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Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street
  1. Anne C Lusk1,
  2. Peter G Furth2,
  3. Patrick Morency3,4,
  4. Luis F Miranda-Moreno5,
  5. Walter C Willett1,6,
  6. 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}


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.

  • Bicycle
  • engineering
  • environment
  • public health
  • safe community

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  • 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.