Cyclist’s travel distances and risk of falls in snowy and icy conditions in German cities

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So far, no studies are known that estimate distance-based risks for cyclist falls in snowy/icy conditions compared to other conditions to account for differences in cycling levels in the different weather situations. Method: The number of cyclist falls was gathered from retrospective surveys in Germany. Cycling distances were obtained from the German Household Travel Survey “Mobility in cities – SrV,” assigned to meteorological data, and validated against counts and own surveys. The number of falls per distance cycled and Risk Ratios for snowy/icy versus other weather conditions were estimated. Results: An average decrease of 53% in the distance travelled per person and day is estimated for snowy/icy days versus other days. This decrease is lower in regions with higher general cycling mode shares. We find average risks of falls from 9.5 to 16 (field surveys) up to 76.5 falls per 10,000 km (online survey) and average Risk Ratios for cycling in snowy/icy conditions of 20 (field survey conducted in times of other weather) to 36 (field survey conducted in times of snow/ice) and 38 (online survey conducted in times of snow/ice). The risk of suffering an injury in the event of a fall is lower in snowy/icy compared to other weather conditions. Conclusions: Seeing the current trend of growing general cycling levels in Germany, we expect more cycling in winter and, in case of unchanged winter weather and maintenance, a substantial increase of cyclist falls. The reduced risk of being injured in the event of a fall in snowy/icy conditions does not outweigh the higher risk of falling in the first place. Practical Applications: Improved winter maintenance on cycling facilities can help increase winter cycling and reduce the risk of falls at the same time.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64–75
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Issue number87
Publication statusPublished - 2023

External IDs

Scopus 85173111679