ACCIDENTS among cyclists are under-reported, and could be three times the number officially recorded, a new study claims.
Researchers in Trinity College Dublin say cyclists are eight times at risk of dying on the roads compared with other vehicle users, but that the number seriously injured is not being accurately recorded.
The study examined data on the number of incidents involving cyclists between 2005 and 2011 which was recorded by gardai and the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
It compared this to data on hospital admissions held by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
Figures from the RSA and gardai said there had been 2,133 incidents in the period studied. However, the ESRI said there had been some 6,565 "episodes of care" for cyclists in hospitals, suggesting there had been three times as many incidents involving cyclists as recorded by the RSA.
However, the study noted that one in three of the 'episodes of care' arose after an incident on the roads.
The remainder were classified as non-traffic, meaning they could have included people falling off their bikes.
But the paper, 'The safety challenge of increased cycling' published in the journal 'Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice', says that police "frequently misclassify" a serious injury as a minor one.
"The cyclist collision problem is both greater and more complicated than thought previously," it says.
"Per kilometre travelled, cyclists are eight times more likely to be injured or killed in a collision.
"Moreover, many injuries are not included in official statistics and neither police nor hospital data fully captures the extent of the accident problem in cycling."
Author Brian Caulfield, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, said that many incidents involving cyclists might never be reported to gardai, meaning that they did not appear in statistics.
"The data the hospitals collect shows there's a lot more accidents to cyclists occurring," he said.
"They could be minor accidents, where someone opens a car door or someone cycles on Luas lines, but because it's not serious it doesn't need to be reported to gardai or insurance companies.
"When we report statistics on cycling in Dublin we paint a great picture but that might not be the case."