Bicycle handlebar as an injury risk

Bicycle handlebar as an injury risk

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Properly molded handlebar ends go a long way toward preventing injuries. Credit: WUM GmbH

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Properly molded handlebar ends go a long way toward preventing injuries. Credit: WUM GmbH

In Austria, around 8,000 children and young people are injured in cycling accidents every year and subsequently treated in hospital. About 600 of the injuries are directly attributable to handlebar contact, and about 19 percent of them require hospitalization. It is noteworthy that about half of the injuries caused by a leash affect the abdomen.

Specifically, they are injuries (such as bruises and lacerations) to the liver, pancreas or spleen, explains Christoph Arnitz, chief physician at the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Surgery in Klagenfurt, who performs medical analysis of such accidents.

Abdominal injuries typically occur when a child falls over the end of a bicycle handlebar, lying on their side on the ground, or in rear-end collisions when the handlebar suddenly turns after an impact.

Simulation with six ends leash

Maximilian Schinagel investigated these accident situations for his master’s thesis at the Institute of Vehicle Safety at the University of Technology Graz (TU Graz). Using a virtual model of a child’s human body, he simulated the consequences of a sharp impact on the abdomen from different angles. In his simulations, six handlebar ends from different manufacturers and a defective handlebar end (without protective cap) were used as the base value.

As Shinagel explains on the basis of the simulation-based study, the design of handlebar ends has a significant impact on whether and how seriously children are injured in bicycle accidents. Injury parameters such as contact force, depth of penetration, and loads on the abdominal wall and organs were analyzed. The handlebar ends with enlarged protective covers showed the best protective effect.


Simulate the impact on the end of the handlebar. Source: VSI — TU Graz

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Simulate the impact on the end of the handlebar. Source: VSI — TU Graz

There is still a lot of research potential

A follow-up project is currently being implemented at TU Graz in cooperation with the Austrian manufacturer of children’s bicycles Woom, in which the effect of handlebar tips on abdominal injuries will be analyzed in detail.

“In the course of our simulations, we saw that a handlebar with larger diameter ends could reduce the risk of injury by up to 20 percent,” explains Nico Erlinger from the Institute of Vehicle Safety at the Technical University Graz, who is involved in the project. . “Because there have only been a few studies on injuries in this type of accident so far, there is still a lot of potential to reduce the risk through further research.”

Although Woom already uses handlebar ends with enlarged protective caps that significantly reduce the risk of injury, this project aims to increase the safety of the handlebar ends even further.

A publication resulting from the project was presented last September at the International Research Council Conference on Biomechanics of Injury (IRCOBI) in Cambridge, UK. “Cycling safety is our top priority,” says Woom CEO Paul Fattinger. “By working with research institutions, we can improve the design of bicycle components based on experimental evidence.”

more information:
Report: www.ircobi.org/wordpress/downl…3/pdf-files/2324.pdf

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