Drive down the risks so we all ride home

Urgent improvements to our roads, safer speed limits and more in-depth data are all needed to help reduce the number of bike rider lives lost in Australia, a new Bicycle Network report has found.

An analysis of Australian road deaths information found that 42 people lost their life while riding a bike in 2020 and that the average number of people who lose their life while riding each year has not changed for 20 years.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said that governments need to address the risks that cause deaths on our roads.

“Everyone deserves to come home from a bike ride. Whether it’s an inner-city commute or a road ride in the country, you should be able to come through the front door with a smile on your face,” said Mr Richards.

“To do this we need to give people more room to ride on higher speed and regional roads, create safer speed limits in built-up urban areas and collect more information about the causes and circumstances of collisions involving people on bikes.”

Further analysis of information showed that the state where most people lost their life while riding a bike in 2020 was New South Wales with 14 cases, followed by Victoria with 13 cases and Queensland with seven. Most lives were lost on weekdays during the day.

Overall, older males are becoming more likely to lose their life while riding a bike, with deaths among those aged 40 or over increasing during the past 20 years. 83 per cent of people (35 in total) who lost their life while riding in 2020 were male.

While COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns changed the way we lived in 2020, many details about lives lost did not change. The total number of cases, bike rider proportion of total road fatalities and fatalities per state all remained similar to the 20-year average.

“Overall, the information shows that bike riding is not an inherently dangerous activity, but we can still do more to target the unique risks for people who ride. With the right action we can reach a point where any Australian can enjoy a bike ride on any road,” said Mr Richards.

Details in Bicycle Network’s Bike rider fatality report 2001-2020 is taken from the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport Regional Economics’ Australian Road Deaths Database.

This report is dedicated to the 744 people who lost their lives riding a bike on Australian roads from 2001 to 2020.

Bike rider fatality report 2001–2020 recommendations

  1. Expand the ARDD by making fatal crash characteristics available as open data.
  2. Develop a nationally consistent public database for road crashes involving serious injuries (AIS3+)
  3. Invest in infrastructure that separates people riding bikes from moving and stationary motor vehicles.
  4. Prioritise rider safety on high-speed regional roads through targetted infrastructure improvements.
  5. Recognise the circumstances where fatality risks are elevated for riders, and develop strategic behaviour change campaigns.
  6. Lower speed limits in built up areas and cycling corridors with mid-block infrastructure.
  7. Target and prevent distracted driving
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This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.