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Spokes - the NHS Cycling Network

Non - Collision Cycling Injuries -ICE



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Non - Collision Cycling Injuries -ICE

The leading cause of emergency hospital admission to vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists) is from non-collision cycling injuries. These injuries caused approximately four times as many serious injuries to cyclists (9,447 in 2008/09) than collisions between cyclists and cars, pick up trucks and vans (1,871), (www.hesonline.nhs.uk). Whilst it is fear of a collision that puts people off cycling, in fact non-collision incidents are the more serious hazard. No study has yet given us sufficiently detailed information on which non collision incident to base coherent safety messages

Many thanks go to the Public Health Network at Avon NHS for this research article. Please visit their website for a ICY cycling poster.

What is a non-collision cycling incident?

Non-collision incidents occur when cyclists lose balance and fall to the ground, without colliding with anything or without anything running into them.

What causes them?

Cyclists suggest many different causes of non-collision incidents. This has made it difficult to develop effective safety interventions.

NHS Bristol, Cycling City and the West of England Road Safety Partnership have been working together to conduct and publicise the results of a survey into the causes and circumstances of non-collision incidents.

The top three causes are:

1. Slipping on ice (26% of all reported NCIs)

2. Slipping on wet road (8% of all reported NCIs)

3. Slipped on soil, mud, gravel, wet rock (7% of all reported NCIs)

(The poster "Icy Routes Be Aware" was produced by the Highways Agency. It can be downloaded by clicking on it).

This was a surprise - people seem to think potholes and bike maintenance issues are the biggest hazards, but together these accounted for around only 6% of the total.

We will be encouraging road safety partners, local authorities, cycling organisations and others to raise awareness of the fact that amongst the working population, slipping on ice is the single largest cause and that 50% of non-collision incidents among this group happen on the commute to work.

Slipping on ice causes 35% of all non-collision incidents on the commute to work. The results do not appear to have been influenced by the cold winter of 2009/10.

          Downloads and links

           The survey was hosted by Cycling City: http://www.betterbybike.info/non-collision-incidents

A summary of the findings is available here

           The analysis of the interim survey results is available here

In other countries with colder winters, bikes are more likely to be designed to use in freezing weather. In this country, generally speaking, they are not. This website (www.icebike.org) is dedicated to winter cycling. This is a great site that will encourage you to ride in winter but to get properly prepared and to keep safe when doing it.

Are they serious?

Only a few non-collision cycling incidents cause serious injury - between 63%-70% of all incidents cause no injury worthy of professional treatment.

Most of the 30% requiring treatment are minor, but a small proportion cause a significant number of serious injuries. Now we know that the single biggest cause of incidents occurring on commuting journeys is slipping on ice, we can raise awareness of the simple measures cyclists can take to avoid the biggest risks.