Commuting by Bike in Belgium, the Costs of Minor Accidents

Accid Anal Prev. 2010 Nov;42(6):2149-57. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2010.07.008. Epub 2010 Aug 9.


Minor bicycle accidents are defined as "bicycle accidents not involving death or heavily injured persons, implying that possible hospital visits last less than 24 hours". Statistics about these accidents and related injuries are very poor, because they are mostly not reported to police, hospitals or insurance companies. Yet, they form a major share of all bicycle accidents. Official registrations underestimate the number of minor accidents and do not provide cost data, nor the distance cycled. Therefore related policies are hampered by a lack of accurate data. This paper provides more insight into the importance of minor bicycle accidents and reports the frequency, risk and resulting costs of minor bicycle accidents. Direct costs, including the damage to bike and clothes as well as medical costs and indirect costs such as productivity loss and leisure time lost are calculated. We also estimate intangible costs of pain and psychological suffering and costs for other parties involved in the accident. Data were collected during the SHAPES project using several electronic surveys. The weekly prospective registration that lasted a year, covered 1187 persons that cycled 1,474,978 km. 219 minor bicycle accidents were reported. Resulting in a frequency of 148 minor bicycle accidents per million kilometres. We analyzed the economic costs related to 118 minor bicycle accidents in detail. The average total cost of these accidents is estimated at 841 euro (95% CI: 579-1205) per accident or 0.125 euro per kilometre cycled. Overall, productivity loss is the most important component accounting for 48% of the total cost. Intangible costs, which in past research were mostly neglected, are an important burden related to minor bicycle accidents (27% of the total cost). Even among minor accidents there are important differences in the total cost depending on the severity of the injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / economics*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Belgium
  • Bicycling / economics*
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Transportation / economics*
  • Transportation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult