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More than 10 times more dangerous than riding at 75 years old

A Dutch study has found that cyclists aged over 80 years old are 80 times more likely to be killed while out cycling than young people.

It's the first time such an elderly section of the population has been examined, and follows an earlier study showing the death rate for the over 75s was increased sevenfold.

Of course the older and more frail a cyclist is, the less likely he or she is to survive a collision, but the difference just five years makes is noteworthy.

The Dutch website Trouw reports that an increase in cyclist deaths led to research into the phenomenon by the traffic safety institute SWOV.

In  2010 and 2011 the death rate for cyclists per billion kilometres was 3 for the under 15s. For the over 80s though, it was 345. In the same age group, the number who died on foot per billion kilometres was 179 (of course it would take a lot longer to travel the same number of miles).

The over-80s only account for 3.5% of all cyclists, but accounted for 30% of the 200 cycling deaths recorded in 2011, the SWOV research shows.

Happily, the SWOV research did not find that Dutch cycle paths and roads had become much less safe, but rather that many more people were out on their bikes.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.