In just 2013 alone, stores in the U.S. sold about 13 million bicycles. In addition to the bikes that are already out on the road, that really makes for a lot of bike riders and (unfortunately) a lot of potential bicycling injuries. Unless you’re talking about “extreme” bicycling, you’re probably more likely to associate riding a bike with a short daily commute to work or a relaxing adventure through the woods, and not something that could have very serious, and even fatal, injuries.
Riding a bike shouldn’t be scary, but some of the statistics behind bicycling injuries are certainly a little disconcerting. For example,
- The majority of bicyclists — as much as 95% of all bicyclists — who were involved in an accident and receive fatal injuries hadn’t been wearing a helmet at the time. It goes without saying that bicycle head injuries are more likely to occur if the bicyclist isn’t wearing a helmet. But when there is a car and bicycle accident, the chances of the bicyclist having fatal injuries are even higher.
- When there is a car and bike accident, there’s often alcohol involved — and yes, it’s very possible that the bicyclist was the one drinking, while the driver was perfectly sober. In fact, 37% of all crashes with fatalities involved a driver or bicyclist who had been drinking. It doesn’t matter which person is intoxicated; the consequences can be just as serious (and usually more so for the person on the bike).
- The total cost of bicycle accident injuries where the bicyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet might just surprise you — it’s estimated that about $2.3 billion every year goes to treating these bicycling injuries. Keep in mind that this number is so high largely because the injuries are much more serious. A brain injury often isn’t treatable at all, but when it is, the treatment costs are extremely high.
These statistics aren’t meant to scare anyone, despite sounding pretty scary. The attitude you have while riding a bike should be much like the attitude you have while driving — being terrified of everyone around you can be just as dangerous as driving aggressively, so it’s important to be confident without being cocky. Tons of people are choosing to ride bikes more often these days, whether to save some money on their morning commute or just to get in a good workout, and it’s important to remember that safety should always be the top priority — not just for bicyclists, but for every driver and pedestrian on the road with them.