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June 13, 2013

Cycling Tops the List of Sports Causing Head Injury

The brain injury spotlight shines brightly on high profile cases in professional hockey and football leagues.

But U.S. statistics remind us that cycling is actually the leading cause of sports-related brain injury.

In 2009, head injuries from cycling were nearly double those suffered while playing football, reports the New York Times. Cycling was also the leading cause of sports-related head injuries in children under 14.

So why are head injuries so common among cyclists?

One reason is because cycling is such a common activity. You’ll find many more people on a bike than on the ice or football field.

Another reason for the high number of head injuries is because riders are often not wearing a helmet. The New York Times says that 90% of cyclists killed in the US in 2009 were not wearing a helmet.

While the law requires the use of helmets in BC, there is an ongoing debate about whether helmets prevent concussions and brain injuries in an accident. In the latest edition of Bicycling magazine, Bruce Barcott writes, “Bicycle helmets do an outstanding job of keeping our skulls intact in a major crash. But they do almost nothing to prevent concussions and other significant brain injuries.”

The New York Times article also cautions cyclists to use a marked bike lane whenever possible, saying that streets with designated bike lanes have 40% fewer crashes ending in death or serious injury.

For Vancouverites, the numbers add fuel to the cyclist safety campaign reignited by the Stanley Park Causeway fatality a few weeks ago. HUB, a cycling advocacy organization, is currently petitioning Premier Christy Clark to make the Causeway safer for riders. Click here to sign the online petition.

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