The Medical Costs of Bike Accidents Are Soaring

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We all know that riding a bike is good for your health — unless, of course, you crash. And unfortunately, not only are more riders wrecking, the medical costs of those accidents are soaring, climbing by more $789 million a year, according to a new study by UC San Francisco.

Between 1997 and 2013, the study found, medical costs associated with non-fatal bike accidents jumped 137 percent; those of fatal injuries were up 23 percent. There were approximately 6,500 more adult cycling injuries annually, and the toll for all injuries over the 17-year period totaled $237 billion. 

Most of those riders, as it happens, were men, who accounted for three-quarters of total costs. And older riders also are at a greater risk: In 2013, the study found, nearly 54 percent of the total costs of bicycle accidents were due to riders 45 and older, up from 26 percent in 1997.

Researchers attribute the increase to a number of factors, chief among them a surge in bike commuting. More riders on the streets means more encounters with cars and trucks, which results in more severe — and costly — injuries. The takeaway, according to lead study author Benjamin N. Breyer: “Many of these injuries are preventable with safer roads. We need to invest long-term into our bicycling infrastructure.”