Find local advocacy groups, bike shops, instructors, clubs, classes and more!

Find by Zip Code or City, State
Find by State
Find based on current location

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is Failing Bicyclists

NHTSA’s mission is to “save lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes, through education, research, safety standards, and enforcement.”  

Yet people who bike and other vulnerable road users, like people who use motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, wheelchairs, or other assisted walking devices, seem to be excluded from their work. We are asking for your help to make a difference this year! 

Learn More: register for our webinar on August 3 to learn how stronger vehicle safety standards can improve bicyclist safety

Here are a few recent examples of how NHTSA has failed cyclists:

Failed to include cyclists when testing for automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems in the New Car Assessment Program in 2022.

The League has been asking for cyclists to be included in testing since 2015, when comments by the League and our supporters totaled more than 60% of comments. In 2022, when NHTSA proposed updates to the New Car Assessment Program, there were more than 14,000 comments, including over 2,000 from the League and our supporters. Despite this continued and increasing interest in cyclist safety, NHTSA’s proposal did not include people who bike because “detecting cyclists is technically more challenging for vehicle AEB systems than detecting pedestrians since cyclists often move at higher speeds.” NHTSA says it hopes to have a proposal to include people who bike in 2025 or beyond.

Failed to include standards for AEB performance for cyclist safety in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2023.

Studies have shown that bicyclist-AEB systems designed to respond in the three most common deadly crash scenarios have the potential to help mitigate or prevent up to 26 percent of bicycle crashes and 52 percent of fatal crashes between people on bikes and drivers. NHTSA’s proposal for an AEB performance standard largely follows a similar European regulation, but with one big exception – NHTSA’s proposal does not include bicyclists. NHTSA instead says it is conducting research on bicycle and motorcycle AEB and a “report is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.” No timeline is suggested for when performance standards might follow.

Failed to include test of vehicles of cyclists crashworthiness in New Car Assessment Program in 2023.  

The European NCAP adopted a test that includes cyclist crashworthiness in 2023. In order to avoid including this test, NHTSA changed its criteria for including tests in NCAP, dismissing that test without naming it as “not widely accepted” and with no discussion of its merits. While testing for  pedestrian crashworthiness is a huge step forward, NHTSA has again chosen not to include bicyclists – continuing its nearly 20 year streak of neglecting cyclist safety..

Failed to include any vulnerable road users in the cost-benefit analysis used in the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requiring side underride guards for trucks in 2023.  

Large trucks account for only 4 percent of vehicles on the road, but they are responsible for 11 percent of fatalities in crashes involving cyclists. Installing side guards or lateral protective devices along the sides of the trucks can reduce cyclist fatalities by 55 – 75 percent, and pedestrian fatalities by 20 – 27 percent. The Infrastructure and Investment in Jobs Act required NHTSA to study the issue of side underride guards. In response, NHTSA released a report indicating that the cost-benefit analysis proved the benefit was not worth the cost. In reaching this conclusion, NHTSA chose not to account for the lives of cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists, and did not even discuss why the value of their lives were excluded.

Twenty years of dismissals and delays by NHTSA is unacceptable. In 2021, 961 bicyclists were killed on American roadways, the highest number in 45 years and a more than 50 percent increase since 2010. Secretary Buttigieg has called this a traffic safety crisis, but the one agency entrusted with taking action for safer roads is failing the cycling community and other vulnerable road users. 

The League has been advocating for our place in highway safety and you have been taking action alongside us – it’s time for NHTSA to listen.

Right now, we think there is an opportunity to make a difference. When the League last talked to US DOT officials about bicyclist safety, they asked who else and what other organizations supported this ask? While we have built a coalition of support, let’s show just how broad and overwhelming the call for cyclist safety is across the nation.

You can help us by:  

  • Organizations and Bike Clubs:
    • Sign onto our letter to Secretary Buttigieg asking for NHTSA to:
      • Include Cyclist and Motorcyclist AEB in the NCAP
      • Include VRU (including motorcyclists) fatalities and serious injuries into any research/ rule on truck side underride guards.