There are many benefits to bicycle riding and an increasing number of people in Victoria are choosing to travel by bike to work, for sport and for fun. However, the number of bike rider crashes is also increasing.
This study is a multi-year analysis of bicycle rider crash statistics undertaken using Victorian CrashStats. It clearly shows that there are distinct differences in the crash profiles of fatal bike rider crashes compared to non-fatal crashes. Across all bike rider crashes, the highest proportion occurred in urban areas, mainly metropolitan Melbourne. However, almost half of all bike rider fatality crashes in Victoria occurred in regional areas. Rear-end crashes with the vehicles travelling in the same direction were the crash type which resulted in the greatest proportion of bike rider fatality crashes. Of all bike rider crashes, more were likely to occur at intersections and heavy vehicles were involved in over a third of fatality crashes. While it is important to take action to improve the safety of the circumstances that result in fatality crashes, it is also important to recognise the enormous and increasing number of people who are injured in non-fatal crashes. Given the differences in bike rider crash profiles, countermeasures that reduce fatal crashes may not achieve similar crash reductions in non-fatal crash types. These differences need to be taken into account when considering investment in action to improve bike rider safety.
Bike rider crash analysis is an important component to understanding how to create a safe cycling environment. However, the insight offered by crash data analysis alone is limited and comprehensive data about cycling trip, or exposure data, is required to understand how changes in participation affect crash rates. Further, it is important to acknowledge that while police data provides one of the most comprehensive data sources about road user crashes, there are limitations that need to be considered.
Bike riders are vulnerable road users who, like motorbike riders, often share the road with motor vehicles. In the discussion of the findings, some of the contributing factors to the crash types are identified and solutions to address such factors are highlighted. This discussion of the findings in this report aims to improve the safety of all bike riders in Victoria, and most of the findings are likely to be applicable to bike riders in other Australian states and territories. The findings could also contribute to a safe road environment for motorbike riders, as many of the same issues affect the safety of all two-wheeled vehicles.