Cycling is equally safe in the winter and the summer!

July 09, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Man Riding on BicycleContrary to what a lot of people believe a new study has shown that cycling in the winter is just as safe as in the summer. This has many people wondering whether the new cycling boom will continue on once the weather cools.

Commuting by bike has exploded this year. It’s provided people with a safe alternative to public transit crowds, and a way to keep social distancing rules while getting to and from destinations like work and the grocery store. It is also helping some people lose their “COVID 10” which accumulated while we were essentially locked down.

Researchers at McGill analyzed 20 years of data on cycling trauma injuries in the winter and in the summer and tried to account for variables like behavior and seasonal variability in their analysis. After looking at nearly 1000 cycling related trauma injuries they determined that there was very little difference in the injuries regardless of the season.

They found that regardless of the time of year, if alcohol consumption was present then helmet use was less likely. The types of injuries, their severity and deaths were all consistent. The one striking feature was that in the winter injured cyclists were more likely to be male. This may have many reasons, one of which is that fewer women tend to ride in the winter.

Winter cycling tends to occur in worse road conditions and and many people stay off the roads for that reason. Just like riding in the summer, winter cycling requires specialized tires and clothes. Having cleared biked lanes makes it far easier and safer to ride rather than trying to cycle through slush and deeper accumulations.

Cycling Magazine wrote about this and had an interesting conclusion

Many studies have found that Smeed’s Law, which originally applied to motor vehicles, is also true for cyclists and pedestrians. The theory states that the more cyclists there are on the road, the safer cycling in the area becomes. If the growing number of cycling commuters continue to ride throughout the winter, Canadians cities carry on focusing on safer cycling infrastructure and cyclists realize there are not higher risks to riding in the cold, winter cycling could be much more normalized in the coming years.

Establishing new behavior patterns and habits tends to take about two months. Many people who have started riding in the early spring to work, stores and for pleasure may well continue this into the autumn and winter especially if they don’t feel safe on transit options due to the presence of COVID. It will be interesting to see what happens on the roadways in this pandemic period. We’ve already seen many municipalities open up more roadways to cycling to accommodate the lower vehicle traffic and higher volumes of bicycles.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Bicycle Accidents

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