This Canadian research,published in the American Journal of Public Health in October 2012, compared cycling injury risks of 14 route types. It found that separated bike lanes were the safest, with an estimated relative risk of 0.1 (or a reduction in injury risk of about 90%). Other routes designed for bikes were also safer, with relative risks near 0.5 (or a reduction in injury risk of about 50%): painted bike lanes on major streets without any parked cars; residential street bike routes; and bike paths in parks.
Objectives. We compared cycling injury risks of 14 route types and other route infrastructure features.
Methods. We recruited 690 city residents injured while cycling in Toronto or Vancouver, Canada. A case-crossover design compared route infrastructure at each injury site to that of a randomly selected control site from the same trip.
Results. Of 14 route types, cycle tracks had the lowest risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.54), about one ninth the risk of the reference: major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. Risks on major streets were lower without parked cars (adjusted OR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.41, 0.96) and with bike lanes (adjusted OR = 0.54; 95% CI = 0.29, 1.01). Local streets also had lower risks (adjusted OR = 0.51; 95% CI = 0.31, 0.84). Other infrastructure characteristics were associated with increased risks: streetcar or train tracks (adjusted OR = 3.0; 95% CI = 1.8, 5.1), downhill grades (adjusted OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.7, 3.1), and construction (adjusted OR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.3, 2.9).
Conclusions. The lower risks on quiet streets and with bike-specific infrastructure along busy streets support the route-design approach used in many northern European countries. Transportation infrastructure with lower bicycling injury risks merits public health support to reduce injuries and promote cycling. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print October 18, 2012: e1-e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300762)