Cities in California thinking about starting a bike-sharing program may
want to hear about a new study on brain injuries first. A study by researchers
in the United States and Canada found that the risk of serious brain injuries
increased in cities with bike-sharing programs compared to cities without them.
The researchers looked at several cities in the U.S. and in Canada with
bike-sharing programs and compared them to cities without them. They looked
at the rate of head injuries caused by bicycle accidents in these cities
and reported that the bike-share program is linked to more head injuries
for bike riders.
The study found that the risk of head injuries increased by 14 percent
in cities with bike-sharing programs. The risk of
brain injuries was unchanged in cities without bike-sharing programs.
The researchers said that they couldn't prove a direct link between
bike-sharing programs and higher head injuries but it likely plays a role.
They said that they could not distinguish if the victims injured in bicycle
accidents were using the bike-share program at the time of the injury.
However, it is likely that some of the victims suffered head injuries
when they were using bicycles from the program.
Many people who use bike-sharing programs probably don't carry around
helmets all the time and since these programs don't provide any helmets,
it's up to the rider to bring one. This could be why head injuries
are more likely to occur in cities with bike-sharing programs.
The suggestion that bike-sharing programs may increase the risk of head
injuries is troubling as more cities are starting these programs, including
in California. One of the most important things bike-sharing programs
could do to reduce the risk of serious head injuries is provide riders
Head injuries can lead to traumatic and long-term complications that affect
the rest of a person's life. Cities and individuals should be aware
of the risks of riding without a helmet and take steps to stay safe.
Source: National Public Radio, "Brain Injuries Rose In Cities After Bike-Sharing Rolled Out," Scott Hensley, June 12, 2014