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odds of getting killed on a bike...(38 posts)

odds of getting killed on a bike...speedmaestro
Oct 16, 2001 10:59 PM
1 in 500,000

getting killed in a car, 1 in 7,000

anthrax... 1 in 500,000,000.

Information overload, cannot site reference, but look forward to debate if wrong.

Ride hard or go home to sleep!
Is that...Stattoman
Oct 17, 2001 2:04 AM
1/.5M of cyclists, or of the population as a whole?
Some Databikedodger
Oct 17, 2001 8:35 AM
Here are some raw numbers from the CDC fatality database ( for 1998:

Total deaths from injuries: 146,941
Total for motor vehicle accidents: 43,647
Total for poisonings: 18,392
Total for predestrian accidents: 6,319
Total for bicycle accidents: 825

Just remember...Wayne
Oct 17, 2001 4:24 AM
that these things rely on so many assumptions and definitions that they are just really very gross estimates. Think about stats like the probability of getting attacked by a shark, which has some value, say 1 in a million. But your chance of getting attacked over your lifetime is exactly nil if you never go in the ocean, or could be almost a certainty if you go swimming with seals everyday in an area infested with Great Whites. I've also heard the bike stats include anyone killed on a bike, including children on their tricycles riding around in front of their house. I believe that children riding bikes and getting killed make up a large number of "cyclists" killed each year, if not the majority. I don't think most of us would consider these deaths as cycling related. On the other hand, if as a "real" cyclist your spending 10 to 20 hours a week out on the road think about how much higher your chances of getting killed are than the persons who never cycle yet are figured into that 1 in 500,000 figure. Just so many variables to think about. That stat wouldn't really apply to you, unless it includes at least time spent on the road, time of day you ride, traffic density, where you ride, and many more variables that would influence your actual chance of getting whacked by a car.
or..... what are the odds....filtersweep
Oct 17, 2001 5:00 AM
what are the odds of dying from cardio vascular disease?

That fact that we all survived bicycling as kids in an era when helmets really didn't even exist must mean something...? I remember when I was 10? and my younger brother hit a car on a highway- he was fine, the bicycle wasn't- fortunately the car didn't hit him (oddly enough he T-boned a car- what is the probability of that given the speed difference). We were just kids- no lingering fears or anxiety- though "mom" had kittens!
Just remember...cyclequip
Oct 17, 2001 5:00 AM
What we do know, as you say, is that 'risk of accident' within the cycling group is age/experience related. Children are thus the most likely to crash (not just be hit by a car) and suffer fatalities. As age rises or annual mileage rises, so the accident incidence decreases.
Statistically, club riders doing consistent annual mileage are the lowest risk group.
another good reason to ride more ...nmmaximum15
Oct 17, 2001 8:50 AM
I would like to know the source of these numbersElefantino
Oct 17, 2001 5:31 AM
Because my wife and family are nervous about me going back on the bike come January. I am telling them that I'm going to be safe because of the odds, so can I show them some official numbers to calm their fears?
you may want to check withmoschika
Oct 17, 2001 7:12 AM
the local highway patrol. they keep stats on cycling accidents. you may also want to check with your local health departments epidemiological department. a local cycling club may have some info too.
those places might be the best for local data on your chance of a cycling accident.
the U.S dept of Health and Human Services will have national data on cycling related deaths, etc.
there are probably many other sources to find this type of info.
I'd bet that.............................DAC
Oct 17, 2001 6:10 AM
..........most of those getting killed on a bike were:
a) minors
b) male
c) doing something stupid
I'm not that confidentjtolleson
Oct 17, 2001 6:31 AM
Here in Colorado, we have several cycling deaths every year during major cycling events... Ride the Rockies, Courage CLassic, Elephant Rock. The culprit is often a combination of downhill speed (descents can be like 15 miles downhill at 7%-10% grade) met by bad pavement or gravel. My horrible crash in 1998 was during Colorado's Triple Bypass.

I can't claim to have stats, but I've always thought that most of the fatalities would be experienced cyclists... wide open roads, higher speeds. I'd like to tell myself that since I'm experienced and (hopefully) smart, cycling deaths aren't an issue for me. But I think that's naive.

I rockclimb and backpack and I believe that cycling is the most dangerous thing I do. Stats would be great.
I'd bet that.............................MJ
Oct 17, 2001 6:56 AM
an LCC report

from a few issues back had some published information that somehwre near 50% of cycling fatalities involved the cyclist being under the influence of alcohol - the magazine focuses mainly on London commuting/green transport issues
Do you want to live forever?Dog
Oct 17, 2001 6:48 AM
From Conan the Barbarian, I think...

The odds of dying are 100%. It's just a matter of when and how. Why worry about it?

Do you want to live forever?C
Oct 17, 2001 6:52 AM
Your right and dying from a crash descending at 70+ is not a bad way to go. But if it was caused from a car doing something stupid then it just sucks...
I agreeDog
Oct 17, 2001 6:57 AM
I guess we can just be as careful as we can (I'm actually very careful around cars) and hope for the best.

"Never tell me the odds!"

han solo nmJs Haiku Shop
Oct 17, 2001 7:37 AM
Do you want to live forever?UncleMoe
Oct 17, 2001 7:56 AM
I think that quote is from "Battlestar Troopers" about the big bugs that attack earth. It was on TNT the other night.
Yes I do! Short of that I want to live well. nmMB1
Oct 17, 2001 8:15 AM
Hope I die before I get old. nmmr_spin
Oct 17, 2001 8:42 AM
you're not Robbie Williams - nmMJ
Oct 18, 2001 3:27 AM
Actually, I think that was from . . .LAIrish
Oct 17, 2001 10:41 PM
the move "Red Sonja," starring Brigitte Nelson. She and Arnold Shwarzenegger (who has recently made his move debut on "Conan") were an item. He co-starred in the movie, playing a Barbarian warrior who was almost identical to Conan (but, because of the copyright laws, was not Conan). The schtick was that Sonja was really the bravest of the group of adventurers and, everytime Arnie and the others would hang back, she would look at them and recite the line.

I have a very distinct memory of Brigitte.
Seems to me that...muncher
Oct 17, 2001 7:01 AM
the most likely way to die on a bike is with the assistance of someone else, i.e. that solo rider error causing death to that rider is very rare.

So, given that we roadies:-

a) spend more time on the road than kids (miles wise at least)

b) spend more time mixing with drivers on the same bit of (often bad) road

c) spend more time riding in groups where someone else can ruin your day

d) spend more time racing where you are liable to make/be on the receiving end of more mistakes at higer speeds

it seems to me that we are probably pretty good candidates to bump up the death figures.

That being said, I knew personally only one person killed on a bike, and that was a guy at school who was mown down from behind by a car on the road on the way home from school, but quite a few people who have had "could have gone either way" spills and bumps.

Shoot me down...

The deaths that...Wayne
Oct 17, 2001 7:21 AM
I know of in my surrounding area have all involved cars. I live in a college town so we probably average 1 or 2 "cycling" deaths a year. Most involve students commuting (so in all probability no helmets, poor skills and disobeying traffic laws), so I wouldn't really call these cyclists. The last one I remember was a guy passing a 18 wheeler on the right, which was turning into a restaurant, got caught up in the wheels and crushed. As for "real" cyclists, there was a father/son pair riding side by side on the shoulder when some idiot passed on the right at high speed a turning car and hit both of them (at least one if not both were killed). Again I'm biased because I'm in the cycling community so I hear about these incidents and I read the school news paper so I hear about student incidents. But for all I know some little kids or teenagers on BMXs are killed every year as well but I don't hear about them.
Another close oneatomicwedgie
Oct 17, 2001 8:43 AM
Last week I was riding on a state hwy. close to my house. This hwy. is convenient for me, but the shoulder ranges from 18" to 0". So I have a least one encounter that is "uncomfortable" each time I ride there. But last week I had one that was really scary. I was passed by an 18 wheeler that was carrying a really large bulldozer. I didn't see him coming from behind (I heard it of course but I didn't know about the wide load)When he went by the truck seemed too close. But then the blade of the dozer went by me. If it had been any closer my riding days would be over.
Group ridingTig
Oct 17, 2001 9:56 AM
I agree with you on how riding in a group can increase your chance of an accident. Death for a helmeted rider who crashes due to wheels touching or something similar will be very rare in most cases.

Now, here's the good side of group riding. Most of the roads my club rides on are 4 lane divided ones with medium to medium high speed limits. We (groups range from 10 to 80 riders) take up the right lane, or most of it if there is a shoulder to spread out onto. A group has an advantage of becoming a bigger "vehicle" which almost always gets treated better by passing motorists.

Riding solo or with just a few riders on the same roads has always felt more risky to me. Cars pass closer without leaving the lane most of the time. Some jerks like to see how close they can get. It's their way of saying "get off my road". I'm a native Texan who's driven and ridden all over the world. Texas drivers tend to be redneck a-holes IMHO!
solo ridingguido
Oct 17, 2001 11:28 AM
I agree that riding in a group presents a larger vehicle and gets respect. Who wants to wipe out 10 or 20 cyclists?

I've ridden solo in L.A., D.C. and East Texas. There's no redneck half as crazy as any of those young D.C. lawyers in their SAABs and BMWs. Lately, I've actually noticed a high degree of civility and respect from motorists here in Tyler, Texas. Its been five years of peaceful riding, no altercations, or even rudeness. I ride in this city of about 80,000 two or three times a week. If you show respect for the other traffic on the road, it will respect you, moreso around here than anywhere else I've ridden. Go with the flow, that is, move predictably like a car; give everybody room to get around you; assume people don't see you; be prepared to give up the right of way to a larger vehicle. Drivers appreciate that and most often return the favor. Like a dance, it works better if everybody is coordinated. Generally people are willing to do that around here more than other places I've ridden.
Seems to me that...DINOSAUR
Oct 17, 2001 10:45 AM
I won't shoot you down, not my style. Stats are in black and white. Percentages computed by guys sitting in cubicles.
The trouble is too much emphasis are placed on statistics.

Retired ground pounder CHP grunt here. Investigated zillions of accidents during my 27+ year career. I never investigated a fatal collision involving a cyclist. The majority I investigated were either involving juveniles or solo adult recreational cyclist.

I can't not recall of one accident I investigated where the cyclist was NOT at fault.

I'm aware of a couple of accidents that were investigated by a fellow officer who worked out of the same CHP Office as I. Again the cyclist screwed up. Usual cause is driving too fast for conditions, crossing the center line and getting hit head-on by an automobile. One case was not solved. A cyclist was discovered dead in a ditch, early in the morning. No physical evidence. Road was straight, my guess he got ran off the road by a vehicle.

I'd say the chances of getting killed while riding your bike are about as good as winning the lottery. Be careful, obey the traffic laws, learn to hone your riding skills.

Another thing.... a lot of solo accidents are caused by road hazards, as Elefantino can identify with. Pot holes, rocks, debris. Know your roads, riding in packs has it's drawbacks. I like to ride solo so all I have to worry about is myself.

If I go I'd rather go riding my bike and enjoying what I do then sitting on my ass on my recliner.

a lot of cycling accidents go unreported, so the stats don't paint a true picture.

Riding a bike has it's inherent danger, but that's part of the mystique right?
US Stats for 1999jagiger
Oct 17, 2001 8:42 AM
Some interesting stuff, although they don't estimate the chances of getting killed, I image you can make a guess based on number bikers & other assumptions.

In 1999, there were 750 bicycling fatalities and 51,000 bicycling injuries resulting from traffic crashes in the United States. While these numbers continue to decrease from year to year, bicyclist fatalities still account for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities as well as 2 percent of all traffic injuries

Helmets were not wore in 98% of fatalities

Bicycle deaths are most likely to occur in summer. Deaths are most likely to occur on Fridays and Saturdays. The peak time is 3-9 pm.

Four states (California, Florida, New York, and Texas) accounted for 43 percent of bicycle deaths in 1999.

More bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas (64 percent compared with 36 percent) in 1999.

Deaths of older bicyclists are an increasing problem. Seventy-one percent of 1999 bicycle deaths were riders 16 years and older. This compares with 32 percent of bicycle deaths in 1975.

For more info & other links, check the following URL:
One Commentbikedodger
Oct 17, 2001 9:08 AM
The "Helmets were not wore in 98% of fatalities " is not a reliable statistic. It is based on a database search of data in which helmet usage was not normally input. So if helmet usage was not mentioned, the result was reported as if a helmet was not used when in fact it was not known if the helmet was used or not. In spite of the data being bad, this statistic is widely quoted.

Sounds like 98% operator error!! nmjagiger
Oct 17, 2001 12:36 PM
Try Thisgrzy
Oct 17, 2001 10:24 AM
Odds of getting killed while flying a Navy aircraft sometime during a 20 year stint: 1 in 10.
Oh Yeah, well..Wayne
Oct 17, 2001 10:43 AM
the Discover Channel ran a show the other night on the most dangerous job in the world. Guess what it is? Alaska Crab Fisherman. During the season they were there, which only lasts 2 or 3 months, there were 7 fatalities.
Oh Yeah, well..DINOSAUR
Oct 17, 2001 10:55 AM
I saw that show, twice. Unbelievable working conditions. Money is the obect, a crewmen on a crab boat can earn 60K in three months. Hmmmm maybe I found a way to finance that new bike... not in this life, I'll take my chances on solid ground.
Oh Yeah, well..Wayne
Oct 17, 2001 11:10 AM
I was wondering what kind of money they were talking about, they kept saying "its dangerous but the pay is good" but I never heard them say how much. You have to be a crazy to do that, I imagine the odds of getting maimed or just plain so beat up that your on disability by the time your 35 are even higher than getting killed. But I bet they enjoy that 10 month vacation every year! and a bed and beer have probably never felt or tasted so good when the season is over!
Oct 18, 2001 9:15 AM
So, what are the odds? Seven out of what? I saw the show and also know some guys that do it. It is without a doubt one of the nastiest jobs I could think of and I'm thinking of just the sleep deprivation and cold. I guess my underlying point is that there are quite a few occupations that are pretty risky.

There have been all sorts of claims about "the world's most dangerous job". Mostly it depends on how you want to qualify it and if you want to use data or not. Some say a window washer in NYC is tops. Who knows for sure? One could say that working in the Twin Towers was the world's most dangerous job. Point is the 1:10 odds for a carrier pilot is doucmented by the DOD.

BTW - being a carrier pilot isn't considered the most dangersous job on the carrier. That title goes to the guys working on the flight deck. They get blown over board, sucked down intakes, chopped to bits by propellers, and squished by things that weigh far more than they do. On typical 6 month deployment they lose a couple and it's usually at night after they've been been doing around the clock flight operations and haven't slept in 24 hours or more.
Odds on getting killed on rollers?MikeC
Oct 17, 2001 5:12 PM
I dunno, but I feel like I'm pushing the envelope every time I get on the damn things!
It's better to burn out than fade away...Dutchy
Oct 17, 2001 6:26 PM
OK I stole that line from Highlander 1.
I don't usually consider the risks of cycling, just like I don't ever consider the risks of driving.
Where I live about 180 people die each year in "Traffic Accidents" out of that about 3 are usually cyclists.
In general the fatalities have happened at night or very early morning, before sunrise.
Therfore if I ride during the daylight hours and follow the road rules, I shouldn't be too concerned.
Having said that. On Monday I rode on a new route (a back road) and there were about
12 semi-trailers that passed me. With self preservation in mind I kept an eye out for
them and would actually pull over and stop while they passed. The only thing I fear while riding are semi's.

Highlander 1? You've Got to Be Kidding!Stew
Oct 18, 2001 6:23 AM
"It's better to burn out than fade away."

That line was written by Neil Young about 20 years before Highlander 1:

My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you're gone, you can never come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black.

The king is gone but he's not forgotten
This is the story of Johnny Rotten
It's better to burn out than it is to rust
The king is gone but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.