Background: Widely varying crash circumstances have been reported for bicycling injuries, likely because of differing bicycling populations and environments. We used data from the Bicyclists' Injuries and the Cycling Environment Study in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, to describe the crash circumstances of people injured while cycling for utilitarian and leisure purposes. We examined the association of crash circumstances with route type.
Methods: Adult cyclists injured and treated in a hospital emergency department described their crash circumstances. These were classified into major categories (collision vs. fall, motor vehicle involved vs. not) and subcategories. The distribution of circumstances was tallied for each of 14 route types defined in an earlier analysis. Ratios of observed vs. expected were tallied for each circumstance and route type combination.
Results: Of 690 crashes, 683 could be characterized for this analysis. Most (74%) were collisions. Collisions included those with motor vehicles (34%), streetcar (tram) or train tracks (14%), other surface features (10%), infrastructure (10%), and pedestrians, cyclists, or animals (6%). The remainder of the crashes were falls (26%), many as a result of collision avoidance manoeuvres. Motor vehicles were involved directly or indirectly with 48% of crashes. Crash circumstances were distributed differently by route type, for example, collisions with motor vehicles, including "doorings", were overrepresented on major streets with parked cars. Collisions involving streetcar tracks were overrepresented on major streets. Collisions involving infrastructure (curbs, posts, bollards, street furniture) were overrepresented on multiuse paths and bike paths.
Conclusions: These data supplement our previous analyses of relative risks by route type by indicating the types of crashes that occur on each route type. This information can guide municipal engineers and planners towards improvements that would make cycling safer.