Pedal Power: US Bicycle Injury Rates

Bicycle injuries may be increasing as more people ride for health, transportation


Cycling is a popular form of recreation among people of all ages, but it's not without its risks.

A new study from the University of California at San Francisco, which looked at data on cycling injuries from emergency rooms across the US, found that bicycle injuries have been increasing in recent years.

"As the population of cyclists in the United States shifts to an older demographic, further investments in infrastructure and promotion of safe riding practices are needed to protect bicyclists from injury," wrote lead study author Benjamin N. Breyer, MD, an associate professor of urology at the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues.

According to Dr. Breyer and team, many minor bicycle accidents go unreported.

Because of this, these researchers used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). The data included bicycle-related injuries only in people age 18 or older.

Between 1998 and 2013, injuries increased by 28 percent and hospital admissions increased by 120 percent.

Most of the injuries occurred among men and adults older than age 45.

For people older than 45, injuries increased by 81 percent. This age group was also the most likely to be admitted to the hospital.

"These injury trends likely reflect the trends in overall bicycle ridership in the United States in which multiple sources show an increase in ridership in adults older than 45 years," Dr. Breyer and team wrote. "Other possible factors contributing to the increase in overall injuries and hospital admissions include an increase in street accidents and an increase in sport cycling associated with faster speeds."

This study was published Sept. 1 in the journal JAMA.

No funding sources or conflicts of interest were disclosed.