Football may be the big sport for concussion discussion, but it is far from the biggest cause of sports-related concussions. According to the statistics, riding your bicycle is actually a much more dangerous decision than hitting the gridiron.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cycling accidents were involved in roughly 86,000 of the 447,000 sports-related head injuries in 2009. Football only accounted for 47,000 of those head injuries, a little more than half of what bicycling caused. For comparison, baseball played a part in approximately 38,500 brain injuries.
The numbers were equally bad for children under 14. Cycling was the biggest cause of sports-related injuries in youth with 40,000 injuries which is double what football contributed.
The big difference is has many different reasons. For one, far more people ride bikes than play football. While cycling related brain injuries are considered sports-related, many use bikes for transportation as often as they ride for fun. However, people are also much less concerned with safety than football players often are.
There is a large problem with people riding bicycles without helmets which puts them at huge risk for a traumatic brain injury should they be involved in any sort of accident. Combine this risk with the unbelievable number of bikers hit by cars every year, and you have a recipe for serious brain injuries. The statistics show the results. Nearly 90 percent of bicyclists killed in the US in 2009 were not wearing helmets. The New York Times says the majority were middle-aged men, suggesting many of those were likely involved in traffic accidents rather than competitive cycling events.
A contributing factor to the number of people hit by cars every year while on a bicycle, and thus to the number of brain injuries, is the lack of bike lanes throughout many cities and towns in the united States. Streets that have marked bike lanes experience 40 percent fewer crashes resulting in serious death or injury.
None of this means you should prohibit your child from riding a bike like any other kid. With the proper safety precautions, and good education about how to ride in areas with traffic, bicycling is much safer than many contact sports.