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Cycling IS safe(19 posts)

Cycling IS safefiltersweep
Jun 13, 2002 6:44 PM

With all the hue and cry over the articles about the recent tragedies (understandably so), we need to keep in mind how safe cycling actually IS. In fact, it is probably more dangerous to live as a couch potato!

Canadian stats:
re: Cycling IS safe...sort ofLeisure
Jun 13, 2002 11:55 PM
The stat is looking at the population as a whole, but remember very few people cycle seriously, which when looked at in these stats makes it look safer than it really is. I'm not saying this to argue with your point; I know very well I read these death and destruction stories and think things are worse than they really are, but we can't claim things are perfectly safe either. Appreciate your positive attitude though...
What do you mean?filtersweep
Jun 14, 2002 4:05 AM
"Very few people take cycling seriously" ?


"Serious cyclists"- these are arguably the safest riders. A ton of "cycling fatalities" actually involve children.

From the article:

"I have decided that I better add a summary to this discussion, since some people still don't get it. To the question, is bicycling dangerous, we have to acknowledge that there are between 700 and 1,000 fatalities in the US each year, which is a small number compared to the million or so who die from diseases that cycling could help prevent and the approximately 150,000 people killed in other kinds of accidents. In comparing the fatality rate of cyclists and motorists, we find that the statistics about bicycle use do not all agree; however, it seems that bicycling is less dangerous or no more dangerous per hour than driving a car, and since motorists spend more time driving, the lifelong risk of the average motorist is two to four times greater than that of the average cyclist without the 20X compensating health benefits of cycling. In addition, motor vehicles kill over five thousand pedestrians each year while bicycles kill at most one or two. Finally, the majority of cycling deaths occur to the minority who are not following such simple safety proceedures as riding with the traffic, stopping for traffic lights and stop signs, and using lights at night.

Putting all this together, a person who choses a bicycle over an automobile for daily travel and who obeys the traffic laws and uses care at all times will experience greatly improved health and a greatly reduced risk of death as a result. Thus rather than being dangerous, cycling greatly reduces major health risks. "
Yeah but,Wayne
Jun 14, 2002 4:29 AM
you could avoid 99.9% of the risk associated with cycling and get 100% of the benefit by taking up running, or even power walking to avoid the muscoluskeletal stresses associated with running. Not to mention running is way cheaper and in a number of senses more convenient. Seems like most Americans are just taking our cultures obsession with safety to the extreme (look at the extreme disgust it raises in some people when they hear of or see somebody else riding without a helmet, or the whole smoking issue). You can't be 100% isolated from danger. If something provides you joy, whether it be cyling, smoking, etc. and you're willing to accept the potential bad with the good than just do it! There are inherent risks associated with cycling that are avoidable by not engaging in it. Furthermore, the health benefits gained through cycling can be obtained through any numbers of other aerobic activities that are less risky. If you're going to be a wuss about it take up swimming otherwise except the risks. Everything in life isn't about doing a benefit/risk analysis!
Yeah but, butgrandemamou
Jun 14, 2002 5:17 AM
You can buy so many more cool gizmos and gadgets if you cycle. Anyone can run it takes a special itiot to spend mega bucks to ride around and look goofy.
don't think running is any safercyclopathic
Jun 14, 2002 5:27 AM
my neighbor was clipped by side mirror (RV/truck tow type with big metal loop). It came from behind and broke his neck. He will spend the rest on his life in chair.
don't think running is any saferWayne
Jun 14, 2002 5:42 AM
A single incident doesn't prove anything. People get killed in their homes by crashing airplanes every once in a while but I think we could all agree sitting on your couch is much safer than cycling on the road! Do runners get hit by automobiles?
Yes, but it's gotta be much more of a rare occurance because 1) many, even most runners don't run out in the road and 2) the relatively low speed of running makes it less likely a car will pull out in front of you (or at least you'll have time to react).
Oh and I just noticed, how did a truck come up behind your friend? You're suppose to run/walk against the flow of traffic which makes getting hit from behind a much less likely occurrance when running than when riding a bike.
if it were "per cycling mile" it would be better nmDougSloan
Jun 14, 2002 8:29 AM
Jun 14, 2002 10:14 PM
This among other things is why I'm given to doubt the claims of these stats, even if they contend they adjust for the number of people who do it and how long. It does not jive with the personal experiences of actual riders. I have never even been close to getting killed in a car (maybe two fender benders, no damage), and I've probably driven about 200,000 miles or so. Compare that to the amount of road biking I did in college, which likely didn't amount to even 1% of those driven. I could have been seriously injured on several occasions. Just about anyone on this site or in your favorite LBS will relate. The miles I ride today are much safer than before, because I go through so much trouble to avoid traffic and stick to areas with friendlier, more bike-conscious drivers. So now, I don't feel my risk to be that much worse than when driving, but not better either.
The other reason I question this stat is the simple truth that people fudge numbers. It could be riders inflating the number of miles they ride (due to inexperience or self-aggrandizement) or it could be (and is) how the statisticians choose to represent their numbers. You can make numbers say anything. I'm not saying let's all be paranoid of everything we see; just be shrewd enough to see potential empirical shortcomings.
What I mean is:Leisure
Jun 14, 2002 11:02 PM
Not many Americans in the overall population cycle at all. Among the vast majority of those that do, most will invest very little time cycling compared to driving. The person compiling this study claims to have adjusted for this, but I don't buy it. You can tell where his bias is in the very first paragraph. It is very clear in every stat he gives that he is trying to convince you of his argument, that cycling is safer than driving, as opposed to compiling numbers in a completely unbiased fashion and only making interpretations after the fact. Whenever he has the option, he chooses the stats that most strongly support his argument, and the numbers that are less flattering to his cause he attempts to sweep under the rug (the instance where he claims cycling is still "three times safer than motorcycling", but he doesn't mention that would still leave cycling as several times more dangerous than driving a car). Most of the real numbers we don't even get to see first-hand, because he's hand-picked which sources he chooses to use, and then rather than giving them directly, only gives his numerical modification of those stats after the fact, and we don't get to see how he really crunched those numbers. We're just supposed to take his word. This is more a prosecution versus defense argument rather than scientific method. He chose one side, then molded whatever stat he could find to more strongly represent his case.
I'm not saying he doesn't mean well. I'm not even saying that every stat he offers up is necessarily that far off the mark. I'm saying responsible readers should scrutinize the article for themselves, taking what this guy says with a grain of salt because well-meaning or not, he's biased to begin with. Personally, I think there are a lot of things he brings up which are bunk.
re: Cycling IS safe...sort ofkcd
Jun 14, 2002 4:11 PM
The stat is looking at participants in the activities specified, NOT population as a whole. For every 100,000 people who rides bicycles, the fatality rate is low compared to say people who drives.
cool....never knew drinking was classed as a sport NmSpirito
Jun 14, 2002 3:23 AM
In my youth it often seemed pretty competitive! Nmdzrider
Jun 14, 2002 4:46 AM
re: Cycling IS safezeke
Jun 14, 2002 4:12 AM
OK. They are the canadian stats. I wonder if they differ for the USA, especially the east coast. If I (an American citizen) were to return to Philadelphia, ( I am now living in Japan) I think I would give up biking. I've had too much trouble there with inconsiderate (that's the nicest term I can use) drivers.

I would NOT say it is safe to road bike there.
Here's another fascinating linkPdxMark
Jun 14, 2002 6:44 AM
I spent a long time following links from the originally posted links. Here's one that I came across:

This link is a US study (6 state sample) analyzing the couple dozen different types of car/bike crashes, sorted by age and time of day. You can see what types of crashes typically involve kids, and what types typically involve adults, etc.

Riding legally greatly corresponds to riding safely, according to this report. There will always be a few random fatal hits from behind, it seems, or even head-on, sadly, but the numbers are very, very low.

The Baton Rouge tragedy is sobering and can give us all reason to stop and think about how we and others ride so that we can at least prevent the preventable. The link above is a good reminder of just how many stupid ways we can needlessly put ourselves in danger.
And another.Miklos
Jun 14, 2002 7:37 AM
Here is the link to Washington State statistics:

They back up PdxMark's comments. I would imagine that all states would have this information. Maybe I should check Oregons also since I work in PDX! One of those interstate commuters.

According to the statistics the safe time to ride is...LC
Jun 14, 2002 8:21 AM
In December, on the Innerstate, between midnight and 5 am, on snow or ice. Guess you just have to pick where and when your ride.
re:Not very representational...jrm
Jun 14, 2002 6:59 AM
In that the bulk of cycling death's are children under the age of 16.
re: Cycling IS safemmquest
Jun 14, 2002 10:37 AM
While I agree with the statements that cycling, while somewhat dangerous, decreases overall mortality by making us healthier, I also think that it is important to note at least that cycling and swimming are the only sports on the graphic above. Granted, I don't think it is a coincidence that the two sports that almost every child in the country participates in have higher mortality rates than other sports. However, it is important for us all to remember that cycling can be dangerous and that someone participating in cycling is more at risk than someone participating in a "dangerous" sport like American football.

In short, ride and be happy, but remember to be safe.