Rise Of 'Middle-Aged Men In Lycra' Could Be Behind Spike In Cycling Accidents

The rise of the 'middle-aged men in Lycra' and our growing desire to be fit and healthy could be behind a staggering increase in the number of accidents involving cyclists.

Around 1,000 cyclists wind up in hospital every month -- and most of them are men over 45.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has been collating data over a 17-year period and found around 38 cyclists die in crashes every year.

Hospitalisations of those aged between 25 and 44 rose from 18 percent to 31 percent.

For people aged 45 to 64, hospitalisations more than tripled, from 7 percent to 26 percent.

The rise of 'middle-aged men in Lycra' could be behind the spike. Image: AAP

''The rise was continuous and it was steeper in more recent years," Professor James Harrison said.

"But the rise wasn't the same for all cyclists. In particular, there was no rise -- or hardly any rise -- for teenage or young adult cyclists but there was a steep rise for middle-aged cyclists."

While the data was not broken down to see what caused the individual crashes, researchers said some were people simply falling off, while others were involved collisions with other bikes or cars.

READ MORE: $50k Reward To Catch 'Immature' Pranksters Laying Traps For Cyclists 

Bicycle groups said they still fear aggressive drivers on our roads.

"This is a wake-up call for governments and policymakers that we need to do more to invest in cycling safety for all Australians," CEO of Bicycle Queensland Anne Savage said.

"It very clearly reflects an increase in participation rates and the responsibility on organisations like ours is to do more to protect people when they are riding on our roads."

Cycling groups say the research is a 'wake up call'. Image: AAP.

Cyclist Andrew Coates, who rides three days a week, said it's not worth trying to take on a car.

''We can all show a bit more respect on the road," he said.

"A car is much heavier than I am, so I want to get out of its way, not exert my right of way over the car. There is no point being right in hospital."

The research was released just hours after a 66-year-old cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run in Sydney.

The man was struck late on Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Harry Avenue and Maude Street in Lidcombe.

Police are searching for the driver of a white or silver Toyota Corolla.