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OHSU Bike Trauma Study

OHSU Bike Trauma Study

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Published by Sarah Mirk
In one of the first long-term studies of biking injuries, OHSU doctors surveyed Portland bike commuters about their crashes for a year.
In one of the first long-term studies of biking injuries, OHSU doctors surveyed Portland bike commuters about their crashes for a year.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Sarah Mirk on Nov 12, 2010
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Bicycle Commuter Injury Prevention: It Is Time to Focus on theEnvironment
 Melissa R. Hoffman, ND, MD, William E. Lambert, PhD, Ellen G. Peck, RN, CCRC, and John C. Mayberry, MD
Few data exist on the risk of injury while commuting to work or school by bicycle. The proportion of commuters choosing to travel by bikeis increasing in the United States, and information on injury incidence and the influences of rider characteristics and environmental factors may suggestopportunities for prevention actions.
Bicycle commuters in the Portland, OR, metropolitan area wererecruited via the websites and community advertising to participate in a1-year study. Riders completed an initial online survey along with 12monthly surveys describing their commutes and injury events from Septem- ber 2007 to August 2008. A traumatic event was considered a serioustraumatic event if medical attention was sought.
Nine hundred sixty-two adult bicyclists (52% men and 48%women) with a mean age of 36.7
0.4 years (range, 22–70 years) commuted an average of 135 miles (range, 7–617) per month. There were 225 (23%) beginner, 256 (27%) intermediate, and 481 (50%) advanced riders. Four hundred twenty (44%) had a prior traumatic event. Over the 1-year period,164 (18%) riders reported 192 traumatic events and 49 (5%) reported 50serious traumatic events. The incidence rates of traumatic events and serioustraumatic events were 15.0 (95% CI, 13.2–17.5) and 3.9 (95% CI, 2.9–5.1) per 100,000 miles commuted. There were no differences in age, gender,safety practices, and experience levels between commuters who experienced a traumatic event and those who did not.
Approximately 20% of bicycle commuters experienced atraumatic event and 5% required medical attention during 1 year of com-muting. Traumatic events were not related to rider demographics, safety practices, or experience levels. These results imply that injury preventionshould focus on improving the safety of the bicycle commuting environment.(
 J Trauma.
2010;69: 1112–1119)
he number of people choosing to commute to work or school by bicycle in the United States continues to rise.The 2008 national bicycle commuter mode share of 0.5%,though small, represents
720,000 commuters, an increaseof almost 200,000 people in 3 years.
The bicycle commuter modal share in Portland, OR, a city with a population of 
600,000, rose to 6.4% in 2008, according to the US CensusBureau.
Although bicycle commuting is believed to be beneficial to the health of both the individual and the com-munity, the potential for fatalities and injuries also exists.Puncher and Dijkstra
report that riding a bicycle is 12 timesmore likely to lead to mortality than riding in a car. Injuriesresult in costly medical bills, time off work, surgery, and  permanent disability. Even events that do not lead to injurycan adversely affect a cyclist’s sense of safety, leading themto stop commuting by bike.
Although the risk of injury while bicycle commuting isreal, it has been difficult to accurately measure. Two largeretrospective studies of North American bicycle commutersfound the injury incidence to be between 6.0 and 18.6 per 100,000 miles commuted.
A 2-week pilot study of com-muters in Nottingham, England, recorded no injuries.
 Nolarge prospective study of bicycle commuter injury has been published. We conducted a 1-year prospective, observationalstudy to determine the incidence of traumatic events, defined as a cycling event leading to injury, along with the incidenceof serious traumatic events, defined as a traumatic eventrequiring medical attention, associated with commuting towork or school by bike in Portland. We also sought tocharacterize the influence of rider skill, environmental fac-tors, roadway surface conditions, and infrastructure on bothtraumatic and serious traumatic events.
Bicycle commuters in the Portland metropolitan areawere recruited throughout August and September 2007 viawebsites, including bikeportland.org and the Portland BicycleTransportation Alliance, as well as community advertising to participate in the study. The recruitment period coincidewith the Bike Commute Challenge, a month long eventsponsored by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in Septem- ber of each year. This study was approved by the InstitutionalReview Board at Oregon Health & Science University. Sub- jects were required to be at least 18 years old, self identify asa bicycle commuter, complete at least part of their bicyclecommute to work or school within Portland city limits, haveaccess to the Internet, be accessible through email, and havethe ability to complete surveys written in English, either alone or with assistance. An initial online survey was used tocollect demographics, safety practices, experience levels, and event history as well as information regarding the currentcommuting route including distance, months used, and infra-structure encountered. Commuters were grouped into one of 
Submitted for publication December 11, 2009.Accepted for publication August 26, 2010.Copyright © 2010 by Lippincott Williams & WilkinsFrom the Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Acute Care Surgery (M.R.H.,E.G.P., J.C.M.), Department of Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University,Portland, Oregon; and Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine(W.E.L.), Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.Presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Eastern Association for the Surgeryof Trauma, January 19–23, 2010, Phoenix, Arizona.Address for reprints: John C. Mayberry, MD, Oregon Health & Science Univer-sity, Mail Code L-611, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239; email: mayberrj@ohsu.edu.DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181f990a1
The Journal of 
 Injury, Infection, and Critical Care
Volume 69, Number 5, November 2010
three skills levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced, based on responses to the initial survey. Those who reported a bike commute history of 
9 months, regardless of dayscommuted per week, were considered beginners; those whocommuted by bike
3 days per week for at least 9 monthsduring 1 year were considered intermediate; and those whocommuted by bike
3 days per week for at least 9 months per year for at least 3 years were considered advanced.Monthly online surveys were sent via Survey Monkeyon the first day of the month, beginning in October 2007 and ending in September 2008. Each survey remained open for 8days. Reminder emails were sent to all subjects who had notcompleted the survey on the fifth and eighth days of themonth. Surveys were used to collect information regardingthe previous month’s commute as well as information regard-ing the circumstances and outcomes of both traumatic eventsand serious traumatic events, including the light, weather,roadway surface condition, and infrastructure related to theevent, whether or not a vehicle was involved, injuries sus-tained, hospital admission, length of stay, and time off fromwork.
Statistical Analysis
Descriptive statistics were run on the initial surveydata, and values are reported as mean
SEM except whereotherwise indicated. Comparisons across skill levels weremade using analysis of variance with Bonferroni post hoctests for continuous variables and 
or Fisher’s exact test for categorical variables. For continuous variables without ho-mogeneity of variances, Welch and Brown-Forsythe statisticswere calculated with Games-Howell post hoc testing asneeded. Monthly and yearly incidence of traumatic eventsand serious traumatic events per 100,000 miles were calcu-lated from the reported number of events and the total milescommuted. Total miles commuted were derived for eachcommuter by multiplying the average number of days com-muted per week, as reported in each monthly survey, by theroundtrip distance of the commute, as reported in the initialsurvey, by four; results were added to obtain total milescommuted for each month and for the year beginning Sep-tember 2007 and ending August 2008. Monthly and yearlyincidence rates of both traumatic and serious traumatic eventswere also calculated for each skill level and were thencompared using analysis of variance.To analyze commuter characteristics potentially asso-ciated with traumatic events and serious traumatic events,univariate analysis of categorical data was performed using
test. Noncategorical data were analyzed using independentsamples
test with equal or unequal variances depending onthe distribution of each set based on analysis by Levene’s testfor equality of variances. All differences between traumaticand serious traumatic events were calculated using
test.For all descriptions, calculations, and analyses, serious trau-matic events were first included within the traumatic eventdata and were then recorded and analyzed separately, exceptfor when traumatic events and serious traumatic events weredirectly compared. Statistical analysis was performed usingSPSS version 17.0 (SPSS, Chicago, IL).
The initial online survey was accessed by 1043 indi-viduals and 1034 consented to participate in the study. Ninehundred eighty individuals fully completed the initial survey.Eighteen individuals did not respond to any of the 12 monthlysurveys, and their information was not included in any cal-culations. Another 34 commuters opted out of the study atvarious times during the year; their initial and monthly surveyresponses were included in all calculations for which they provided data. In total, we collected 9,492 months of data, anaverage of 9.9 months (range, 1–12 months) per commuter;the 34 commuters mentioned earlier provided an average of 4.9 months (range, 1–11 months) of data per rider. Overall,42% of commuters provided 12 months of data, and 72% of commuters provided at least 10 months of data. There wereno deaths, though a Portland bike commuter not enrolled inthe study was killed in October 2007.Commuter characteristics are listed in Table 1. Sixty-three percent (301) of the advanced commuters were men,compared with 37% (82) of the beginners (
0.001). Therewere no statistical differences in body mass index (BMI) between the skill levels. Advanced commuters were statisti-cally more likely to use both lights and reflective clothing(
0.001) but were no more likely to usehelmets or mirrors. Four hundred sixty-three (48%) commut-ers reported using a road bike, 247 (26%) a hybrid bike, and 122 (13%) a mountain bike; more than half (52%) useclipless pedals. The average roundtrip length of commute was11.2
0.2 miles (range, 3–25 miles), with no significantdifference between skill levels. Respondents reported anaverage bicycle commuting history of 74
2.5 (range,0–453 months) and an average of 41.1
1.2 (range, 0–156months) on the current commuting route. Two hundretwenty-four (53%) of advanced, 72 (32%) of beginner, and 90(35%) of intermediate riders (
0.001) reported a prior traumatic event. Of the total 420 (44%) commuters whoexperienced a prior traumatic event, 294 (70%) said that theevent occurred during their commute and 223 (53%) said thatthe event involved a vehicle.
. Bicycle Commuter Demographics
Commuter 962Male 52%Female 48%Age (yr) 36.7
0.4*BMI (kg/m
) 24.1
0.1*Skill levelBeginner 23%Intermediate 27%Advanced 50%Prior traumatic event 44%Helmet 95%Lights in dark 96%Reective clothing 60%Mirror 19%
* Mean
The Journal of 
 Injury, Infection, and Critical Care
Volume 69, Number 5, November 2010
Bicycle Commuter Injury Prevention
© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Overall, the incidence of traumatic events and serioustraumatic events were 15.0 (95% CI, 13.2–17.5) and 3.9(95% CI, 2.9–5.1) per 100,000 miles commuted, respec-tively. There were no significant differences between skilllevels (Fig. 1). The monthly incidence of both traumatic and serious traumatic events from September 2007 to August2008 is illustrated in Figure 2. Of note, there were only twoadditional traumatic events for which medical attentionwould have been sought if the commuter involved had med-ical insurance.Commuter characteristics and their association withtraumatic events are summarized in Table 2. On univariateanalysis, there were no statistical differences in gender, age,BMI, skill level, commuting history, prior traumatic event, or use of helmet, lights in the dark, reflective clothing, and mirrors between those commuters who experienced a trau-matic event and those who did not. Commuters who experi-enced a traumatic event had a slightly longer commute thanthose who did not (12.1
0.5 miles vs. 11.0
0.2 miles;
0.036). A univariate analysis of characteristics associatewith serious traumatic events is outlined in Table 3. Exceptfor helmet use, there were no statistical differences betweenthose commuters who experienced a serious traumatic eventand those who did not. Thirteen percent (6) of commuterswho did not wear a helmet experienced a serious traumaticevent, compared with 5% (43) of those who did (
0.023).In an additional analysis comparing commuters who reported a traumatic event with those who reported a serious traumaticevent, lack of helmet use was the only statistical difference between the two groups (
0.013).The most common body regions injured were the skin/soft tissue, upper limbs, and lower limbs, occurring in 52%,48%, and 42% of all traumatic events and 52%, 44%, and 52% of all serious traumatic events reported (Fig. 3). Injuriesof the head, face, abdomen, and spine were more likely to beassociated with a serious traumatic event (
0.017, 0.001,0.005, and 0.001, respectively). Of the 50 serious traumaticevents, 12 (24%) led to hospital admissions with an averagelength of stay of 1 day and 4 (8%) led to one operation each.The average time off work as a result of a serious traumaticevent was 2.42 days (range, 0–20).For each traumatic and serious traumatic event, wecollected the light, weather, roadway surface condition,and infrastructure involved with the event. Most traumatic
Figure 1.
Incidence rates of traumatic events (
white bar 
) andserious traumatic events (
black bar 
) per 100,000 miles com-muted, by skill level. Beg, beginner; Int, intermediate; Adv,advanced.
Figure 2.
Incidence rates of traumatic events (
white bar 
) and serious traumatic events (
black bar 
) per 100,000 miles com-muted, by month.
. Bicycle Commuter Characteristics Associated With a Traumatic Event
VariableTraumatic Event
Yes No
Commuter 164 798 — Male 87 416 0.83Female 77 382Age (yr) 36.6
0.9 36.7
0.4 0.91BMI (kg/m
) 23.3
0.3 23.7
0.1 0.29Skill level 0.74Beginner 31 193Intermediate 43 214Advanced 90 391Total commute history (mo) 76.8
6.4 73.6
2.7 0.64Current commute history (mo) 38.2
2.9 41.7
1.3 0.27Commute length (miles) 12.1
0.5 11.0
Prior traumatic event 79 85 0.19Use helmet 156 761 0.89Use lights in dark 162 764 0.06Use reective clothing 96 478 0.75Use mirror 37 147 0.22
Values are presented as mean
SEM or n. The
value in boldface indicatessignificance.
 Hoffman et al.
The Journal of 
 Injury, Infection, and Critical Care
Volume 69, Number 5, November 2010
© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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