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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.

View Poll Results: How much control do you believe a cyclist has in determining his safety in traffic?
0% - The cyclist is a sitting duck, subject to being wiped out by 4,000 lbs. of steel at any time, and there is nothing he can do about it. 1 0.69%
10% - Cyclist has very little control, basically a sitting duck whose fate is mostly determined by the competence of drivers around him. 5 3.45%
25% - Cyclist has some significant influence, but not as much as drivers around him have. 13 8.97%
50% - It's 50/50. Even the perfect cyclist who makes no mistakes reduces his chances of crashing by only half over a careless cyclist. 17 11.72%
75% - The cyclist has a lot of control, but drivers around him still make it all too likely that he will get hit when there is nothing he can do about it. 38 26.21%
90% - A cyclist's safety is mostly in his control, but there is still a decent chance that a crash he cannot avoid might happen. 54 37.24%
95-99% - Almost all crashes are the cyclist's fault, or could have been avoided by the cyclist. 9 6.21%
99.00001-99.9999% - Except for the most blatant of errors, like a drunk driver careening across the road, a cyclist is in complete control of his fate. 6 4.14%
100% - If a cyclist is hit, he didn't do something he should have in order to have avoided it, period. 0 0%
Other (specify in post) 2 1.38%
Voters: 145. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-05-05, 10:50 PM   #1
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How much control does a cyclist have?

How much control do you believe a cyclist has in determining his own safety when cycling in traffic?
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Old 08-05-05, 10:58 PM   #2
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In terms of percentage? Perhaps 75%. The bulk of one's personal safety is based on two things: precautions taken and the environmental / outside forces. You can't stop a car from hitting you, but you can make every effort to make yourself visible and ride in a vehicular fashion.
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Old 08-05-05, 11:31 PM   #3
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15 views, and only 1 vote???
Why is no one voting?
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Old 08-05-05, 11:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
15 views, and only 1 vote???
Why is no one voting?
There are so many variables envolved in VC safety, plus maybe some of us don't want to think about the chances of something going wrong.

I'd say it's 50/50 . . .with the key to safety being that both cyclist and car-driver are visable and predictable to one another.
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Old 08-06-05, 12:16 AM   #5
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I voted 90% because I try to anticipate anything that might happen as best I can. Still...
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Old 08-06-05, 12:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raiyn
In terms of percentage? Perhaps 75%. The bulk of one's personal safety is based on two things: precautions taken and the environmental / outside forces. You can't stop a car from hitting you, but you can make every effort to make yourself visible and ride in a vehicular fashion.
That is what I thought, and then somedays it seems no matter what you do to become visable. Some drivers are just jerks or don't care.

I suppose with a mirror a cyclist could keep from getting clipped, but at what expense? hitting a road sign? hitting a mailbox? riding into a ditch? It is still an accident although you had taken the precaution of using a mirror.
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Old 08-06-05, 12:46 AM   #7
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I voted for 90%- this seems like the most realistic option- cyclist behaviour is the most important factor of course in determining safety- you could for example just use your bike to go round your garden in which case your chance of an accident in traffic would be very low.

In real life however most of us choose to get out there and take some risks to get stuff done.
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Old 08-06-05, 01:12 AM   #8
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I voted for only 25% in traffic. No matter how many lights, reflectors, vests, hand signals, cycling dogma (vehicular, invisible, hybrid), etc. you have, you're still at an incredible disadvantage in traffic and at the mercy of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Don't fall into the false sense of security that your particular cyclist kit & style will make you in control. The soccer mom on the phone stuffing her face and yelling at her kids and the irate businessman corporate-drone pounding down his 4th cup of coffee control 75% of your security. Why? Size matters - a 6,400# Hummer H2 SUV driven even slightly recklessly vs. a 200# bicycle + rider will control the bicycle each and every time. You can't avoid vehicles. They zoom past you at 50+ mph, barely giving you enough room. And if you "take the lane" and if they see you, they will still zoom past you unaware of the width of their monster trucks. I know, I've done it - taken a lane & taken the gutter - and still get buzzed either way.

There are a lot of unskilled and malicious drivers out there. Most of the accidents they get into are little fender-benders like a small bump here or a tap there. In vehicle vs. vehicle, it's nothing - sometimes not even enough to report to the DMV. But in vehicle vs. bicycle, even those littlest of taps is enough to injure, possibly seriously, a bicyclist.

And you can also ask this question to motorcyclists. We can wear reflective body armor, very secure helmets, be very well lit up, ride the speed limit (i.e. flow with traffic), and still get hit by left-turners or red-light runners or no-look lane-changers. Now imagine a bicyclist who can't even keep up with the flow of traffic. Sorry, but the majority of our safety in traffic is in the hands of the 16 y.o. kid in his ricer and fart-can and his two aforementioned parents.

Oh, and I forgot about the people who actively seek out cyclists to mess with them. The ones with the air-horns, paintballs, beer cans, profanities, etc. You may be doing everything safely, but that still offers zero security against these kinds of people. Even carrying a weapon won't stop them at first since they don't know you are armed.
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Old 08-06-05, 02:40 AM   #9
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I'ld like to think I have 75% whilst cycling. Observation and antisipation can go along way to preventing an accident on a bike, as it can with a car.
However I do think their should be some kind of 'test' on a bicycle before being allowed on the road and I think the car driving test could be alot better. Can't comment on the US but my driving test here in the UK only lasted around 20 minutes and I can't see how anyones driving skills can be judged in that short a time. Despite touching the pavement on the 'turn in the road' I still managed to pass first time
I've since passed my Advanced Driving Test and Police Class 2 (no I'm not a copper) but still don't class myself as an excellent driver, a safer one maybe but I've still got room for improvement.
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Old 08-06-05, 02:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
15 views, and only 1 vote???
Why is no one voting?
Simple. There wasn't a poll when I posted
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Old 08-06-05, 09:29 AM   #11
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Its 50-50 but not for the reasons you stated:

Quote:
Originally Posted by helmet head
50% - It's 50/50. Even the perfect cyclist who makes no mistakes reduces his chances of crashing by only half over a careless cyclist.
The perfect cyclists has a far greater chance of daily survival over a careless cyclist... but in an auto accident situation, the blame or causation is not shared between a perfect cyclist and a careless cyclist, the blame is shared between a motorist and a cyclist.

Become a better cyclist and you reduce your chances of being hit, get better motorists on the road and all users of the roads benefit.

Traffic is predictable; however, individual motorists are not.
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Old 08-06-05, 12:17 PM   #12
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This one's easy. Figure the number of crashes you've avoided with your mad skillz versus the number you've been in that you couldn't avoid. I put in "90%" even though I think maybe it's closer to 95% or better. Yes, for every 10-20 incidents I avoid I'd say at most one happens.
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Old 08-06-05, 12:22 PM   #13
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I voted 75%. Basically, I think being alert, riding sensibly, and doing your best to be visible and make your intentions known goes a LONG way toward saving your hide, but there are always going to be lousy drivers out there. Kids who just got their licenses who don't know what they're doing, distracted drivers eating their lunch, conducting phone business, handling their children, etc, elderly drivers who can't see well and have slower reaction times, drunk drivers, and other nuts who can't be categorized. For all of the drivers who are alert, who drive defensively, who take care, there's always going to be the guy who hasn't had his coffee and runs a red light 'cause he's still half asleep, or the out-of-towner who is trying to read a map and drive at the same time.

We cyclists can and should watch out for ourselves, and keep an eye out for erratic drivers, people coming off side streets, and pretty much everyone and everything else, but you know, some day, something could be out of your control. I do my best to ensure that I won't end up a street pizza, but I know that is a possibility that is always out there.
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Old 08-06-05, 12:27 PM   #14
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84.7%

I thought everybody knew that.
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Old 08-06-05, 12:57 PM   #15
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Almost went with 0%, but figured there are some things a bicyclist can do, as a last-minute avoidance measure, so I decided to vote 10%.
We're really all sitting ducks out there. I just try my hardest to ignore that fact while I'm riding.
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Old 08-06-05, 03:03 PM   #16
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This is a hard question to answer.

The factor in safety is not being involved in an accident. But accidents by their very definition include such terms as unavoidable, unintentional, unexpected, and chance. You cannot control that which is unavoidable, unintentional, unexpected or by chance. You can try to expect the unexpected, but there are unknowns and then there are unknown unknowns, to loosely quote Rumsfeld.

So, the control you seek is control over that which hasn't happened yet.

I have never been in an accident involving a motor vehicle while riding my bicycle (I did have a reflector jam in my spokes once which caused me to crash). Does this mean I've got the ability to exert near perfect control? Does that even make me above average in skill? I really don't think so. And if my DMV record over my lifetime, and the scores I got on my drivers exam when I was 16 are any indication, I'm not particularly skilled in the operation of vehicles on streets where there are other vehicles. Add my new clipless pedals to the mix and I'm an accident waiting to happen.

Then there is the question of what exactly are you in control of. As an individual I'm pretty much in control only of myself. I can't control all those other people out there. As a citizen, however, I do have some control through laws and such over the behavior of others. But it seems there's been a breakdown over the past few decades in the behavior of other citizens and in the community's willingness or ability or financial capability to enforce laws.

So, focusing only on the control I have over myself, the only thing I can do is make choices. Do I make good ones? Not always.

I do not choose the carless routes every time I can. So right there I've decreased the control I have over becoming a car accident statistic. Were I to choose the MUP over the street I might increase becoming a bike/ped or bike/bike accident statistic instead, which probably wouldn't hurt as much. Either way, I put myself at risk of what others might do to me that I am unable to avoid, unable to expect, that is unintended or happens by chance.

I also don't choose the safest routes I can. I guess I like the expediency of my routes even though I'm at risk of being run over by a confused tourist. I do my best to anticipate what they will do, but they frequently surprise me.

I find myself to be inattentive sometimes. My choice to cycle is partially a reaction to that. Better to turn off my brain with some vigorous exercise than drive home like that trying to solve problems I can't seem to leave behind at work.

I do choose my reactions to car drivers who are demonstrably aggressive or blatantly inattentive toward me as a cyclist. I think I'm ok in that department. I try not to provoke the situation even if that means yielding, pulling over or stopping. Any attempts at assertiveness, I have learned, only worsen the situation. It's not worth it to be dead right, me in my geeky, ***** bike vs. some testosterone mullet-head in a bloated tank.

So how do I vote in your poll? I really don't know. I can't put a number on the amount of control I have over something I personally can't control: the unintended, unexpected, unavoidable, by chance mishap that might happen in the future.

I'd probably choose the 90% option, but not for the 90% figure. I think the statement you list next to it is accurate, but I can't put a number on how much control that statement represents. I could be 99.999999% in control but it would only take one mishap to end my life.
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Old 08-06-05, 03:44 PM   #17
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I think cyclists can avoid a lot of accidents just by choosing quieter routes, and best times of day.

I know that this isn't practical for many urban and commuter types, but whenever I read of a local biker getting clipped, it's always either at night, during rush hour, or on a 4 lane race track.
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Old 08-06-05, 03:56 PM   #18
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I don't understand the point of this poll.
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Old 08-06-05, 03:57 PM   #19
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Ok, of course I could always choose a car-free area to ride around in, but that isn't practical.

The question isn't worded that way, but the intent surely was to decide what level of control the rider has, while doing what he/she is normally doing!?
And in that case, it's close to zero.
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Old 08-06-05, 04:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operator
I don't understand the point of this poll.
Sure you do; the same as all the other polls from this pollster; more grist for the SergeHead-Brand of Advocacy Mill. Anyone who doesn't provide a brilliant (i.e. the expected and pre-approved) response is subject to an internet interrogation until "understanding" the error of his/her previous response.
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Old 08-06-05, 04:21 PM   #21
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When you write your book, are you going to reimburse us for providing your research data?
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Old 08-06-05, 04:27 PM   #22
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When you write your book, are you going to reimburse us for providing your research data?
Java, You better provide only EC™ approved data if you expect it to be used in any EC™ tome. Otherwise it will be tossed in the rubbish bin as a superstition.
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Old 08-06-05, 04:29 PM   #23
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I chose 90 %.

I believe half the unavoidable risk is from Non-traffic sources (e.g., road surface, debris, wet or icy conditions, etc.), so maybe I should have put 95 %.
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Old 08-06-05, 06:58 PM   #24
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I voted 25%. Unlike others, I don't believe drivers have the good intentions that others here seem to believe. If we anal-yze every accident and show that the cyclist could have always done something to avoid it, then why should the drivers ever be listed as "at fault"?
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Old 08-06-05, 07:05 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
I think cyclists can avoid a lot of accidents just by choosing quieter routes, and best times of dayp.
No offense, but I don't think you and a few others understand this poll. The question is:

How much control do you believe a cyclist has in determining his own safety when cycling in traffic?

I put 25% when in traffic. However, I try my best to avoid traffic, take side streets, etc. But I think the OP's question was very specific to traffic, esp since he's a VC.
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