Bicycle accidents on the Rise

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted New York City bike-share programs and the problems that accompany them.   Doctors say they are treating far more injuries, including traumatic ones, related to cycling.

In a paper issued last summer, the Governors Highway Safety Association said bike-related deaths on U.S. streets and highways rose 12.2% in 2015 from the previous year, based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bike fatalities rose by 1.3% in 2016.

Hospital admissions due to bike traumas rose by 120%, “which means the injuries are more severe,” says Benjamin Breyer, the lead author and an associate professor of urology and epidemiology and biostatistics at UC San Francisco. The percentage of bike riders with head injuries increased to 16%. Many of the serious injuries were suffered by bikers age 45 and older, who are more vulnerable than younger cyclists, Dr. Breyer says.

Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Trauma Center, which is a few blocks from New York City’s Central Park, has seen an increase in bike-trauma victims, many injured in the park. The severity of their injuries—including shattered bones, facial trauma and damaged organs—prompted Stephen Zink, a St. Luke’s radiologist, to analyze them. Working with the trauma team, Dr. Zink, an assistant professor of radiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, found that in the three years from 2014 through 2016, bike-related traumas treated at St. Luke’s increased by 34.5%.