Ottawa-Carleton commuter cyclist on- and off-road incident rates

Accid Anal Prev. 1998 Jan;30(1):29-43. doi: 10.1016/s0001-4575(97)00059-6.


This analysis overcomes the known limitations of police and emergency room bicycle accident databases through use of a survey that asked cyclists to indicate their accident history as well as their regular commute route to work or school. By relating the route information of the 1604 respondents (52.5% of the distributed questionnaires) to facility attributes in a Geographic Information System, defensible estimates of travel exposure on roads, off-road paths and sidewalks were developed. The relative rates of collisions on the three different facility types were not statistically different from 1.0. The relative rates for falls and injuries suggest it is safest to cycle on-road followed by off-road paths and trails, and finally least safe on sidewalks. While there were no major injuries reported on sidewalks, the relative rate for these events on paths was greater than the rate for roads. The absolute event rates per bicycle kilometre were found to be between 10 and 41 times higher than similar rates for automobile travel. Results suggest a need to discourage sidewalk cycling, and to further investigate the safety of off-road paths/trails. The analysis also demonstrates the need for bicycle travel exposure information and the use of more than just collision databases for bicycle safety analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment