With Bike Injuries On The Rise, How Can Cyclists Stay Safe?

On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

With bicycle accidents increasing, it is important not just for cyclists, but also for motorists, to stay safe.

Bicycling is an increasingly popular activity, especially among American adults. Whether as a way to beat the traffic or stay healthy, bicycling offers numerous benefits to riders. However, as cycling has grown in popularity, so have bicycle accidents, according to a new study reported on in USA Today. Hospitals are seeing a dramatic increase in bicycle-related injuries and hospitalizations, especially among middle-aged and older individuals. With injuries on the upswing, it's important for both cyclists and motorists to do all they can to make sure bicycling stays safe and fun.

Cyclist injuries rising

The study looked at data from 1998-1999 and 2012-2013 that was collected from approximately 100 emergency rooms across the nation. The data showed that bike-related injuries had increased by 28 percent between the two time periods, from 96 to 123 per 100,000 adults. While arms and legs accounted for the most common injury types, head injuries grew the fastest between the two periods studied, accounting for 16 percent of all injuries in 2012-2013, up from 10 percent in 1998-1999. Hospitalizations also soared 120 percent, from 5.1 to 11.2 per 100,000 adults.

Middle-aged and older individuals appear to be suffering the brunt of the increase. People over 45 now account for 42 percent of reported bicycle injuries, an increase of 80 percent compared to their former share of 23 percent of all injuries. Hospitalizations for the same group also jumped 66 percent, from 39 percent of overall bicycle-related hospitalizations to 65 percent.

Staying safe

As CNN reports, those numbers should not discourage anybody from cycling, but they should remind riders and motorists of the importance of safety. Cyclists should protect themselves by wearing helmets and reflective clothing. Municipalities, meanwhile, can help reduce the overall number of interactions between cars and bicycles by building more separated bike lanes.

It is important to remember, however, that many bicycle accidents happen because of motorists who fail to follow the rules of the road. Many accidents, for example, are a result of "dooring," when a motorist opens his or her door into the path of a cyclist without checking first to make sure it is safe to do so. Likewise, a large portion of accidents are the result of cars turning into bike lanes without first checking for nearby cyclists.

Bicycle accidents

Cyclists tend to suffer serious injuries as a result of encounters with motorized vehicles. Broken bones are not uncommon and, especially in the case of head injuries, the effects of an accident may be felt for months or even years to come. Cyclists who have been injured should contact a personal injury attorney, especially if the accident may have been the result of a motorist's negligence. An experienced attorney will be able to provide injured cyclists with the representation they need and may be able to help them recover compensation.