From the Western Australian, December 12, 2011, page 11.
[Edited to add the links]There has been a dramatic jump in the number of middle-aged West Australians being seriously injured while riding a bicycle.
Research by the Health Department found the rate of bicycle-related hospital admissions had more than doubled for men aged 45 to 64 in the space of a decade, from 20.8 per 100,000 people to almost 50. Women of the same age also had a marked boost in then rate from 9.1 to 18.7.
The rate for younger men, aged 25 to 44, increased from 33.7 to 55.6 and for women in that age range, the rate rose from 4.5 to 9.8.
The study, published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, found males made up more than 80 per cent of hospital visits for bicycle-related injuries, while children under 14 made up 48 per cent.
The growth in injuries among the middle-aged was in contrast to steady or declining rates of hospital treatment for younger and older age groups. In the 25 to 64 age group, the biggest cause of injury was falling off (55.5 per cent), followed by colliding with a vehicle (15.2 per cent), a stationary object (5.4 per cent) or another cyclist (4.5 per cent).
The study analysed data from January 2000 to December 2009. The increase could be linked to more adults cycling, or factors such as increasing traffic, bike design or a change in cyclists' behaviour, the researchers suggested.
They said middle-aged cyclists should be specifically targeted with safety campaigns and policies.
Bicycle Transportation Alliance spokesman Heinrich Benz said many cyclists who ended up in hospital had been hit by cars travelling in the same direction.
"It is a significant source of accidents and it stops people from riding, because of that fear," he said.
Mr Benz said cycleways were beneficial but pedestrians, cyclists and drivers also needed to adopt better attitudes towards sharing roads and pathways.
In separate research published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, clinicians at Royal Perth Hospital outlined five serious injuries from boat propellers and jetskis, treated late last year, and argued for public education on the risks and better safety features.