The number of bicyclists killed in collisions with motor vehicles has increased 28 percent over the past decade - from 18 to 23 deaths per year, according to a Chronicle analysis of data collected by the California Highway Patrol.Read more in the Chronicle: Bicycle fatalities on the rise in Bay Area.
That increase is despite a 22 percent drop in the number of regional bicycle accidents between 1997 and 2006 in the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. The number of bicyclists injured in accidents over that period declined by a similar amount.
"That means more of the bicyclists who are being hit are being killed," said Sean Co, bicycling coordinator for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Accidents in urban areas are most common but occur at lower speeds where injuries are more likely to be less serious. But accidents on rural roads or open highways are likely to involve higher speeds.
"Speed," Co said, "is probably the highest contributing factor in any bicycle collision that results in a fatality."
In Santa Clara County, where I do much of my cycling, there are about 100 automobile fatalities per year, of which about 4% are cyclist deaths.
Photo credit: "Car vs Bicyclist" by Allen in Nevada.