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Bicyclist deaths in Michigan went up in 2020 and never came back down, an advocacy group says

Largely monochrome photo of what appears to be an unpainted aluminum bicycle with a front basket and a drop bar
Kowit Phothisan

The League of Michigan Bicyclists warns that bicyclist deaths in the state have stayed high since the first year of the pandemic.

The League of Michigan Bicyclists says the number of bicyclists killed by cars rose dramatically in the first years of COVID-19 and has remained troublingly elevated ever since.

The League says fatal car-bike crashes rose from 21 in 2019 to 38 in 2020, an increase of about 80%.

Matt Penniman works on bike safety legislation for the group. He met earlier this month with the advocacy group Bike Friendly Kalamazoo.

“Bicycling safety in Michigan and nationwide really is not in a great place right now. We are in the middle of a road safety crisis, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Penniman said nationally, the number of fatal bike-car crashes trended downward from the mid-1970s until 2010, but has steadily crept up since.

“It's unfortunately climbed back up. And we are now again over 950 bicyclist fatalities per year across the whole United States.”

Penniman said the numbers for 2022 aren’t likely to be much better.

“We don’t have official numbers for 2022 yet, but from what we’ve heard it still looking pretty bad.”

Penniman said the unofficial figure is 35 deaths last year. But he also said there is hope if the transportation budget passed by the Michigan House also passes the Senate. It includes five million dollars for bike and pedestrian infrastructure safety.

Leona has worked as a journalist for most of her life - in radio, print, television and as journalism instructor. She has a background in consumer news, special projects and investigative reporting.