Inj Prev 17:131-135 doi:10.1136/ip.2010.028696
  • Brief report

Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street

Open AccessEditor's Choice
  1. Jack T Dennerlein7,8
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA USA
  2. 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA USA
  3. 3Direction de santé publique de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  4. 4Département de Médecine Sociale et Préventive, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  5. 5Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  6. 6Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  7. 7Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  8. 8Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anne Lusk, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Building II, Room 314, Boston, MA 02115, USA; annelusk{at}
  1. Contributors PGF had full access to the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Conception and design: ACL and PGF. Acquisition of data: ACL, PGF, PM and LFM-M. Analysis and interpretation of data: ANL, PGF, PM, LFM-M, WCW and JTD. Drafting of manuscript: ACL, PGF. Critical revision for intellectual content: ACL, PGF, PM, LFM-M, WCW and JTD. Statistical expertise: ACL, PGF, PM, LFM-M, WCW and JTD. Administrative, technical or material support: WCW. Study supervision: PGF, WCW and JTD.

  • Accepted 1 December 2010
  • Published Online First 9 February 2011


Most individuals prefer bicycling separated from motor traffic. However, cycle tracks (physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths along roads, as found in The Netherlands) are discouraged in the USA by engineering guidance that suggests that facilities such as cycle tracks are more dangerous than the street. The objective of this study conducted in Montreal (with a longstanding network of cycle tracks) was to compare bicyclist injury rates on cycle tracks versus in the street. For six cycle tracks and comparable reference streets, vehicle/bicycle crashes and health record injury counts were obtained and use counts conducted. The relative risk (RR) of injury on cycle tracks, compared with reference streets, was determined. Overall, 2.5 times as many cyclists rode on cycle tracks compared with reference streets and there were 8.5 injuries and 10.5 crashes per million bicycle-kilometres. The RR of injury on cycle tracks was 0.72 (95% CI 0.60 to 0.85) compared with bicycling in reference streets. These data suggest that the injury risk of bicycling on cycle tracks is less than bicycling in streets. The construction of cycle tracks should not be discouraged.


  • Funding ACL was supported by a Ruth L Kirschstein National Research Service Award, F32 HL083639 from the National Institutes for Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. LFM-M is supported for data collection by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (discovery grant – individual).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The Harvard School of Public Health IRB reviewed this protocol and found that approval was not required. The HSPH IRB made an exemption determination.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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