidents in 2011 also slightly increased.

Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesperson Jessica Wiens said many bicycle accidents with cars are caused by driver inattentiveness or bicyclists who disregard traffic signals.

"The main way that Minnesotans can continue to be involved in fewer crashes on the road is both motorists and cyclists to be paying attention to each other and sharing the road," Wiens said. "Both motorists and bicyclists do take on that responsibility to be visible and be predictable to each other and follow those rules."

The preliminary numbers from Minnesota DPS show 942 bicyclists were reported injured in accidents in 2011, slightly up from the 882 reported injuries the year before. Nine bicyclists were killed in accidents in 2010.

The number of bicyclists has continued to climb in Minnesota, according to Wiens. Slightly more than half of Minnesotans now say they ride a bike sometime during the year, up from previous years.

"Bicycling has really been on an uptick in popularity, particularly for commuting to work, so right away maybe motorists weren't sure what to do with these bicyclists on the road," Wiens said. "As motorists are seeing bicyclists and driving near bicyclists, they know how to act, and they know what to do to be safe."

The afternoon rush hour was the most common time for bicycle accidents. In previous years, more than twice as many men as women were involved in reported bicycle accidents.

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