People Powered Movement

America’s roads are dangerous. In fact, the United States reports more fatal and injury-causing traffic accidents than most other countries across the globe. European countries consistently report low incidents of traffic accidents. Why? Many countries in Europe have fully embraced bicyclists and pedestrians.

Visit a European country and you’ll be amazed at the infrastructure. American roads are built for cars and designed for speed. European roads are built to accommodate many modes of transportation and are designed for safety.

Increased bike lanes, sidewalks, and other safety measures will not only keep us safe but also increase the number of Americans who choose to bike or walk. This will have astounding benefits for our public and personal health and well-being.

About People Powered Movement

The mission of People Powered Movement is to make America a friendlier place for bicyclists and pedestrians through united advocacy efforts. As cities and towns across the country embrace changes in their infrastructure to accommodate bikes and walkers, America will become a safer place. Our goal is to provide useful information regarding bike and pedestrian safety and create, strengthen, and unite state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations throughout North America.

Bicycle Accidents and Personal Injury Cases on the Rise

There were over 840 bicyclists deaths and almost 6,000 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. in 2016. A recent study estimates the cost of bicycle fatal and non-fatal accidents to be approximately $1 billion dollars. This includes medical costs, productivity loss, and burden on the legal system due to personal injury lawsuits.

We have spoken to various legal experts who handle these types of cases and the response is the same. “My colleagues and I have seen a huge increase in bicycle accident personal injury cases,” says Sherwin Arzani – an attorney who handles accident cases throughout Los Angeles and California. “It seems like cyclists were willing to brush off accidents or blame themselves. Not anymore. Bicycle accident victims seem to know their rights and will enforce them after being injured” states Mr. Arzani.

Leading the way in the United States in bicycle accidents and fatalities is Florida. According to the US Department of Transportation, Florida has 6.56 bicyclist fatalities. That’s almost double the next highest state. Attorney Boris Lavent, a personal injury lawyer in Miami who regularly handles bicycle accident cases, advises that speaking to an attorney may be your best option following an accident. “Given the cost, you may need to seek legal counsel if you’ve been in a collision,” Mr. Lavent tells us.

We have partnered with policy experts, advocacy organizations, cycling enthusiasts, and legal advocates to bring you data-driven information to help lawmakers at the state and federal level make informed decisions regarding biking and walking policies.

Increase in Bicycle Use & Walking Across the Nation

Across the country, an increasing number of Americans are ditching their cars and opting to bike or walk. In fact, between 2000 and 2016, the number of bicycle commuters in the country increased by an astounding 51 percent.

More cyclists have been popping up in cities and towns that have made efforts to make roads more bicyclist-friendly.

Cities with the highest percentage of biking commuters include:

  • Davis, CA (16.6%)
  • Berkeley, CA (9%)
  • Boulder, CO (9%)
  • Portland, OR (6.3%)
  • Fort Collins, CO (5.3%)
  • Madison, WI (4.9%)
  • Washington, D.C. (4.6%)

Statistics show that the following American cities demonstrated particularly large increases in bicycle traffic between 2011 and 2016:

  • Detroit, MI (1494% increase)
  • Louis, MO (140% increase)
  • Omaha, NE (258% increase)
  • Wichita, KS (358% increase)
  • Arlington, TX (201% increase)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (85% increase)
  • New York City, NY (46% increase)

Initiatives & Advocacy for Safer Streets

Many cities across the country are trying to do their part to increase the number of commuters who choose to use alternative modes of transportation. Why? Studies continue to show that when bicyclists and pedestrians have access to safe infrastructure, they embrace it.

Increased biking and walking is correlated with less traffic, fewer overall accidents, and increased health and well-being. Cities are beginning to understand that they can affect all of these changes by simply installing some inexpensive bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure measures.

Cities Responding to Advocacy Groups

After Portland, OR installed dedicated bike lanes and traffic-calming measures on its roads, the number of bicyclists in the city exploded. In fact, the changes allowed Portland to boast one of the highest percentages of bike commuting in the country.

Portland’s bike initiative was propelled, in part, thanks to a strong local advocacy campaign. This highlights the importance of organizing and campaigning for bicycle and pedestrian safety. When advocacy groups can show the city the benefits of embracing the bicycling and walking communities, change can happen.

Accidents Statistics

When there are more bicyclists and pedestrians on the road, fewer traffic accidents are reported. Since cities have begun to embrace alternative modes of transportation, the overall number of bike and pedestrian accidents has also declined. This is true despite a recent uptick in the number of fatal bike and pedestrian accidents across the city.

Bicycle Accidents Fatalities in the United States

Why is it important for advocacy groups to encourage cities and towns to embrace bike safety measures and bicycling programs?

Here’s why: Bicycle safety programs save lives. The bicyclist fatality rate has dropped substantially since cities began to designate bike lanes, provide information about bicyclist safety, and pass laws to protect cyclists.

  • fatalities per million people in the United States.
  • In 2011, the bicyclist fatality rate had dropped to 2.2 per million.

The rate of bicycle accident fatalities was literally cut in half. However, bike fatalities in the United States continue to outpace bike fatalities in countries with more sophisticated infrastructure designs.

Pedestrian Accident Fatalities in the United States

Increased awareness about pedestrian safety has also helped to reduce the rate at which pedestrians are killed on American roads. , the rate of fatal pedestrian accidents was more than 35 per million people. By 2011, this number had plunged to 14.2 pedestrian deaths per million.

Unfortunately, distracted walking practices may threaten any pedestrian safety progress that has been made over the past few decades. In states like California, where walking is incredibly popular, cities are seeing a surge in the number of pedestrian accidents and deaths. According to Richard Morse III, many of these accidents can be attributed to distracted walking practices.

Morse explains that the number of cases involving accidents caused by texting and walking has increased substantially in the past five years. “Pedestrians aren’t looking up while they’re walking,” he explains. “So many people are simply walking out into traffic and causing accidents. Safety measures aren’t effective if pedestrians don’t use proper caution.”

Hit and Run Accidents Involving Pedestrians & Bicyclists

Hit and run accidents, particularly those occurring in urban areas, are becoming increasingly more dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. New York City, for instance, reported a 37 percent spike in the number of fatal hit and run accidents between 2014 and 2016. In Chicago, 40 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents between 2005 and 2014 involved a hit and run driver.

Biking and walking are becoming more popular in cities like New York and Chicago, but these urban areas are not keeping up with the demand for safer bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. This forces bicyclists and pedestrians to share busy and overcrowded roads with passenger vehicles, putting them at an increased risk of injury and death.

While states like Illinois and New York may not have the most bicyclist and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, drivers are encouraged to exercise caution when sharing the road. Failure to use care can result in serious criminal consequences. Until urban areas can revitalize and revamp their roadways to make commuting safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, the threat of criminal penalties will act as a deterrent to dangerous driving.

Benefits of Bicycling & Walking

Why have bicycling and walking become so popular? Research shows that there are five motivating factors: traffic, physical health, mental health, social, and environmental.


There is no denying that American roads are becoming increasingly congested. Unfortunately, as more drivers take the road, fatal and injury-causing accidents happen more frequently. As a result, drivers are ditching their cars and opting to bike and walk. More bikes and walkers will lead to a decline in traffic and, hopefully, reduce the number of accidents on American roads.

Physical Health

Traveling by car can be disastrous for our health. Getting out and moving, whether on a bicycle or by foot, has demonstrated health benefits. Individuals who bike or walk regularly report lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

Mental Health

There is no substitute for some quality Vitamin D therapy. Getting your blood flowing while exposing yourself to the sun can do wonders for mental health. Bicyclists and pedestrians generally report having less anxiety and fewer depressive episodes than those individuals strictly rely on a car.


The bicycling community in America is growing. Biking is no longer just a way to get from Point A to Point B, but an opportunity to engage with like-minded people.


Ditching the car and choosing to bike or walk is especially important for the environment. Transportation is responsible for approximately 27 percent of the United States’ global greenhouse gas emissions. More cyclists and pedestrians will lead to fewer cars on the road. Fewer cars should help to combat the growing global climate crisis.

Bicyclist & Pedestrian Safety

Increased accessibility to biking and walking infrastructure will be incredibly beneficial for the public health. New bike lanes will not only resonate with experienced riders, but encourage new cyclists to hit the roads, as well. If riders of all experience levels do not understand their obligations on shared roads and fail to exercise proper caution, accidents and injuries will happen. Bicyclists and pedestrians must take the initiative to be prepared, cautious, and safe.

Bicyclist Safety

Safety Gear: Bicyclists tend to suffer serious and life-threatening injuries when they are involved in traffic accidents because, unlike passengers in an enclosed vehicle, they are vulnerable to the outside elements. Make sure that you purchase and wear any safety gear, including helmets and gloves, before hitting the open road.

Bike Maintenance: Before hitting the road, bicyclists should make sure that their bike is in proper working condition. Routine maintenance will help to keep your bike from failing on the road.

Visibility: You and your bike should be equipped with proper safety reflective devices. Consider installing reflective discs and flags on your bike and wearing reflective materials. Visibility is essential to reducing bike accidents.

Obey the Rule of the Road: Are you familiar with your city’s local bike laws? Do you know your obligations as a cyclist when you’re sharing the road with other vehicles? What hand signals can you use to communicate with other drivers? Brushing up on your responsibilities as a cyclist will keep you safe.

Pedestrian Safety

It seems as though more pedestrians are on America’s roads than ever before. Even if your town has installed sidewalks, painted crosswalks, and installed electronic signals for pedestrians, your safety cannot be guaranteed. You must be alert and aware at all times when you are walking alongside traffic.

Make sure that you understand local pedestrian laws. An increasing number of towns are passing legislation to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths. These ordinances can prohibit and/or require certain behavior. Violations can be dangerous and result in harsh fines and penalties. While cities are embracing pedestrians, safety is ultimately your responsibility.

For more information, see our benchmarking report and more information on past benchmarking reports.