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Old 08-18-09, 08:24 PM   #1
will dehne
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Relative safety of biking as a sport

I am offering the data below as a basis for discussion. I have been affected and informed about a number of biking related injuries. That made me curious how typical my experience is.
I did not see Boxing or Baseball.


Statistics from the Dr Pietro Tonino of Loyola U. School of Medicine
Based on data from CPSC
Sports-related injuries presenting at US hospital emergency rooms.
Data for 2005. These would be the more serious injuries. There is no adjustment for exposure data to relate the number of hours spent by US residents in each of the activities.

Sport ER Visits
-------------------------
Basketball 500,000
Bicycling 485,000
US Football 418,000
Soccer (Football) 175,000
Skateboarding 112,000
Trampolines 108,000
Horseback riding 73,000
Golf 47,000
Roller Skating 35,000
Wrestling 34,000
Tennis 19,000
Track & Field 17,000

Dr. Tonino's study was reported in the Washington Post on June 19, 2006.
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Old 08-18-09, 08:41 PM   #2
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The trouble with statistics about cycling injuries is that they always lump everyone on a bike together into one category - the 6-year old who tips over on the sidewalk, the drunk who runs into the side of a car, and the hardcore hammerhead who brushes someone's rear wheel in a paceline. As a result, I don't think you can judge the safety of the sport from these numbers.
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Old 08-18-09, 09:09 PM   #3
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Interesting numbers.

I've had a couple of decent crashes. I sustained some good road rash and bruises in one crash and could have gone to the ER as a precautionary measure; however, my gut told me I was OK, despite a couple of knots and some blood here and there. I got back on my bike and rode back to the vehicle. In the second crash, I went over the handle bars into some bushes... soft landing. Some numb nuts was coming up the MUP on the wrong side of the path on a blind corner. When I first saw him, our front wheels were about 6 inches apart. I was OK. They hauled him off in the meat wagon. Though I was non too pleased with his behavior, I did walk to the end of the MUP to direct the meat wagon to his location.

I was surprised to see the magnitude of the number for golf! I've played on and off for a long time but have never sustained any injuries in the pursuit thereof. I've been apoplectic after numerous bad shots, but not so much that I injured myself or someone else. I've never been hit by a flying club or a ball. I didn't realize golf was such a contact sport! Lightning? Heart attacks?
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Old 08-18-09, 09:27 PM   #4
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Fore!!
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Old 08-18-09, 09:27 PM   #5
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As a Quality Engineer those numbers are meaningless without a known population to compare them to. I doubt that the number of football players or soccer players come anywhere close to the number of cyclists when one considers that there are more bicycles than cars in the US. And the US does not have the greatest number of cyclist per capita when compared to other developed nations.
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Old 08-18-09, 09:46 PM   #6
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Interesting numbers.

I was surprised to see the magnitude of the number for golf! Lightning? Heart attacks?
Likely that most of the injuries were boredom and alcohol related.

cheers,
Geary
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Old 08-18-09, 09:48 PM   #7
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I see they left out skiing and snowboarding. There's a reason that many orthopedic Docs can play golf all summer without working.
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Old 08-18-09, 10:37 PM   #8
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That's why I ride...I love the danger baby!
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Old 08-18-09, 11:10 PM   #9
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I took up downhill racing because I knew my wife wouldn't go for me going back to racing flat track and motocross. It is much safer
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Old 08-19-09, 05:12 AM   #10
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Softball has to be in there somewhere-too many muscle pulls and strains by many of us way too old to be playing!
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Old 08-19-09, 06:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
As a Quality Engineer those numbers are meaningless without a known population to compare them to. I doubt that the number of football players or soccer players come anywhere close to the number of cyclists when one considers that there are more bicycles than cars in the US. And the US does not have the greatest number of cyclist per capita when compared to other developed nations.
I agree, the numbers don't mean a whole lot unless compared to the aggregate number of participants in each sport. Also, are these injuries which prevented participation for a while? A hangnail can screw up a golf swing and keep you off the course, while cycling injuries tend to be pretty dramatic.
Since everybody is on the topic, here is a study I've been passing around about auto related cycling accidents:

http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/...stract/9/3/205
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Old 08-19-09, 07:01 AM   #12
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Funny, you know, in an American bookstore the books on chopper motorcycles and hot rods will be under "Transportation" and the books on bicycle commuting will be under "Sports and Hobbies". If a person was riding their bicycle the wrong way down the street at night with no lights and got hit by a car, is that a sports injury or just chronic stupidity?

tcs

PS: I just Googled a web site that said some 8,000,000 Americans go to the emergency room every year with a heart attack. Hmmm.

Last edited by tcs; 08-19-09 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 08-19-09, 07:41 AM   #13
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Bicycling is indeed dangerous, but not unreasonably so for those who ride intelligently and responsibly, and I still think the numerous multifaceted benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks. That said, I am always on a campaign to reduce those risks further, by advocating better education and stricter accountability for all road users.
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Old 08-19-09, 07:52 AM   #14
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The usual way to compare the relative risks of these various occupations is on a per hour basis.
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Old 08-19-09, 08:43 AM   #15
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Lets see: $1500 for a MRI from running and $1500 for a MRI from a cycling mishap. Broken foot from playing soccer and a broken leg from waling the dog. Seems to me just about any activity can be dangerous.

Man I can not wait until someone else is paying for my health care.
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Old 08-19-09, 08:52 AM   #16
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Numbers mean zero as to risk. You need to know injuries/fatalities per something --- like time or miles or even number of participants. Too me, the only valid comparison is time. The only such statistics I've seen are now two decades old.

Road cycling on a per hour basis was about as risky as an automobile and far less risky than general aviation and road motorcycling. Airline safety on a per hour basis is about the same as driving a car.

Then too, you have to separate out the population of cyclists as mentioned. The kids and those who flagrantly ignore the rules of the road shouldn't be counted except in special categories. Though I'm a biker (pedal and motor powered), I've almost killed two cyclist riding on the wrong side of the road at intersections. One was riding on the sidewalk.

This is the classic way to commit suicide on a bike. If people don't inform themselves how to cycle safely, it's then ignorant to blame the sport or the auto driver.

That said, you are very vulnerable on a bike mingling with cars/trucks, especially now with cell phones and texting. That two-decades old data doesn't account for that. Mountain biking (challenging single-track) has a lot going for it. It's also a better total body work out and boy does it keep the reflexes sharp. It also exercises the mind.

Al
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Old 08-19-09, 09:04 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
I agree, the numbers don't mean a whole lot unless compared to the aggregate number of participants in each sport. Also, are these injuries which prevented participation for a while? A hangnail can screw up a golf swing and keep you off the course, while cycling injuries tend to be pretty dramatic.
Since everybody is on the topic, here is a study I've been passing around about auto related cycling accidents:

http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/...stract/9/3/205
The conclusion is very logical. The more walkers/bikers, the more attention they get from the car drivers who then start to watch out for them. Group rides/pacelines are also more attention grabbing and imo are safer than riding alone.

Al
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Old 08-19-09, 09:24 AM   #18
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Sky Diving?
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Old 08-19-09, 09:37 AM   #19
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Boxing?
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Old 08-19-09, 10:13 AM   #20
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For me, the numbers represent good news that we are not all held captive in lounge chairs as life trickles away in the light of the television.

If cycling were three times as dangerous as it is, I'd still ride.
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Old 08-19-09, 01:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctor j View Post
Interesting numbers.

I've had a couple of decent crashes. I sustained some good road rash and bruises in one crash and could have gone to the ER as a precautionary measure; however, my gut told me I was OK, despite a couple of knots and some blood here and there. I got back on my bike and rode back to the vehicle. In the second crash, I went over the handle bars into some bushes... soft landing. Some numb nuts was coming up the MUP on the wrong side of the path on a blind corner. When I first saw him, our front wheels were about 6 inches apart. I was OK. They hauled him off in the meat wagon. Though I was non too pleased with his behavior, I did walk to the end of the MUP to direct the meat wagon to his location.

I was surprised to see the magnitude of the number for golf! I've played on and off for a long time but have never sustained any injuries in the pursuit thereof. I've been apoplectic after numerous bad shots, but not so much that I injured myself or someone else. I've never been hit by a flying club or a ball. I didn't realize golf was such a contact sport! Lightning? Heart attacks?
Back injuries.
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Old 08-19-09, 01:55 PM   #22
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Boxing?
Boxing would be difficult to measure because amateurs are the majority of participants. Golden Gloves, etc. and its mostly scoring points, not knock out power. At the higher level of amateurs, then boxers develop that knock out punch. But since its only 3 rounds, there is little time to go for the knock out, mostly scoring points.

If any of you recall Sugar Ray Leonard, as an amateur Olympian, he was lightening quick but not until he turned professional, did he develop that knock out punching power. Even that took a while. I recall the fight between Surgar Ray and Armando Muniz as professional. I though Muniz really had him and made Ray's eyes grow big because Mando can really punch.

The judges for amateurs usually stop the fight if the boxer cannot respond to repeated punches. Now, the repeated blows to the head, that can eventually take its toll. Lots of retired boxers have slowed and blurred speech. But will they show up at the emergency room? Hardly.

I was told one time by a trainer that when a boxer takes too many body shots, after the fight it is common to have blood in the urine. I don't think that gets reported.
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Old 08-19-09, 07:49 PM   #23
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I bike over 10,000 miles per year for exercise and just fun. I intend to continue until I can not do it anymore.
My interest in relative safety was triggered by accidents in my immediate family.
I agree that number of ER visits do not reveal if biking is safer then other sports or not. I did read a lot of supporting information on Google but it is too much to post it here. Let me just assure you guys that bicycle related injuries are no rare phenomena to ER doctors. They said so on my visits. My doctor bought a TdF shirt on an auction and has it hanging in his lobby. I wonder what the message is here?
I am curious if my experiences are typical or not. I am trying to be very careful and bike on trails most of the time.
Here are my accidents resulting in my ER room visits.
1) Wipe out on paved trail with wet leaves in a curve. Trail was dry otherwise.
2) Flip over with Tandem due to deep rut in non paved trail.
3) Wipe out due to error in my pace line biking.
4) Collision of pace line due to me braking hard for a crossing cat.
5) Extreme windy condition blew a bug sideways in my eye in Florida. The bug got embedded.
6) Flip over with Tandem due to rut in non paved bike trail.
All the above required doctor intervention. My wife broke bones in the flip over. My son broke off the ball joint of his leg.
These 6 accidents took place over about 20 years.
I am using now more often a bike with fatter tires to improve my safety.
The injuries suffered by my son and wife were in part caused by clipped in bike shoes. Both did not disconnect while falling. (The clip lock setting was as low as it can be).
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Old 08-20-09, 05:58 AM   #24
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^^^^ Sounds like you would be safer staying off the trails and on the road but not in pacelines.
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Old 08-20-09, 07:52 AM   #25
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Life is fatal.

Pick your poison and get on with it.

Crude but to the point. How wonderful that we can enjoy whatever past-times we choose as we travel ever so much closer to the inevitable. We just each have to decide whether we judge the quality of our life by total number of years, or total number of exciting and enjoyable experiences.

Oh darn, now my brain is tired....gotta go.
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