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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

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Old 02-03-17, 03:53 PM   #26
Gresp15C
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
When I grew up, we were fond of saying "put your money where your mouth is". I don't hear that so much these days, but it's very apt in discussions of bike safety.

There are people who measure risks and bet on people's lives every day. These are the life insurance actuaries who are paid big bucks to get this stuff right. These folks believe that cyclists have above average life expectancies, and their employers can make money by attracting them as clients with lower premiums. Here's a link to one company offering cyclists better rates (it's an ad, so I offer it without endorsement, except to support the claim)

Since these people are willing to bet that I'll live longer, and put their money where their mouths are, who am I to argue? Whenever I'm out riding in traffic, I tell myself I'm OK because I'm betting with the house.
I've thought along similar lines when folks argue that cyclists should be required to carry insurance. My response is: Go ahead, make my day. If insurance companies are allowed to consider bike use, my rates would go down, not up.

For me, safety and comfort are intertwined. I simply enjoy riding more, when I'm not mixing it up with fast car traffic. Granted, I live in a town where it's easy to avoid busy streets. I'd have to think a bit differently if I lived somewhere like NYC, but I'd adapt rather than give up riding.
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Old 02-03-17, 04:31 PM   #27
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For me that's like asking how safe do I feel hiking in the woods? Depending on whether I come across a bear, pretty safe or not so safe.
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Old 02-03-17, 05:43 PM   #28
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Took the survey. Agree with many of the positive comments here.

This is what I summed up at the end and submitted:

Quote:
Cyclists can do a lot of things to control what happens to them on the road. If you ride in a predictable, assertive and safe manner and obey traffic laws, signage, etc, run lights day and night and wear hi-viz clothing and are patient and NOT impatient "looking for trouble" you will be just fine most of the time. Most of the riders that have "problems" or "encounters" with motorists, in my opinion, bring it on themselves with how they ride and their attitude.

I found the more I tempered my attitude and began using common sense and listen to my gut instincts the less and less frequent my encounters with motorists. Almost all of my encounters now are with distracted drivers who do something unintentionally. I don't react. I usually give them a calm wave to say, "I'm ok but do watch for me the next time" kind of look. This works for me as they many times say, thank you or a similar wave back to acknowledge that they messed up.

I am a firm believer that you get back what you give out.
I've been riding on the road for 50 years or more. I've seen it all. I remember the really bad days back in the 1970's bike boom days. We got it good now except for the distracted drivers. They kind of even it out I suppose though.
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Old 02-03-17, 05:49 PM   #29
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wphamilton,

Quote:
Depending on whether I come across a bear, pretty safe or not so safe.
That's a pretty good analogy. I feel safe in the woods with any and all four-legged creatures though. It's the two-legged creatures that I pay VERY close attention to. I've had two life threatening encounters with those in my 50 years of camping and backpacking and zero life-threatening encounters riding on the road.

I know how to deal with bears and other apex predators. They are almost always predictable and encounters usually avoidable (but not always) if you know what you are doing and do the right thing. Two-legged creatures are not predictable.


-

Last edited by drlogik; 02-03-17 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 02-03-17, 06:19 PM   #30
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I took took the survey but almost stopped because I felt it was heavily skewed to the assumption that the roads are full of distracted and/or aggressive drivers. I don't find that to be true.

In over 50 years of bicycling, I've had millions (literally) of encounters with drivers sharing my small patch or road. In those years I've had a small number of negative encounters, and extrapolating the numbers, I figure they come out to more than one in a million, but fewer than one in 10,000. Maybe one in 100,000 is about right, more or less. Looking this another way, it's fewer than one problem driver in an average week or 100 miles.

The vast bulk of drivers I see want the same thing I do, namely to get to their destination safely and without undue delay. So, I see them as fellow road users rather than competition.

BTW - I live and ride near NYC and as I read all the stories about driver issues, I have to marvel at the fact that NYC drivers may be exceptionally courteous. (that can't be)
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Old 02-03-17, 06:38 PM   #31
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I feel pretty safe, But wait, I have crashed twice in the last 10 years... The fist one was my fault and I got to deal with seeing double for 10 months... The second crash was also my fault and I got's me a broken neck... I think my next crash will be because I will get ran over by a fully loaded logging truck travelling at 65MPH and that should be my last crash, and it won't be my fault as I am now riding safely, at all times...
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Old 02-03-17, 06:57 PM   #32
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Being 'unsafe' never really crosses my mind when I'm riding, so I guess I feel pretty safe. I am conscious of riding safely of course, but I'm never worried about my safety.

Last edited by jon c.; 02-03-17 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 02-03-17, 08:24 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by historybuffoon View Post
How do you feel about the risk posed by distracted drivers vs aggressive/angry drivers?
Fair question. Here's how I see it. Extremely few drivers (practically none) actually WANT to hurt a cyclist. Most do it on accident, through carelessness and not paying proper attention. So although many cyclists fear being honked or yelled at, that is not usually a dangerous situation in my experience.

If they honk, that means they see you. As a side benefit it alerts others nearby to pay attention too! Just think, that distracted driver playing with his cell phone had to stop and look up to see what was going on thanks to some impatient, grumpy motorist who just had to honk at you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
There are people who measure risks and bet on people's lives every day. These are the life insurance actuaries who are paid big bucks to get this stuff right. These folks believe that cyclists have above average life expectancies, and their employers can make money by attracting them as clients with lower premiums.
Correct. The guy who really made me laugh one day as I was leaving work on my bike, was telling me how I was "Going to get killed out there!" ...as he took another drag from his cigarette. Isn't "Are you a smoker" one of the first questions life insurance companies ask their customers?
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Old 02-03-17, 08:42 PM   #34
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FBinNY,

Quote:
The vast bulk of drivers I see want the same thing I do, namely to get to their destination safely and without undue delay. So, I see them as fellow road users rather than competition.
I couldn't agree more. I feel the same way and I used to commute to work until this past July when we moved back east. The drivers on "my route" were used to seeing me and actually looked out for me on a few occasions.

AlmostTrick:
Quote:
Isn't "Are you a smoker" one of the first questions life insurance companies ask their customers?
So true!! ROFL
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Old 02-03-17, 10:09 PM   #35
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I generally have a feeling of well being. And rarely do I feel frightened or worried about my personal safety being at particular risk. I think... the only time this would change while cycling is during a near accident event. Crashing or almost crashing or getting hit while cycling is rare.
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Old 02-04-17, 12:43 AM   #36
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Interesting survey. I'm much mellower than I was 30+ years ago when I bicycle commuted. Not much rattles me nowadays and I shrug off most incidents.

But there are significant risks and I wouldn't diminish or negate another cyclist's opinions or experiences.
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Old 02-04-17, 01:02 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Fair question. Here's how I see it. Extremely few drivers (practically none) actually WANT to hurt a cyclist. Most do it on accident, through carelessness and not paying proper attention. So although many cyclists fear being honked or yelled at, that is not usually a dangerous situation in my experience.

If they honk, that means they see you. As a side benefit it alerts others nearby to pay attention too! Just think, that distracted driver playing with his cell phone had to stop and look up to see what was going on thanks to some impatient, grumpy motorist who just had to honk at you!



Correct. The guy who really made me laugh one day as I was leaving work on my bike, was telling me how I was "Going to get killed out there!" ...as he took another drag from his cigarette. Isn't "Are you a smoker" one of the first questions life insurance companies ask their customers?
I have had two drivers pass me very close deliberately, several years but only 4 miles apart (25 miles from home). One was driving a pickup, the other a farm dumptruck towing a wider flatbed trailer. First driver immmediately pulled back 4 feet into his lane after passing me. The truck driver saw me riding two or three feet from a roadf edge with drop and delibritely passed me with about a foot to spare to set up for the left turn into his farm. (I was in the line fo the trailer. I could see it in my mirror. I moved over to 4"" from the drop. The trailer went by 4" from my thigh. Those seconds felt like a lifetime. (There was no other traffic, the road was clear in both directions and avbsolutely no reaso nthat truck couldn't pass me with 8' to spare. I had no reason to know he was going to pull a left turn, nor any reason to know he wouldn't wait 5 seconds to make that turn.)

I called the sherrif after both incidents. First time they knew the driver very well. Couldn't press charges based on my info, but would talk to him. Second, an officer visited and heard from the driver's mouth that he saw me.

Ben
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Old 02-04-17, 05:22 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I took took the survey but almost stopped because I felt it was heavily skewed to the assumption that the roads are full of distracted and/or aggressive drivers. I don't find that to be true.

In over 50 years of bicycling, I've had millions (literally) of encounters with drivers sharing my small patch or road. In those years I've had a small number of negative encounters, and extrapolating the numbers, I figure they come out to more than one in a million, but fewer than one in 10,000. Maybe one in 100,000 is about right, more or less. Looking this another way, it's fewer than one problem driver in an average week or 100 miles.

The vast bulk of drivers I see want the same thing I do, namely to get to their destination safely and without undue delay. So, I see them as fellow road users rather than competition.

BTW - I live and ride near NYC and as I read all the stories about driver issues, I have to marvel at the fact that NYC drivers may be exceptionally courteous. (that can't be)
I also had that feeling, but made sure I corrected their faulty assumption. Distracted drivers concern me much more, most people, at least in my experience are friendly.

I also expressed that I feel safe commuting by bike, but I also follow the rules of the road, blah, blah, blah...
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Old 02-04-17, 07:36 AM   #39
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Safe is a tenuous thing. You could step off your front porch wrong, fall down and kill yourself.

When cycling, pick a safe route, wear a helmet, and stay alert.
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Old 02-04-17, 08:09 AM   #40
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Survey from Bicycling Magazine. I don't normally do them, but I did this one. I feel very safe when I ride, but I'm also a very observant and defensive rider and I follow the rules of the road. How Safe Do You Feel When You Ride?| Bicycling
Quote:
Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
Being 'unsafe' never really crosses my mind when I'm riding, so I guess I feel pretty safe. I am conscious of riding safely of course, but I'm never worried about my safety.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
I generally have a feeling of well being. And rarely do I feel frightened or worried about my personal safety being at particular risk. I think... the only time this would change while cycling is during a near accident event. Crashing or almost crashing or getting hit while cycling is rare.
I responded to that survey, and found it thoughtful. I’m a decades-long,year-round cycle commuter, and was seriously injured by a rear-end collision with a distracted driver four years ago. I still cycle with more confidence and enthusiasm than ever, and I ride also with that same aplomb. My specific free-text reply to the survey was:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
I’m fortunate to ride in an urban environment with many alternative routes, and I prefer to ride early in the morning to avoid traffic. IMO a rearview mirror is imperative to ensure safety (besides good lights, high visibility clothing, etc.)
A more serious consideration of safety though, is how do you explain that attitude to non-cyclists, especially those who express concern for your safety? Besides the usual arguments of the risks versus benefits, or careful riding habits, one subtle contention I read on Bike Forums impressed me.
Quote:
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Generally I get kudos or just indifference towards my cycling,mostly as a year-round commuter here in Metro Boston, even after my serious accident four years ago. The most hostile remarks, particularly in Winter, are from those drivers who fear for themselves to hit me.

Of course I contend with their fears using many of those talking points as mentioned above. One soft argument I read on Bikeforums is that cycling in traffic really does look dangerous to car drivers ensconced in their vehicles. Personally I feel pretty safe, well-lit, with unlimited vision with mirrors, and pretty nimble on my bike. Nonetheless, I’m totally attentive to the cars around me, and I have a number of safety aphorisms in my mind to keep me alert to unseen dangers (e.g., "Like a weapon, consider every stopped car loaded, with an occupant ready to exit (from either side).").

Once though, I was standing on a busy intersection (Massachusetts and Commonwealth Aves) one Saturday night watching some happy-go-lucky student-type cyclists on Hubway Bike Share bikes, no helmets, riding along and laughing in traffic, and I thought to myself that really does look dangerous.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 02-04-17 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 02-04-17, 08:32 AM   #41
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Depends on where I am riding. Commuting on multi-lane high speed arterial roads... I don't feel that safe, and this is in spite of over 40 years experience, and "keeping my head on a swivel." Frankly, too many motorists drive too fast, are distracted and fail to plan for even the next intersection.

Now that said, I feel quite safe on lower speed roads, country roads and residential roads... heck just about any road signed at 35 mph or less.

But arterial roads at 50 and 55 mph... not so much...

For the record, I've been hit 3 times commuting, all three the fault of the motorists... and they have been cited by PD. So yeah, I may be a bit "gun shy."
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Old 02-04-17, 10:45 AM   #42
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Safe is a tenuous thing. You could step off your front porch wrong, fall down and kill yourself.

When cycling, pick a safe route, wear a helmet, and stay alert.
Best wear that helmet when going out on the porch too. By your own logic.
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Old 02-04-17, 11:55 AM   #43
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Safe is a tenuous thing. You could step off your front porch wrong, fall down and kill yourself.

When cycling, pick a safe route, wear a helmet, and stay alert.
Sadly there may not be "a safe route," that is something all of us may face from time to time.

I try to choose the safest routes, even going out of my way to avoid conflict areas, but when the only route is a busy multilane high speed road... not much else can be done.

We've all seen the extremes... the urban arterial w 6 lanes at 50mph, and the narrow busy farm highway w no shoulder at 65 mph. Do those let you "feel safe?" They may be the only road.
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Old 02-04-17, 12:43 PM   #44
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I do have to agree w others that it is the distracted drivers that are the issue.

Right now we are driving cross country w bikes and an 18 foot camper trailer... we should be plenty visible, but there are those drivers out there that think they can squeeze in anywhere, and try, and there are drivers that are just "not looking" and make last minute 3-4 lane changes or they turn right in front of you... had a woman yesterday pull right into a gas station driveway right into me, stopping inches from my bumper. Have had drivers leave side roads at stop signs just feet from me, causing me and them to lock brakes to avoid collision. If these fools cannot see a bright red truck pulling a trailer, then a cyclist is invisible to them.

Now granted this is rare, but happens often enough to make you go WTF!
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Old 02-04-17, 04:36 PM   #45
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I don't feel safe. But I won't get out of the way for some stupid driver who has plenty of room to pass. Without making a 'close pass', and I am 'taking the lane'.
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Old 02-04-17, 05:24 PM   #46
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I feel totally safe. I only ride when the traffic is light, like early Sunday morning, and anytime I'm near a narrow contested area I go up onto the footpath. But hey, I ride a hybrid so that makes it easy.
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Old 02-04-17, 06:36 PM   #47
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I don't know about this. Medical expenses due to an auto/bicycle interaction typically dwarf the cost of the bicycle.

Disclosure: This is my opinion. I have no verifiable facts to prove my opinion right or wrong.
I do.
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Old 02-04-17, 11:15 PM   #48
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..
A more serious consideration of safety though, is how do you explain that attitude to non-cyclists, especially those who express concern for your safety?
I just turn it around on them. I inform then that the risk of cycling is very close to the risk while driving, and I'm getting added health benefits while they are harming their health while driving. I ask them if they wear a helmet when driving, since driving a car makes one 12% more likely to suffer a brain injury relative to cycling on a per hour basis.

As if that's not rude enough, I tell them that if the motorists would just obey the law no one would die on our roadways.
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Old 02-05-17, 08:38 AM   #49
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trust your intuition even if it cuts your ride short. I had the chance to extend my ride but it would have risked a 3rd flat (due to a broken steel tire bead) walking 4 miles back to my car thru the woods, in the dark, in the cold. I had lights but I opted for hitching a ride on a nearby rd & cut my losses. after getting home, showering & in my warm pajamas, I felt lucky I wasn't still out in the woods. to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1984 Terminator, "I'll be back"

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Old 02-05-17, 05:12 PM   #50
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I just turn it around on them. I inform then that the risk of cycling is very close to the risk while driving, and I'm getting added health benefits while they are harming their health while driving. I ask them if they wear a helmet when driving, since driving a car makes one 12% more likely to suffer a brain injury relative to cycling on a per hour basis.

As if that's not rude enough, I tell them that if the motorists would just obey the law no one would die on our roadways.
+1

If you need, remind them that the annual fatality of motorists and their passengers are 5x that of cyclists. That's true of the thirteen year average of Toronto, the annual rate of the USA and the per billion km in Copenhagen.
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