Unlit cyclists face greater injury
By Adam Carey
CYCLISTS riding without bike lights are three times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than those who are lit up, a major study of cycling crashes in Melbourne has found.
The study also found that almost half the crashes in which the rider was hospitalised involved a blow to the head, with cyclists who were travelling faster than 30km/h five times more likely to receive a head injury than slower riders.
The crash statistics are contained in a 12-month study of 158 cyclists who were admitted to The Alfred and Sandringham hospitals between December 2010 and November 2011.
The study, by researchers from the Monash University Accident Research Centre and The Alfred, also found that middle-aged men in Lycra – or mamils – were the road’s most endangered species on a bicycle. Three-quarters of crash victims surveyed were men and about two-thirds of those men were aged 35 to 54.
Study leader Paul Biegler of Monash University said the research was an attempt to help plug significant gaps in the understanding of how cycling crashes occur in Melbourne. ”Hopefully there’ll be a burgeoning database of these kinds of studies so crash countermeasures can be more informed,” Dr Biegler said.
Using bike lights was found to reduce the likelihood and severity of a crash both day and night, with 66 per cent of injured riders having no working light at the time.
Dr Biegler said the data reinforced the benefit of wearing a helmet. Almost half of the riders had hit their heads, with 45 per cent of riders sustaining helmet damage but just 28.4 per cent injuring their head or face. ”Chances of a head injury increased threefold at speeds above 20km/h and fivefold at speeds above 30km/h,” he said.