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Study conducted in response to people saying they were deterred from cycling because of risk of injury

Playing rugby is more than 500 times riskier than cycling, according to new research, which also found that the chance of suffering an injury while participating in winter sports is more than 100 times greater than when riding a bike.

The findings come from research conducted by a team at the University of Auckland and published in the Journal of Transport and Health, reports the NZ Herald.

The research examined how the risk of sustaining an injury that would qualify as a valid claim under New Zealand’s ACC no-fault injury compensation scheme varied between different activities.

Professor Alistair Woodward said that he decided to investigate the issue after he noticed how many people said that they wanted to cycle but didn’t because they were afraid of getting injured.

"That really prompted me to get a student working on a project to try to find out exactly what the risk was and how it compared with other things that are relatively common," he said.

Researchers found that approximately nine in every 100,000 short trips by bikes in urban areas resulted in an ACC claim.

Comparing data for other activities, Woodward and his team found that the risk of cycling on the road for half an hour, three times a week, was the same as it was for engaging in DIY at home twice a week.

Cycling was seen as five times safer than for going horse-riding for an hour and a half twice a week, 140 times less hazardous than spending half a day skiing four or five times a year, and 530 times less dangerous than playing rugby once every three weeks.

In terms of why people perceive cycling as dangerous, Woodward said: "We suggest this is a consequence of living with a transport system that is dominated in every way by the motor car.

"The bicycle has been pushed to the margins, where it is seen as unusual, different, not mainstream, and unfamiliar

"We need to turn this round. The most powerful way to bring bikes back from the margin is to provide safe spaces for cyclists of all abilities to get to where they want to ride.

"More people riding, and public spaces that celebrate two-wheeled choices, will do two things: make cycling even safer, and reduce the fear of the bike," he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

24 comments

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HalfWheeler [667 posts] 9 months ago
5 likes

Public schoolboy dry humping is more than 500 times riskier than riding a bike...

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KiwiMike [1323 posts] 9 months ago
8 likes

For such an apparently carefree, relaxed country, New Zealanders do have a really fucking weird sense of what is risky and what isn't, and what should be mandated by government and criminalised, vs. what you can do unfondled by the nanny state.

Case in point: the government are proposing watering down the water quality legislation, so that any river or lake you swim, ski, kayak or raft in only has a ***1 in 20*** chance of making you physically sick. (In case you're wondering, the rivers are mostly full of cow shit and  fertiliser-related algal bloom)

But yeah helmets.

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Morat [280 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
HalfWheeler wrote:

Public schoolboy dry humping is more than 500 times riskier than riding a bike...

 

Go ride a horse  10

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DNAse [30 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

So is "tighthead prop" a wrestling move?

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stenmeister [344 posts] 9 months ago
3 likes
DNAse wrote:

So is "tighthead prop" a wrestling move?

In the same way that 'puncheur' is a boxing move.

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TurboJoe [77 posts] 9 months ago
7 likes

This should be a wake up call to all those people who take the Scrum to work.

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hoffbrandm [39 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

"Playing rugby 500 times riskier than cycling"

 

Please give me just one comma.

 

 

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burtthebike [1219 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

"In terms of why people perceive cycling as dangerous, Woodward said: "We suggest this is a consequence of living with a transport system that is dominated in every way by the motor car."

There may be some truth in that, but the main reason that people perceive cycling as much riskier than it actually is, is because the helmet zealots have deliberately exaggerated those risks to promote their cause.   They have lied, grossly exaggerated, abused statistics and twisted the truth beyond recognition, all in order to push their agenda of mass helmet use.

That this thirty year propaganda campaign, ably fronted by the BBC, has been effective is undeniable, with most people thinking that cycling is much more dangerous than it really is, and many people donning helmets as a way of attempting to reduce perceived risk.  Having just done a very quick web search, there seem to be in-numberable articles about how dangerous cycling is in NZ, all of which also promote helmets.

The comparisons given, like rugby, are somewhat facile, and nobody uses rugby to get to work every day.  A rather more useful comparator would be walking, which has an almost identical risk per mile travelled, but nobody campaigns for walking helmets because the risk is seen as low.

The professor's research is behind a paywall, so I can't access it, but perhaps he might like to look at my MSc dissertation "Do cyclists have an exaggerated perception of the effectiveness of cycle helmets and the risks of cycling?" 

http://www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/perception%20of%2...

 

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Yorkshire wallet [1573 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

Rugby is safe. They have helmets......

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davel [1987 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

My sons play rugby. At their ages, it's tag (straps  attached by velcro to a belt - steal a tag, that's a tackle) where non-contact is emphasised to encourage footwork, passing and other skills, and to stop it just being the big kids flattening the little 'uns. You stay on your feet, you have both hands on the ball... you get the idea.

It seems to really work for skill development, and, bar the odd clumsy collision, really does remain impressively non-contact.

But it's a great example of how parents unthinkingly lap-up the stuff they see on the telly, especially regarding little Johnny's 'safety'.

Out of about 30 kids playing yesterday, 8 had gum shields and a similar skull cap to the one Victor Vito's wearing up ^ there.

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Jimmy Ray Will [817 posts] 9 months ago
3 likes

As said above... People perceive cycling is dangerous because that is what they are told every single day.

This website reports incidences every day of people being killed or seriously injured. 

The MTB fraternity feeds this perception as it suits them... they want to be partaking in a risk fueled adrenalin sport. 

All day, every day we are told of the dangers of cycling. 

This is why...its so simple.

Its not just the pro-helmet brigade, its loads of sources, all saying the same thing... all with their own agendas... helmet supporters - to get helmet legislation, Motor lobby - to further marginalise cycling...

But, by far the greatest influence is simply that no one wants to read news about cyclists getting safely from a-b, to having better health, quality of life, cheaper commuting etc etc etc. These messages do not sell papers... people want horror, they want sensationalism, they want to feel anger... this is what fuels us.

To me its no more complicated than that. 

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FluffyKittenofT... [1889 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

As said above... People perceive cycling is dangerous because that is what they are told every single day.

To me its no more complicated than that. 

It's no more complicated than that, true, but it isn't that.

It seems obvious to me that, while the emphasis on helmets and high-viz absolutely doesn't help, most people think cycling is dangerous not because they are 'told' it, but because they drive and walk (and even cycle) on roads that they can see for themselves are bloody horrible and stressful to cycle on. More than a few actually try it, then decide its too scary and stop.

'Dangerous' is interchangeable with 'hard work' and 'unpleasant' because almost all the burden and mental effort of dealing with the danger is placed on the person cycling.

Nobody told me that cycling was 'dangerous' in the many years I didn't try it. Rather I could see for myself how nasty were the roads I walked along and had to cross on foot. Even now I don't think I was mistaken.

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flathunt [245 posts] 9 months ago
5 likes

Hang on - Have I been doing it wrong playing rugby to and from work every day? I'm stopping that today and getting a bike. What an idiot I've been.

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davel [1987 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

As said above... People perceive cycling is dangerous because that is what they are told every single day.

To me its no more complicated than that. 

It's no more complicated than that, true, but it isn't that. It seems obvious to me that, while the emphasis on helmets and high-viz absolutely doesn't help, most people think cycling is dangerous not because they are 'told' it, but because they drive and walk (and even cycle) on roads that they can see for themselves are bloody horrible and stressful to cycle on. More than a few actually try it, then decide its too scary and stop. 'Dangerous' is interchangeable with 'hard work' and 'unpleasant' because almost all the burden and mental effort of dealing with the danger is placed on the person cycling. Nobody told me that cycling was 'dangerous' in the many years I didn't try it. Rather I could see for myself how nasty were the roads I walked along and had to cross on foot. Even now I don't think I was mistaken.

Exactly...

Plus, 'Man squashed by HGV' is news.  'Man isn't squashed on his commute to work and improves his overall fitness and chances of living longer by 0.16%' isn't news... Even if you roll that up across the entire population who cycle to work on Cycle To Work Day, is it a story many media outlets would put ahead of 'Man squashed by HGV'?

So how do you counter the reporting of actual horrible events? You probably can't...

So shouldn't the emphasis be on actually making cycling a bit less horrible (and, ideally, making driving a bit more horrible, or at least shift the risk burden from the vulnerable to the ones in the metal living rooms)?

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Simon E [3154 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
davel wrote:

Plus, 'Man squashed by HGV' is news.

And always will be news.

What I think must change is the current view that the HGV or driver is almost blameless, or has "a momentary lapse of concentration" (which could happen to any of us) and is just going about his or her business. I'd suggest that it's how the events are reported that matters.

Only when the wider public see the tyranny of motorised traffic as a bad thing, curtailing their freedoms, needlessly killing and injuring people, blighting lives and poisoning their children - rather than it being a shiny status symbol and an effortless way of getting from A to B - will there be any really change. Sadly, I don't see that happening for some time.

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surly_by_name [551 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

I'm a member of the "MTB fraternity". Your observations about mountain biking are bullshit.

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surly_by_name [551 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

I haven't looked at the statistics - I can't find them - but I imagine (admittedly based on anecdote) that fewer people are killed (vs injured) playing rugby than cycling. This is one of the reasons some people think cycling is more dangerous than rugby.

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SingleSpeed [383 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

The MTB fraternity feeds this perception as it suits them... they want to be partaking in a risk fueled adrenalin sport. 

 

 

Nah I just think we're fitter, faster and have better bike handling skills.

In fact I'd tend to suggest that MTB is actually safer, as Trees and Rocks generally don't have a habit of pulling out of side roads when you're riding down a narrow singletrack trail at 40kmh.

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700c [1171 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

So is there an assumption that the public don't think paying rugby is dangerous? Because it's pretty obvious to me that it's more dangerous than cycling!!!

Its about injuries, so football probably is too (though perhaps not by a factor of 500). Plenty more people play that so perhaps a better example to highlight.

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KendalRed [107 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
700c wrote:

So is there an assumption that the public don't think paying rugby is dangerous? Because it's pretty obvious to me that it's more dangerous than cycling!!! Its about injuries, so football probably is too (though perhaps not by a factor of 500). Plenty more people play that so perhaps a better example to highlight.

I don't know for sure, but as the article is about New Zealand, I would guess rugby is more popular than football?

 

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700c [1171 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

True, though highlighted by road. Cc which tends to to have a UK -focus / readership

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Jimmy Ray Will [817 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
surly_by_name wrote:

I'm a member of the "MTB fraternity". Your observations about mountain biking are bullshit.

 

I'm also a member of the MTB fraternity, my comment is based on my personal perception formed from 23 years fat tyred riding. 

It may not be the same perception as yours, but I can assure you it is not bullshit.

Or are you saying that you do not MTB for the thrill of it? 

Are you seriously saying that MTB marketing is not around bigger, faster, harder... more risks, bigger thrills? People engage with these messages, live that dream. 

As an aside, helmet use was minimal prior to MTB going mainstream. it was the catalyst that made helmets the norm. If it wasn't for MTBing there would, no doubt have been a different catalyst but there didn't need to be, the MTB got the job done.

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Jimmy Ray Will [817 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
SingleSpeed wrote:
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

The MTB fraternity feeds this perception as it suits them... they want to be partaking in a risk fueled adrenalin sport. 

 

 

Nah I just think we're fitter, faster and have better bike handling skills.

In fact I'd tend to suggest that MTB is actually safer, as Trees and Rocks generally don't have a habit of pulling out of side roads when you're riding down a narrow singletrack trail at 40kmh.

 

See, you are kind of demosntrating my point there. You are promoting the fact that you take measured risks in a controlled environment (off-road), whilst stressing that the road is a dangerous place. 

The truth is, the risks posed by the MTB are far greater than that of road riding. Your chances of an accident are far larger. 

The risk perception you are seeing and advocating on the road is that you are not in control of the most dangerous, if least likely, cycling risk... that of being struck by a motor vehicle. The truth of that risk is that being hit by a vehicle is slight enough, that when it happens it is still newsworthy. 

Ironically, that is I suppose, a good thing. 

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davel [1987 posts] 9 months ago
3 likes

I used to box (gumshield compulsory) and play rugby league, and I have never heard that they're supposed to guard against concussion before...!* (Amateur) boxing already had the godawful headguard as its bike helmet.

I stand (sit) corrected and happily take back my WATduck  1

*Edit: shit, what if I have, and I just had it punched out of me. I did use to block with my chin...