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Hawaii is a great place to ride a bicycle. Great weather and beautiful scenery. We have many biking events like The Ironman Triathlon in Kona and many other events that fill the roads with bicycles and encourage healthy physical exercise with bikes. But there is risk in bicycle riding. I’m a bicyclist myself. But it scares me out on the roads on Oahu.

Bicycle injuries and deaths are a serious issue that to this day remain relatively unreported. However the numbers of cyclists involved in injuries and fatalities due to traffic accidents are staggering. In 1999 there were approximately 750 bicycling fatalities and 51,000 bicycle rider injuries due to traffic accidents. Of these bicycle rider injury or death, the majority were crashes involving the car making a left hand turn into a bicyclist, or a motorist violating the sign or signal and driving into a crosswalk colliding with a bicyclist.

We have seen too many deaths and serious injuries to bike riders in Honolulu this year.

Truck Driver Crosses Centerline in Ka’a’awa and Kills Pearl Harbor Sailor

The bicycle numbers may be low because some police officers do not bother to write up reports if the bicyclist is not seriously injured. Even some of the motorists that are indeed at fault are not getting written up for their actions. The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition conducted a study that contends that 75% of at fault motorists were not cited for hitting or killing a bicycle rider or pedestrian. Even more worrisome is a concern that motorists involved in hit and run accidents with bikes are not being found or charged.

Does anyone think that is happening in Honolulu? I doubt it.

In 2005 the national household travel survey reported that 784 bicyclists were involved in fatal accidents at 1.26 deaths per 10 million miles traveled. Only 0.11 motor vehicle drivers(cars, trucks) died per 10 million miles traveled. A bicycle rider is 3.4 to 11.5 times as likely to die than a cxar or truck driver per mile.

One must keep in mind however that these figures include bicycle riders who ride against traffic, without lights, or cross intersections without checking traffic. Studies have shown that 11% of fatalities on bicycles were because of wrong way driving.


  1. Gravatar for Mike Bryant
    Mike Bryant

    We are seeing increased numbers of injuries in Minnesota also. Hopefully the messages of "start seeing Bicyclists" and good education will lower those numbers. The message continues to be needed.

  2. Gravatar for Opus the Poet
    Opus the Poet

    Just what is the rate of wrecks involving cyclists in HI? What is the rate of wrecks involving motor vehicles?

    Regarding helmet usage, what is the rate of head injury for occupants of motor vehicles that are not already required to wear a helmet, compared to the rate of head injury for cyclists? Bicycle helmets are only required to prevent brain injury in impacts up to 12.5 MPH (about the speed of the head of a 6' tall person falling from a bike that is not moving), how many wrecks involve speeds faster than 12.5 MPH?

    Also reductions in the rate of motor vehicle fatalities are primarily the result of changes in the way motor vehicles are made, at the expense of both an increase in the costs of the vehicles for installing side impact airbags, and a major decrease from what would have been possible in fuel efficiency had the added structure and weight of those devices not been in place and had those engineers been working to reduce fuel consumption instead of protecting heads with airbags instead of helmets.

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