Mervyn Huston, Richard Grainger, Joe Harbison, Ruth McDonagh
The number of cyclists in Ireland has risen dramatically in the last 10 years. Correspondingly, cycling-related injuries presenting to the Emergency Department have also increased during this period. Despite the wearing of helmets, injuries to the maxillofacial region are a common presentation. The aim of this study was to explore the behaviour and attitudes of cyclists with regards to use of cycle safety equipment (helmet, lights, high visibility clothing) and the individual’s likelihood of obeying traffic light signals.
Data was collected from 332 subjects, including hospital healthcare workers, university students, and members of the general public, all of whom cycle in predominantly urban areas. The data was collected via survey. The subjects were recruited by a variety of methods, including electronic distribution of the survey and opportunistically to cyclists in Dublin city centre, who were approached by investigators. The data was collated in Excel and was analysed using the Chi-square method.
Of 322 subjects, 151 stop at red traffic lights, of whom 124 wear cycle safety equipment (helmet with or without high visibility clothing). 181 admitted to failing to obey traffic signals, of whom only 97 wear cycle safety equipment (p<0.0001). This suggests that subjects who engage in one ‘safe’ behaviour are more likely to engage in others, and could be considered more risk-averse. Of note, hospital healthcare workers are more likely to stop at red traffic lights than members of the general public (p<0.03).
Our results suggest a correlation between cyclists wearing safety equipment and adhering to traffic signals. Based on this limited data, there is a suggestion that healthcare workers are more risk-averse than members of the general public. It is advantageous for healthcare professionals to gain insight into cycle safety practices of populations in order to prevent morbidity associated with this activity.