Rising rates of injury and death among cyclists over 40

UNDER EMBARGO—until 1:00AM, WEDNESDAY, 8 MAY, 2019

The number of Australians injured or killed in bicycle crashes is on the rise and older people are increasingly being admitted to hospital after cycling mishaps, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Pedal cyclist deaths and hospitalisations 199900 to 201516, shows that over a 17 year period, during which cycling by adults increased *, nearly 160,000 cyclists were hospitalised, and the rate of hospitalisations has risen an average of 1.5% each year over this period.

‘Within this period, over 650 cyclists died in cycling crashes—an average of 38 deaths per year,’ said AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison.

‘Of these, 90% were male, and 90% of fatal incidents occurred on-road,’ Professor Harrison said.

A survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission shows the number of cyclists aged 15 and over rose by 45% between 2001 and 2010—from 1.4 million to 2.1 million.

The age composition of injured cyclists admitted to hospital changed markedly between 1999-00 and 2015-16.

For example, in 1999–00, 48% of people injured in cycling crashes were aged between 5 and 14, compared with 20% in 2015-16. In contrast, cases among 25–44 year olds rose from 18% to 31%, and cases in the 45-64 age group rose from 7% to 26%.

 ‘Nearly 6 in 10 hospitalised cyclists were injured in an on-road crash. Similarly, nearly 6 in 10 sustained a fracture, with the most common injury being a fractured arm’, Professor Harrison said.

Among children aged 5–14, nearly 8 in 10 of the fractures (78%) were of the upper limb. About 1 in 5 of those aged 0–4 sustained head and neck fractures.

‘The severity of injuries sustained by cyclists generally increased with age’, Professor Harrison said.

‘Those aged 45 and over were more likely to have life-threatening injuries, stay longer in hospital and be transferred to another hospital.’

In severe cases, injured cyclists might need to be put on a ventilator to help them breathe.

‘Cyclists aged 45 or older consumed 90% of the total hours of ventilator support, with more than half provided to those aged 45–64,’ Professor Harrison said.

Another AIHW report released today, Mobility scooter-related deaths and injuries in older Australians 201112 to 2015-16, found that 69 people aged 60 and over died from a mobility scooter-related incident in the decade from 2006–07 to 2015–16.

‘Almost half of the fatal incidents occurred while the person was crossing a road,’ Professor Harrison said.

* A survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission shows that the number of cyclists aged 15 and over rose by 45% between 2001 and 2010, from 1.4 million to 2.1 million.

Further information: Professor James Harrison, mob. 0405 031 467