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Old 09-28-06, 06:46 AM   #1
cooperwx
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Safer on a bike?

I came in this morning, and my coworkers told me of a high speed chase along my route yesterday that ended in a multiple-car crash. I told them I didn't see it, and then mentioned that if I had, I would have been glad I was on my bike instead of in a car. (4-lane non-divided, curbed, sidewalk on my side, lights and parking lots all along the road, 35mph)

My explanation was that I feel able to avoid something like that on the bike. I could have ducked onto the sidewalk, or all the way into a parking lot in this case. If I were in a car at a light, there wouldn't have been too much I could do to avoid the speeding cars.

They weren't buying my points, choosing to just focus on what would have happened if I were involved in the crash. Of course that would've been bad, but my manuverability would help a lot in avoiding the situation altogether. Is my reasoning off base here? Isn't it better to be on a bike if something like that is going down near you?
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Old 09-28-06, 07:05 AM   #2
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I often feel that I am safer on my bike because I am going much slower. However, I also have less protection and am prone to falls.

All said and done, it's clear which I prefer: bicycle!
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Old 09-28-06, 07:10 AM   #3
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things like that happen so fast that you wouldn't have time to react, even on a bike. you wouldn't know what hit you till you wake up in the hospital.
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Old 09-28-06, 07:23 AM   #4
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Probably a little less likely to be involved in a serious accident, but the consequences would be much worse...
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Old 09-28-06, 07:27 AM   #5
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I feel safer around all the nuts in cars out there on my bike. When the road is narrow there's no room for error if I'm in my car. Somebody comes round the bend on my side of the road, I have no where to go because my car is taking up all the available space. On my bike, I'm more nimble, narrow and small.
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Old 09-28-06, 07:36 AM   #6
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Average number of American killed in auto accidents annually: 38,000
Average number of Americans killed on bicycles annually: 780
Population: est. 300,000,000

Don't tell me bikes are dangerous.
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Old 09-28-06, 07:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan
Average number of American killed in auto accidents annually: 38,000
Average number of Americans killed on bicycles annually: 780
Population: est. 300,000,000

Don't tell me bikes are dangerous.
Ya, the whole "bikes are dangerous" thing...

Pedestrians are killed by cars far more often than cyclists are, but that doesn't seem to stop people from walking...
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Old 09-28-06, 08:00 AM   #8
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I point out that the heart attack I'm preventing by riding is a far more likely occurence (a given with my family history and love of sausage) than the slim possibility of a high speed chase causing me harm.

Why do people fixate on the violent yet unlikely risk and ignore the less bloody certaintity?
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Old 09-28-06, 09:14 AM   #9
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To be fair though, we need to normalize to the percentage of people using said mode of transport. The 38,000 killed vs 780 would otherwise be misleading. I posted a while back about how it's possible riding is more dangerous by looking at this stat along (780*100=78000) vs 38,000, but IIRC people pointed out the mistake in my simplified calculation. Unfortunately I don't remember what the mistake was, w/o searching for said thread. Of course, there are the health benefits that need to be accounted for too.
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Old 09-28-06, 09:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodny71
things like that happen so fast that you wouldn't have time to react, even on a bike. you wouldn't know what hit you till you wake up in the hospital.
+1

And for things happening a little slower, like an overly aggressive driver who is weaving through traffic the closing speed when in a car is MUCH slower, giving time not just to react, but to plan. E.g. he is going to cut me off so I'll slow down and open the gap.

Of course not all drivers seem to care. In the above some actually try to be confrontational and close any possible gap. But overall I'd say that while the bike does have a little more ability to avoid, the driver has lots more time to detect problems that are going the same way. For head on or cross traffic the bike both more time and better ducking ability.
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Old 09-28-06, 09:41 AM   #11
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Whether you're driving, riding or walking, the biggest factor that determines your safety, by far, is your own behavior. All of these activities are extremely safe if the user adopts best practices... defensive driving for drivers, vehicular cycling (including defensive driving) for cyclists, and "Kindergarten rules" for pedestrians (look both ways, assume you're not seen until proven otherwise, etc.).
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Old 09-28-06, 09:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bike2math
I point out that the heart attack I'm preventing by riding is a far more likely occurence ...
Experts agree. A quote from The Health Benefits of Cycling:
Quote:
The British Medical Association recognises that, “Even in the current hostile traffic environment, the benefits gained from regular cycling are likely to outweigh the loss of life through cycling accidents for the current population of regular cyclists.”[xi] The author of this report subsequently estimated that the life years gained due to the health and fitness benefits of cycling outweighed the life-years lost through injuries by a factor of around 20:1[xii].
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Old 09-28-06, 09:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan
Average number of American killed in auto accidents annually: 38,000
Average number of Americans killed on bicycles annually: 780
Population: est. 300,000,000

Don't tell me bikes are dangerous.
I probably spend more time on my bicycle than I do in my car and that will increase as I start commuting on my bike. If that is true for most people that really enjoy cycling, you have to take into account the total amount of time spent on a bicycle as opposed to amount of time spent in a car. Im pretty sure a lot of people spend a large amount of time in a car, but I likely spend twice as much time on my bike right now without commuting.

One would need to find out how many cars are on the road in relation to bicycles and amount of time spent on them to have a true picture. I wonder if those stats are out there.

Last edited by Adiankur; 09-28-06 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 09-28-06, 10:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Whether you're driving, riding or walking, the biggest factor that determines your safety, by far, is your own behavior. All of these activities are extremely safe if the user adopts best practices... defensive driving for drivers, vehicular cycling (including defensive driving) for cyclists, and "Kindergarten rules" for pedestrians (look both ways, assume you're not seen until proven otherwise, etc.).
Very well said. The fact that some people can drive, bike or walk for years, even decades without any accidents isn't just luck.
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Old 09-28-06, 10:10 AM   #15
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Sometimes it is luck though. I have had one car accident while driving 15 mph under the speed limit. Ofcourse it was -5 F and the road turned out to have one spot of ice on it. I blame having to go to work on my accident. I have rarely come close to any auto accident, but I just happened to find the one spot in the area that was covered with ice. The accident was investigated and the report stated that there was nothing I could have done. Well, I guess I could have stayed home and lost my job, but I needed the money. Plus, when i came back I got a big promotion and raise. See what 130 stitches in your head will do for you?

So, people that are aware have less chance of accident based on their abilities, but one can still be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a bad driver can go along and never have an accident, its just that the percentages are weighted in one direction or another.
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Old 09-28-06, 11:45 AM   #16
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How safe you are depends partly on your own awareness and skill. But one big lie is that cars protect you in a crash. Actually, most injuries in car crashes are caused when the victim hits some part of the car they're riding in--steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, doorframe, etc.
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Old 09-28-06, 12:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bike2math
I point out that the heart attack I'm preventing by riding is a far more likely occurence (a given with my family history and love of sausage) than the slim possibility of a high speed chase causing me harm.

Why do people fixate on the violent yet unlikely risk and ignore the less bloody certaintity?
Here in Florida we hear about people bitten by sharks and killed by alligators all the time. These things are rare but they do happen. I recall seeing a statistic on the number of people killed by sharks per annum compared to the number of people killed by toasters per annum. Toasters won by a huge margin but for some reason we don't have a movie called "TOASTER". Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the kitchen.
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Old 09-28-06, 12:17 PM   #18
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You are required to ride completely VC compliant! You would have been forced to pull over to the side of the road and suffer the consequences of being ran over by either the person fleeing or the police.
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Old 09-28-06, 01:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Rosar
Experts agree. A quote from The Health Benefits of Cycling:
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMA
The British Medical Association recognises that, “Even in the current hostile traffic environment, the benefits gained from regular cycling are likely to outweigh the loss of life through cycling accidents for the current population of regular cyclists.”[xi] The author of this report subsequently estimated that the life years gained due to the health and fitness benefits of cycling outweighed the life-years lost through injuries by a factor of around 20:1[xii]. "
I figure that ratio is even better if you are predisposed to a condition which excersise will benifit.

The funny thing is to listen to people who commute by car when you point out the Health reasons for ignoring the risks of bicycling, usually I hear something like, "I mean to go to the gym, I just don't have time".
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Old 09-28-06, 02:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DataJunkie
You are required to ride completely VC compliant! You would have been forced to pull over to the side of the road and suffer the consequences of being ran over by either the person fleeing or the police.
ABANDON ALL VC RULES!! Me and my "vehicle" would have hidden in the trees/behind a wall, etc...
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Old 09-28-06, 07:54 PM   #21
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The other thing that you have to consider when doing any study of cycling fatalities is that your experience on a bike plays a HUGE role... the majority of fatalities seem to be young and/or inexperienced riders.
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Old 09-28-06, 08:03 PM   #22
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The trouble with people thinking they are safer in their cars it they are forgetting that cumulatively, all those cars are killing all of us very slowly.
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Old 09-28-06, 08:10 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adiankur
One would need to find out how many cars are on the road in relation to bicycles and amount of time spent on them to have a true picture. I wonder if those stats are out there.
This comparison of fatalities per million hours of activity comes up quite frequently here. Interesting excerpts:
  • Skydiving: 128.71
  • On-road Motorcycling: 8.80
  • Swimming: 1.07
  • Passenger cars: 0.47
  • Bicycling: 0.26
  • Flying (scheduled domestic airlines): 0.15
  • Hunting: 0.08
One glaring omission is the rate for walking.
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Old 09-28-06, 08:18 PM   #24
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Just doing some quick calcs on these. At the rate of 0.26 fatalities per million hours, that means you're personally due for a fatality about every 3.8 million hours. Since I only ride about 350 hours a year (lightweight, I know), my number will be up in about 11,000 years! Of course, if you ride 100 times more than I do, you only have about 110 years.
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Old 09-28-06, 08:47 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bike2math
I point out that the heart attack I'm preventing by riding is a far more likely occurence (a given with my family history and love of sausage) than the slim possibility of a high speed chase causing me harm.

Why do people fixate on the violent yet unlikely risk and ignore the less bloody certaintity?
To answer your question? Denial ain't just a river in Egypt! Unfortunately,most people appear to be either apathetic about their health or just too lazy!


Excuses:
  1. Biking is dangerous
  2. I don't have time (Do you have more time to lie in the coffin after you're dead from that heart attack?)
  3. It's too cold
  4. it's too wet
  5. It's too hot
  6. I don't want to mess up my hair, ad nauseum!
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