Frequency and causes of single-vehicle cyclist accidents; an accident
analysis based on a survey of cyclist victims
‘Single-vehicle cyclist accidents’ refers to accidents only involving cyclists,
i.e. no other road users. They can be subdivided into two groups: the ‘cyclist-only’ accidents (falling, feet between the spokes etc.); and the cyclist collisions with objects and animals. Not much is known yet about singlevehicle cyclist accidents as a whole. The national accident database does not provide a good picture because of the large under-reporting of this type of accident.
In order to gain some insight into the number and nature of the victims of this type of accident, an analysis was carried out of data collected in a postal/mail survey of cyclist victims. This data is from a combined SWOV and Consumer Safety Institute project that was carried out in 1995. The cyclist victims in this project had been taken to the Accident & Emergency department of a hospital, where they had been treated or admitted.
The survey contained data of more than 1600 bicycle accidents with the following elements: they had occurred on a public road and the victim had been cycling (i.e. not getting on or off a bicycle). These accidents are subdivided as follows:
1. cyclist-only 47%
2. collisions with objects, parked cars, and animals 12%
3. collisions with other road users 40%
Single-vehicle cyclist accidents are about 60% and thus constitute an important part of the total number of cyclist accidents. The cyclist-only accidents involved the following occurrences:
- stunting with a bicycle 27%
- feet between the spokes 18%
- mechanical fault in the bicycle 13%
- bad road surface 8%
- falling because of a bend in the road 7%
- luggage 6%
Also of some importance was a slippery road surface (due to snow, ice,
mud and leaves).
Bicycle accidents with objects, parked cars, and animals were subdivided as follows:
- kerb 36%
- small posts 18%
- parked cars 11%
- trees/poles 10%
- animals 9%
- other obstacles/objects 16%
The distribution of cyclist accidents among the three groups was compared with the subdivision used in the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System (HLASS) and Road Accidents in HLASS. These are Consumer Safety Institute databases, the second being an initiative of SWOV. The 6 SWOV-rapport R-2000-20 difference was relatively small, and is probably to a large extent caused by the possibilities of a questionnaire giving a better description of the course of the accident.