New study Cyclists in Accidents by Mark Rickman

The majority of cyclists admitted to the RAH were in accidents that resulted from their own poor judgment - not bad drivers - a study has found

Cyclists are their own worst enemy on the roads, inflicting most of their injuries through their own bad behaviour, a Royal Adelaide Hospital study has found.

The majority of cyclists admitted to the RAH were in accidents that resulted from their own poor judgment - not bad drivers - a study has found.


RAH director of orthopaedic trauma Associate Professor Mark Rickman studied 110 hospital admissions of cyclists during 2018 and 2019. 

He found only 14 victims blamed bad drivers for their accidents.

“The majority of cyclists admitted were male patients who assessed themselves as experienced riders, and yet still were involved in accidents that resulted predominantly from episodes of poor judgment,”A/Prof Rickman
“Speed is a common and avoidable factor involved in the presentation of orthopaedic-related trauma to the public system.  “Involvement of other vehicles was relatively uncommon, as was poor weather.”A/Prof Rickman

Prof Rickman, an avid weekend cyclist, treats many of the serious cyclist injuries in Adelaide at the RAH and through his Ad Frac clinic at Calvary Hospital. He had expected more cyclists to have been hit by other vehicles and more to have crashed because of bad weather.

In 56 cases, cyclists involved in the study said they had been riding “too fast”, 10 times they said they were trying a stunt, and 12 times that they were fatigued. 

The road surface was blamed 15 times, mechanical problems 15 times and hazards on the road three times.

In 25 instances, riders were not sure of the cause and some riders blamed multiple causes.

Nine patients had taken substances prior to cycling – alcohol (4), methamphetamines (3), diazepam (1) and a combination of alcohol and marijuana (1).

“If you look after yourself, are sensible and don’t do stupid things, then you are reasonably safe,’’A/Prof Rickman
“I have spoken to a lot of people who say ‘I don’t want to ride because I could be killed’ and I say ‘Actually, it is pretty safe’.”A/Prof Rickman

The median age of the riders studied was 46, while 95 were male and 15 female. 

Of the study participants, 101 considered themselves regular cyclists, riding an average of 118km a week. A total of 34 per cent of the accidents happened on a regular commute.

The median self-reported speed of the bike at time of accident was 30km/h, but speeds ranged from zero to 55km/h.

Prof Rickman said public health awareness campaigns addressing risk-taking behaviours would be beneficial, even for experienced riders.

“An emphasis on speed, use of illegal substances and fatigue would be of benefit,”A/Prof Rickman


Tagged in research, orthopaedic trauma, cyclist study