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Cycling habits and accident risk of older cyclists in Germany

Carmen Hagemeister

Paper belonging to the presentation 'New insights in the behaviour of senior cyclists' held during the International Cycling Safety Conference on November 7th and 8th by Carmen Hagemeister.

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Cycling is a healthy activity for persons of all ages. But older cyclists have a high risk of having a severe or even fatal accident. A interview study was conducted in order to find out how age related problems affect cycling in older persons, how it influences their cycling behaviour, how they compensate for the problems. The relation of cycling habits to accidents of older cyclists was determined. We made a distinction between “safe” older cyclists who had had no accident after their 59th birthday and others who had had at least one accident, including falls.

The participants were cyclists between 60 and 90 years of age in Saxony, about one third each living in Dresden, in the rural area or in an area with a medium density. About half of them cy-cled daily or nearly daily, about one quarter 3-4 times per week and one quarter 1-2 times per week.

The same proportion of safe cyclists was found in all age groups. Persons who cycled daily or nearly daily had a higher accident risk than persons who cycled less often. Distance cycled was not related to accident risk. Physical difficulties were not related to having had an accident with the exception of problems getting on or off the bike. Not compensating for sensory diffi-culties was related to having had an accident: Having a hearing aid and not using it when cy-cling and having visual problems and not restricting oneself mainly to familiar routes.

The best predictor of having had an accident was red light running which shows that other fac-tors than physical impairment play an important role in the accident risk of older cyclists.

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