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- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)
Monday’s post on whether helmets encourage risky behaviour sparked a rather spirited discussion in the comments section. One of the louder claims was that, by choosing to write an article about bike helmets, I was making an implicit and unwarranted assumption that biking is more dangerous than, say, walking.
It’s an interesting question: is cycling more any more dangerous than walking? I went to look for some data. This is the first paper I found on Pubmed. I don’t know if it’s representative; I didn’t do a comprehensive search, and I’m under no illusion that this data will change anyone’s mind. Nonetheless, it’s data, from a paper published last fall in BMC Public Health. Researchers examined records from New Zealand’s Mortality Collection and National Household Travel Surveys to determine the incidence of injuries for several different survey periods. Here’s what they found for the most recent period, 2003-7 (the full paper is freely available at the link above, if you want to see the rest of the data):
Activity / Total injuries per year / Injuries per million hours spent travelling
Cyclists / 682 / 30.74
Car/van driver / 1714 / 2.10
Car/van passenger / 1086 / 2.89
Motorcyclist / 784 / 107.64
Pedestrian / 471 / 2.38
[UPDATE April 19: I’ve closed comments on this post, as I think we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. Thanks to everyone for their contributions!]