White memorials can only draw attention to what has previously happened. However data collection and its analysis can change what happens in the future.

We know very little about what is injuring cyclists. That appears to be the finding from recent research reported for the Toronto area between the years 2016 and 2021. The research authored by Dr. Alison Macpherson and Dr. Linda Rothman was reported recently in a webinar presented by the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals (CARSP). The webinar was entitled “Comparison of the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries captured in police data compared with health service utilisation data in Toronto, Canada 2016– 2021”.

While 2,362 cyclist incidents were reported in Toronto’s police data, there were 30,101 cyclist visits to hospital emergency departments and 2,299 resulted in hospitalizations. The research also noted that 26,083 of those cyclist incidents, or 87%, did not result from cyclist involvement with a motor vehicle.

The Key Findings from the study are the following:

If 87% of cyclist injuries did not come from motor vehicle collisions, where did they come from? That should be an obvious question because these 87% were serious enough that they involved a visit to a hospital emergency department. It can be imagined that many more incidents of cyclist injury do not result in visits to emergency departments. It is well-publicized by hospitals and health officials that emergency department treatment should be sought for immediate health threats and injuries not posing immediate health threats should be treated by visiting family doctors or drop in health clinics. So it is a reasonable expectation that many more cyclist injuries are occurring that are not captured in the emergency department data.

This is an example of a cyclist injury that did not result in a visit to a hospital emergency department. The rider’s bicycle tire became dislodged when the cyclist was crossing over an excessive vertical difference between a sidewalk and the grass boulevard beside it. So this incident did not involve a motor vehicle. While not life-threatening the result was also not pleasant.

Cyclist injuries are occurring from sources that are unknown. The problem is that none of this information is collected and available for proper education of the public who are the ones being injured and killed.