Cyclist injuries, medical costs soar as more people ride bikes

DENVER — Over the past 15 years, emergency department visits and hospital admissions in the U.S. resulting from adult bicycle crashes have increased by 120 percent, according to a study in the journal Injury Prevention.

From 1997 to 2013, there were about 3.8 million nonfatal adult bicycle injuries and 9,839 deaths.

With those injuries came an increase in annual medical costs, work losses and quality-of-life losses, even after taking inflation into consideration.

The medical costs for nonfatal adult crashes increased by an average of $789 million each year — or 137 percent. Medical costs for fatal injuries rose 23 percent in the study period.

Researchers found part of the growth in costs was because of an increase in the number of bicyclists and riders 45 and older.

There were also more crashes with cars on streets and highways. In 1997, 46 percent of injuries were on streets compared to 67 percent in 2014.

Despite the numbers, researchers said the health benefits outweigh the increased risks and costs of bike accidents.

They also conclude better designs for roadways, bicycles and cars could help prevent injuries.