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High Caution for Cyclists

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Some troubling data out of the Denver Health Medical Center: Cyclists are being injured on the road at alarming rates compared to years back. Chest injuries rose by 15 percent and abdominal injuries tripled over the last five years, researchers from the University of Colorado reported.

“Denver is very much a bicycle community. If we are seeing an increase in injuries in a metropolitan area that has fairly mature bike infrastructure from the standpoint of bike pathways, there’s reason for concern about what’s happening in metropolitan areas that don’t have that level of maturity,” said Dr. Jeffry Kashuk, senior attending surgeon at the Rocky Mountain Regional Trauma Center at Denver Health Medical Center, in a press release by The American College of Surgeons.

“There seems to be a significant increase nationally in the use of the bicycle for urban transportation. If our data is a microcosm of what is going on nationally, we may be on the cusp of an injury epidemic,” he said.

Unfortunately, there is a major human element involved. Helmet use stayed steady over that time, with more than 33 percent of the 329 injured riders in the report suffering a significant head injury. Injured spleens and livers, internal bleeding, rib fractures, and hemothorax (blood in the chest) were all found in riders. Most problematic is the fact that Denver is a very rider-friendly city compared to the rest of the country.

“On a local and national level, people need to be aware of the fact that a push for bike transportation for the sake of health, the environment, and lower transportation costs has real potential to raise medical costs because our infrastructure may not be ready for it,” said Dr. Kashuk.

“Look at all the safety factors that have been incorporated in automobiles and streets and highways," he said. "If even a percentage of that kind of investment went into safety vis-a-vis bike paths and community infrastructure, we would protect people from major injury.”

So follow the rules of the road closely, wear a helmet, and consider adding a rear-view-mirror-type device to your helmet. Find safety tips from the National Highway Safety Administration here.

About The Author

David Schipper – David began writing for CorePerformance.com in 2008, after spending six years at Men's Health magazine digging up the newest scientific research in health, weight loss, nutrition, muscle and cardiovascular fitness.

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Tags: Outdoor Recreation, Injury, Cycling

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