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Study Suggests Correlation Between Bike Sharing and Brain Injuries

Bike sharing is taking the entire world by storm. Though the automobile alternative is relatively new to the United States, its history in several European countries dates back more than ten years. The programs work with rental bicycles that are maintained at rental stations throughout the city. Riders swipe a credit card to release the bikes from their locks. They are then charged an hourly rate for the bikes and they can return them to whichever rental station is closest to their destination. Some companies offer monthly subscriptions.

According to a report by Oregon Public Radio (OPR), as bike sharing extends into new cities, the rate of brain related injuries increases. American and Canadian researchers collaborated on a study to review the number of traumatic brain injuries in jurisdictions with bike sharing programs. They analyzed the number of emergency room head injury visits before and after the implementation of bike sharing programs. The study specifically looked at the cities of Washington DC, Minneapolis, Boston, Miami Beach and Montreal. Researchers reportedly documented a 14% increase in brain injury ER visits after bike sharing programs began.

These results are attributed to the failure of bike sharing companies to provide helmets to riders at the rental stations, according to the article. Riders are expected to provide their own helmets when renting, but this rarely happens. Numerous cyclists jump on the bikes each day with no protection to their heads. Janessa Graves is quoted in the article as the lead author of the study, stating “Public bike-share initiative are great wellness initiatives,. But without providing helmets, we were concerned that we would see an increase in head injuries. And we did.” While researchers admit that additional factors may contribute to the numbers, they reportedly assert that the results suggest significant concerns with bike sharing programs.

Bicycle Injury Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about half of the millions of bike riders in this country do not wear helmets to protect their heads. In 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the United States. In addition, more than 26,000 sustained traumatic brain injuries, requiring emergency room care. Traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain is impacted by an external force. The brain moves around, bumping against the inside of the skull. This can result in bruising, tearing or even bleeding. These injuries are a significant cause of serious disability, as well as death.

According to the CDC, helmets are the best method of prevention against traumatic brain injuries. Without adequate protection, the rider’s head is vulnerable in the event of an accident. Riding in large cities, as is the case in bike sharing areas, poses additional risks for riders dealing with heavy traffic, especially when there are no bike lanes made available. According to the OPR study, researchers hope bike sharing companies will begin offering helmets to their customers at the rental locations.

If you or your child has suffered a bicycle related brain injury, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti for a free consultation.

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