Metro Morning

Female cyclists have lower hospitalization rates, study finds

More than three quarters of cyclists hospitalized for bike-related injuries were men, a new study has found.

Of the 3,690 annual hospitalizations for cycling injuries, 76 per cent were men

Are women safer cyclists?

7 years ago
Duration 2:24
University of Toronto researchers suggest female cyclists are injured less because they take fewer risks, CBC's Michelle Cheung reports

More than three quarters of cyclists hospitalized for bike-related injuries were men, a new study has found.

"The extent of the difference was pretty striking," said Jessica Dennis, a University of Toronto PhD candidate and one of the researchers who worked on the study which was published in the weekly medical journal, The BMJ,

The joint study from the U of T and the University of British Columbia found that of the 3,690 annual hospitalizations for bicycling injuries among youths and adults, 76 per cent were men.

"Women were 50 per cent less likely to be injured to any body region and 60 per cent less likely when we were considering head injuries," said Dennis.

Female cyclists have overall lower hospitalization rates because they take fewer risks, the study states. 

"We know that women tend to ride a little more slowly, we know that women choose safer bike routes, they choose routes that have a designated bike lane, or a route that's separated from traffic," said Dennis.

One male cyclist in Toronto told CBC News he wasn't surprised by the results of the study.
Researchers from the U of T and University of British Columbia concluded that more than three quarters of cyclists who were hospitalized for bike-related injuries were men. (David Donnelly/CBC)

"Men are idiots, women aren't," Davis Gravelsins said. "Men are more risk-taking, men are impetuous and silly. Women are more intelligent and safety-oriented." 

Elsa Piersig agreed with Gravelsins, saying that her male counterparts "tend to be more aggressive."

"A lot of them don't follow the rules of the road and they do really dangerous things that cars don't expect. I've never seem women cyclists do that."

Men and women face similar risks, cyclist says

But Kathleen Tallon feels both genders are equally vulnerable on city roads.

"I try to be as safe as possible on the streets and I don't know if that has anything to do with me being a woman," she said. "I got my bell, my lights, my helmet, my eyes out, I keep space away from parked cars and I obey traffic lights."

Tallon said most of her cyclist friends are women and the majority wear helmets when riding.

While the researchers did not find a correlation between bike helmet legislation and injury rates, it did find that female cyclists tend to be more cautious.

"These choices women are making, we can promote them," said Dennis.

"But we need policy makers to really buy into these separated bike routes or designated bike lanes that are going to provide cyclists the means to cycle more like a woman."

The study recommends creating that bicycling infrastructure, as it's "a promising fit" for both sexes and is associated with a lower relative risk of injury.

Dennis says once that infrastructure exists it will be easier to promote the study's other finding that an increase in the proportion of commuters cycling lowers the risk of injury.

"For every one per cent in the proportion of commuters who are actually cyclists the risk of injuries was reduced by one third," said Dennis about the study's findings.


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