While bicycle safety campaigns often target children, adult riders face
similar risks. In fact, a new study suggests that bicycle accidents are
on the rise, particularly among rider over the age of 45.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco examined injury
data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which includes
data regarding bicycle-related injuries from 100 U.S. emergency departments.
Researchers then used data from the U.S. Census to estimate the injury
incidence across the country.
The analysis revealed that the number of traumatic injuries sustained by
adult bicyclists age 18 and older nearly doubled from 1998-99 to 2012-2013.
The severity of injury also changed. During the study period, head traumas
increased from 10 to 16 percent and torso injuries rose from 14 to 17
percent. Meanwhile, extremity injuries have become less common.
According to the researchers, the age of the bicycle accident victims partly
explains their findings. The number of injured bicyclists over the age
of 45 grew from 23 to 42 percent during the study period.
“The injury data reflect a change in the demographics of bicycle
riders,” Dr. Benjamin N. Breyer of the University of California,
San Francisco General Hospital,
told Reuters Health. “If you take a typical 25-year-old and 60-year-old and they have
a similar crash, it’s more likely the older person will have more
As the study authors highlight, cycling is associated with many health
benefits, but also with the risk of injury. While the popularity of cycling
has grown in recent years, our roads are not designed with cyclists in
mind, and drivers often do not safely share the road.
"As the population of cyclists in the United States shifts to an older
demographic, further investment in infrastructure and promotion of safe
riding practices are needed to protect bicyclists from injury," Dr.