Bicycle injuries rising among older riders

She was just going out for a short bike ride around her neighborhood. It didn’t seem necessary to carry an ID, or even wear a helmet. Ten minutes later she was found lying in the dirt unconscious near a bike path. The bystander who found her, called 911 and an ambulance arrived soon afterwards. Then a kind Emergency Medical Technician whisked her off to the emergency room with her mind constantly weaving in and out of consciousness. After numerous X-rays and cat scans she ended up in the neuro unit of the hospital for observation.

This is a true story.  It happened to me back in 2008 in Fort Collins. My own tumble over the handle bars and into a nasty bike accident, led to fractured ribs, an injured wrist and thigh, and a traumatic brain injury.

This is my warning to you who think riding a bike is still as easy as climbing back on again. 

Injuries among older riders have jumped dramatically in recent years. Between 1998 and 2013, bike injuries among all adults over the age of 18 increased 28 percent, while hospital admissions jumped 120 percent. Head traumas went from 10 percent to 16 percent of all injuries in the same period.

Older bicyclists fueled much of that increase in injuries, especially ones that required an emergency room visit. Injuries among those 45+ jumped 81 percent and hospital admissions increased 66 percent, from 39 percent to 65 percent of total injuries. While death rates for cyclists younger than 15 fell by 92 percent between 1975 and 2012, death rates for cyclists between the ages of 35 and 74 showed a large increase, according to CDC data.

While I do not want to discourage you from healthy exercise as you age, be careful out there! I feel the effects of my brain injury everyday, especially when I write or speak with others. My memory is definitely not the same and it also completely depends on what area of the brain you injure.  I find I tire quickly in social situations, and the first sign that I am getting overwhelmed is when I cannot think of the proper word for something, a difficult feeling for one who has always been proud of her ability with words.

mandala head chakra photo

On the flip side, my brain injuries (yes I suffered a second concussion after we moved in here!) have taught me to slow down, meditate more, and enjoy each moment as it arrives.

Besides now living in a quiet and contemplative part of Colorado, I have learned some wonderful relaxation techniques that are quite FUN regardless of your brain injury status.

Take care of that old personal computer up there! You only get one.

11 thoughts on “Bicycle injuries rising among older riders

  1. Hi Laura,
    I love to go bike riding on paths around a park with my daughter. Feeling adventurous, I decided to book a bike riding trip for us in Alaska. It was grueling for me. Your points are well taken. I’m glad you are okay.


  2. Great advice Laura Lee and so glad you are okay. I’ve actually never mastered riding a bike but I go running. I always make sure I take my phone and id because you never know what might happen. One day I had a collision with a cyclist and had to hobble home because I didn’t have my phone. Staying healthy as we age is very important but we need to bring some common sense to the table as well. Enjoy your weekend.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond


  3. Oh. My. Goodness! That is so scary!
    I ride my bike all the time. (Maybe one reason there are more injuries is because we older riders are still riding. I know my parents never got on a bike after a certain age…)
    I always wear a helmet. And ride with my daughter et al.
    I will be even more cautious after reading this!


    • Diane:
      You apparently are not so balance challenged as myself, and it certainly didn’t improve after a couple head injuries! Be careful out there. Drivers aren’t paying attention well anymore. Texting seems to be more important than driving safely these days…


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  5. Thanks for sharing and yes … I’m glad you are o.k. My father fell off his bike at some point when he was retired and it was a low point for him emotionally as well. I appreciate your looking at the subject and enlightening others about the risks etc.


  6. This is a great cautionary tale about what happened to you. I don’t ride a bike but I walk my dog 3 times a day and a month ago a lady age 62 was walking a dog in my neighborhood and she was killed by a hit and run driver. So even the most innocent of activities can have shocking results. Like you suggest, exercise and stay safe.


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