Cyclist Injuries Declined More in Cities With Bike-Share Than Without It

In five cities with bike share, head injuries and injuries of all types decreased. Image: Public health researcher Kay Teschke
In five cities with bike-share, both head injuries and injuries of all types decreased more than in cities without bike-share. Graph: Kay Teschke

Last week, some very exciting new research was released, showing a significant drop in cyclist injuries in cities that launched bike-share systems. Unfortunately, the authors and many media organizations, like the Washington Post, overlooked that remarkable finding, and instead focused on one statistic that fails to tell the overall story: the proportion of cyclist injuries that are head injuries.

We wrote about the new study and the response from public health researcher Kay Teschke in detail last week. Today, Richard Masoner at Network blog Cyclelicious shares the above graph from Teschke, which clearly shows the more promising safety records in cities with bike-share. He explains:

For bike share cities in the two years before implementation of bike share, the researchers counted an average of 438 non-head injuries and 319 head injuries each year. This adds up to the 42% of injuries are head injuries as reported in the WaPo, NPR, and in the press release.

For the year following implementation of bike share, those numbers are 272 for non-head injuries and 273 head injuries.

So yeah, head injuries now make up 50% injuries, but everybody has missed the real story: A DRAMATIC DECLINE IN BOTH HEAD INJURIES AND TOTAL INJURIES after bike share programs have been implemented.

Furthermore, the number of “moderate to severe” head injuries also dropped in these cities by 27%, from 162 per year to 119 per year.

Here’s the data as graphed from the study data that includes the control cities [above]. You’ll see the control cities changed very little, while the total injuries, head injuries and moderate-to-severe head injuries all dropped after bike share began.

Given these results, the conclusion that “steps should be taken to make helmets available” for bike share systems doesn’t follow. Maybe helmets would have reduced the total number of head injuries, but this study doesn’t illustrate that at all.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Urban Cincy considers how to define and quantify “urbanity” in cities. Bike Walk Lee shares a news article detailing the perilous conditions faced by cyclists in southwest Florida. And Bike Delaware reports that Governor Jack Markell signed a bill recently making cycling the official state sport.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

WaPo Is Wrong: Head Injuries Are Down, Not Up, in Bike-Share Cities

|
A Washington Post headline proclaimed today that cyclist head injuries have increased in cities with bike-share systems, based on a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. But University of British Columbia public health professor Kay Ann Teschke is challenging that conclusion, pointing out that the data cited by the WaPo actually leads to […]

Study: Streetcar Tracks and Bicycling Don’t Mix

|
A new study out of Toronto confirms what cyclists in many U.S. cities have found out the hard way: Streetcar tracks can be a serious safety hazard. The study comes from Canadian public health researcher Kay Teschke, who specializes in bike issues. Michael Andersen at BikePortland reports: Among bike-related injuries in Toronto that resulted in emergency-room trips, the study […]

More Evidence That Helmet Laws Don’t Work

|
If you want to increase cycling safety in your city, drop the helmet law and focus on getting more people– particularly women — on bikes, with street designs that offer separation from vehicle traffic. That’s the finding of a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia [PDF] evaluating safety outcomes for cyclists across Canadian […]