- JOHN METCALFE
As more Americans are hopping on bikes, it’s no surprise that more cyclists are getting injured. In the U.S., there’s been a 120 percent bump since the late 1990s in hospital visits due to bike crashes. And more than 800 riders died in car-on-bike incidents in 2015, averaging out to about two fatal wrecks each day.
What is less evident, though, is that on a case-by-case basis the costs of these incidents are increasing. While an adult rider who suffered a serious (but nonfatal) crash in 1997 might expect it to cost roughly $52,495—including medical bills, missed work, and loss of quality of life—the inflation-adjusted price tag grew to $62,971 in 2005 and a whopping $77,308 in 2013.
That’s according to a new paper in Injury Prevention revealing that the total costs of bike injuries in the U.S. have risen an average of $789 million yearly since the late ‘90s, reaching a sky-high $24 billion in 2013.
“Our overall message is to remember that the health benefits of cycling certainly outweigh the potential drawbacks. Many, many people cycle every day injury-free,” says Thomas Gaither, a study coauthor and medical student at the University of California, San Francisco. “However, our hope is that by quantifying these costs it will help to spur discussion and policy surrounding infrastructure for safe cycling.”
What’s behind the worsening consequences of eating face? Age has something to do with it: The pool of cyclists in the U.S. is turning grayer by the year, with the number of miles traveled by bike annually by folks 45 and older increasing from 1.9 million in 2001 to 3.6 million in 2009, according to Gaither and his compatriots at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, Maryland’s Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, and elsewhere.