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Old 01-04-06, 11:47 AM   #1
LittleBigMan
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Is it more dangerous on a bike, or on the freeway?

The "bear" thread reminded me of this thought.

Since I don't usually drive, when I do get out on the freeway I feel less safe than I do when riding my bike in traffic. I'm not sure if I'm actually safer on my bike, but it's a feeling I get.

What's it to you?
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Old 01-04-06, 12:11 PM   #2
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Depends on what route I take on my bike. My normal route has relatively low traffic.
In that case I feel safer by a long shot.
However, occasionally I ride down busy roads. Initially I tend to feel less safe. After a while I get used to it and I feel as safe or safer than a freeway.
So..... the answer is mostly safer and occasionally less safe.

People drive nutty in Colorado but that is a whole other subject.
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Old 01-04-06, 12:12 PM   #3
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In New Mexico, it's perfectly legal in non-urban areas to ride a bicycle on the freeway (albeit on the wide shoulder). It might sound dangerous, but I haven't heard on any cyclist getting creamed while riding on the shoulder of the freeway. So I wonder what is more dangerous, riding on the shoulder of the freeway, or riding in town?
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Old 01-04-06, 12:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bandjhughes
So I wonder what is more dangerous, riding on the shoulder of the freeway, or riding in town?
I don't have the reference handy (sorry) but I've seen statistics that riding on an interstate shoulder has a lower death rate and accident rate per mile compared to urban riding by quite a bit.

But of course statistics are just that and most often don't take into account many other factors such as rider experience, where (sidewalk, wrong way, street) the cyclists are in urban areas, etc.

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Old 01-04-06, 03:32 PM   #5
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I think he meant as a motorist on a freeway, in which case I vote for freeway (should've been a poll.) On a bike at least you have a good variety of on and off-road routes to choose from, but most of the time in a car you're forced to drive on the meat-grinder freeways.
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Old 01-04-06, 03:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by noisebeam
I don't have the reference handy (sorry) but I've seen statistics that riding on an interstate shoulder has a lower death rate and accident rate per mile compared to urban riding by quite a bit.

But of course statistics are just that and most often don't take into account many other factors such as rider experience, where (sidewalk, wrong way, street) the cyclists are in urban areas, etc.

Al
"Statistics" based on number of accidents, without considering other factors, would probably show that bicycle riding the wrong way down the middle of freeway lanes, at midnight during snow storms, is the safest method, since there are probably zero bicycle accidents recorded.

That is the notorious and bogus risk analysis method used for evaluating risk/danger from the rear by the proponent of Vehicular Cycling™
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Old 01-04-06, 05:13 PM   #7
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I think he meant as a motorist on a freeway, in which case I vote for freeway (should've been a poll.) On a bike at least you have a good variety of on and off-road routes to choose from, but most of the time in a car you're forced to drive on the meat-grinder freeways.
How can operating a motor vehicle on the freeway be more dangerous than riding a bike? It is incredibly more dangerous to ride a bike anywhere than the drive a car anywhere.

For starters, you have to balance on 2 wheels instead of resting on 4 wheels. That makes a world of difference if the ground is even the slightest bit slippery as you don't need to balance in car.

Also, try getting hit while riding in a car, then on a bike. Unless you are driving an illegal P.O.S., you're secure behind a crumple-zone, airbags, seatbelt, etc. Get hit on a bike, even if both of you are going very slow, and you can get a serious injury (speaking from experience).

Even drive into a stationary object? I've been in a truck when my carpool driver drove into a pole. No problem, just some big dents on his truck, but we're okay. Now ride your bike into a parked car. You'll be on the ground with injuries (saw it happen in Boy Scouts).

If you want safety, drive a 4-wheeled vehicle - the bigger, higher, and heavier the better (SUV). If you want the thrill of being out in the open and tearing down the roads, drive a motorcycle. If you want the thrill of being out in the open under your own power, go ride a bike.
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Old 01-04-06, 05:43 PM   #8
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How can operating a motor vehicle on the freeway be more dangerous than riding a bike? It is incredibly more dangerous to ride a bike anywhere than the drive a car anywhere.
I think this says it all: http://www.iihs.org/research/fatalit...df/general.pdf

"Seventy-five percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2003 were passenger vehicle occupants, 11 percent were
pedestrians, 8 percent were motorcyclists, 1 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were occupants of large
trucks."

This only includes fatalities where a motor vehicle was involved. What did all those airbags and crumple zones do for these 30,000+ motorists?
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Old 01-04-06, 05:53 PM   #9
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Huh? That's apples to oranges.

This is a bicycling advocacy and safety forum. It is foolish, unwise, and quite harmful to trick new cyclists into thinking it's safer riding their bikes than driving on the freeway. This is not to deter people from riding bikes, but to make them aware that it is a more dangerous activity than driving a car and take the proper precautions/be more alert. Anyone who thinks otherwise is blissfully ignorant until their first bike-auto accident.
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Old 01-04-06, 05:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brad M
I think this says it all: http://www.iihs.org/research/fatalit...df/general.pdf

"Seventy-five percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2003 were passenger vehicle occupants, 11 percent were
pedestrians, 8 percent were motorcyclists, 1 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were occupants of large
trucks."

This only includes fatalities where a motor vehicle was involved. What did all those airbags and crumple zones do for these 30,000+ motorists
?
Brad I agree with you but I predict you will get nowhere trying to convince people that cars are dangerous. People don't judge "danger" based on objective data. They judge it based on subjective feelings. People feel safer in a car, so they believe they are safer. They sure can't tolerate believing that their pretty car, where they spend so much time, is actually a deathtrap. The car body that supposedly protects them is what actually injures or kills people in most crashes. Furthermore, when you're traveling 70 mph, or even 25 mph in a car, the physical forces that can harm you are greater than when you are travelling 15 mph on a bike.

So give me my nice safe bike any day.
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Old 01-04-06, 05:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mac
Huh? That's apples to oranges.

This is a bicycling advocacy and safety forum. It is foolish, unwise, and quite harmful to trick new cyclists into thinking it's safer riding their bikes than driving on the freeway. This is not to deter people from riding bikes, but to make them aware that it is a more dangerous activity than driving a car and take the proper precautions/be more alert. Anyone who thinks otherwise is blissfully ignorant until their first bike-auto accident
.
Then I'm ignorant. Please enlighten me with some reasoned arguments, oh wise one.

To start with, what makes you think that most bike accidents are car-bike crashes?
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Old 01-04-06, 05:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by bandjhughes
In New Mexico, it's perfectly legal in non-urban areas to ride a bicycle on the freeway (albeit on the wide shoulder). It might sound dangerous, but I haven't heard on any cyclist getting creamed while riding on the shoulder of the freeway. So I wonder what is more dangerous, riding on the shoulder of the freeway, or riding in town?
I used to commute on I-25 between Raton and Springer and Raton and Trinidad, Co. It's not exactly high traffic during the week and the shoulders are nice. Exit ramps and truck wash are the biggest dangers...not to mention tourists in motor homes. I'd say that stretch of 25 at least is safer than US 64 east to Des Moines where all the Texans and Okies like to either drive 100 in the lane or 65 on the shoulders. But due to the lower speeds involved, in town is definitely safer, though of course Raton isn't Albuquerque!
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Old 01-04-06, 06:12 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mac
Also, try getting hit while riding in a car, then on a bike. Unless you are driving an illegal P.O.S., you're secure behind a crumple-zone, airbags, seatbelt, etc. Get hit on a bike, even if both of you are going very slow, and you can get a serious injury (speaking from experience).

Even drive into a stationary object? I've been in a truck when my carpool driver drove into a pole. No problem, just some big dents on his truck, but we're okay. Now ride your bike into a parked car. You'll be on the ground with injuries (saw it happen in Boy Scouts).

.
My stepson was driving a Grand Am about 20 mph on a residential side street. He hit a patch of black ice just as he was braking for a stop sign. The car skidded and he continued to brake with the "anti-lock" braking system. The car hit a street side tree on the driver's door. The air bags did not deploy. Jerry was slammed by both the tree and various parts of the car. The car was was a mangled wreck. Jerry suffered a broken neck, a broken arm, several broken ribs and a shattered pelvis. They rushed him into surgery to remove his spleen and repair his diaphragm. He was comatose on a ventilator for a month. They had his guts i a plastic bag for a week. A year later he has made a pretty good recovery.
everybody says he is lucky.

Ironically, I had just recovered from a single bike accident. I hit the pavement at 15 mph. The ER doctors said I was hurt worse than cyclists usually are. I had a broken wrist, a broken rib and considerable soft tissue damage.

Everybody can draw their own conclusions, but for me: Give me my bike!
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Old 01-04-06, 06:13 PM   #14
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If you want safety, drive a 4-wheeled vehicle - the bigger, higher, and heavier the better (SUV).
How did I miss this earlier.

http://www.onlinelawyersource.com/suv/statistics.html
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Old 01-04-06, 06:16 PM   #15
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Then I'm ignorant. Please enlighten me with some reasoned arguments, oh wise one.

To start with, what makes you think that most bike accidents are car-bike crashes?
Read my 1st post above.

The only time I can think of where driving on a freeway is more dangerous than riding a bike is when I'm on my motorcycle splitting lanes during rush-hour traffic. Cars, trucks, and SUVs can and do dart in and out of traffic. I've been hit before.

First of all, you have to compare the total amount of miles travelled by both motor vehicles and bicycle to make a fair comparison. The more miles you travle, the higher the chance you have of getting into an accident.

Now let's talk about accidents. Minor car accidents are not dangerous to the people into the vehicle. However, a minor bicycle accident results in injuries to the cyclist. Even something as simple as falling off of your bike results in cuts & scrapes, bruises, and even a fractured collarbone.

When you see two cars get into a minor accident, no one is injured and they walk away. When you see bicylists get into a tangle with each other (i.e. group riding), they get bloodied up and even hospitalized (again, speaking from experience). When you see a car and a bike get into what would have been a minor car-to-car accident, the bicyclist is badly injured.

How can riding on a sub-50 lb piece of steel in lycra shorts (i.e. no motorcycle armor) be safer than riding in a good quality 2,000# car or 5,000# SUV on the freeway? Physics (F = ma) dictates that result of a collision between those objects will be much more violent for the smaller one.
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Old 01-04-06, 06:24 PM   #16
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Huh? That's apples to oranges.

This is a bicycling advocacy and safety forum. It is foolish, unwise, and quite harmful to trick new cyclists into thinking it's safer riding their bikes than driving on the freeway. This is not to deter people from riding bikes, but to make them aware that it is a more dangerous activity than driving a car and take the proper precautions/be more alert. Anyone who thinks otherwise is blissfully ignorant until their first bike-auto accident.
Oh horsepucky. Cycling is not nearly as dangerous as playing demolition derby on the freeways. My opinion is based on over 30 years of commuting on both. And your's is based on what...this thread? I can't find the motivation to get up before dawn to commute in the winter :-(

You are allowed to only cycle in fair, sunshiny weather, and consider it a dangerous activity, but please don't try to pass off your fears and opinions as fact.
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Old 01-04-06, 06:24 PM   #17
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Read my 1st post above.

The only time I can think of where driving on a freeway is more dangerous than riding a bike is when I'm on my motorcycle splitting lanes during rush-hour traffic. Cars, trucks, and SUVs can and do dart in and out of traffic. I've been hit before.

First of all, you have to compare the total amount of miles travelled by both motor vehicles and bicycle to make a fair comparison. The more miles you travle, the higher the chance you have of getting into an accident.

Now let's talk about accidents. Minor car accidents are not dangerous to the people into the vehicle. However, a minor bicycle accident results in injuries to the cyclist. Even something as simple as falling off of your bike results in cuts & scrapes, bruises, and even a fractured collarbone.

When you see two cars get into a minor accident, no one is injured and they walk away. When you see bicylists get into a tangle with each other (i.e. group riding), they get bloodied up and even hospitalized (again, speaking from experience). When you see a car and a bike get into what would have been a minor car-to-car accident, the bicyclist is badly injured.

How can riding on a sub-50 lb piece of steel in lycra shorts (i.e. no motorcycle armor) be safer than riding in a good quality 2,000# car or 5,000# SUV on the freeway? Physics (F = ma) dictates that result of a collision between those objects will be much more violent for the smaller one.
You're making this all up, aren't you?
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Old 01-04-06, 06:28 PM   #18
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My stepson has made a pretty good recovery.

Ironically, I had just recovered from a single bike accident. I hit the pavement at 15 mph. The ER doctors said I was hurt worse than cyclists usually are. I had a broken wrist, a broken rib and considerable soft tissue damage.

Everybody can draw their own conclusions, but for me: Give me my bike!
I'm sorry for your stepson and glad to hear he's okay.

However, your argument is flawed. If your stepson lost control @ 20 mph and hit another vehicle, all passengers would still be alive and only the one closest to the tree would be severely injured. But, if your stepson lost control @ 20 mph and hit a bicyclist, the latter would be dead.

Now, how many miles have you ridden on your bike vs. riding in a car? You've had a bike accident which required hospitalization after only XXX number of miles. How many times have you had a car accident and over how many miles? It's a number game (like with women) - the more miles you are on the road, the more of a chance you will get into an accident. Now, in which device would you have fewer and lesser injuries - a motor vehicle or a bicycle?

If I wanted safety, I would sell my motorcycle and buy the biggest, most massive SUV there was. I guarantee you I would have 0% injuries if I ever hit/got hit by a bicyclist, but that bicyclist would most likely be seriously injured or dead.
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Old 01-04-06, 06:29 PM   #19
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Read my 1st post above.

The only time I can think of where driving on a freeway is more dangerous than riding a bike is when I'm on my motorcycle splitting lanes during rush-hour traffic. Cars, trucks, and SUVs can and do dart in and out of traffic. I've been hit before.

First of all, you have to compare the total amount of miles travelled by both motor vehicles and bicycle to make a fair comparison. The more miles you travle, the higher the chance you have of getting into an accident.

Now let's talk about accidents. Minor car accidents are not dangerous to the people into the vehicle. However, a minor bicycle accident results in injuries to the cyclist. Even something as simple as falling off of your bike results in cuts & scrapes, bruises, and even a fractured collarbone.

When you see two cars get into a minor accident, no one is injured and they walk away. When you see bicylists get into a tangle with each other (i.e. group riding), they get bloodied up and even hospitalized (again, speaking from experience). When you see a car and a bike get into what would have been a minor car-to-car accident, the bicyclist is badly injured.

How can riding on a sub-50 lb piece of steel in lycra shorts (i.e. no motorcycle armor) be safer than riding in a good quality 2,000# car or 5,000# SUV on the freeway? Physics (F = ma) dictates that result of a collision between those objects will be much more violent for the smaller one.
Oh my, I must really be due to have an accident...I better quit driving and riding ASAP and hide out in the bunker with plastic and duct tape! Indeed, based on your logic we had better quit walking down the street unless we don a force field. OMG how have I stayed in one piece all these years...and I rarely even wear a helmet! Somebody get me a bubble!
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Old 01-04-06, 06:35 PM   #20
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You're making this all up, aren't you?

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Old 01-04-06, 06:39 PM   #21
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Oh horsepucky. Cycling is not nearly as dangerous as playing demolition derby on the freeways.
Demolition Derby? Bullocks!

Seriously, what is this general trepidation over freeways? For motorcyclists, freeways are a lot safer than streets since everyone is going in the same direction and there's no cross-traffic. I've driven tens of thousands of miles on the freeways (and in CA 4+ lane freeways, not some podunk 2-lane "highway") and ridden over ten thousand miles on my bicycle. I've been in 2 car accidents, one of them which rendered my vehicle inoperable, and walked away from both. I've been in 2 serious bicycle accidents and had numerous other "dangerous situations" with traffic (i.e. SUVs buzzing past me on canyon roads).

So my minor accidents to car miles is 2 / 100,000 or 0.002%.
And my major accidents to car miles is 0%.

But my major accidents to bike miles is 2 / 10,000 or 0.02%.
And minor accidents (i.e. hitting a pothole and crashing, wiping out on sand at beach, etc. all of which drew blood and required me to get a new helmets) is lot higher. I'm think I've wiped out 15 or 20 times in my life so that's 20 / 10,000 or 0.2%.

So my accident rates are 0.002% for motor vehicles and 0.22% for bicycles. I have 110 times more accidents per mile on a bicycle vs. a motor vehicle. Conclusion: riding in a motor vehicle is over 100 times safer than riding a bicycle.
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Old 01-04-06, 06:56 PM   #22
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Demolition Derby? Bullocks!

Seriously, what is this general trepidation over freeways? For motorcyclists, freeways are a lot safer than streets since everyone is going in the same direction and there's no cross-traffic. I've driven tens of thousands of miles on the freeways (and in CA 4+ lane freeways, not some podunk 2-lane "highway") and ridden over ten thousand miles on my bicycle. I've been in 2 car accidents, one of them which rendered my vehicle inoperable, and walked away from both. I've been in 2 serious bicycle accidents and had numerous other "dangerous situations" with traffic (i.e. SUVs buzzing past me on canyon roads).

So my minor accidents to car miles is 2 / 100,000 or 0.002%.
And my major accidents to car miles is 0%.

But my major accidents to bike miles is 2 / 10,000 or 0.02%.
And minor accidents (i.e. hitting a pothole and crashing, wiping out on sand at beach, etc. all of which drew blood and required me to get a new helmets) is lot higher. I'm think I've wiped out 15 or 20 times in my life so that's 20 / 10,000 or 0.2%.

So my accident rates are 0.002% for motor vehicles and 0.22% for bicycles. I have 110 times more accidents per mile on a bicycle vs. a motor vehicle. Conclusion: riding in a motor vehicle is over 100 times safer than riding a bicycle.

Never occurred to you that maybe your riding was a factor I bet...you already gave us a taste of your 'safe' motorcycle skills. Just because YOU are dangerous on a bicycle does not make bicycling dangerous.

BTW, tens of thousands of miles on a freeway equates to less than a year of my usual commute on freeways, and LA is pretty damn tame compared to a lot of other cities...one big parking lot mostly.

I guess the huge number of fatal accidents on freeways compared to ALL bicycling fatalities is just smoke and mirrors too...we wouldn't want to mistake facts with the perceptions of your vast experience. If you want to think cycling is dangerous and be fearful, that is your business...but don't go passing it off as fact to the rest of the world.
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Old 01-04-06, 07:07 PM   #23
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Hmmm. If I drive at freeway speeds along a freeway until I fall asleep my chances of dying are much higher than if I rode a bike until I fell asleep at the speed I could pedal so speed itself induces some danger into operating a motor vehicle that a cyclist doesn't get. You have to add traffic to start arguing about a bike not being as safe and even then it is a slippery slope. My experience says that freeways are more dangerous as I have personally seen more death and mayhem there than on my bike. Add snow to the picture and the freeway often becomes a deathtrap. Anyway, just my experience.
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Old 01-04-06, 09:01 PM   #24
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How did city traffic get stuck in here anyway? The OP mentioned a freeway, the most deadly place in America (for 1-35 yr olds anyway.)
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Old 01-04-06, 09:26 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac
So my accident rates are 0.002% for motor vehicles and 0.22% for bicycles. I have 110 times more accidents per mile on a bicycle vs. a motor vehicle. Conclusion: riding in a motor vehicle is over 100 times safer than riding a bicycle.
Wow, I can't believe you even posted this. You just threw out a statistic based on one data point. And, unless you are being sarcastic which I sincerely hope you are, I think you actually believe it.

You mention accidents on bikes resulting in scrapes and bruises. Do you really think that's comparable to say, whiplash that can result from a car accident at 5 mph? Talk to my mom about that one if you don't believe me. I hit the pavement going about 20 mph on my bike when I slid on gravel through a turn. All I was wearing was some little gloves, a short sleeve jersey, some lycra shorts, shoes, and a helmet. I got a little road rash, a cut on my elbow and ankle, and a few scrapes on my bike. I got up and finished the last 70 miles of my 100 mile ride. My sister read ended a tractor trailer doing about the same speed. She was picking glass out of her forehead for a few years after smacking her face into the windshield, not to mention totaling the car.

I'll ride my bike any day over driving. Slower speeds are safer and it's tough to even reach the speed limit most of the time. More active safety is better than more passive safety and you don't get much more active safety than a bicycle.
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