Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Bicycle accidents in childhood.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 16 May 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:1267
  1. J Nixon,
  2. R Clacher,
  3. J Pearn,
  4. A Corcoran


    The results of a 10 year study of bicycle fatalities and an eight year study of serious non-fatalities are reported for urban Brisbane (population 1,000,000). There were 845 serious non-fatal bicycle accidents and 46 fatalities during the study. Boys were involved in 86% of accidents. Boys have an accident rate of 134.21 per 100,000 population at risk and a fatality rate of 5.06 per 100,000 at risk. Serious bicycle accidents have increased by 50% in this decade; but considering fatal cases alone, no secular trend was evident over the 10 year period of the study. This suggests that an increase in the overall rate of bicycle accidents has been in part compensated by less serious injuries. In 70% of fatalities children had head injuries, and 87% of fatalities followed a collision between a cyclist and a motor vehicle or a train. Bicycle accidents on the roads most commonly occur to boys aged between 12 and 14 years on a straight road at "mid-block" between 3 and 5 pm in clear weather conditions and in daylight. It is concluded that injuries and fatalities after bicycle accidents can be reduced by protecting children's heads, separating child cyclists from other road traffic, or educating and training both cyclists and other road users in safe behaviour. The compulsory use of helmets and the restriction of access to the roads by child cyclists to reduce injuries are, however, still controversial in many areas.