Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lower Vehicle Speeds, Separated Bike Lanes Lower Risk of Cyclist Injuries; Study

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lower Vehicle Speeds, Separated Bike Lanes Lower Risk of Cyclist Injuries; Study

Article excerpt

Canadian cyclists at high risk of injury;study


TORONTO - Some simple changes to the infrastructure of Canadian cities could go a long way towards keeping the country's biking enthusiasts safe from harm, a team of researchers suggested Wednesday.

Erecting physical barriers between traffic and bicycle lanes, ensuring relatively flat commuting surfaces and regulating vehicle speeds all have the potential to curtail cycling injuries on city streets, they said.

The findings came from a cross-country team of researchers and was published in the Journal Injury Prevention.

The team's objective was to explore the factors that contribute to Canada's strikingly high rate of cycling-related injuries, according to the study's lead author.

Anne Harris, assistant professor with Ryerson University's school of Occupational and Public Health, said several previous studies have established that North American cyclists are eight to 30 times more likely to be injured on the road than their counterparts in European countries such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The figures could not simply be chalked up to cycling volumes, she added.

"In the cycling countries of northern Europe, you see a much larger proportion of trips taken by bicycle and much lower injury rates," Harris said in a telephone interview. "We thought one of the reasons that there might be differences is because of the availability of bicycling infrastructure."

Harris and her team interviewed 690 cyclists who were injured badly enough to require a trip to a hospital emergency room between May 2008 and November 2009. The injuries came on either the streets of Vancouver or Toronto.

Researchers compared the point at which the interview subject got hurt with earlier intersections along the route that were passed without incident. The findings, Harris said, allowed the team to draw some conclusions about potential safety innovations for Canadian city streets. …

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