When a cyclist is killed or seriously injured, the responses you hear often pin the blame squarely on the victim. “Why wasn’t she wearing a helmet?” Or, “Why was he wearing dark clothing? “
But according to a new study [PDF] by a team of Canadian university researchers, those factors don’t seem to have much impact on the overall severity of injury when cyclists are hurt in collisions.
The report looked at injury severity among about 700 adults in Toronto and Vancouver who were hospitalized after a bike collision or fall. Researchers teased out which factors had the biggest impact on the extent of people’s injuries.
Here’s what they found.
What DID Put Cyclists at Greater Risk?
Being hit by car
Duh, of course! But this point is worth reiterating. The cyclists who were injured in collisions with cars, or by falling to avoid a car collision, were more severely injured than people who just fell, or were involved in a collision with another cyclist or pedestrian.
Riding on sidewalks or shared use paths
Researchers found that people who were injured while riding on sidewalks or shared-use paths tended to sustain worse injuries, even compared to cyclists riding on major roads with no bike infrastructure. These counterintuitive results suggest that riding in places with potential conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians can be more dangerous than people assume. An earlier study by the same research team found people riding on sidewalks and multi-use paths were also more likely overall to be involved in a collision or crash.