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British Columbia study breaks down cycling safety and hazards

A recent study from the University of British Columbia is providing some insight on how cycling environments are associated with injuries that cyclists suffer. The study took place over an 18-month period and focused on bicycle riders who visited the emergency room departments of five different hospitals.

The bicycle accidents examined showed which cycling environment were the safest, and, when it came to unsafe environments, provided recommendations as to how they could be made safer. In one outcome of the study, for instance, it was discovered that riding along major streets presented an escalated risk of accidents and injuries. Researchers suggested that adding cycle tracks along these roads would increase safety.

It was also discovered that the bulk of cycling accidents occur on shorter rides. A full 68 percent of these accidents occurred while cycling less than 5 km. When it came to types of accidents, 72 percent of the injuries resulted from colliding with other objects such as animals, people or automobiles. Some of the safest paths to help avoid these types of accidents were cycle tracks, residential streets, bike lanes on streets where parking was not allowed and off-street biking paths.

Areas with increased risk of accidents included construction areas, shared bike/car lanes, train tracks and some traffic circles. In most instances, cyclists preferred safer routes over those found to be unsafe, but multi-use paths were found to be preferred routes even though they increased accident risk.

This study shows that there are a variety of factors that can come into play when bicycle riders are on the streets. When a cyclist is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, the cyclist could suffer serious injuries that result in long hospital stays and lost income. For riders who are injured due to the negligence of others, however, they may be able to secure financial compensation with legal assistance.

Source: University of British Columbia, "The BICE Study", October 23, 2014

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