The number of bicycle miles traveled every year by riders who are older than 450 has increased from 1.9 trillion miles in 2001 to 3.6 trillion miles in 2009. In 1997, 26 percent of medical costs were due to riders 45 and older; by 2013, that had grown to 54 percent. Men continued to comprise the bulk of the injured, with 77 percent of costs in 2013 due to male riders.
What’s behind this increase and what does it tell us about how the circumstances surrounding bicycle rider injuries are changing. Well, as bicycle commuting to work rises in Georgia, so do the number of riders who are hit and injured on the roads of Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Year ago, it was not unusual to watch a movie and see scenes from urban areas in China and other parts of Asia and be struck by the number of people who were riding bikes, not for recreation and enjoyment, but rather to commute to and from work or to get around while working. Now, bikes have certainly become mainstream in Atlanta and it is not unusual to see someone commuting to and from work or making deliveries on their bike instead of their car. Many roads in Atlanta have been repainted or re-paved to add bike lanes and commuters have taken advantage of this increased access to the roads and have decided to ride their bikes instead of drive their cars. This results in better health, increased community awareness and cost savings in the form of less gas usage, decreased car maintenance and repair costs, and in some cases when an automobile is completely replaced by a bicycle, elimination of car insurance payments.
However, as is the case with most things in life, with the good comes the bad. And the bad in this case is that Atlanta bicycle riders are being hit and injured by Georgia drivers at an alarming rate. The medical costs associated with adult car on bike crashes was almost $25 billion in 2013 and, with increased bicycle usage by adult commuters, continuing to rise.