Lanes safer than helmets
Study motivates municipalites to demarcate cycling paths
GOOD news for cyclists still waiting on municipalities to wake up to cycle lanes — a fiveyear study of over 18 000 cycling injuries in Canada show dedicated lanes are much more effective than wearing helmets to lower risk of head injuries.
The study, which was published on BMJ Journals for healthcare professionals and researchers, echoed the surprise finding from a similar 2006 study, which stated if helmet laws were effective, far fewer adult cyclist should show head injuries,
The 2006 study analysed 10 504 hospitalised cyclists in several states, where helmet wearing among adults in New Zealand had increased from 43% to 92%, but the injuries did not decrease.
Last week’s Canadian study shows “share mode transport” is a far better at lowering head trauma from crashes than wearing a helmets.
The study states “helmet legislation was not associated with hospitalisation rates for brain, head, scalp, skull, face or neck injuries.
“These results suggest that transportation and health policymakers who aim to reduce bicycling injury rates in the population, should focus on factors related to increased cycling mode share and female cycling choices.
“Bicycling routes designed to be physically separated from traffic or along quiet streets fit both these criteria and are associated with lower relative risks of injury,” concluded the study.
Wikipedia explains modal share is an important component of sustainable transport, with many cities setting targets of 30% cycle and walking lanes; 30% public transport, leaving 40% of the road space for private cars or motorbikes.
Dedicated lanes in KZN
In KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini is the only city to offer dedicated cycling lanes, although the city’s jargon for a cycling lane is NMT — for “Non-Motorised Transport”.
eThekwini next plans to connect all major buildings in the city centre and ultimately replicated cycling lanes in other major nodes of eThekwini, including Pinetown, Umlazi, KwaMashu and Umhlanga. The NMT plan is itself included in the City’s Integrated Rapid Transport Network (IRPTN) programme.
Project manager from the eThekwini Energy Office, Craig Richards, told Urban Earth the cycling lane project is part of a broader NMT programme that eThekwini has embarked on to improve cycling conditions and infrastructure in the city.
“Most projects thus far have focused on improving cycling infrastructure in the city.
“These include the Durban beachfront and the routes that were developed for COP17, which have been extended recently using funding from KFW [German development bank] and the Department of Environmental Affairs,” Richards said.
His office hopes to raise the profile of cycling in the city and encourage people to use bicycles to commute to and from work.
The Canadian study examined administrative data on hospital stays for bicycling injuries, calculating hospitalisation rates based on national survey data of national bicycling trips.
During the study period between 2006–2011, there was an average of 3 690 hospitalisations per year and an estimated 593 million cycling trips among people 12 years of age and older, for a cycling hospitalisation rate of 622 per 100 million trips.
Hospitalisation rates varied substantially across the jurisdiction, age and sex strata, but only two characteristics explained this variability.
For all injury causes, men consistently had more injuries than women.
For traffic-related injury causes, higher cycling mode share was consistently associated with lower hospitalisation rates.
A cyclist on the bike lanes that connect Durban’s Botanic Gardens in Berea to the CBD and the beachfront