A team of researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) are embarking on an ambitious study of bicycle commuters.
The study will track 1,000 bicyclists for one year and hopes to garner new information about the health of bike commuters and rate of injury during their commute. Data from subjects will be collected through online surveys. Participants will fill out an initial survey and then will be prompted to fill out another survey each month.
Working on the study as Principal Investigator is John Mayberry, MD. He’ll be assisted by Co-Investigators Melissa Red Hoffman, ND; William Lambert, PhD; and Ellen Peck, RN.
I met with Hoffman and Peck several weeks ago and asked them what their goals were for the study. They said there are three key areas of interest:
- Bike commuting injuries are rare, but if/when it happens, will it have a significant effect on the rider’s health and/or employment?
- Is there a correlation between environmental context (condition of the roadway) and rider characteristics (like skill level, Body Mass Index, etc…) in the rate of injury or near-miss collisions?
- What is the rate of severity (trauma vs. non-trauma, etc…) of the injuries?
Hoffman and Peck gave me a peek at the monthly survey riders will fill out. It has detailed questions about near-miss collisions. They want to know details like what time of day the incident occurred as well as the weather and roadway conditions that might have contributed to the close call situation.
Hopefully, this data can be used by PDOT and bike planners to improve the safety of our roads.
It will also be interesting to find out if this study will help prove that bike commuting is a healthier way to get to work. If so, it might help convince more employers to invest in bike commuting facilities and encourage their employees to go by bike.
In exchange for their time and trouble, participants in the study will be offered several perks from the study’s corporate sponsors which include: TriMet; Bike Gallery; FlexCar; Ben & Jerry’s, and others.