Cycling Injuries Increasing Among Middle-Age & Older Adults

(Image credit: Kirill Kleykov | Dreamstime)

More U.S. adults, particularly those older than 45, are visiting the emergency room for bicycle-related injuries in recent years, according to a new study.

Researchers examined emergency room visits for bicycle-related injuries between 1998 and 2013. During this time period, the rate of bicycle-related injuries among all adults increased by 28 percent, from 96 injuries per 100,000 people in 1998-1999, to 123 injuries per 100,000 people in 2012-2013.

There was a particularly large increase in the rate of injuries in people age 45 and older, the researchers said. In 1998-1999, people in this age group accounted for 23 percent of ER visits for bike injuries, but in 2012-2013, they accounted for 42 percent of these ER visits.

The biggest rise was among adults ages 55 to 64 — this age group accounted for 14 percent of bike-related ER visits in 2012-2013, more than double the percentage from 1998-1998. [Branch Impales Cyclist's Neck After Mishap — and He Survives]

Other studies show that more middle-age and older adults are taking up cycling, which likely explains the rise in injuries in this age group, the researchers said.

The increase in the rate of injuries also may be related to a rise in the number of people who practice sports cycling (as opposed to more leisurely cycling), which requires faster speeds and thus increases the likelihood of injury, the researchers said.

"As the population of cyclists in the United States shifts to an older demographic, further investments in infrastructure and promotion of safe riding practices are needed to protect bicyclists from injury," the researchers, from the University of California, San Francisco wrote in the Sept. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.