Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cycling Victorian Bike Fall Fatalities & Serious Injuries


" Newspapers report

three male Victorian cyclists died from bike fall accidents in 2012,

 including two bunch cyclists."




Public Liability re Cycling Participation promotion

Bike Falls or Bicycle Alone Accidents

Deaths, serious injuries, hospitalisations

Bike Falls or Bicycle Alone Accidents
called bicycle alone accidents as no other vehicle was involved

From Jan 2006 – 31/12/2012 Vic Roads Crash Stats records that there have been

5 cyclist fatalities in its calendar year summary (attached)

from bicycle alone accident, bike falls

This does give pause to those who believe cycling is healthy low-impact exercise

Bicycle Victoria/ Bicycle Network Victoria/ Bicycle Network advocates

“The health benefits of cycling such as a more active lifestyle and better fitness far outweigh the risks of death or injury from crashes.”

This advocacy of cyclist participation is simplistic and takes a cavalier approach toward preventable death and serious injury.

The lack of emphasis on risk reduction must have public liability issues.

The lack of informed choice re cycling participation promotion,

2006  2 bike fall fatalities
2010  1   "        "        "
2011  1
2012  1

NB The Vic Roads summary by gender shows 4 fatalities. (attached)
4 male
No Female
No Unknown Sex

All of the male deceased were over forty.

However it is seven bike fall fatalities between 2006-2012 

if we include 2012 Newspaper reports of 3 fatalities (links below)

Nb Vic Roads Crash Stats records just one 2012 bicycle alone Fatality

 Newspapers report
three male Victorian cyclists died from bike fall accidents in 2012,
 including two bunch cyclists.

These three reported male deceased were over 60, including one in his late 70’s.

Of the seven reported fatalities, they were all male and over 40.

 Newpaper report links below.    




This also give pause for those of advancing years who believe cycling is healthy low-impact exercise.

 From Jan 2003 – 31/12/2012 Vic Roads Crash Stats also records

325 serious injuries/ most likely hospital admissions
from bicycle alone accidents

Many of these serious injuries will likely have resulted in permanent incapacity
of some kind. i.e Leg or hand injuries or more serious



And 473 minor injuries/ most likely emergency department presentations
from bicycle alone accidents

Bicycle Victoria/ Bicycle Network Victoria/ Bicycle Network advocates “The health benefits of cycling such as a more active lifestyle and better fitness far outweigh the risks of death or injury from crashes.”

The public ought to know, particularly the elderly, the risk of serious injury and fatality from all bicycle crash types particularly bicycle alone accidents/ bike falls.

According to Bicycle Victoria’s Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria (2002)
“Around 80% of all cyclist hospitalisations are for crashes that do not involve motor vehicles."

"All the cyclists who have a crash ‘all by themselves’, called bicycle alone or single vehicle crashes. 

These account for around 80% of all hospitalisations." 

Risk Reduction/ Informed Choice

“forewarned is forearmed”
Cyclists can and will take responsibility for their own safety
But only if they know the risks and how to prevent death and serious injury.


According to Bicycle Victoria’s Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria (2002)

"Our review of cycling deaths shows that cyclists who break the law are much more likely to be killed or seriously injured". Bicycle Victoria (2002)


"In over 60 per cent of (fatal) crashes, the cyclist was deemed to be ‘responsible’ for the
action that precipitated the fatal crash.” Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) 2006


A Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) study of injured cyclists between 1999 and 2008 also found that a third of hospital admissions were from bicycle alone accidents.


 Obviously continued emphasis on the importance of wearing a helmet and increased law enforcement

would help to address this epidemic of serious and fatal injury from bike falls,

but increased awareness is vital also.

“forewarned is forearmed”
One can and will take responsibility for one’s own safety only if one knows the risk and how to prevent it.

In relation to bike falls, besides the wearing of helmets, the cause of falls “loss of control” is often due to inexperience, braking, and loss of balance/ manoeuvrability.

You must be fit to ride,
before you ride for health and fitness.

One ought to practice braking and manoeuvrability before cycling on the roads

And the public should know, particularly the elderly, the risk of serious injury and fatality from all crash types particularly bicycle alone accidents.

When Bicycle Victoria advocates “The health benefits of cycling such as a more active lifestyle and better fitness far outweigh the risks of death or injury from crashes.”

Bicycle Victoria’s Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria (2002)

Bicycle Victoria’s claim is based on a 2000 Danish mortality study, “All-Cause Mortality Associated With Physical Activity During Leisure Time, Work, Sports and Cycling to Work”
Anderson, Lars Bo
 Archives of Internal Medicine Vol 160 No. 11 June 12, 2000.

“This study took place in Copenhagen, Denmark over 14.5 years and found that cycling to work (an average of 3 hours cycling per week) decreased risk of mortality by approximately 40% of that of the sedentary control group.
The study took into account issues such as age, health status, and socio-economic factors.
The study also found that there are increased benefits of physical activity for the aging population.”
The full report can be found at:

The general health benefits cited apply to aerobic exercise generally, i.e. walking, jogging, exercise in a gym.
There is no emphasis on safe exercise, safe travel/ transport, in the Copenhagen Mortality study.

 “ [i] The health benefits of cycling...This is especially true for responsible cyclists obeying the road rules...”

Especially? So irresponsible law-breaking cyclists are healthier too?

No, they are not!

As mentioned the public remain uniformed generally in relation to bicycle accidents,

with the erroneous common assumption being that all cyclist deaths and serious injury

are caused by motorist wrongdoing. This feeds a victim mentality for cyclists.

Yet to reiterate according to Bicycle Victoria’s Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria (2002)

" Around 80% of all cyclist hospitalisations are for crashes that do not involve motor vehicles."

Blanket blame of motorist wrongdoing enables a victim mentality in relation to cycling

with a lack of responsibility/ duty of care to cyclists’ own safety as well as to other road users.

Pete Dowe

Road Safety Advocate


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