According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, certain demographics are most at risk when it comes to bicycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities:

  • Adolescents aged 15 to 24 and adults over the age of 45 have the highest bicycle death rates
  • Children aged 5 to 14 and adolescents aged 15 to 24 have the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle injuries
  • Males are much more likely to be involved in bicycle-related crashes
  • Most cyclist deaths occur in urban areas and, surprisingly, away from intersections

Data from the Hughston Clinic suggests that accident-related injuries to the upper extremity (shoulder, forearm, wrist, and hand) are most common, followed by injuries to the lower extremity (hip, thigh, leg, ankle, and foot). Within these types of injuries, abrasions and lacerations are most common. Abrasions occur when skin or surfaces of the body have been scraped away by making contact with pavement or other rough surfaces. Lacerations are deep cuts or tears in the skin. Less-common injuries to the upper and lower extremities include sprains, contusions, and fractures.

Following these injuries to the upper and lower extremities, head and facial injuries are next in line—although most are minor because of increased helmet use in riders. Injuries to the abdomen, thorax, and neck are also fairly common. These injuries, because of their location in the body, are typically more severe.

The American Academy of Family Physicians also discusses common bike accident-related injuries and how to treat them. According to their data, head injuries occur in 22 to 47 percent of injured bicyclists and are responsible for over 60 percent of all bicycle-related deaths. Although helmets help protect the skull and brain of bicyclists, they do not protect the face. Many facial injuries are the result of impact with pavement or asphalt and result in permanent soft tissue damage. Eye trauma can also occur when airborne objects, including small objects like dust and insects, come into contact with a crashing cyclist.

On their website, the AAFP provides this table of cycling injuries. Note that the table distinguishes between accident-related injuries, and injuries resulting from overuse of certain areas of the body.

 Injuries Sustained by Bicyclists



Neck and back

Cervical strains, lower back pain

Handlebar neuropathies

Ulnar nerve (deep palmar branch), median nerve


Skin chafing, ulceration, irritation (saddle sores), ischial tuberosity pain, fibromas, pudendal neuropathies, impotence, urethral trauma (urethritis, hematuria), vulval trauma


Trochanteric bursitis, iliopsoas tendonitis


Patellofemoral syndrome


Metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, paresthesias



Skull fracture, concussion, brain contusion, intracranial hemorrhage


Contusions, facial fractures, dental fractures, corneal foreign bodies


Fractures, dislocation, strains


Rib fractures, parenchymal lung injury


Splenic rupture, hepatic laceration, renal contusion, pancreatic trauma, vascular perforation, small or large bowel contusion, rupture, traumatic hernia


Urethral and vulval trauma, rectal trauma, pelvic fractures

Skin and soft tissue

Abrasions (“road rash”), lacerations, contusions


Bicycle accident-related injuries can range anywhere from very minor to life-threatening. It is crucial to have medical professionals assess injuries immediately after they happen so that the injuries can be treated immediately. Often, a few hours makes the difference between an injury being treatable and an injury taking a life. For more specific information on different types of accident-related injuries and how to treat them, visit here.

Photo Courtesy of Dancing Poodle and Creative Commons.