New York cyclists hurt 1000 pedestrians annually

But… 15 pedestrians injured by cars for every one hurt by a bike. Over 300 pedestrians are killed by cars for every one killed by a bicycle.

A recently released study finds about 1,000 pedestrians are injured each year in collisions with cyclists in the state of New York.

The research by Hunter College Professors Peter Tuckel and William Milczarski analyzed treatment data from all New York hospitals to count everybody treated for injuries after a collision with a bike. The study was funded by the Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation, which was established to encourage bicycle safety after Mr Gruskin was killed by a wrong-way cyclist.

The researchers used hospital data from New York State Department of Health to analyze inpatient and outpatient treatment from 2007 to 2010. Almost all of the 1,000 pedestrians treated were outpatient. Injured pedestrians are a little more likely to be male, and older walkers are a little more likely to need inpatient care. 55% of all patients were in New York City. In four years, three pedestrians have died after a collision with a bicycle. 1200 pedestrians have died after a collision with cars in the same time frame.

According to the study authors, previous estimates show only 1,000 pedestrian injuries nationwide. The actual pedestrian/cyclist crash rate is undercounted, as the study only counts those who visit a hospital for treatment. Anecdotally, the great majority of those involved probably brush it off and go on their way.
In spite of fears by the Gruskin Foundation that more bikes in New York streets will result in more pedestrian fatalities, the numbers have actually declined by a modest amount even as the number of cyclists has dramatically risen.

Tuckel and Milczarski’s study concludes “that government and public health officials need to pay more attention to” bicycle-vs-pedestrian safety. By comparison, over 300 pedestrians die each year and 15,000+ are injured in New York state from motor vehicle collisions. Moreover, the number of “serious” injuries — defined as “skull fractures, internal injuries, broken or distorted limbs, unconsciousness, and severe lacerations” — caused by motor vehicles is double the total injuries to pedestrians in bicycle collisions.

9 Comments

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  • andyschleckbutnotreally
    September 20, 2011 - 4:32 pm | Permalink

    i may be preaching to the choir by commenting on this site, but as an nyc cyclist, i must add that we don’t have the data on what caused those bike-pedestrian or car-pedestrian accidents. most of us run red lights (as cautiously as possible). but pedestrians also tend to jump out from in between parked cars when they jaywalk (as cautiously as possible). neither sides will stop either running red lights or jaywalking, but i can say that the biggest danger to us both is a car.

    also, the last time i hit someone with my bike was in berkeley, ca. (my apologies to that sorority girl).

  • September 20, 2011 - 4:37 pm | Permalink

    The study authors also point out that they didn’t determine cause in those accidents. But you’re right: the rate pales in comparison to the carnage created by automobiles and their operators.

  • September 20, 2011 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    • The study fails to normalize its stats with the walking population at large, so all demographic details are meaningless.  There is also no data on who’s at fault in these collisions, something that could be normalized with actuarial data.  That would be imperfect, but would at least be better than the conclusions the Gruskin Foundation would have us leap to.

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  • September 21, 2011 - 1:02 am | Permalink

    Soooo, should pedestrians be wearing helmets then?

  • September 21, 2011 - 3:26 am | Permalink

    Good question. Walking is clearly a hazardous activity.

  • Gonewest
    September 21, 2011 - 4:50 am | Permalink

    Hmm, but how do the stats look when normalized to the number of drivers v. cyclists in the city?

  • Hivemindx
    September 21, 2011 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    I found a similar study for London some time ago and as soon as I brought it up with a motorist they claimed that any pedestrians injured or killed by motorists were clearly on the road and therefore had it coming.  However I know that quite a few pedestrians are killed every year by motor vehicles that mount the footpath.  I’d love to see some sort of breakdown along those line (eg: percentage of incidents where pedestrian was on path versus on road).  I wouldn’t be suprised to find that more pedestrians are killed by motorists while on the footpath than are killed by cyclists in total.

    I agree that the data should be normalised and that’s the first thing someone will use to poke a hole in this study if you were to use it in a discussion.  However it seems to me that there are no end of stories about ‘dangerous’ cyclists in the cities but almost none about motorists.  Even if a cyclist is twice as likely to injure you as a motorist I think the imbalance in reporting shows anti-cyclist bias.  I would be amazed if after normalising the data a cyclist is anything close to as likely to kill a pedestrian as a motorist.  In the un-normalised data a pedestrian is 400 times more likely to be killed by a motorist.  What’s the modal share for NYC?  I bet it’s not 0.025%.

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