Why Bicycle Deaths in New York City Are at a 23-Year High

Last year was the deadliest year for cyclists in New York City since 1999, according to new data from the city’s Department of Transportation. Most of the 30 cyclists who died in 2023 were riding electric bikes, which have proliferated on city streets in recent years. A total of 23 people died riding e-bikes, which is more than double the previous record for e-bike fatalities.

Serious injuries among cyclists went up last year as well, according to preliminary data compiled by the Department of Transportation. A total of 395 cyclists were severely injured, including 79 who were riding e-bikes. That’s about 50 more serious injuries than the previous year.

Despite this uptick, the rate of cyclist fatalities and serious injuries as a share of all bike trips has been trending downward for many years, suggesting that riding a bicycle in New York City has become safer over the long term. As of 2022, the rate of deaths and severe injuries was about 16 per 10 million bike rides, according to the preliminary data — down from about 34 per 10 million rides a decade earlier.

Historically, most people who have died riding bicycles in New York City were killed in collisions with cars and trucks on streets that did not have bike lanes, and that was the case last year as well. According to a New York Times analysis of preliminary police reports about the 30 deaths, most of the cyclists who died in 2023 collided with automobiles in areas without bike infrastructure, regardless of the type of bike they were riding.

The rise in electric bike deaths does not appear to be the result of an increase in e-bike ridership, at least not entirely, according to the Department of Transportation. And although the most visible e-bike users in New York may be delivery workers and Citi Bike riders, the majority of people who died on e-bikes last year were neither. Only one delivery worker died from an e-bike crash, according to the department, and four people died using electric Citi Bikes, according to Lyft, which owns the bike share program.

Back to top button