It’s a catch-22 or, if you like, a catch-66, 77 or 88: continuing to cycle in your elderly years is beneficial to your overall fitness, but you’re only one crash away from quickly ageing a decade and oblivion.
According to an Epinion study for the Rådet for Sikker Trafik road safety agency and TrygFonden, almost every tenth cyclist over the age of 65 has fallen off their bicycle in the last year.
One half of all fatalities
Alarmingly when it comes to cyclist accidents, the over-65s account for half of the nation’s fatalities and a fifth of the serious injuries. The majority of the accidents do not involve other road-users.
Some 25 percent of the survey’s respondents (1,015 people aged 65 to 80) knew somebody aged 65 or over who had fallen off their bike or got injured in the past year. Cyclists in Jutland (8 percent) were less likely than those in Zealand (10 percent) to fall off their bike.
Loss of balance the most likely cause
The most common cause of an elderly person falling off their bike is a loss of balance whilst mounting or dismounting, with 37 percent saying this was the reason.
A loss of balance avoiding a road obstacle (16 percent), hitting the curb (7), hitting a hole in the road (6), driving too quickly (5), being startled by another road-user (4) and being hit by a car (2) were also common causes.
However, despite recent claims that the elderly and electric bikes are a lethal combination, only 3 percent said they fell off because their electric bike accelerated faster than they expected.
Campaign launches today
Rådet for Sikker Trafik and TrygFonden are today launching a two-week safety awareness campaign, ‘Sikker på cykel – hele livet’ (safe on your bicycle – your whole life), which is aimed at reducing the number of accidents involving the elderly.
It advises the elderly to use a bicycle that is easier to get on and off – namely a bike without a high frame to step over – wear a helmet (only one out of four do so), wear bright colours to make themselves more visible, and take more care at junctions.
“When you’re elderly, a fall off a bicycle can have very serious consequences, because the body is more fragile. They can easily break a bone and decide their cycling days are over,” commented Tina Valter Olsen from Rådet for Sikker Trafik.