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 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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.