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Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?(36 posts)

Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?Curious George
Jun 9, 2001 10:48 AM
Hi all,

I've been mountain biking for a few years and am about to buy a road bike and venture out onto roads (aside from riding to the trails) for the first time. I have a long standing policy of I-don't-trust-driving-on-roads that some friends have started to soften me on. However, I've been reading a lot of posts lately about things like getting run off of the road, getting water ballooned, having full beer cans thrown at you and even getting golf balls hit at you. This combined with ads for dog repellant and tons of posts about cycling legal advice and the benefits of vigilante justice have really given me pause.

All I really want to do (like most of you, I'm sure) is ride my bike. Mountain biking is inconvenient in that I need to get to trails and have enough light to ride plus clean everything off when I get home. Road riding seemed a lot simpler until I started to read about some of these incidents. Now I'm thinking that if I have to drive somewhere to road ride safely, it really doesn't buy me much over mountain biking. I understand a lot of the dangers involved with being on the road with vehicles that out-mass you, but I'm talking about the pathetic acts of explicit, anonymous, person to person violence that I've been reading about.

So with that, I'd like to ask you all if these are truly anomalies or if this is just part of life every single time you go ride? Is it an urban vs. suburban vs. rural thing? Is it a time-of-day thing? Is it dumb luck? It sounds almost comical to say it, but are there ways to keep yourself from being a victim?

I've talked to a few local cyclists (Ellicott City, Maryland, USA) and I got responses ranging from "While I've been brushed by cars a few times, it's not bad." to "Sometimes you get hit by cars ... that's just how it goes." and of course the ominous "Oh man, my buddy XYZ has some REAL horror stories for you..." I'm starting to wonder if folks cycle in groups because of social interaction, competition or if it's just safety in numbers! Or is it all three? I've decided to spend some extra time talking to LBS folks about this area, but I also want an even broader view.

So please help me out here... I really want to start road biking, but in doing it I want to find peace - not war. :-(

TIA, and my condolences for the experiences that will fuel this discussion.
CG
It can be as save as you choose to make it.Allen D.
Jun 9, 2001 11:33 AM
The most important things are picking your route and the time you travel that route carefully. Obviously a road with a wide shoulder and less traffic in the middle of Monday is going to be safer that a narrow road with no shoulder and a bunch of yuppies in a hurry on a Friday afternoon. Generally the further you are out from the urban center the more relaxed and patient the drivers are. If necessary you should consider driving a few miles to avoid congestion.

Wear a helmet if you choose, but ride like you are not wearing one and assume that any motorist turning in front of you cannot see you or judge your speed properly. Even when you have established eye contact with a driver you must still use caution. When there is traffic coming from the opposite direction you should be alert of traffic behind you.

Even a wide shoulder is not safe if cars are passing on the right. This generally happens when there is a car turning left blocking their lane. Ride to the far right of the shoulder.

Avoid areas with a high population of old folks if possible.

Many situation that are unsafe in a car are obviously less safe on a bike ie riding when the sun is going down.

Wear bright colored clothing. ProTeam clothing fits well, can be purchased cheap, and makes you highly visible. If you are the shy type use something else, but don't be like Johnny Cash. Black is for shorts only.
re: Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?Cliff Oates
Jun 9, 2001 11:49 AM
The only time I had a problem was when I decided to flip off a guy in a pickup truck who honked at me then passed me on a blind curve on a narrow road in a way that I considered to be unsafe. We then basically held a pissing contest where he slowed down in front of me and hollered while I sat behind him and hollered. He drove off probably under the urgings of his passenger and presumably fumed, I rode on and fumed too. The incident took place on the fringes of a suburban area.

I decided that day that flipping off drivers was probably not a very bright thing for me to do. I know I'm generally not a fool, and if two people both behave like children, someone could get hurt. I'll let the other guy be the fool, that way, at least one of us will know it.
re: Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?Mike Walsh
Jun 9, 2001 1:39 PM
For the last 2 years, I've ridden about 150 mi./wk on the streets of Phoenix. I've never had a close call, or felt unsafe. When you consider the millions of miles ridden every day around the world, and the fact that most 10 year olds can ride a bike without incident, I think the "dangers" are blown out of proportion. You have more visibility and more manuverability than do pedestrians. In every bike accident I've seen, the bicyclist has violated at least one of a few basic, common sense rules I ride by: 1)Never ride against traffic, even for a little ways, like just down to the corner; 2)Never ride on the sidewalk--too many driveways; 3)Light em up! I have 7 lights on my bike, including a 15W halogen w/2 6V ni-cads. I feel safer after dark than I do before; 4)A good mirror is important on my bikes. The "closest call" I ever had was a car coming up behind me, then making a right turn in front of me. I saw her coming in my mirror and anticipated what was happening. As she made her right turn, I caved in her passengers' side door with my left foot. She stopped and I urged her to call the cops but she wouldn't do it; 5)I always wear gloves. I never wear a helmet; if I fall off my bike, I'm not going to land on my head, but on my hands. Therefore the gloves. If a car hits me, that piece of styrofoam isn't going to help. I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but in my experience they are hot, ugly, too expensive, and unnecessary. In fact, it seems like the people who have the most trouble are the arrogant, elitist "roadies" in their spandex and styrofoam. These comments are based on my experience only. Hope they help.
HelmetsAllen D.
Jun 9, 2001 2:17 PM
Helmet straps create wind noise.
Certain helmets may stick to the pavement upon impact snapping your neck.
A helmet is useless if it is not worn properly or worn past its expiration date.

When you let go of your bike I believe you should try to roll in the air and land on your backside, with your arms protecting your head. In a slower crash I guess you probably would use your hands.
Where did you get this stuff???biknben
Jun 10, 2001 12:01 AM
-Helmet straps create wind noise??? How fast are you going?

-Stick to pavement upon impact??? Probably not as much as your flesh.

-Useless if not worn properly??? Brakes are useless if you don't use them properly either. Wear it properly and there's no prob.

-The whole experation date issue is fishy to me. Some marketing guy descided to publish that in order to sell more helmets. If you haven't abused your helmet it will last for a while. Don't store it on your dashboard or throw it around. Once you hit your head...it's garbage.

-You make crashing sound like Olypic Diving. The next time I crash I'm gonna try to do a reverse 2-1/2 pike. In most cases you won't have time to think, let alone roll in the air, protecting your head and whatnot.

Don't mean to flame you but I would seriously question the sourse of your info.
Helmets is good - many more applicationsAllen D.
Jun 10, 2001 10:18 AM
Many people have been suffering head injuries in car crashes, skiing, etc. Wear your helmet everywhere, not just in cycling where it has become fashionable, and part of the sheep-herd, lyra, oakley, mentality.

They can snap your neck - never use the type with a lyrca cover.
Use the type with the plastic cover.

Helmet straps do create wind noise. It is a distraction, but of course it is not a reason not to wear a helmet, just something to be aware of.

Useless if not worn properly - that was my message. Size your helmet correctly and wear it properly. Many people I see wearing them have them tilted up.

Crashing - there is a technique which the pros use. It beats landing on your head, wether or not you are wearing your helmet. Consult reference material such as Eddy B's book for more information.

Always wear your helmet if you like, but do not rely on it to save you from injury.
Has anyone had a helmet with straps that made wind noise?mike mcmahon
Jun 10, 2001 12:34 PM
I've owned numerous helmets over the years: a leather hair net; Bell EV-Pro, several Giro models, a Bell helmet, and my current Limar. Not once, with any helmet, have I ever noticed wind noise and certainly not wind noise that could be considered a "distraction." If you're having this problem on a regular basis, perhaps it's an indication that your helmet is not properly adjusted: maybe the straps are too loose.

Apart from the observation that an improperly adjusted helmet is not much help, your statements about helmets are a bit bizarre. As for helmets being fashionable, maybe we can make the same statement about other things designed to prevent injuries, such as seatbelts, child car-seats, and face masks for hockey goalies. Do you really think a large number of cyclists are wearing helmets because they think they look cool? I think most of us would gladly ditch the lids if it were proven that they provided no protection. I'd much rather ride bare-headed on a hot day. If more people are wearing them now because more pros have chosen to wear them, that's terrific. Maybe these people started wearing helmets for the "wrong reason," but at least they're wearing them now.
Even more on helmetsAllen
Jun 10, 2001 1:54 PM
Certain helmets are better than others. Those with a lycra covering do not perform as well as the newer designs. (Have you not heard of helmet adhesion?) If you are still using one of the older designs post your PO Box Number and I can send you $30 to buy a proper helmet with a plastic shell.

I suggest you read Eddy B's book. There are certain steps you can take when crashing (either with or without a helmet).

Helmets have a limited life span. Be sure to replace it often - or do you want to chance it?

Maybe its just my ears, but when I started wearing a helmet I did notice wind noise. My friend also had the same complaint.

Clearly helmets provide protection for cyclists. However they also will provide protection in automotive and skiing applications. So should you not wear your helmet when engaged in other activities, or will you only do so when the majority of people say on a ski slope or in cars in any given day are wearing their helmets? How about car-child-helmets?

Many people in the US are suffering head injuries in a variety of activities, yet they refuse to wear their helmets anywhere but on their bicycle! What can we do to change this?
Even more on helmetsmike mcmahon
Jun 10, 2001 5:19 PM
I appreciate the offer of money to ensure my safety. However, I feel pretty confident that my 9-month old Limar is up to standards. I agree that helmets have a life-span, but I've never seen one with an "expiration date." I agree that buying a new helmet (depending on the amount of use) every couple of years or so is a good idea.

I don't ski, so I have no personal knowledge of whether people are wearing helmets and, if so, why. Wearing helmets in cars would probably save a few lives and prevent a few injuries. However, cars have been designed to minimize the possibility of traumatic head injuries through seat belts, air bags, pillar placement, and other items any auto designers out there might be able to mention. If you're properly belted and/or have an air bag, your skull is unlikely to make contact with anything in the car and almost certainly will not make contact with the pavement. A cyclist has no such protection, and the head is quite likely to hit the pavement in a serious crash. I'd rather be wearing a helmet when that happens.

Taking steps to cover your head with your hands or arms in a crash is probably a good idea regardless of whether you're wearing a helmet. However, even those who have read Eddie B's book might not have the presence of mind, or the time, to take this action in a 45 mph crash.

I've never done or participated in any studies regarding the efficacy of bicycle helmets. However, in September 1995, I crashed at close to 40 mph on a descent. I ended up with a lot of road rash and stitches in my shin. I also ended up with a fairly big rock embedded in my Giro helmet. Six years later, I still hate to think where that rock would have ended up if I had not been wearing the helmet. I kept the helmet as a reminder in case I ever thought about going bare. I had another crash in June 1997, again on a descent at about 35 mph. My helmeted-head (another Giro) hit a hard plastic paddle marker near a raised island, and I ended up with a large gash in the front of the helmet. I also kept this helmet as a reminder.

Your final comment strikes me as a bit sarcastic, so I won't bother responding to it. If it's not intended as sarcasm, I apologize.

Ride safely (with or without the helmet)
Mike
I never take risks on descents or corners.Allen
Jun 10, 2001 6:06 PM
I enjoy cycling too much to risk injury.
I always ride as if I am not wearing a helmet. Many people on this board talk about their big crashes. They should take steps not to crash in the first place. If you crash on a regular basis, do group rides, or race, I reckon a helmet is definitely a must.

There has been one cyclist killed in my town this year. He lost control going over a railway crossing and was involved in a head-on collison. It is possible to be riding to fast for road conditions on a bike.

Just this weekend three people died in a car crash.
I would guess that helmets would save thousands of lives in automotive applications every year, possibly more lives than in bicycle accidents.
I never take risks on descents or corners.mike mcmahon
Jun 10, 2001 6:22 PM
I hate to break it to you, but you're taking a risk just by being on a bike on a descent or a corner. If you mean unnecessary risks, I'm with you. If you think avoiding unnecessary risks immunizes you from crashes, you are naive. The crash that left a rock in my helmet didn't occur in a group ride or a race. I was simply coming around a corner on a descent I had ridden numerous times at a speed I knew was safe for the conditions and my abilities. What I didn't know was that a water main had broken and was dumping water onto the road right at the tightest part of a hard-left curve that I couldn't see until I was almost on top of it. I tried to slow before hitting the water, but my back wheel went out from under me. The point is that it doesn't matter whether you're racing, group riding, soloing, going fast, going slow, going uphill, going dowhill, or sitting at a red light, you can (and probably will) go down even if you have the best bike-handling skills in the world. For my purposes a helmet is "a must" any time I'm on my bike.

I don't think you'll find anyone here to disagree with your statement that it is possible to ride too fast for road conditions on a bike. That's just common sense. It's also possible to walk too fast under certain sidewalk conditions (e.g., ice, oil, water). If you feel strongly about motorists wearing helmets, perhaps you should write your local lawmaker and see what can be done to require helmets for drivers and passengers. We like to talk primarily about bikes here.

Mike
Don't antagonize him!Wailer
Jun 10, 2001 9:18 PM
What are you trying to do! Write your local lawmaker? Our lawmakers screw up enough without us feeding them more bad ideas like requiring helmet use in our cars. Bad enough they already mandate seatbelts and motorcycle helmet laws. I say we quit protecting the stupid and let them kill themselves off. It's natural selection and we'll be a better breed because of it. By not allowing these idiots to kill themselves off through their own natural stupidity, we are only polluting our own gene pool and breeding ourselves down to the lowest common denominator. Think about what "average intelligence" means and just how smart is someone of "average intelligence?" You're not paying someone a compliment when you say they're of "average intelligence" are you? Average means that half the population is stupider than that!

It has become a world where it's not the strong or the smart that survive now that we protect the stupid, it's whoever can pump out the most babies wins! Get this straight, because we're protecting these idiots from themselves, they're breeding? Who has more kids, the average intelligent cyclist who contributes to this site or the crack geishas and their customers downtown we're wasting resources over trying to save them through ineffective reform programs? You can do the math but the answer is obvious. It's 12 to 1 baby! 12 to 1. Those are not good odds for the long term. Let those who don't want to wear helmets alone. With any luck, Darwin will tap them on the shoulder and remove their butts from the gene pool Don't want to wear a seatbelt? I say good on you! Want to smoke crack, shoot heroin, have unprotected sex with strangers, use your blow dryer in the shower, I'm all for it! You have my implied and expressed permission to waste yourself, and only yourself, through any stupid act you desire.
Don't antagonize him!mike mcmahon
Jun 10, 2001 9:57 PM
First, the lawmaker reference was intended to be tongue in cheek. I can imagine the look on the face of a US Senator's staffer who receives a letter from a constituent suggesting that the Good Senator write a bill mandating helmet use for all auto drivers and passengers.

Second, if Allen has decided not to wear a helmet I'm not so foolish as to think that I'm persuasive enough to convince him otherwise, even if I had the inclination to do so. The problem, as I see it, is that Allen is essentially telling a new cylist that helmet-wearers are nothing but a bunch of trendoids trying to imitate pros and that helmets really don't do anything for you anyhow. Allen may or may not be a lost cause, but I'd rather not see him convince someone else that helmets should be avoided because they may increase his risk of head injury and annoy him with wind-noise.

Believe it or not, even people who choose not to wear helmets deserve to live. But that's just my opinion.

Mike
Evolution at workWailer
Jun 10, 2001 5:55 PM
We should not try to convince Allen to wear a helment, it is his decision. It is in our best interest if Allen continues to add bleach to his own gene pool and brings this to conclusion before he breeds.

Allen my man, the things you own just end up owning you so you just go on with your bad self, keep rolling in the air, and don't wear your helmet. I own stock in a company that makes colostomy bags and I see your caretakers as being an excellent source of income in the future. Thanks for helping, you da man!
re: Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?DrD
Jun 9, 2001 2:33 PM
Good advice for the most part - esp. the gloves! (scraped up hands are no fun) I would caution against night riding, though - the problem isn't your ability to see, but the awareness of the drivers on the road - they don't expect you to be there and won't be looking for you. As far as where to ride and in which direction - as you describe, just follow the rules of the road (ride with traffic, on the road - don't go too close to the side - always give yourself a little breathing room)

I disagree about the helmets - Helmets do more than protect against impact - I agree that more often than not your hands get ground up, and your head doesn't hit the ground - but that's for low speed (<20mph) crashes - when the speeds get up there, you are pretty much going to get thrown around like a rag doll, and have a good chance of whacking the head - the helmet will also prevent abrasion of your head on the pavement (can be a big deal to some people) - a friend of mine just crashed a few weeks ago - no cracks/breaks in the helmet, but deep grind marks on the front and side... I'd rather grind up the helmet than my face/head...

as far as being ugly - got to agree with you there. Hot - maybe, depending on the model. Too expensive? also depends on the model - however, if it saves the noggin even once, it's well worth the price.

I don't think wearing a helmet is what causes the "arrogant, elitest" attitude - that's a character flaw unrelated to the clothes you wear.
hemets..DINOSAUR
Jun 9, 2001 3:04 PM
I disagree with the helmet issue. I had the mishap of blowing out a front tire while descending. I don't recall going down. My helmet was damaged in three separate areas, I was knocked unconscious. It happened very fast, as in the blink of an eyelash. My helmet saved my life. You may be good, but at speed your head is the first part of your body to hit the ground, even if you try to land on your hands. Maybe at low speed when you have time to react you can use your hands.
I cringe at anyone who rides without a helmet. When I was transported to the hospital that is the first thing the ER doctor asked me, then he wanted to see my helmet. I hope you change your thinking on this one...
No chance of seeing you in a helmet any time soon, huh???biknben
Jun 9, 2001 11:33 PM
Sorry to see that wearing a helmet is not one of your "Common sense rules".

Helmets have nothing to so with "arrogant, elitist roadies". They have everything to do with using one head rather than crushing it.

Yes, a head on collision with a car could kill me as easily as you. I'm not nieve. But in a case where the car bumps me into another object, I may wake up with a concusion. You may not wake up.

Don't mean to insult. You have every right to do as you wish. Hope it all works out for you.
Damaging other people's property is not the RIGHT thing to dokenyee
Jun 11, 2001 12:16 PM
How would you feel if you, as a biker, were going the wrong way and cut someone off, then the person followed you until you chained up your bike and then ran it over several times?

Yep, like crap. That's because that person didn't respect your property, but I'd bet that person would feel a lot better.

The road (and world) is full of normal people and idiots. Just because someone is an idiot doesn't give you the right to be an idiot.
re: Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?Lone Gunman
Jun 13, 2001 11:36 AM
Mike,
I disagree 100% on the helmet issue and spandex for that matter. You obviously have never experienced a crash beyond falling off your training wheels. As sure as I sit here responding, your next accident will result in a broken wrist, collar bone, or seperated shoulder. Things break when you reach to break a fall. And if you think that reaching is going to stop your head from slamming against the pavement, vehicle, or whatever, in your wildest dreams could you imagine playing football or hockey without a helmet? Do you make the connection? When guys like you ride past me the comments are "ORGAN DONOR UP" or "GET A HELMET, YOU'RE NOT THAT PRETTY".
Relatively safe....DINOSAUR
Jun 9, 2001 2:50 PM
Now we are in an area where I have a little knowledge. I am a retired CHP Officer who also happens to be an advid cyclist. I investigated a few bicycle accidents during my 27 year career. I can not recall one accident in which the bicylist was NOT at fault. The majority of bike crashes were old, middle aged guys who where riding too fast for conditions and ate the road. The sport does have some danger as you are exposed to traffic. City riding differs from country riding, I do get leary riding in cities, so I avoid them. First you have to be careful, you must obey all traffic laws, use common sense, some roads just arn't safe to ride a bike on. Always wear a helmet, and ride like you are invisible. The odds are, no matter how good, or safe you are, sooner or later you will go down. I've had a couple of little spills, got hit by a car once when some guy was pulling out of a private road (I took for granted that he saw me). And the last one was "an old, middle aged guy riding too fast for conditions, and ate the road".

I feel a lot safer riding my bike on the back country roads as opposed to driving my vehicle on the california freeways.

On a whole, this is a safe sport if you are careful. There are always isolated incidents in which some cyclist gets taken out by some drunk driver, but this can happen to anyone, bicyclist or motor vehicle driver.

I do get heat from my retired CHP friends about riding, but when you look at the danger in law enforcement, slapping on a gun, bullet proof vests, high speed pursuits, and just the fact of being exposed to traffic while writing a ticket on a freeway, I'll take cycling. If if I do bite the bullet, I can think of no better way to go, at least it's something I enjoy and love doing.

I do most of my rides in the morning, I seldom ride in the late afternoon or early evening, especially during the summer months, this is when the people who have been drinking are out and about. And I try to refrain from making verbal comments when some motorist does something really stupid that puts me at risk. I have on occasion shouted at cars and even said the F word on occasion, then I have regreted afterward and spent about five minutes glancing over my shoulder making sure that they wern't coming back to run me over.
Most the time it's because they just don't see you, or they under estimate your speed.

Don't be afraid to ride on the roads, just use common sense, something that seems to be lacking in the human race these days...
HmmmJohnG
Jun 9, 2001 3:06 PM
Like all things in life... there's some risk associated with it. Probably more than "average" sports activities but less than high risks sports (climbing, ski diving, etc.)

Be careful, choose your routes with some knowledge of the hazards, always wear your helmet.... these things will minimize the hazards.

BTW: I've been road riding for about 30 years and never been hurt.... three years on the MTB and I've had a concussion and numerous cuts and bruises. :(

YMMV
JohnG
Hi JohnVon Zip
Jun 9, 2001 3:58 PM
I gotta know what ski diving is. Thanks.
re: Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?4bykn
Jun 9, 2001 3:21 PM
While there are inherent risks in cycling, as in almost any sport, I believe that cycling is more likely to extend your life (healthier heart/lungs) and improve the quality of life than the opposite. Many of the frequent posters here have had accidents ranging from minor to near life-threatening, and the one thing they have in common is the fact that they still ride. I think that pretty much says that riding is worth the risks involved.
It's the safest way to use the roadRich Clark
Jun 9, 2001 3:45 PM
If you follow the rules of the road and behave like traffic -- predictably -- you're safer on your bike than you are in a car.

Statistically, most collisions between bikes and other objects -- peds, cars, etc -- happen either on sidewalks or multi-use paths, or when the bicyclist is doing something stupid on a road, like riding against traffic, running red lights, riding in the dark without lights, etc.

There are always exceptions, and you'll always find someone to tell you horror stories. There's nothing riveting about listening to people say "I've ridden for 30 years on the road and never had an accident." But in the end, the rules of the road are there for one purpose: to render all vehicles' actions predictable and orderly.

Sure, you have to be alert. But don't you always?

Most of the situations that get cars in trouble -- tailgating, high-speed maneuvering, etc -- aren't a problem for bikes anyway. Most of the riders I know who've gotten into trouble have done so for two basic reasons:

(1) Being unwilling to stop when the rules say "stop;"

(2) Being timid about asserting their right to space on the road.

Be a vehicle, and you'll be fine.

RichC
If we wrote about most of our rides.........Len J
Jun 9, 2001 5:10 PM
it would be a boring board. Recognize that the extreme rides, when something unusual happens, make for interesting topics. I have been riding for 20 + years and have had exactly 2 accidents,which (in hindsight) were primarily the result of my own judgement errors.

I agree with other posters that suggest being ultra aware & assuming that the worst is going to happen. (Bike defensivly). An old timer gave me the best advice when I first started riding, He told me to ALWAYS be predictible and decisive. Don't give a car any doubt as to your intentions. Most car/Bike accidents seem to occur because the driver thinks that the bike is going to do one thing & they don't.

Enjoy the ride & ride safely.
Cycling is dangerous!The Lone Cyclist
Jun 9, 2001 6:51 PM
Cycling is dangerous...if you don't follow the rules of the road!

I follow these rules: obey traffic laws, be predictable (hand signals, ride straight, be assertive on the road), be seen --drivers do not look or expect bikes on a side walk (take a note at this next time you drive your car), be alert, wear a helmet and eyewear protection. Take an Effective Cycling class!

I have been on a road cyclists for about 10 years--I have been on one bike accident--I fell while track-standing!

The Lone Cyclist
Alot of good information here......BrianU
Jun 10, 2001 9:26 AM
except for the some of the opinions on not wearing helmets. Hitting asphalt, a curb or a car at 30mph and relying on being able to put your hands out to protect your head. Yeah right.
I personally know two people that have had their lives saved from a helmet. Both involved cars. One guy had someone pull out in front of him. The other guy was hit from behind, along with 2 other riders, while riding in a group. The young man that hit them claimed to have had the sun in his eyes. My friend spent 3 weeks in a coma from that incident.
Now lets get past the horror stories and let me say that overall its pretty safe. You have received alot of good advise to your question. Heed it.
About the only thing I think I could add that hasn't already been said would be to check around your local bike shops about group rides. Not only can you benefit from hanging out with more experienced riders, but a group of riders is generally more visable to motorists than an individual rider. I also keep one of those strobe lights mounted to my seat post. Early mourning and in the evenings when their is a chance for a motorist to have to drive looking into the sun, I will turn it on. I usually do not let a light rain keep me indoors and I will use it then as well.
Overall, I feel safer on my bike on rural roads than when I am in my car driving through Oklahoma City.
Alot of good information here......Pyg Me
Jun 10, 2001 9:43 AM
Rich Clark Jun-09-01, 02:45 PM
"It's the safest way to use the road"
If you follow the rules of the road and behave like traffic -- predictably -- you're safer on your bike than you are in a car.
Statistically, most collisions between bikes and other objects -- peds, cars, etc -- happen either on sidewalks or multi-use paths, or when the bicyclist is doing something stupid on a road, like riding against traffic, running red lights, riding in the dark without lights, etc. "

"Statiscally, you are wrong!!!!

NHTSA states the two most comon auto/bike accidents are
#1) Car turning left in front of bike.
#2) Car turning right in front of bike.
Alot of good information here......Rich Clark
Jun 10, 2001 6:04 PM
The NHTSA stats apply to auto/bike accidents, not to all bike accidents. The DOT doesn't track bicycle safety, per se; it only tracks statistics for occurences on roads, not on paths, sidewalks, trails, etc.

Auto/bike accidents represent less than 20% of all bicycling injuries. I very specifically said "most collisions between bikes and other objects." Not "auto/bike."

Reading comprehension. It's fundamental.

RichC
Alot of good information here......Pyg Me
Jun 10, 2001 6:54 PM
Duh. That is what I was talking about. Auto/bike. I am fairly certain that is what the other poster was talking about too.
Alot of good information here......Rich Clark
Jun 10, 2001 8:43 PM
Whatever.
Alot of good information here......Pyg Me
Jun 11, 2001 7:32 AM
Whatever, you. (Lets see how long we can keep this thread alive by both of us trying to get in the last word.) Unless, of course, you are much to mature to play along.
re: Newbie Q: How safe is cycling?LC
Jun 10, 2001 11:43 AM
The most unsafe thing that I see cyclist do is ride along the side of the road when there is no room for the vehicle to pass safely. If there is no room for the car, then don't let the driver think that there is room. If you have to, take the whole lane!
SPD disasters-WIL
Jun 10, 2001 2:48 PM
I'm a newbie, so new I haven't bought my bike yet. However, a good couple of wipeouts on my Mountain bike was because I couldn't clip out of my SPDs in time. Although roadbikeing isn't nearly as technical, has anyone come across this problem when avoiding traffic or going up steep hills, etc.
As safe as walking...gromit
Jun 11, 2001 4:10 AM
mile for mile, you are as likely to be injured by a car walking on the sidewalk as riding a bike on the road. Of course if you ride like a nutcase in heavy traffic your odds of being hurt go up. Wearing a helmet may save your life, but the statistics do not point to a reduction in serious injuries among riders.
Sobering thought, a friend met someone who had a serious head injury incurred while jogging. They had tripped and hit their head on the ground. Helmets for jogging anyone?
more info
http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/