THE number of cyclists injured on the roads reached a 10-year high in 2012, a study shows.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) says 630 cyclists were injured that year, a 59pc increase from 395 in 2011, despite a drop in the numbers killed which fell from nine to eight.
And the 'Cyclist Injuries' study shows that men represent three-quarters of casualties, with most incidents (80pc) occurring in built-up areas.
There has also been a 200pc increase in spinal injuries requiring specialist treatment, which comes as cyclists' share of injuries relative to other road users rose from 5pc in 2011 to 8pc in 2012.
But the number of serious injuries could be much higher than officially recorded.
"An injury is deemed serious by the garda, and not a medical professional, at the scene of a collision," it says. "Serious injuries are underestimated, and a proportion of minor injuries are likely to be serious."
The research also reveals:
• Most incidents occurred in the morning and evening rush hours, followed by lunchtime.
• May through to September are the most dangerous months.
• More than four in every 10 cyclists injured were cycling for leisure purposes, while one in 10 was cycling to work.
• Over half of all cyclists (53pc, or 335) were injured in Dublin, by far the most dangerous county. It is followed by Cork (7pc, or 46), Galway (5pc, or 33), Limerick (4pc, or 25) and Louth (4pc, or 24).
• Drivers are most likely to strike cyclists while taking right or left turns, accounting for 40pc of injuries. Almost half of all cyclists were injured at junctions.
• Over half (57pc) of those injured were aged 25-49. Sixteen children aged 0-9 were injured, and 57 aged between 10 and 16.
• Three-quarters were injured in periods of good visibility.
The details come as the number of people cycling to work rose by almost 10pc between 2006 and 2011, according to the Central Statistics Office, with some 36,000 cycling to work and another 21,000 travelling by bike to school and college. Men account for most cyclists on the roads (75pc).
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock urged drivers to slow down, as the speed at the time of impact determined whether the cyclist survived.
John Kelly, orthopaedic surgeon at Mayo General Hospital, led research into spinal trauma resulting from cycling injuries nationally.
There had been a 200pc increase in spinal trauma from cycling injuries recorded over a four-year period, he said.