OBJECTIVES: The risk of injury to children riding bicycles has been previously documented. However, the specific risk arising from the use of bicycles as a mode of transportation to and from school is unknown. This study examines the incidence of bicycle related injuries among school age children. METHODS: A comprehensive prospective injury registration system was established in Stavanger, Norway. Data were obtained from this system to identify bicycle related injuries occurring from 1990-3 to children aged 10-15. The incidence of injuries was computed for two groups of children: (1) children cycling to school and (2) children cycling for other purposes. RESULTS: 352 children received medical treatment for bicycle related injuries, 12.6/1000 bicycle riders; 108 (30%) of the 352 children were injured while cycling to or from school. The incidence of bicycle related injuries was significantly higher for boys than girls. Seventy seven per cent of the injuries occurred in a non-collision accident, 9% in a collision with another bicycle, and 14% in a collision with a motor vehicle. Twenty per cent of the injured children sustained upper head injuries and 13% required inpatient treatment. Average maximum abbreviated injury severity (MAIS) score was similar for the injuries sustained during travel to/from school and other injuries. CONCLUSIONS: Bicycle related injuries occurring during travel to or from school are a significant contributor to the total incidence of bicycle related injuries. Increased attention among parents, school officials, public health officials, and medical professionals should be paid to this health risk.
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