As people look for different ways to stay healthy, enjoy the outdoors and even reduce their carbon footprint, they may well choose to ride a bike. Whether for pleasure, exercise or transportation, riding a bike offers many benefits to individuals and the environment. Unfortunately, riding a bicycle may also come with a new set of risks for riders that could harm their health rather than help it.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the number of people killed in accidents while they were riding a bike jumped to 69 in 2018 from 59 the prior year. That increase comes at the same time as the state experienced a drop in the overall number of traffic fatalities. In Harris County, a total of 59 people riding bicycles lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in the five years spanning 2014 to 2018.

The tragic trend of more bicyclists dying in crashes is not unique to Texas, it seems. The Verge reported that across the United States, deaths among bicyclists in 2018 were a whopping 6.3% higher than they were in 2017. Nationwide, vehicular fatalities fell by 2.4% during this same period of time.

Many factors may play into the growing risks faced by cyclists and one of those factors may be drivers’ preference for large vehicles like SUVs and big trucks. The large size and weight of these vehicles compared to smaller sedans may result in more extensive injuries to bicyclists hit by them. Distracted driving is yet another factor that continues to plague the roads and highways in Texas.