Massachusetts Cycling Safety: Men At Risk

Men love bicycling. For every one woman who gets on a bicycle in the U.S., there are three men. There are a myriad of reasons for this, and female ridership is steadily growing. But one thing we do know is that men suffer the majority of bike-related injuries and deaths.

The Boston bicycle accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com know when a man is seriously injured or dies as a result of a collision, it can affect his entire family, leaving them emotionally scarred and financially strapped. Our offices can help.

The U.S. isn’t alone in the cycling gender parity. In Canada, for example, women make up just 30 percent of all bicycle riders. In the United Kingdom, just 27 percent of riders are women.

This is generally attributed to the fact that cycling on the street isn’t as a safe as it should be, and men are more prone to accept the risks. Several studies have shown high concern for traffic safety is the top reason for the gender differences, with women more likely than males to cite:

  • Concerns about cycling in traffic
  • Aggression from motorists

Other issues that have been reported to affect female ridership include sexual harassment. There is also the fact that bicycles can be impractical for carrying children and other passengers, and women were more likely than men to be transporting children.

The National Household Travel Survey shows just 24 percent of bike trips were made by women in 2009. While fervor for cycling has grown rapidly among men – especially those over age 45 – research suggests female ridership is actually down since 2001. The American Bicyclist Study indicates it’s down by as much as 13 percent between 2000 and 2010, even as the total number of annual bicycle trips increased during that time from 3.3 million to 4 million.

In Boston, the Boston Cyclist Safety Report indicated that male cyclists accounted for 77 percent of all bicyclists involved in crashes reported to local police. While researchers were careful to say that doesn’t necessarily mean men are riskier riders than women, it does tell us men are taking the majority of the trips. A 2010 survey conducted by Boston Bikes indicated 7 in 10 bicyclists in the city were males.

USA Cycling membership figures indicate 84 percent of competitive cyclists are male. More than half of those are between the ages of 35 and 54. Another 15 percent are between the ages of 55 and 64. Popularity in high-speed sport biking has ballooned in recent years, according to USA Cycling’s annual report. This may also contribute to the growing number of bicycle-related injuries. Massachusetts riders comprise 3.1 percent of total membership, even though we only comprise 2 percent of the national population. These individuals ride very fast on light-weight racing bicycles alongside motor vehicle traffic, which can put them at higher risk.

What Hubway Maps Can Tell Us

In attempting to glean more about why more men than women take to two wheels, one researcher analyzed data from the three of the largest bike share programs in the nation: Boston’s Hubway, New York’s Citi Bike and Chicago’s Divvy.

The research examined gender balance at all the bike share stations during a five-month span in 2013. What was discovered in Boston was this:

  • 75 percent of Hubway riders were men;
  • Station’s near the main business centers in Boston and Cambridge had the lowest female ridership (perhaps not coincidentally, these areas tend to have the highest number of bicycle accidents);
  • Women are more likely to ride on Saturdays and Sundays, while men are more likely to ride during the week (suggesting men are riding for daily commute, while women are riding more for recreation).

Hubway is a system of 140 stations and 1,300 bikes. While it doesn’t account for those who own their own bikes or rent them from other places, the information does offer a window into female and male cycling in Boston.

Male Rider Injuries

Because there are more male riders, it makes sense that this group suffers the most injuries and deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported recently:

  • 87 percent of bicyclists killed in 2013 were male.
  • 83 percent of bicyclists injured in 2013 were male.
  • The highest number of male fatalities were among those between the ages of 55 and 59.
  • The most males injured were between 20 and 24-years-old.
  • The bicyclist fatality rate per capita was 7 times higher for males than females.
  • The bicyclist injury rate per capita was 5 times higher for males than females.

According to American Family Physician, when male cyclists are injured, the most common injuries are to the head, face, abdomen and neck. Most of the superficial injuries that occur involve “road rash,” or cuts and bruises of the skin.

Other injuries include:

  • Head injuries (skull fractures, concussion, brain contusion, intracranial hemorrhage)
  • Face/ eye injuries (facial fractures, dental fractures, corneal injuries, etc.)
  • Musculoskeletal (fractures, strains, dislocations)
  • Chest (lung injuries, rib fractures, etc.)

In order to drive down the number of cycling injuries among men – and all riders – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends riders:

  • Wear properly-fitted bicycle helmets.
  • Wear fluorescent clothing in the day.
  • Wear retro-reflective clothing at night.
  • Install active rear and front lights for nighttime riding (it’s the law in Massachusetts)
  • Follow all traffic safety laws.

If you or a loved one have suffered a bicycle accident injury or if you are a survivor of someone who was killed, contact our experienced legal team today to learn more about how you can help.

Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com.