Cycling is around 35 times safer than rugby, according to
Auckland University researchers who compared accident claims
and participation rates in several activities.
They calculated that around 6000 two-hour bike rides took
place for each cycling injury claim covered by the Accident
Compensation Corporation and one rugby injury claim was
accepted for every 167 games, on average.
Medical student Michael Chieng, supervised by Professor
Alistair Woodward, concluded a two-hour bike ride was about
six times safer than horse-riding, 15 times safer than a
day's skiing and 35 times safer than a game of rugby.
In 2012, eight cyclists died, 161 were seriously injured and
637 suffered minor injuries in police-reported crashes on New
Zealand roads, the Ministry of Transport says. Two deaths
have occurred this year, prompting a Herald series
highlighting the road safety issues.
Cycling groups believe an over-emphasis on cycling risks
keeps many people off their bikes - and that a big increase
in the numbers cycling on roads would actually make it a
Professor Woodward said Mr Chieng's comparison was done to
challenge assumptions - "the idea that riding a bike is just
too dangerous to think about, that you couldn't have your
children riding a bike but it's okay to go playing rugby.
"It's fine to play rugby, but people have a slightly bent
sense of the relative risks. The point was to put bicycle
risk in some kind of proportion."
Cycling Advocates' Network chairman Graeme Lindup agreed
there was a public misperception of the safety of cycling and
said its comparatively low risk in the Auckland University
analysis was not surprising. But that did not relieve the
need to rectify the absence of safe-cycling infrastructure in
Mr Chieng said the university's studies following 2006 Lake
Taupo Cycle Challenge entrants for more than four years
indicated bike crashes causing injuries were uncommon.
"A typical rider would be out on his or her bike for seven
years before an injury, and on average would be riding for 70
years before suffering an injury sufficiently severe to be
admitted to hospital."
A paper published in the journal Public Library of Science
One last week reported that Taupo cyclists who had had a
crash in the year before the 2006 event were more likely than
the non-crashers to be younger, male, a university graduate,
live in an urban area, spend more time in the saddle, listen
to music while cycling, ride in a bunch, ride to work, at
night and off-road.
They were less likely always to use fluorescent or reflective
- Martin Johnston of the New Zealand Herald