The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has released 2009 data on bicycle fatalities, and the PCC has been investigating where South Carolina ranks in terms of these numbers. In 2009, a total of 11 fatalities involved a bicycle rider, whereas in in 2008 a total of 16 bicycle fatalities occurred. This is good news, as it means a decrease in bicycle fatalities and it nears SC standing relative to the national average. Since 2000, the per capita bicycle fatality rate in SC has more than doubled the national average six years total; the chart to the right illustrates the significant discrepancy between US and SC bicycle fatalities per capita. However, in 2008 and 2009 bicycle fatalities have been on the decline in our state.
Analyzing this data a little closer, we investigated the fatalities that have occurred in the last five years in terms of age of the bicyclist and time of day that the crash occurred. Approximately half of those bicyclists who were killed on SC roadways between 2005 and 2009 were between the age of 35 and 54. And just over half of bicyclists killed on roadways between 2005-2009 were riding just after sundown–specifically between 6pm and midnight. These facts come as no surprise to many bicycle advocates and are fairly consistent to national averages of fatalities by age and time of day. The PCC’s Vital Visibility program, in which we partner with DHEC to distribute blinkie lights and reflective apparel annually, is an effort to address the prevalence of bicycle fatalities occurring at dark.
Finally, according to the American Community Survey, bicycle commuting in South Carolina is on the rise from 2008. In 2009, %0.30 individuals commuted to work, whereas in 2009 only %0.23 commuted by bicycle. Bike commuting topped out in 2007 in South Carolina, at %0.71 mode share, which was likely a result of the significant rise in gas prices. Although bike commuting has not returned to the pre-2007/pre-high gas price level, commuting is generally on the rise in SC and is holding steady at the national level. Check out what our friends at the League have to say about these numbers and the American Community Survey in general.