Minor crash statistics (Are there any?)

After recent posts about my crash in the rain and its resultant slow-healing road rash, one Bike Noob reader sent me this email:

There are few good statistics on simple-minor crashes. Crashes that involve a simple fall or losing control of your bicycle. The majority of bicycle crashes are in this catagory. I am a commuter.  I have had 11 simple minor crashes in the last 12,000 miles. One year I had only 1 crash in 3,000 miles but this year I have had 3 crashes. All of my crashes have been my fault. Usually going to fast for conditions. But, I am a commuter. I ride in the dark. I ride in the rain. I ride is some crazy traffic. Now, 11 crashes is more than I would like to have, but I have no idea if this is average. I would love to know how many simple-minor crashes other bicycle riders are experiencing.

Obviously, one of the problems in finding data like he suggests is that the kinds of injuries he’s talking about usually go unreported. We fall, we get road rash, we get back on the bike, and we don’t contact a doctor or hospital. So there’s no one around to compile data on simple minor crashes.

However, I poked around a bit, and did come up with some info:

The so-called “Moritz Study” of 1998 tallied all kinds of injuries, and concluded that 29% of cyclists reported having had some type of ‘accident’ in the study year (1996). Just over 9% reported having had a serious crash (resulting in at least $50 of property damage or medical expense) in 1996. Of these, 54% happened during on-road recreational cycling.

Only 28% of serious crashes were reported to the police.  Women have more serious crashes than men: 11% vs. 9%, and at a slightly higher rate: 29 vs. 22 per million kilometers biked.

As you might guess, the most common type of bike crash is a fall (59%). That’s followed by running into a fixed object (14%), a moving motor vehicle (11%), or another bicycle (9%).

A Consumer Products Safety Commission study in 1994 found 588,000 bike accidents requiring a trip to the emergency room.  Fewer than 3% required a hospital stay.

Streets with bike lanes, or signed as bike routes, have fewer bike crashes than major streets without bike lanes.

So, to answer our anonymous reader’s question, is 11 crashes per 12,000 miles high, low or average? The Moritz study says people reporting a “serious” crash have 1.2 of them per year. But there’s no similar stat for minor crashes.

I think I’ve been crashing at the same rate as our reader. I’ve gone down four times in the last year, over roughly 3,000 miles. All minor, all unreported.

How about the rest of you? Can you help us get a handle on whether our reader is better than average, average, or “needs to crash more”?


  1. mildstallion says

    I think it depends heavily on the type of riding you do. I generally like to ride solo out on less-traveled roads. I haven’t had a fall in 4 years – about 7-8,000 miles.

    If I were commuting in a tough city, racing, in big groups, etc., I would be exposed to more potential hazards.

  2. tracywilkins says

    I do much better than that. Last crash I had was over 12,000 miles ago when a dog ran out in front of me. Broke my collarbone on that one. Prior to that, I had two other minor falls, but that was over the course of another 6,000-7000 miles.

    Keeping my fingers crossed…..

  3. says

    I started riding again in Sept. 2008 and hadn’t had any type of bicycle accident till last Weds. I had ridden thru several “slushy” spots on the rail-trail’s I normally ride but decided to take a short cut via back street.

    It started out just like the rest, slush, which I have no problem going thru, but then it turned into solid, wet ICE! I thought I was going to make it over the ice but I was hard on the ground in a blink of a eye! It took me a minute to get up off the road, luckly the guy behind me in a van was a ways back and also a bicyclist. He got the bike off the ground for me and I slowly got up with a ringing headache and a very bruised hip, elbow.

    I took some time to recover before attemping to get back on a ride, looked over the bike, no damage. Got on slowly rode to my LBS, had them to a quick look over the bike and rode home. So I was doing pretty well “accident percentage” wise for miles traveled but I’m now another satistic, RATS!

    B.J. Ondo
    Recreational/Utility Rider
    Colorado Springs, CO.

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