The number of hospitalizations following bicycle accidents is up 20% in Quebec in 2020-2021, but collisions with vehicles are about they are falling.
The number of hospitalizations due to an injury decreased in Quebec in 2020-2021, but hospitalizations due to a bicycle accident increased by 20% during the same period, from 1001 to 1199, according to data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
Nevertheless, the number of accidents involving bicycles dropped significantly last year. Vélo Québec indicates that in 2020, 1,257 cyclists were hit by cars, compared to 1,896 in 2015. However, not all of these accidents required hospitalization.
Data from the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) also shows that in Quebec in 2020, 84 cyclists were seriously injured or died in a collision with a vehicle – while for pedestrians this figure is 216.
Cycling in Quebec is safer than 20 years ago, says Vélo Québec President and CEO Jean-François Rheault. In 2020, many more people cycled, and this increase in the number of users may partly explain the higher number of accidents involving bicycles.
Vélo Québec estimates that the number of cyclists was 3.5 million in Quebec in 2000, and that this figure rose to 4.5 million in 2020.
Mr. Rheault further points out that the number of accidents with vehicles is decreasing. Falls can also be attributed to cyclists colliding with other cyclists or to simple falls.
To ensure the safety of cyclists, the CEO of Vélo Québec pleads for the construction of secure cycling facilities, to separate bicycles from vehicles, and to calm the speed of cars. These are the two key factors, insists Mr. Rheault.
The CEO of Vélo Québec, Jean-François Rheault
The appearance of self-service bicycles can lead to risks of injury, of course, without however causing more deaths or injuries, underlines Mr. Rheault. There is no figure that indicates that bike sharing might be a problem. The key is in the infrastructure, not in the experience of the cyclists.
The helmet can also have a significant impact on the severity of injuries for cyclists. Mr. Rheault reports that its carriage is on the increase, both in adults and in young people, although it does not solve all the problems.
It is in this context that he asserts that infrastructure, such as runways separated from vehicles and wide enough, makes the difference.
In Canada, the number of people hospitalized due to a bicycle accident also jumped, but by 25%, from 4190 to 5255.
According to CIHI, more male cyclists were hospitalized due to a cycling accident than females (3,744 versus 1,511). Cyclists aged 18 to 64 are also more often injured than cyclists aged 5 to 17, and cyclists aged 65 to 84.
Hospitalizations for injuries cyclists are also up 20% in Canada, compared to 2016-2017 data, from 646 to 776 – all age groups combined.
In Ontario and Alberta, for the same period covering 2016 to 2020, emergency department visits by cyclists who have suffered a brain injury also increased by 20%. CIHI does not have data on brain injuries in Quebec pedestrians or cyclists.
Concussions have seen a significant jump in the practice of sports activities in Canada, especially cycling.
On cycling facilities, the strong demand for electric bikes is clearly an issue, believes Mr. Rheault. Not all bike paths are made for cohabitation, he reminds us.
“The federal government has transferred responsibility to the provinces [and] we are still waiting for the supervision of electrically assisted bicycles. »
— Jean-François Rheault, CEO of Vélo Québec
Normally, the maximum speed [of electric bikes] is 32 km/h. It's very fast on a bike path where the average speed will generally be around 20 km/h, notes Mr. Rheault.
We are campaigning for there to be a maximum speed, because according to him, when you have children on a cycle path and bicycles traveling at 32 km/h , it is certainly not compatible.
This is the reason why Mr. Rheault insists on the need for wider tracks, which will allow better cohabitation between all users cycling facilities.