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Older bicyclists must be more cautious


There’s no doubt about it, more health-conscious Californians aged 55 and older are riding bicycles whether for pleasure or a work commute. However, people within this age group must take extra care and preparation when it comes to safety and keeping injuries at bay. But older riders are more susceptible to serious injuries.

When it comes to injuries – compared with younger bicyclists – those in the 55 and older age group are more likely to make a trip to the emergency room. Aging bodies do not lie. With loss of bone mass and less resiliency, seniors may sustain more severe injuries. When younger and older cyclists experience the same type of trauma, the outcome is more serious for the older person.

Injuries, deaths increase among older cyclists

Many bicyclists are more likely to be injured by striking a pothole, crashing into a curb or other bicyclists instead of colliding with a motor vehicle. Older bicyclists also may be taking medication that puts them at risk for additional injury. For example, if you are taking a blood thinner such as Warfarin, you run the risk of significant bruising and bleeding from injuries. Bleeding on the brain is among the worst injuries if you strike your head on the pavement.

California also accounts for the most bicycle-related deaths. Here are some fatality statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding older bicyclists.

  • In 2017, senior citizens 65 years of age and older accounted for 139 bicyclist fatalities in the U.S. That number represents nearly 18% of the 783 bicyclist deaths recorded that year.
  • Bicyclists aged 55 to 64 accounted for 167 fatalities or more than 21% of the deaths.
  • Bicyclists aged 50 to 54 accounted for 108 deaths, the largest number of fatalities among all age groups.
  • Of the nearly 800 bicyclists who died, 89% were male.
  • The average age of people who die in bicycling accidents has creeped up in the last 10 years to 47 compared with 41 in 2008.

Bicycling may help you live longer. But as you age, you must remember that you are more susceptible to serious injuries that will take you a longer time to recover.