The Dangers of Dismounts

Even if cycling is allowed on a path leading to an intersection, by default, the Motor Vehicle Act requires people cycling to dismount to cross a road unless the municipality passes a bylaw or posts a sign that enables cycling in the crosswalk. These non-intuative rules are confusing for people cycling, driving and those trying to enforce and educate people about the rules of the road.

Instead of making a path, intersection, or construction area safe for cycling, signed dismounts are being as an alternative with no evidence that dismounting is safer. In the rare cases where cycling is not possible, it is likely that the general over use of dismount signs results the majority of people cycling to ignore dismount signs when they really are needed.

With the exception of there being perhaps too little space to cycle by the barricade, the below photo shows a good way of ensuring cycling is safe and accessible through an event area.

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Many people with disabilities use bicycles as a mobility aid. They often find walking more difficult than riding a bicycle making forced dismounts challenging.

Increased Risk of Falls

From the Single-bicycle crash types and characteristics study by P Schepers and K Klein Wolt, page 13

4.3 Cyclist related crash types The most frequent cyclist related crash type is losing control at low speed – when steering is needed for stability–, mostly while mounting or dismounting the bike. The likelihood is strongly increased among older cyclists, cyclists with physical problems and cyclists who cycle less than 1 day per week. This may be related to strength and skills needed for (dis)mounting, accelerating and braking. Research on walking falls has shown that reduced muscle strength, especially of the lower limbs, is the most important risk factor (Pijnappels et al., 2008). Similar research could be conducted for efficient prevention and identification of individuals at a high risk of bicycle falls.

It is surprising that older women run a markedly higher risk of crashes at low speed than older men, because men are often advised to change from a men’s to a women’s bicycle forsafe mounting and dismounting. The top tube of women's bicycles slants down (while it is parallel to the ground in men’s bicycles) to intersect the seat tube, typically about halfway down, making it easier for the rider to step over the frame. Men move their leg over the luggage carrier to (dis)mount. There are two hypotheses for women’s elevated risk in this crash type that could be tested in future research. A first hypothesis would be greater muscle strength in men than in women. However, it is not completely clear from the literature to what degree older men have greater muscle strength than women. Research by Lindle et al. (1997) shows that women tend to better preserve eccentric musclequality (strength per unit of muscle) that is needed to take off and accelerate (virtually no gender difference in muscle quality after around 60 years of age). On the contrary, according to research by Van Laarhoven (1984), female cyclists between 50 and 60 years of age have 80% of the strength that men have for cycling. A second hypothesis would be that contrary to what is commonly thought, the way men mount and dismount is safer than the way women generally seem to do it. It could be that mounting like men do is an easier way to take off, accelerate and profit from improved stability that comes along with increased speed. Alternatively stepping over the middle of the frame like women do for mounting and dismounting may require more flexibility.

Page 10

2a loss of control at low speed (n=105; 16%)

The majority of single-bicycle accidents at low speed happened while mounting or dismounting the bike. A lot of victims caught their coat, bag, or shoelace on a part of the bicycle and were unable to stabilize the bike or themselves. Some victims lost balance as their food slipped off the pedal or as they tried to make a sharp turn or look behind for traffic before dismounting. Others fell after they dismounted, because they carried a heavy load on their bicycle, used only one hand to hold the handle bars, or twisted their ankle. 

From http://essay.utwente.nl/65966/7/Intership%20Report%20-%20Paul%20Straathof%20-%20RRD.pdf

In The Netherlands, famous for its bicycles and cycling lanes, every year 18000 older cyclists get into a single-bicycle accident severe enough to require medical attention. A considerable part of these accidents happen at low velocities or when mounting and dismounting the bicycle.

People with Mobility Challenges

From the Survey of UK's Disabled Cyclists by Wheels for Wellbeing:

  • 1 in 3 disabled cyclists had been asked to dismount and walk their cycle even though they were using it as a mobility aid;
  • A majority of disabled cyclists (69%) said they find cycling easier than walking, which we know is often the case because cycling reduces strain on the joints, aids balance and alleviates breathing difficulties; and
  • Inaccessible cycling infrastructure is the biggest difficulty encountered by disabled cyclists.

Showing 1 reaction

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  • Andrew Telfer
    posted about this on Facebook 2017-04-06 13:20:02 -0700
    Creating bicycling infrastructure for all abilities is one of the best ways to lower our society’s output of greenhouse gases. BC has the means to do make the province much more bicycle friendly.

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