For many Canadians, the arrival of spring is synonymous with bike season. Whether or not you’re looking forward to your first ride around the block with your family or replacing a long winter commute with a quick pedal outdoors, most of us harbour warm sentiments about this activity.
As you’re putting on that bike helmet and pumping up those tires, you might want to consider that cycling is the most common sport-related cause of injury in Canada.
What the stats say
In fact, CIHI’s annual Injury Hospitalization Quick Stats uncovered that more people in Canada are hospitalized for injuries from cycling than from any other sport, coming in ahead of skiing/snowboarding and all-terrain vehicle injuries.
In 2011–2012, there were more than 4,000 hospitalizations for injuries related to cycling. The number of hospitalizations due to cycling-related incidents was higher in Canada’s most populated provinces—among which are Ontario and British Columbia. Across Canada, about 1 in 3 hospitalizations of pedal cyclists involved a collision; 52% occurred in a traffic setting, while 45% occurred in a non-traffic setting.
“The persistently high number of these injuries is cause for concern,” said Greg Webster, director of Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services. “We have seen this trend for 6 years, most injuries being to the upper and lower extremities. Cyclists also need to ensure they do not injure pedestrians.”
Taking action on bike safety
Cities like Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver have introduced bike lanes through their downtown cores to provide two-wheeled enthusiasts with a safe way to get around the city.
There are a number of things that you can do to help prevent cycling injuries. In addition to regular tune-ups to ensure your bike is safe, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has a number of tips to stay safe on the road and be visible to traffic.
- Know and respect provincial helmet laws (6 out of 10 provinces have one).
- Ensure your helmet is properly fitted.
- Stay aware of other vehicles and pedestrians.
- Be seen by using a bell, hand signals and lights on the back and front of your bike.
- Ride in single file and on the right-hand side of the road.
- Wear reflectors—it’s a good way to be noticed from a distance.
Plan your route ahead of time.
It’s important for cyclists to take precautions while on the road, but it’s equally important for drivers of motorized vehicles to share the road and be cautious of the cyclists around them.
CIHI wishes everyone a safe and happy ride!