Cycling is a great way to stay fit, but only if you're careful. A recent study from JAMA shows adult biking injuries are on the rise, especially in men over 45 years old.
The silver lining behind the news is that more and more adults especially middle-aged males are using cycling for recreation and commuting to work. Older bikers are also more prone to serious injury than the younger biker.
Urologist Benjamin Breyer, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues, looked at data routinely collected at U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission from about 100 emergency rooms nationwide. They found that biking injuries overall jumped 28 percent between 1998 and 2013, and hospitalizations after bike injury spiked from 5.1 to 11.2 per 100,000 U.S. adults.
Still, cycling's track record needn't be ignored. Riding, whether for fun or commuting, is a great way to get around, while burning calories and maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the same time. There is no reason to think the form of transportation has become more dangerous by the mile, since the rise of adult biking in the U.S. has been well-documented, and is likely the main cause for the findings.
Perhaps the underlying concern is whether or not biking is embraced as a healthier, more efficient way to move about in bigger cities like New York, Chicago and Seattle, among others. While bike lanes help, much more still needs to be done to improve the safety of bikers in metropolitan areas, and more drivers should pay attention and practice patience when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists.
In a recent article, Jane Brody of the New York Times shares her personal accounts of cycling in European countries versus the U.S. Brody says she felt safer riding through the streets of Germany, Poland and Croatia than she did in her Brooklyn neighborhood.
Safety should be a two-way street, and cyclists aren't off the hook. When riding, bikers should wear helmets at all times, wear bright colors in the daytime, and reflective wear at night. When possible, they should try to make eye contact with pedestrians and drivers on the road. Cyclists should always ride in the direction of traffic and always obey traffic signals.
At the end of the day, as a biker, remaining vigilant is key to avoiding injury.