The potential of different countermeasures to prevent injuries with high risk of health loss among bicyclists in Sweden
Journal article, 2020
Objective: As bicyclists account for the largest share of serious injuries in Sweden, focus to improve safety for bicyclists is needed. While knowledge about fatal bicycle crashes is rather extensive, the number of studies that have investigated non-fatal injuries is still rather limited. The aim of this study was to estimate the potential of different countermeasures to reduce crashes resulting in injuries with high risk of health-loss among cyclists in Sweden. A further aim was to describe the residual—that is, crashes that were not considered to be addressed by the analyzed countermeasures. Methods: A sample of individuals with specific injury diagnoses was drawn from the Swedish national crash database Strada. A survey form was used to collect additional information about the crash and the health-related outcomes. The potential of countermeasures currently included in the Swedish Safety Performance Indicators, as well as of countermeasures that could be described as “existing but not fully implemented” was assessed. The overall potential of all countermeasures assessed was calculated, giving a grand total without double counting. Cases that were considered not to be addressed by any of the countermeasures included (i.e., the residual crashes) were described in more detail. Results: The current Swedish Safety Performance Indicators that relate to safe cycling addressed 22% of crashes. Improved maintenance by deicing and removal of snow from bicycle infrastructure was found to have the highest potential (8%), followed by improved crashworthiness of passenger cars (5%) and safer bicycle crossings (4%). The potential for existing but not fully implemented safety improvements was 56%. The greatest potential was found for Autonomous Emergency Braking with cyclist detection for passenger cars (12%), followed by studded winter tyres for bicycles (12%), and improved maintenance on non-bicycle infrastructure (11%). In total, taking double counting into consideration, all safety improvements could address 64% of all crashes. Among the residual crashes, the majority (69%) were single bicycle crashes of which most were related to wheel locking during braking and losing balance at low speed or stationary. Conclusions: Compared with fatal crashes that involve a majority of bicycle-car crashes, the crashes leading to health-loss are mostly single bicycle crashes. Therefore, innovation and development of additional countermeasures to improve safety for bicyclists should focus on single bicycle crashes.