Study Reports Significant Increase in Bicycle Accidents Nationwide
Bicycle use has increased in popularity nationwide, but it has also led to many more accidents with medical costs from non-fatal bike crashes climbing steadily by $789 million annually. According to a new study by UC San Francisco, which was published in in the journal Injury Prevention, over a 17-year period, medical costs for bicycle injuries to adults in the United States, both fatal and non-fatal, amounted to $237 billion. In 2013 alone, total costs from bicycle accidents exceeded $24.4 billion, researchers reported.
The study reports that the costs of bicycle injuries have risen steadily since 1997, with a significant increase in emergency department visits and hospital admissions, particularly with older men. It also found that in the past, many bicycle accidents stemmed from non-street incidents. But now, street crashes with motor vehicles represent a greater proportion of the total costs. These crashes, which primarily occur with motor vehicles, increase the velocity of the crash impact and, as a result, the severity of the injuries.
Increase in Injuries and Fatalities
While riding your bike has a number of benefits including improved health, savings on fuel costs and reductions in pollution, there is an increased risk of injuries for bike riders. Previous research has shown that over the last 15 years in the U.S., the incidence of hospital admissions due to bicycle accidents increased by 120 percent. In the most recent studies researchers came up with bicycle accident costs based on a variety of factors including hospital charges, readmissions, rehabilitative treatment, nursing home stays, emergency transportation, days of lost work, lifetime productivity lost and loss of quality of life.
During the study period, the cost of non-fatal injuries was a whopping $209 billion and $28 billion for fatal injuries. Bicycling deaths increased by about 19 cases a year. Older riders accounted for a greater proportion of total costs through time and a larger share of inpatient admission costs. In 2013, 54 percent of total costs of bicycle accidents were due to riders 45 and older. That number was up from 26 percent in 1997.
What is the Solution?
The study’s researchers say cities should invest more in terms of infrastructure that will make roadways more usable and safer for bicyclists. In addition, it is important the drivers remember that they do in fact share the roadway with bicyclists. Under California law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. When a vehicle strikes a bicyclist, it is the bicyclist who gets seriously or fatally injured. As California bicycle accident attorneys who represent injured victims, we hope the coming years will be safer for those who bike.