OVER AN eight-year span, 138 of 1,584 cyclists who started the Tour de France had to withdraw because of injuries — almost half from crashes that fractured their clavicle (the most common injury), wrist, hand, femur, humerus (not funny) or ribs. Sounds pretty perilous, but it’s nothing compared with the statistics in a recent Lancet article covering research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It reveals the escalating risks associated with biking, especially in congested urban centers where bike-sharing programs speed commuters to work and students to school. There were 36.5 million trips on bike-share systems last year. Consider this:
• In 2018, 859 cyclists were killed in road traffic crashes. That’s a 6% increase in one year. Three-quarters of those deaths happened in urban areas.
• From 2014 to 2017, 80,000 cyclists sustained head injuries from crashes with motor vehicles, and a staggering 541,000 bicyclists had head injuries from all causes.
• Men account for almost three-quarters of emergency room visits for bicycle-related injuries. Biking deaths are eight times higher for men than women.
• Most bicyclist deaths occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Alcohol was involved in 37% of them! Really — don’t drink and bike (or text or talk on the phone)!
To make it safe to pedal for exercise or transportation, you need to WEAR A HELMET. It reduces the risk of serious head injuries by 60%! Then, make sure your brakes work well; wear high-visibility colors; and use front and rear lights. And don’t assume cars will see you or follow all laws. Bike defensively.