Riding a bicycle is a great way to get exercise, reduce one’s carbon footprint and enjoy the great outdoors. However, biking in New York City can also be extremely dangerous as bikers must share the road and contend with motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic. In some cases, the drivers of motor vehicles either fail to see or blatantly disregard bicyclists, thereby putting riders at risk of suffering injury and death.

The findings of a recent study that examined bicycle-related injuries, revealed some troubling information about the increase in biking injuries across the country and especially in urban areas. For the study, researchers from the University of California in San Francisco reviewed hospital admission data for cycling-related injuries from the 14 years spanning 1998 to 2013.

During this timeframe, researchers noted a 28 percent increase in hospital admission rates and a 120 percent increase in “the rate of injuries that sent people to the hospital.” Additionally, bicycle accidents among urban dwellers increased to account for 65 percent versus 40 percent of all reported bicycle accidents.

Among those injuries that resulted in a bicyclist being admitted to the hospital, 16 percent involved injuries to the head. Even in cases where an individual is wearing a helmet, the impact of hitting a motor vehicle or the pavement can cause a helmet to fall off or crack. Additionally, depending on the force and location of impact, even a helmet may do little to protect an individual’s head and brain from suffering severe injuries.

New York City bicyclists who choose to commute via bicycle should always ensure they wear a helmet and brightly-colored reflective clothing and materials. Additionally, like all motor vehicles, bicyclists should follow traffic laws and always be aware of and alert to the location and actions of other drivers.

Source: Harvard Medical School, “Bicycle injuries are mounting, especially in adults,” Beverly Merz, Sept. 3, 2015