Study: Bicycle Injuries, Deaths Increase With Ridership

Bicycle ridership is increasingly touted as a cheap, easy, environmentally-friendly way to burn calories and get to your destination.
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There is ample evidence to suggest bicycle ridership has increased in Florida and nationally over the last several years. This is good for our air quality and overall health.

But there are some downsides to it as well, most notably being the dramatic rise in the number of bicyclist injuries and deaths.

Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study analyzing the number of bicycle trauma injuries and hospital admissions in the U.S. between 1998 and 2013. Doctors reported that the number of hospital admissions due to bicycle injuries during this time nearly doubled during this time.

The most notable increase was seen among riders over the age of 45. Researchers say not only are there more people overall riding bicycles, but those in the over-45 category are riding more and they tend to be more susceptible to serious injury and death when they are involved in crash.

In the 1998-1999 reporting year, doctors reported there were 8,791 hospital admissions for bicycle injuries. By the 2012-2013 reporting year, hat figure had soared to 15,427.

It also appears head injuries are increasingly more common. In 1998-1999, doctors reported 10 percent of hospital admissions were head injuries. By the most recent year, it was 16 percent. Also in 2012-2013, doctors reported 17 percent of injuries were to the torso, 52 percent were to an extremity and 16 percent were to some other body part.

All of this is especially concerning for us because, as we know from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest report on bicyclist traffic safety facts, Florida is the No. 1 worst place for cyclists in terms of danger. State officials reported 133 bicyclist deaths in 2013, which comprised 5.5 percent of our total traffic fatalities. California had slightly more – 141 – but when population was factored in, the statistics weren’t even close. Florida’s rate of cyclist fatalities per 1 million population was 6.80, versus California’s 3.68. The only other state to even come close was Arizona, which had a rate of 4.68. That state reported 31 bicyclist deaths that year.

But this isn’t the only evidence we have to suggest more must be done to improve bicycle safety. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed that while child bicycle deaths fell dramatically in the last four decades, the fatality rate among older cyclists – age 35 to 54 – has tripled.

Some cities, like Portland, Ore. and San Francisco, are taking these issues seriously. They are implementing “Complete Streets” initiatives that reduce the speed limit, add safer bicycle lanes in traffic and increasing the number of public awareness campaigns.

All of that helps. But at the end of the day, both drivers and cyclists must be alert, and cyclists especially need to ride defensively.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:
As More Adults Pedal, Their Biking Injuries And Deaths Spike, Too, Sept. 2, 2015, By Michaeleen Douchleff, NPR
More Blog Entries:
Report: Hit-and-Run Crashes Spike in South Florida, Aug. 26, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Injury Lawyer Blog