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Non - Collision Cycling Incidents

In England, there was an 18% reduction in the total number of seriously injured cyclists between 2011-12 (17,653) and 2012-13 (14,512), according to the numbers of cyclists admitted to hospital.

The leading cause of emergency hospital admission to vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists) is from non-collision cycling injuries. These injuries caused approximately five times as many serious injuries to cyclists (12,301 in 2011/12)  9653 in 2012/13) than collisions between cyclists and cars, pick up trucks and vans (2,450 in 2011/12 and 2,197 in 2012/13), ( 



Collision are more likely to cause fatalities, and unlike non-collision incidents details of the circumstances are more likely to be recorded on the polices collision database. This is why attention has focussed on preventing injuries that result from collisions. But non-collision incidents cause many more serious injuries.

NHS Bristol's latest report on non-collision incidents is available here:

An Introduction to Non-Collision Cycling Incidents

Evidence submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's enquiry into promoting cycling


Presentations (large PowerPoint files) about how studying non-collision cycling incidents can help us overcome barriers to cycling and improve cycling infrastructure and training:

"Using hospital data to strengthen cycle advocacy" (Transport and Health Study Group, Nov 2012)

"No pain, no gain?" (Devon County Council, 2012)

"No pain, no gain?" (Dawlish Transition Towns meeting 2012)

West of England Road Safety Partnership (2011)

"Ever fallen off your bike"? (Bristol Bike Forum, 2011)


What is a non-collision cycling incident?

Non-collision incidents occur when cyclists lose balance and fall to the ground, without colliding with anything or without anything running into them. I(In some other parts of the World, they are referred to as 'single vehicle crashes'. These include collisions with fixed and stationary objects).

Are they serious?

Only a few non-collision cycling incidents cause serious injury - between 63%-70% of all incidents cause no injury worthy of professional treatment.

Most of the 30% requiring treatment are minor, but a small proportion cause a significant number of serious injuries. Even the minor incidents can put people (especially new or returning cyclists) off riding, so understanding how they occur and reducing the risks will help more people cycle more often for longer.

Poster highlighting slipping on ice

What causes them?

Road surfaces

NHS Bristol, Cycling City and the West of England Road Safety Partnership have been working together to conduct a survey into the causes and circumstances of non-collision incidents.

The top three causes for commuter cyclists are:

1. Slipping on ice (26% of all reported NCIs)

2. Slipping on wet road (8% of all reported NCIs)

3. Slipped on soil, mud, gravel, wet rock (7% of all reported NCIs)

(The poster "Icy Routes Be Aware" was produced by the Highways Agency. It can be downloaded by clicking on it).

These findings confirm a study conducted in Holland that concluded:

“Improved bicycle track and road maintenance during the winter seems to have the largest injury prevention potential, since half these accidents happened then. Snow and ice are clearly a major hazard for bicyclists not only in Sweden but also in other countries with a northern climate. Better maintenance during the winter and increased use of winter tyres with studs would surely decrease the numbers of crashes”.

(Nyberg, P., Bjornstig, Ulf, Bygren, L-O. Scand J Soc Med Vol 24 No 4.)


Both the NHS Bristol and Better By Bike and Nyvberg's study noted, in Nybergs words:

“Kerbs accounted for a fifth of the injuries. “Presumably it must be possible to design a more bicycle friendly kerb than the present one which is often high and sharp edged. A minimum requirement of kerb design is that it must be lower than the distance between pedal and the ground. In many cases it would be sufficient to replace the kerbs for lines painted in bright colors”.

Experience and infrastructure

A most recent study has shown that increasing the numbers of kilometres travelled in an area by bicycle does not result in a directly proportional increase in the numbers of single-bicycle crashes. The authors suggest this is due to an increasing level of experience and fitness amongst cyclists as more kilometres are travelled, and possibly increased levels of investment in cycling infrastructure as its popularity grows.

(Paul Schepers, Injury Prevention 2012 18:240-245)

Taking action

We will work with:

  • road safety partners, local authorities, cycling organisations and others to raise awareness of the fact that amongst the working population, slipping on ice is the single largest cause of serious cycling injuries

  • cyclists to consider alternative travel options when the weather freezes.

  • independent training organisations and other cycle trainers to embed greater understanding of non-collision incidents into cycle training

  • employers, to make sure their travel to work policies and inclement weather policies make specific provision for the interests of cyclists


          Downloads and links

           The survey was hosted by Cycling City:

A summary of the findings is available here

           The analysis of the interim survey results is available here

In other countries with colder winters, bikes are more likely to be designed to use in freezing weather. In this country, generally speaking, they are not. This website ( is dedicated to winter cycling. This is a great site that will encourage you to ride in winter but to get properly prepared and to keep safe when doing it.

Published studies

1. Road characteristics and bicycle accidents

2. Single-bicycle crash types and characteristics   Injury Prevention Manager / Avonsafe Co-ordinator
01179222630  Public Health, 2nd Floor, Amelia Court, Pipe Lane, Bristol, BS1 5AA   Injury Prevention Manager / Avonsafe Co-ordinator
01179222630  Public Health, 2nd Floor, Amelia Court, Pipe Lane, Bristol, BS1 5AA