Over an eight-year span, 138 of 1,584 cyclists who started the Tour de France had to withdraw because of injuries — almost half from crashes that fractured a clavicle (the most common injury), wrist, hand, femur, humerus, or ribs.
That sounds pretty perilous, but it's nothing compared with the statistics in a recent Lancet article covering research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It reveals the escalating risks associated with biking, especially in congested urban centers where bike-sharing programs speed commuters to work and students to school.
There were 36.5 million trips on bike-share systems last year. Consider these statistics:
• In 2018, 859 cyclists were killed in road traffic crashes. That's a 6% increase in one year. Three-quarters of those deaths happened in urban areas.
• From 2014 to 2017, 80,000 cyclists sustained head injuries from crashes with motor vehicles, and a staggering 541,000 bicyclist had head injuries from all causes.
• Men account for almost three-quarters of emergency room visits for bicycle-related injuries. Biking deaths are eight times higher for men than women.
• Most bicyclist deaths occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Alcohol was involved in 37% of them. Don't drink and bike.
To make it safe to pedal for exercise or transportation, you need to wear a helmet, which reduces the risk of serious head injury by 60%.
Then make sure your brakes work well, wear high-visibility colors, and use front and rear lights.
And don't assume cars will see you or follow all laws. Bike defensively.