Pre-preliminary 2009 Bicyclist Fatality Report

[update: this posting has been superseded — please see:

Manner and Fault in Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities: Arizona 2009

which has detailed, finalized stats and discussion]

First, some perspective: In the state of Arizona, approximately 1,000 people are killed per year in traffic collisions of all types. The number of cyclist (usually called a “pedalcyclist” in the jargon) fatalities fluctuated between15 and 36 per year over the past twenty years, with an average of about 25/year.

[as a sidebar, Arizona total traffic fatalities which have been as high as 1,293 just a couple of years ago, were down to 937 for 2008.  The exact cause of this happy trend is a matter of great debate, e.g. the effect of economic recession, and photo-enforcement. Even after this dramatic reduction Arizona roads remain significantly more dangerous than US averages ]

I have become increasingly frustrated by what seems to me to be short-shrift paid to analysis of crashes resulting in a cyclist’s serious injury/fatality, as opposed to simply tallying collisions together. For example, in the Phoenix Bicyclist Collision Summary, there are only two breakdowns in this regard: severity by time of day, and helmet usage. ( The Phoenix and ADOT reports are linked here).

So, I have tried to collect ALL cyclist fatalities in Arizona, beginning calendar year 2009, you can view the current results here: 2009 AZ Cyclist Fatality Grid. If anyone knows of a cyclist killed in Arizona that is not on that list, please contact the email address on the top of the grid.

There are a number of caveats, 1) the incidents are certainly incomplete, 2) the data reported is mainly limited to whatever was released by the police to the media.

Eventually, final results will be issued from the state, along with a county-by-county breakdown. At that point, I will “know what I don’t know” in terms of identifying incidents. Further, eventually, I would like to obtain police reports — but I am not sure if i will be able to locate them all, and cost may be a limiting factor.

Pre Prelimary Results

As of the second week of September 2010; there are 16 known (to me) cyclist fatalities in 2009. The (unofficial) ADOT count is 25, which means I have no information whatsoever on 9 fatalites that occurred in 2009.

5 of the 16 known incidents appear to be the fault of the cyclist:

  • #2: juvenile who rode out from a sidewalk;
  • #13: cyclist rode out from a sidewalk against a signal;
  • #6: cyclist is said to have “crossed” in front of traffic, and was riding erratically (though there are reportedly problems with the police report, the police report has the driver’s behavior as “speed too fast”, and a police reconstruction has the driver’s speed at 12mph over the limit of 35, yet no citation was issued);
  • #16: cyclist was struck by a motorcyclist while crossing the street.
  • #15: I also placed the Flagstaff city Truck incident in this category, the report is somewhat inconclusive and there are several witness inconsistencies. Taken together, the report and city actions imply both-at-fault kind of thing, the driver was eventually cited for a bad right turn, and the report faults the cyclist for trying to pass the truck on the right.(decedents can’t be cited).

11 of the 16 known incidents were the fault of the motor vehicle driver. You can comb through the grid — the whole gamut is there including several hit-and-runs, DUIs and whatnot. And by the way 10 of those 11 drivers have either already been cited, or indicted on criminal charges. The other 1 of 11 drivers outcome is either under investigation or unknown at this time.

It should probably come as no surprise that the modality of fatalities varies dramatically from that of aggregating all bike/vehicle crashes together… e.g. from the Phoenix 2007 Summary “…the bicyclist was listed as the primary AT FAULT party more than twice as often as the motorist”. hmmm.

So that statement, based on this data, would read something like this: “for fatal bicyclist collisions in Arizona during 2009…the motorist is the AT FAULT party more often than the bicyclist”.

Finalized 2009 Results

Finalized 2009 stats available at both the NHTSA state-by-state and FARS database, became available 9/9/2010, there were a total of 25 cyclist fatalities in Arizona. So at present, 9 unknowns are now accounted for in the grid with known dates, times, FARS case number and (usually) specific location.

As I obtain information and crash reports on these, they will shift from unknown to known.



I published this article, when i saw a write-up of a Fort Collins (Colorado) Collision summary described on cyclicious (and on treehugger), these diagrams look familiar(? maybe the Carol Tan paper?)

4 thoughts on “Pre-preliminary 2009 Bicyclist Fatality Report”

  1. Hi

    I may be teaching my granny to suck eggs, but have you seen the following articles from the IPMBA news? They cover the techniques required for correct investigation of a bike accident.

    Judging by what I’ve read of many of the collisions which have taken place in various places across the USA, many police depts would benefit from studying (and applying)them. They might also change the conclusions drawn by many of the investigators about who was at fault.

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