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Serious cycling injuries in Alberta spike during pandemic: Canadian Institute for Health Information


New data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows cycling injuries spiked in the first year of the pandemic.

Across Canada, hospitalizations for cycling injuries increased 25 per cent and hospitalizations for cycling-related brain injuries increased 36 per cent, from 4,190 to 5,255.

In Alberta, the numbers are more drastic, with 15 per cent of all cycling injuries in Canada being reported in the province and emergency department visits for cycling incidents rising 48 per cent from the previous year, up to 13,000 from 8,734.

Tayna Khan, manager of clinical administrative databases at CIHI, said the pandemic is a potential explanation for the spike in injuries.

“Our data doesn’t capture exactly why this happened, however. . .we’re generating a few hypotheses,” Khan said. “And it’s possible that some of the public measures had an impact.”

Bike – and electric bike – sales rose during the first year of the pandemic, and Khan said the loss of team sports and social activities may have driven people to look for new ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Stephen Reitz, chair of Paths for People, said Edmonton doesn’t have a well-developed network of safe connected lanes and shared-use paths, putting new cyclists at an increased risk for injury while moving around the city.

But even experienced cyclists aren’t always safe on roads, he adds.

Dana Creran has been cycling for close to eight years, but she has decided to take a break from riding in the city after getting in an accident on Saturday.

Creran said she was crossing the road at a crosswalk with her sister on their bikes when a car turned right across their path without stopping for the red light. They avoided getting hit, but both were clipped into their road bikes and fell hard, she adds.

“I’m all bruised up all over my left side, and she’s currently in a sling for four to six weeks,” Creran said. “And this all could have been easily prevented if the person would have stopped at the stop line where the red light was.”

Creran doesn’t feel safe riding in the city anymore, and said she isn’t shocked by the statistics showing the increase in cycling related injuries.

“Every year I can count on my hand at least five or six times where there’s a car who is riding right behind us, trying to scare us off the road,” Creran said. “We’re getting honks, we’re getting fingers, we’re getting yelled at.”

“It’s a lot of close calls.”

Reitz said road users can take care in different ways to ensure a safe ride for everyone. Cyclists should wear a helmet, ride in lit areas and use bike lanes and shared-use paths where possible. For drivers, he said, it’s important to stay vigilant and remember that pedestrians and cyclists are more vulnerable to injury.

“It’s really important for drivers to remind themselves that they’re using a vehicle that can cause serious harm and potentially death,” he said, adding that all road users benefit from signaling with intent and being patient on the roadways.

“One thing we’re really like to stress is that it’s just really important to be kind to everybody else using the roadspace, no matter the way that they’re getting around. Because at the end of the day, everybody just wants to get home.” Top Stories

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