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Biking 'more dangerous' than driving in Sweden

The Local/og · 4 May 2012, 10:20

Published: 04 May 2012 10:20 GMT+02:00

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While many may assume that cars are responsible for the majority of injuries resulting from traffic accidents, a new study has shown that it is the two-wheeler that sends most people to hospital, according to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

In fact, only 28 percent of injuries involve cars. Meanwhile, 48 percent involve bikes, 8 percent motorized scooters, and 7 percent pedestrians. Motorcycles make up just five percent of the road injuries, and buses 2 percent.

Statistics were taken from emergency hospitals in nine major Swedish cities, as well as from traffic accident statistics, and the report was compiled by the Folksam insurance company.

Some 3,000 cyclists are hurt so badly each year that they are permanently injured or need to be taken to hospital, yet this is not due to crashing into cars.

The main cause for a fall is loose gravel, road slipperiness in winter, and poorly maintained cycle paths, problems which cause some 70 percent of the biking accidents wrote the paper.

“We’re seeing an increasingly serious problem. We need a broader strategy to deal with this, and we cannot simply settle on the idea of a demand for bike helmets,” said Maria Krafft of Folksam to DN.

There are concerns that not enough emphasis is placed on cyclists, with car safety consuming most people’s attention, thereby improving dramatically over the past few years, according to Krafft.

“The cyclists, however, have stayed on the same level. They have never been truly prioritized with this type of work. More and more people will be cycling in the future. To solve this problem we need a cycle strategy,” Krafft told the paper.

Meanwhile, some 375,000 people use a bicycle to commute to work daily in Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm.

Story continues below…

In Lund, a student city in southern Sweden, bicycle accidents were much more common that in the other nine recorded cities, with 78 percent of serious injuries being cycle-related.

Stockholm’s statistics showed 41 percent of accidents being bike-related, and 31 percent being car-related.

The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:28 May 4, 2012 by Abe L
I sure hope these results don't surprise anyone. Sweden knows virtually no dedicated cyclist infrastructure. Sticking cyclists on the regular road, with a broken stoplight system in most cities (making crossing paths turn green at the same time) is causing near death situations on a hourly basis.

As for motorcyclist statistics, well you kinda only use those 5 months out of the year during mostly quiet and vacation season, not that surprising.

As for Lund, well obviously you have more cyclist accidents in a city where the majority of the population can't afford a car.

I just really really hope that we won't be wasting billions in tax payer money to 'solve' this problem. Cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam have solved this problem decades ago and it's just a matter of separating pedestrians, cyclists and cars from each other. Not having to share infrastructure with slower and more vulnerable traffic also allows cars to be able to drive faster.
11:34 May 4, 2012 by engagebrain
we will need bicycles when the oil starts to run out and the price of oil goes through the roof.

Maintaining cycle paths is not rocket science, so why isn't it done ?
12:13 May 4, 2012 by Alohart
Abe's statement that "Sweden knows virtually no dedicated cyclist infrastructure" shows that he needs to get out of his car and pay closer attention. Uppsala has many kilometers of roads dedicated to bicycles and pedestrians, most of which are paved. At intersections with motor vehicle roads, cycle crossings have their own traffic signals.

I doubt that Uppsala is unique in all of Sweden in this respect because I have seen similar infrastructure in other Swedish towns. Compared with riding a bike in Honolulu, whose climate is ideal for bicycle riding but which has almost no dedicated bicycle roads, riding a bike in Uppsala is very safe and enjoyable.
12:40 May 4, 2012 by karex
One problem I have noticed in winter is ploughs clearing the stretes and roads but not the cycle paths, which forces the cyclists on the streets and roads instead. One particular incident nearly gave me a heart attack once: the cyclist was going up an exit ramp (for cars) covered with ice, the cars who were coming up behind it had to slow to a crawl and soon it started a chain reaction of cars starting to slide backwards down the ramp on the ice! It was a miracle that there was no major crash incident.

Cyclists also have to understand that no, they DO NOT have the same rights as pedestrians. Crossing a road at 30km/hr coming out of no-where and hoping the car drivers will see you in time to stop is just a death wish to me. And in winter even if by chance they do see the cyclists in time, they may not be able to stop on a dime!
13:02 May 4, 2012 by Twiceshy
> Cyclists also have to understand that no, they DO NOT have the same rights as pedestrians. Crossing a road at 30km/hr coming out of no-where and hoping the car drivers will see you in time to stop is just a death wish to me.

Hear hear! It happens quite frequently, do they think drivers have superhero-like reflexes?
14:48 May 4, 2012 by millionmileman
Do Swedish Cyclists run Red Lights, ride on the sidewalk and the wrong side of the rode. Can you believe the idiots who ride at night without lights. I hope not, America's obsession with stupidity is enough to tax the patience of any good driver.
14:51 May 4, 2012 by eppie

haha, I personally don't think that. I know from experience that you have to expect next to nothing from swedish car drivers. If I stand next to them waiting for a traffic light I usually already start driving when the light is still red. If I wait untill it is green, 50 % of the times they will just turn right......of course the full minute I was standing next to them in plain sight is obviously not enough for a swede.

@Abe L

Indeed, the traffic infrastructure is an outrage for a developed and rich country. Sweden is there just behind Italy and the US when talking about just roads for cars.......and cycling lanes.....well at trafikverket and in cityplanning there just aren't any people who have a clue on how to integrate these.

Sweden has made its choice and that is prioritising cars......and they are to stubborn to change that.
16:24 May 4, 2012 by occassional
Clarkson was right.
16:43 May 4, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
The most shocking bicycle behaviour I continue to encounter in Stockholm is the almost daily array of near misses I experience between myself and fast-moving bicycles coming up on a path behind me, driven by riders who are too idiotic to ring their bell to warn me that they will be within mm's of me, and moving 30km/h faster than me, in a few seconds.

This happens both when I am on foot, or on my slow bike (had a great mountain bike a few years ago that got stolen, and so I replaced it with a slow grandpa bike that is too uncool to steal).

One sudden move to the left or the right on my part at the wrong time and bones and teeth will be broken, and a wheelchair or two will have to be unpacked from their crates. Use you bells you imbecile cyclists!
16:47 May 4, 2012 by rise
Cyclists think they're immortal. Not surprisingly many of them finds out they are not. I'm actually more afraid of a cyclist nearing my car than of playing children in the streets.
17:52 May 4, 2012 by shinnam
The cycle paths do need to be cleaned in the winter, and their are some unsafe bike lanes ( I'm thinking frpm Slussen to Sture Plan) For all those crying about how bad it is, there ARE bike lanes, and the car drivers are quite good. I've ridden a bike in several countries, and Sweden is at the top of the list for safety and accessibility for biking.
18:49 May 4, 2012 by Solith
Uppsala cyclist here - would help if cycle paths were cleared, cyclists signaled and drivers (including buses) paid attention. The number of times I've almost hit a car driving across a dedicated cycle lane because s/he wasn't looking my way is ridiculous. I'm careful as hell because I'm not surrounded by a metal box - driver just do not care.
18:54 May 4, 2012 by calebian22
I find it amazing that commuter style cyclists don't wear helmets. Vanity (this is Sweden) is the reason for going without one, but really which is worse, helmet head or a permanent drool from a brain injury?
20:16 May 4, 2012 by gpafledthis
Ah ha !! I wondered where "stupid" was hanging around this issue !! Poor Rocko ignored !!
20:54 May 4, 2012 by tadchem
I have sustained 2 broken bones in my life - both times involved my bike being spilled by a road hazard. I HIGHLY recommend middle-weight or heavier tires, and lower speed limits for bikes. Helmets, and two-handed riding should be required, with fines for violations. High visibility clothing is a good idea, too.
09:55 May 5, 2012 by Da Goat
WOW .....And I was thinking someone had developed a cure for clumsiness and stupidity, but no!
18:26 May 5, 2012 by JohnnyAppleseed

Why have you dragged America into this? The discussion is about a problem in Sweden remember?
13:41 May 6, 2012 by cogito

The nut-jobs drag America into every discussion. Just think of it as ADS (America Derangement Syndrome).
07:48 May 7, 2012 by hapsh
The biggest problem I have delt with in and around Gothenburg is the use of bikepaths by mopeds and motorcycles and scooters. Usually in the suburban areas. I get passed daily by several going at least 80km with the passenger hanging their legs out.
08:51 May 7, 2012 by rise

What you just described is likely a problem in the whole of Sweden. Cyclists and mopedists who think traffic rules only apply to those driving cars. Add to that every cyclist who presumably think they're the center of the world, meaning they think they've been spotted and seen by everybody from everywhere - why of course since all eyes are on them! :P
15:24 May 14, 2012 by eppie

I don't know where you live but I can tell you that you absolutely have no clue what you are talking about.

To make things clear before telling you why; most Swedish traffic users are completely incapable, I think they are even worse than americans.

You say cyclist think they are immortal; why? Because of the 100 deaths cyclists daily? No this is just not true, because you haven't got a clue, and probably never rode a bike in your life. Riding a bike, especially in Sweden means being incredibly careful, because you can bet your life a car/bus/truck driver will not see you......because they are swedish and only think about theirselves.

The answer on your comment (#20) is more or less the same......I would know why in the world a cyclist in Sweden would think 'they've been spotted' because (being swedish themselves) they know they (car drivers) don't look at other people.

That said; one rides a bike because it is better for the environment, local air quality, traffic congestions in towns etc. so the least the government can do is make it easier for bikers. The fact is just that driving a car gives a great responsability because one second of not paying attention could mean you kill someone. (but sadly every moron can get a driver licence).

@calebian 2

Also you don't have a clue. I don't know any country in the world where so many cyclists wear helmets.
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