(Australian Associated Press)
About 1000 cyclists end up in hospital every month and older Australians are increasingly among the injured, new data shows.
An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released on Wednesday found 12,000 cyclists were admitted to hospital in the year to June 2016 – up 60 per cent since 2000.
Making up the majority of the increase was people aged over 45, with admissions booming by 466 per cent.
Older cyclists now make up a quarter of all riders admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile, the proportion of hospital-treated cyclists aged under 16 fell dramatically – from more than half in 1999/2000 to just one in five in 2015/16.
“Those aged 45 and over were more likely to have life-threatening injuries, stay longer in hospital and be transferred to another hospital,” injury epidemiologist and report co-author James Harrison said in a statement.
The increase in cycling injuries overall flies in the face of sustained drops in hospitalised motorists and pedestrians, which both fell more than one per cent each year.
Annual cycling deaths – of which 90 per cent occur on the road – remained steady at 38.
Bicycle Network, which represents 50,000 riders nationally, said the data still showed the risk of having a crash when riding a bike is still extremely low.
“However, it’s not good enough that serious injuries and deaths for bike riders are not improving when it is for other road users,” chief executive Craig Richards told AAP in a statement.
“If we’re to solve our inactivity and congestion crisis, we need more people riding bikes. We have to do more to look after those riding and make those wanting to ride feel comfortable.”
He pointed to the City of Melbourne’s recent proposal to reduce CBD speed limits to 30km/h and build 50km of protected bike lanes.
The AIHW report showed most cyclists in hospital in 2015/16 had simply fallen off their bike, especially in off-road circumstances.
But an average of 30 riders a week were hurt in collisions with motor vehicles – making up almost a quarter of on-road cycling injuries.
Just seven motorists needed hospital treatment after hitting a cyclist.
Hours before the report was released, a man cycling in the backstreets of the Sydney suburb of Lidcombe on Tuesday afternoon became the latest rider killed on Australian roads.
The driver accused of hitting him fled the scene.