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Injury-causing accidents on the rise with bike-sharing programs

New Yorkers are used to seeing bikers weaving in and out throughout city streets. Many metropolitan cities the country are starting bike-share programs in an effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted. It's also an efficient way to get commuters around the city. However, researchers have discovered that cities that have implemented these programs have in increase in brain injuries compared to comparable cities without the programs in place.

Both Canada and America submitted data to the researchers, who analyzed 10 cities, five that didn't have the bike-sharing programs and five that did. There was a 14 percent rise in head injury-causing accidents in the cities of Miami Beach, Washington D.C., Montreal, Minneapolis and Boston -- all cities participating in the program. Those cities without the bike-sharing program had a 2.3 percent decline in head injuries related to bike-riding.

The director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy said in an article, "Certainly the data are solid enough that we need to look more carefully at these kinds of programs. When we're trying to promote more bicycling, we need to do that in the context of increasing helmet use."

Trauma centers in the targeted cities participated in the data collection both prior to and after the implementation of the programs. Bikes themselves are not to blame; in these cases, it's the failure of the riders to wear the life-saving helmets, which are not provided by the program.

Authors published the first study on the issue, "Public Bicycle Share Programs and Head Injuries" in the American Journal of Public Health. The conclusion was that making bike helmets available to the ride-sharers should be initiated and funded.

Certainly personal responsibility dictates that riders must look out for their own safety by wearing helmets. However, cities who offer the program but not helmets may possibly bear some liability if riders suffer serious brain trauma while using the ride-share bicycles.

Source: Science World Report, "Brain Injury Rates on the Rise in Cities With Bike-Share Programs" Thomas Carannante, Jun. 16, 2014

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