Bicycle injuries have risen steadily in the last two decades, with increasing emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Older men have been specifically affected as street crashes with vehicles and other objects are becoming the leading cause of bicycle-related injuries.
There were 3.8 million bicycle-related injuries in the United States between 1997 and 2013, with an additional 9,839 deaths reported in the same time period. Medical costs for treating and recovering from injuries suffered on a bicycle soared to $237 billion from 1997 to 2013, with more than $24.4 billion reported in 2013 alone.
Although there are many health benefits associated with cycling, such as improved cardiovascular function and allover decreases in mortality, safety is a constant concern on the open road. Hospital admissions for injured bikers increased by 120% annually since 1997, with three-quarters of patients identifying as male.
The proportion of injured bicyclists 45 or older doubled since 1997. These cases often involve more treatment and expenses, as older patients may have further complications of injuries and treatments.
There are many factors contributing to more injuries and deaths among cyclists. California has seen many changes in traffic patterns in the last 20 years, as well as an overall increase in bicycle and motor vehicle traffic on the same roads. New vehicle designs may also make it more difficult for drivers to spot bicycles.
There is much progress to be made before bicycling infrastructure is more developed and the roads are safer for bicycle use. In the meantime, California law allows for the protection of injured bicyclists, as well as possible reimbursement for medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering during recovery.
Source: Science Daily, “Soaring medical costs from bicycle accidents,” accessed July 28, 2017