Types of Injuries in Bicycle Accidents: From Minor to Severe

Types of Injuries in Bicycle Accidents: From Minor to Severe

Cycling has become an incredibly popular activity, offering health benefits, environmental advantages, and a sense of freedom. However, with its rise in popularity, the risks associated with cycling have also increased.

In 2021, there were 966 bicycling fatalities nationwide, the highest number in 46 years. Over half of all cyclist fatalities were in just five states: Florida, California, Texas, New York, and Arizona. There were more than 375,000 bicycle-related emergency room visits that same year. 

Without the protection a vehicle offers, cyclists are incredibly vulnerable to serious injury in a bicycle accident, especially when it involves a motor vehicle. Below are the most common types of injuries cyclists sustain in crashes. 

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries are among the most common in bicycle accidents. These include cuts, scrapes (often known as “road rash”), bruises, strains, and sprains. 

Shoulder injuries are the most common type of injury sustained in a bike accident, particularly rotator cuff tears and acromioclavicular (AC) joint dislocation. AC joint dislocation happens when the clavicle separates from the scapula, usually due to a direct fall or blow to the shoulder. 

While seemingly minor, these injuries can be serious. They can lead to infections, scarring, and even nerve damage if not properly treated. Always clean and dress wounds promptly and seek medical advice if necessary to prevent complications.

Facial Injuries

In a fall or collision, the face is particularly vulnerable. 

Common facial injuries include: 

  • Broken noses, jaws, and cheekbones
  • Orbital fractures
  • Eye injuries
  • Dental injuries

These injuries often require specialized medical care and can have lasting effects. The American Dental Association recommends wearing a proper mouthguard while cycling to reduce the risk of chipped or lost teeth. 

Upper Body Injuries

About 24% of injured cyclists suffer upper limb injuries. 

The most common injuries are: 

  • Shoulder injuries (48.0%)
  • Hand injuries (19.2%)
  • Wrist injuries (18.6%)
  • Forearm injuries (14.1%)
  • Scapulothoracic injuries (6.8%)
  • Arm injuries (2.3%)

The shoulder is the most common site of injury in a bicycle accident, whether it involves a fall from a bike, hitting a stationary object, or being struck by a car. 

Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are among the most serious consequences of bicycle accidents. These include concussions, moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and post-concussive syndrome (PCS). Even a “minor” concussion can have significant and long-lasting effects. 

Wearing a proper helmet is the most effective way to prevent serious head injuries. Cyclists who are not wearing a helmet have a 43% chance of sustaining a head injury in an accident compared to 15% for cyclists wearing a helmet. 


Fractures are a common result of high-impact bicycle accidents. 

Common fractures suffered by cyclists include: 

  • Clavicle (collarbone)
  • Skull
  • Nose
  • Mandible (jaw)
  • Radius (forearm)
  • Ulna (forearm)
  • Scapula (shoulder blade)
  • Humerus (upper arm)
  • Hand and finger
  • Femur (thigh)
  • Tibia (shin)
  • Fibula (calf)

The clavicle is by far the most common fracture suffered in a bike accident, accounting for 30% of all upper limb fractures. Female cyclists, however, are more likely to fracture their radius than their collarbone. Scapula fractures become more likely in accidents involving a motor vehicle. 

Cyclists over 50 years of age are more likely to suffer a fracture in an accident. The head, face, and upper limbs are more likely to be fractured in a bike accident than the lower limbs. 

Back Injuries

The impact of a bicycle accident can lead to significant back injuries, including herniated discs and pinched nerves. An accident can also aggravate or worsen a pre-existing condition. Such injuries can cause chronic pain and mobility issues, often requiring long-term medical treatment and physical therapy. 

Internal Injuries

Internal injuries are less visible but very dangerous. These can include organ damage or internal bleeding, which may not be immediately apparent after an accident. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, dizziness, or fainting should not be ignored. Immediate medical evaluation is essential to identify and treat internal injuries.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries represent one of the most severe outcomes of a bicycle accident. These injuries can result in partial or complete paralysis, profoundly affecting one’s quality of life. 

Wear Protective Gear and Pay Attention To Avoid Bicycle Accident Injuries

Cycling is a rewarding activity, but it comes with inherent risks. To minimize the likelihood of serious injuries, always wear a helmet and other protective gear, follow traffic rules, and remain vigilant on the road. By understanding the potential injuries and taking preventive steps, cyclists can enjoy their rides safely and confidently.

Stay informed, stay protected, and keep enjoying the ride!