Rise in bike-related injuries in Manitoba, report says drivers find cyclists 'annoying'
Cycling injuries landed 100 people in the hospital in 2013-14 and 119 in 2014-15
For many, cycling is one of the greatest joys of summer but a recent study is casting shade on the activity by bringing the number of people that go from bike to hospital to light.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) compiles an annual report on the number of cyclists that are hospitalized across Canada each year. The 2014-15 report shows that number has made a bit of a climb.
Cycling injuries landed 100 people in the hospital during 2013-14 and in 2014-15, that number rose to 119.
Still, Manitoba is not where most serious cycling-related injuries take place. In 2014-15, more than 1,300 cyclists were hospitalized in Ontario. Yukon, on the other hand, saw only eight people injured in cycling-related situations in total.
The report takes into account all injuries that are related to cycling, not only those caused by collisions between drivers and cyclists.
Road blocks to safety
Mark Cohoe, executive director of Bike Winnipeg, a group of volunteers who advocate for cycling safety in the city, holds Winnipeg's infrastructure responsible for the rise in injuries recorded in the CIHI report.
"People don't want to bike in … traffic," he said.
"If we could create a really separated, protected bike lane on some of the major streets, that's what's going to encourage people to get out cycling. It will also ensure they are safe while they are out there."
According to Cohoe, speeding up the process of getting that infrastructure in place is a way to bring the number of cyclists injured annually back down.
"Certainly, that will … help prevent those injuries," he said.
Off-road trails, an alternative to riding off of sidewalks that does not require the cyclist to ride in traffic and increasing government spending on roadways will also contribute to making the city safe for cyclists, Cohoe said.
State Farm Insurance also released a survey on Thursday, which reports that more than half of Canadian drivers who participated said they find cyclists on the road "annoying."
Forty-six per cent of cyclists surveyed said the same about drivers.
According to Cohoe, there are steps to take to ease the relationship between drivers and cyclists.
"If you're driving a vehicle, don't pass someone and immediately put them into your blind spot," he said.
"If you're on a bike, make sure you're not riding on the sidewalk [or if you're on the road], you're not getting into someone's blind spot."