The New York Times reports today on a study that suggests that alcohol — bicycling under the influence — may play a significant role in cycling deaths:
Some 21 percent of autopsies for New York City bicyclists who died within three hours of their accidents detected alcohol in the body, according to a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene study that examined fatal bicycling accidents in New York City from 1996 to 2005.
“It’s something we have to call attention to,” said Catherine Stayton, director of the health department’s injury epidemiology unit. “To learn this is new for us. We want to get that information out there.”
She said the study raises a lot of more of questions for researchers. “It makes you want to ask a lot more about the circumstances before the crash,” she said. The study also found that alcohol was detected in 6 percent of the drivers involved in bicycle crashes.
The study, which was published in the April issue of Traffic Injury Prevention, extended on research that had been released in a 2006 city report on bicycle accidents [pdf]. The studies drew data from the Police Department, the transportation department, the health department and the medical examiner’s office.
Alcohol may play a particularly interesting role in cycling deaths. I’m speculating here, but it seems to me that a good buzz heightens the thrill of riding and, therefore, encourages the cyclist to ride faster and take more chances than the situation allows. OK, well, I’m not speculating at all. I’m really telling you want a buzz does to me. I started paying very careful attention to drinking and riding after an embarrassing fall a few years ago.