From 2008 to 2017, even as the number of bike riders increased, the number of head and face injuries stayed steady, according to researchers from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
"We believe this may be due to a safety-in-numbers phenomenon, whereby increased public safety campaigns, government and private-center funding for facilities and infrastructure, and overall awareness by cyclists and drivers appears to protect cyclists - which translates to further benefits for drivers and others," lead author Dr. Corina Din-Lovinescu said in a Rutgers news release. She's a resident in the school's Department of Otolaryngology.
Injuries to cyclists have increased among those ages 55 to 64, the research revealed. From 2008 to 2017, cyclists received emergency room treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and broken bones more than 89,400 times, the study found.
Although those between 18 and 24 years of age were injured more often, injuries for 55- to 64-year-olds showed the most significant increase in that time period, up 54%.
Traumatic brain injury accounted for nearly 50% of ER visits, and cyclists between 45 and 54 were the most likely to be hospitalized with facial fractures, the study found.
Researchers called on older cyclists to be especially careful. Basic steps to prevent injuries include not drinking before biking, wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing, using lights or reflectors at night, and wearing helmets.
The report was published recently in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.