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45-64-year-olds now make up more than a quarter of hospital admissions -- quadrupling since turn of century

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlights an increase in the number of older cyclists admitted to hospital since the turn of the millennium, with 45-64-year-olds now making up more than a quarter of admissions during a period that coincides with the rise of the MAMIL (middle aged man in Lycra) trend.

Entitled Pedal cyclist deaths and hospitalisations 1999–00 to 2015–16, the report finds that over the 17-year period, 160,000 cyclists ended up in hospital with an average 1.5 per cent increase each year.

That came against a background of an increase in the number of adults cycling, with an Australian Sports Commission survey finding a 45 per cent increase in cyclists aged 15-plus between 2001 and 2010 to stand at 2.1 million

(It’s worth noting that there had been a significant fall in the number of bike riders in Australia early in the previous decade after states introduced compulsory helmet laws between 1990 and 1992).

Referring to the 17 years covered by the report, AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison said: “Within this period, over 650 cyclists died in cycling crashes—an average of 38 deaths per year. Of these, 90 per cent were male, and 90 per cent of fatal incidents occurred on-road.”

The AIHW said that analysing hospital admissions of cyclists by age showed that the age range had “changed markedly” over the period.

As examples, it said that 48 per cent of injured cyclists in 1999-2000 were aged 5-14, but that fell to 20 per cent in 2015-16, while 25-44-year-olds accounted for 18 per cent at the start of the period but 31 per cent by the end of it.

In 1999-2000, just 7 per cent of injured cyclists admitted to hospital were aged 45-64, but by 2015-16, that had almost quadrupled to 26 per cent.

Professor Harrison said: “Nearly 6 in 10 hospitalised cyclists were injured in an on-road crash. Similarly, nearly 6 in 10 sustained a fracture, with the most common injury being a fractured arm.”

But he highlighted that older cyclists now accounting for a greater proportion of hospital admissions had implications in terms of treatment.

“The severity of injuries sustained by cyclists generally increased with age,” he explained.  

“Those aged 45 and over were more likely to have life-threatening injuries, stay longer in hospital and be transferred to another hospital.”

He added: “Cyclists aged 45 or older consumed 90% of the total hours of ventilator support, with more than half provided to those aged 45–64.”

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.