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Old 12-04-06, 02:28 PM   #1
indygreg
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new to biking . . . some thoughts on safety

I posted this in road biking as I saw something similar there. I was told to post it here. More than anything I just wanted to express my thoughts. This is not to propose anything or argue a point of view. Just some stuff I wanted to express. I am new most of this can change. I am trying to get a feel for what it means to be a biker.

I am new to road biking and being hit by a car scares me quite a bit. I think that fear is always why I stuck with running and swimming. I am starting to love cycling, so I guess I just have to weigh the risk like we all do.

As far as jumping all over cell phones - to me that is misplaced. We cannot legislate out distracted driving. Think about it - it would be impossible to really stop.
The following is distracted driving:
On the phone
text/email/blackberry
changing song on ipod plugged into stereo
changing radio station if not on the wheel - if Sat radio it is much worse
trying to get the sleeve back on your starbucks coffee
trying to see where you just spilled said coffee
dropping part of muffin, fries, etc
looking at GPS or sheet of directions
reaching back to give 4 year old their toy
reaching back to give 10 month old pacifier
and the list goes on

We can lobby officials, put bumper stickers on our cars, get petitions signed, toss magnetic stickers on cars as they drive by, flip people off, or come on here and post and these are not going away.

I WISH WISH WISH it were different, but driving a car is one of the most significant risks we enter into every day. Riding a motorcycle is much worse. I am not sure statistically where biking comes in on a per mile basis. Bottom line is that the thing we love increases our risk of dying or being severely hurt.

As far as punishment . . . I do not know the legal system very well at all, so take this with a grain of salt. As long as people go in front of a jury of their peers, tossing the book at people or getting higher level of charges is not going to happen. People are human. They darn well know they do a thousand things in the car when they drive. This makes them much less likely to agree to big charges. Additionally I am sure there are plenty of people who, at some level, think that if you bike or ride a motorcycle you are sort of waiving some rights to safety. I am not agree with this, but I think we would be wrong to think otherwise. Now mandatory minimums or huge minimum fines (like with road workers) would help?

Another topic . . . bike lanes. I am not sure wider streets and bike lanes really are that much safer - this is not based on stats, it is based on observation. Two examples. I drive from time to time on a road called Meridian here in Indy. Between like 60th and 38th it is 4 lane (2 each way) with absolutely no room on either side. It was very tight before the SUV explosion. When I observe people driving on it (or myself) people pay very close attention. I pay more attention there than anywhere. Take a second road that is wide. People (me included) are more likely to do all kinds of stuff as they drive as there is a feeling of lower risk or increased safety.

I think the only think that we can do is to try to do better ourselves and remind our friends to do the same. I know I try much harder now than I used to.

That and prey (if you are a person of faith) or wear a lucky item. Just as every time you drive - when you leave to bike tell your spouse/kids/friends/family that you love them dearly. If you are a parent or spouse then have life insurance (but you should anyway).

I do not mean to offend - I am like all of you in that I wish to never hear or read about a biker being killed. And I really hope not to be the person named in such an article.
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Old 12-04-06, 02:41 PM   #2
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Here is a site I looked up today with death statistics.

http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm

More people die every year from falling than by motor vehicle/bike collision. Check out some of the statistics. What you say about drivers paying more attention when the lanes are narrow is true.

My advise to you is this:

1) Ride your bike as you would any other vehicle and obey the rules of the road.
2) Never hug the curb or edge of road when riding, no mater how heavy the traffic is. You are much safer out in the lane, saving yourself a buffer zone to your right to avoid road hazards. The right tire track is usually a good place to be in the lane. Take more lane if the road is narrow to discourage close passes.
3) If you have not done so, buy a mirror. You can keep track of what is going on and won't be startled by cars passing if you see them ahead of time. Plus it makes it easier to block the lane when necessary. You also can see when there is an opening should you need to change lanes for a left turn.
4) People that get angry, annoyed or otherwise frustrated having to slow down behind you are not the drivers that will hit you. It's the driver that does not see and acknowledge your presence that will hit you.
5) Intersections are the most dangerous place on the road. Be out in the lane and couscous of all possible cross-traffic conflicts
6) Use lights when it is dark
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Old 12-04-06, 02:49 PM   #3
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Galen's advice looks good. I would add that there are usually alternate routes that are better for cycling than the jam packed arterials. Your local bike group most likely publishes a map with good bike routes. But you'll find your own routes using maps and bicycle exploration trips. After a few years of riding, I literally know hundreds of routes across my city that are faster, more scenic and less stressful than the major streets that cagers usually use.

Good luck and enjoy your bike!
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Old 12-04-06, 02:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by indygreg
As far as jumping all over cell phones - to me that is misplaced. We cannot legislate out distracted driving. Think about it - it would be impossible to really stop.
The following is distracted driving:
On the phone
text/email/blackberry
changing song on ipod plugged into stereo
changing radio station if not on the wheel - if Sat radio it is much worse
trying to get the sleeve back on your starbucks coffee
trying to see where you just spilled said coffee
dropping part of muffin, fries, etc
looking at GPS or sheet of directions
reaching back to give 4 year old their toy
reaching back to give 10 month old pacifier
and the list goes on

We can lobby officials, put bumper stickers on our cars, get petitions signed, toss magnetic stickers on cars as they drive by, flip people off, or come on here and post and these are not going away.
Of the 10 items you mentioned, at least half did not exist as potential distractions prior to about 1990... that means that in the last 16 years, the number of potential distractions to a driver DOUBLED. During that time automakers saw fit to install cup holders as standard items in cars... and air bags... both of which benefit the passengers of the vehicle, but do nothing to increase the operational safety of the vehicle.

So now motorists are driving faster (85 percentile rule), there are more of them, (poplulation increase) many autos are larger (SUVs) and being careless within them leads to less potential damage to the driver.... (airbags) yet nothing has improved the driver of the vehicle, nor their ability to handle the vehicle.

You have a right to be a bit in fear of the "other users" of the road.

Might I suggest that in order to gain a head start on how to most effectively ride a bike on the road you look for a local bike riding course.

The League of American Bicyclists has a web site that has a list of people which offer road courses.

Check it out:
http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/e...e_schedule.php
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Old 12-04-06, 04:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galen_52657
Here is a site I looked up today with death statistics.

http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm

More people die every year from falling than by motor vehicle/bike collision. Check out some of the statistics. What you say about drivers paying more attention when the lanes are narrow is true.

My advise to you is this:

1) Ride your bike as you would any other vehicle and obey the rules of the road.
2) Never hug the curb or edge of road when riding, no mater how heavy the traffic is. You are much safer out in the lane, saving yourself a buffer zone to your right to avoid road hazards. The right tire track is usually a good place to be in the lane. Take more lane if the road is narrow to discourage close passes.
3) If you have not done so, buy a mirror. You can keep track of what is going on and won't be startled by cars passing if you see them ahead of time. Plus it makes it easier to block the lane when necessary. You also can see when there is an opening should you need to change lanes for a left turn.
4) People that get angry, annoyed or otherwise frustrated having to slow down behind you are not the drivers that will hit you. It's the driver that does not see and acknowledge your presence that will hit you.
5) Intersections are the most dangerous place on the road. Be out in the lane and couscous of all possible cross-traffic conflicts
6) Use lights when it is dark
.

To add to galen's advice:
7) Wear a helmet. It will help protect your head & prevent injury & death with certain types of impacts.
8) Wear gloves. They will help protect your hands from road rash in the event of a crash.
9) Drink plenty of water. Believe it or not this is an important safety issue. If you don't stay hydrated you could become ill, dissoriented, dizzy, etc. & have an accident as a result.
10) Eat. See number 9 for reasons why.
11) Rest. Again see number 9.
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Old 12-04-06, 04:07 PM   #6
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The main problem I see is that people are convinced that they don't have to pay attention while they drive, because they are told by car manufacturers that cars are entertainment centers, with kitchens, on wheels.

Theres a stereo, a GPS for directions, cup holders so they can sip a tasty beverage, all kinds of stereos, I-pods etc in every car. Cars in the US are made to distract the driver from driving!

In many parts of Europe, when you drive, you concentrate and driving and you had better because the driving there is much more difficult. Porsches and other sport cars don't even have cup holders. The drivers are supposed to drive, and have fun doing it, not sip a double-skim-3 shot-mocha-latte-frappe-cappuccino-grande while they watch a movie.
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Old 12-04-06, 04:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by San Rensho
The main problem I see is that people are convinced that they don't have to pay attention while they drive, because they are told by car manufacturers that cars are entertainment centers, with kitchens, on wheels.

Theres a stereo, a GPS for directions, cup holders so they can sip a tasty beverage, all kinds of stereos, I-pods etc in every car. Cars in the US are made to distract the driver from driving!

In many parts of Europe, when you drive, you concentrate and driving and you had better because the driving there is much more difficult. Porsches and other sport cars don't even have cup holders. The drivers are supposed to drive, and have fun doing it, not sip a double-skim-3 shot-mocha-latte-frappe-cappuccino-grande while they watch a movie.

+10.

Yup, but here in America where we design "safety coccoons" with multiple cup holders and DVD players... obviously we don't actually expect drivers to actually drive.
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Old 12-04-06, 04:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by genec
+10.

Yup, but here in America where we design "safety coccoons" with multiple cup holders and DVD players... obviously we don't actually expect drivers to actually drive.
True, but lets not forget that most cyclists use cup/bottle holders (some even multiple!), some have GPS systems and many use enterainment systems such as mp3 players.

I am not suggesting they are the same level of distraction, nor the same level of impact to others if distracted, just that it is a (very very) tiny bit hypocritical to complain about cup holders in a car (which of course are not there to cool the engine )

Al
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Old 12-04-06, 05:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by noisebeam
True, but lets not forget that most cyclists use cup/bottle holders (some even multiple!), some have GPS systems and many use enterainment systems such as mp3 players.

I am not suggesting they are the same level of distraction, nor the same level of impact to others if distracted, just that it is a (very very) tiny bit hypocritical to complain about cup holders in a car (which of course are not there to cool the engine )

Al
Just let me know when a cyclist in a "fender bender" kills a motorist, and then we can talk about "hypocritical."

Until then, those folks with the 3000 pound transporters need to pay more attention to the folks on the 20 pound transporters.

Then, maybe the folks on the 20 pound transporters can relax and listen some nice tunes on their ipods... instead of acting all paranoid while watching for the errant motorist.
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Old 12-04-06, 05:11 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by genec
Just let me know when a cyclist in a "fender bender" kills a motorist, and then we can talk about "hypocritical."
Oh, I totally agree, hence my phrases/wording 'nor the same level of impact to others if distracted' and '(very very)'
But it is true we cyclists like to equip our rides/self with these comforts too.
Al
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Old 12-04-06, 05:19 PM   #11
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Oh, I totally agree, hence my phrases/wording 'nor the same level of impact to others if distracted' and '(very very)'
But it is true we cyclists like to equip our rides/self with these comforts too.
Al
I know it is a joke... So I am laughing with you regarding the toys on bikes... (you should see my handle bars... ) but at the same time, the big difference is that we cyclists still have to remain vigilent... where as apparently some motorists believe that cruise control means "take a nap."
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Old 12-04-06, 05:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by San Rensho
In many parts of Europe, when you drive, you concentrate and driving and you had better because the driving there is much more difficult. Porsches and other sport cars don't even have cup holders. The drivers are supposed to drive, and have fun doing it, not sip a double-skim-3 shot-mocha-latte-frappe-cappuccino-grande while they watch a movie.
Sadly, I believe some of the newer Porsches have cupholders and even worse, automatics (Yes, I know, they had the sportomatic way back in the 70's, and the 928's were built mostly with automatics along with plenty of 911/924S/944/968's, but they never put an automatic into a car with a turbocharged engine until just a few years ago, about the same time they introduced the car which single handedly made my interest in new Porsches dwindle to almost nothing, the Cayenne SUV).
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Old 12-04-06, 06:18 PM   #13
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Old 12-04-06, 09:09 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by galen_52657

More people die every year from falling than by motor vehicle/bike collision. Check out some of the statistics.
I think that's a very misleading frame of reference. That statistic is taking into account all people....and the fact is most people don't commute on their bicycle. If you do commute with your bicycle, your chance is probably much greater from a vehicle collision than a fall. It would be akin to the seemingly most widely used comparison for risks.....chance of being hit by lighting. Well, if you are hardly ever outside in an exposed area, you probably won't be struck. But if you hike up in the mountains quite often in the summer (let's say.....about as much as you commute with say....your bicycle), your chances of being struck go up considerably. In this context, your argument is a ridiculous one....albeit a true statement on the whole.

Last edited by ccd rider; 12-04-06 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 12-04-06, 09:27 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by galen_52657


2) Never hug the curb or edge of road when riding, no mater how heavy the traffic is. You are much safer out in the lane, saving yourself a buffer zone to your right to avoid road hazards. The right tire track is usually a good place to be in the lane. Take more lane if the road is narrow to discourage close passes.
The problem with that line of thinking IMHO is that many drivers don't understand (or want to take the time) to properly "separate" when there isn't sufficient room for them to go past you on a bike. The car behind you often will not slow and wait for the oncoming vehicle to go by and then go around you with sufficient space. Taking more lane (at least in my neck of the woods) does not go over well and certainly would do anything but discourage close passes. I've had people honk, scream out (those two things alone have caused me to crash...without getting hit afterwards luckily) and flat out get close as close to hitting without actually hitting when I was even close to the right tire track (so you might argue that since I wasn't actually hit that that strategy ostensibly was doing it's job keeping me alive....I disagree, I say I was lucky). Not saying your idea is wrong from out standpoint as cyclists, I'm saying my experience has been that it's not realistic to expect the vehicles to accomodate (from their standpoint). When I've stayed as far to the right as possible I've had FAR fewer incidents, and I feel relatively safer regardless of the lack of bailout space. I think you might be fortunate to actually realize you needed to bailout before it was too late.
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Old 12-04-06, 09:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ccd rider
I think that's a very misleading frame of reference. That statistic is taking into account all people....and the fact is most people don't commute on their bicycle. If you do commute with your bicycle, your chance is probably much greater from a vehicle collision than a fall. It would be akin to the seemingly most widely used comparison for risks.....chance of being hit by lighting. Well, if you are hardly ever outside in an exposed area, you probably won't be struck. But if you hike up in the mountains quite often in the summer (let's say.....about as much as you commute with say....your bicycle), your chances of being struck go up considerably. In this context, your argument is a ridiculous one....albeit a true statement on the whole.
Obviously if one never participates in the particular activity in which people die, then one won't die doing that activity. And also obvious is the fact that the more one participates in a particular activity that can lead to death, the better the chances of dying while doing that activity.

But, the statistics still point out the relative safety of cycling when compared to other activities, like walking. On any given day you are five times more likely to die as a pedestrian than as a cyclist. Do more people walk than cycle? Yes. But, total person-hours of cycling vs. total person hours of walking? Might be closer than you think. Also, the statistics make no variation for age, disability or other factors. More than likely most or all of the deaths do to falls on flat surfaces were the elderly or disabled. Still, if you factor out young children out of the bicycle deaths you would have a reduction of almost half. If you then factored out wrong-way and night time low-visibility cyclists you would remove another hundred or so leaving roughly 300 deaths of adult cyclists riding in a more-or-less vehicular manor. Not bad odds, really.
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Old 12-05-06, 06:49 AM   #17
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On the odds things . . . comparing to population at large items is just not accurate (as someone stated above). In another thread in a different subfolder here someone metioned the flu. Essentially every man women and child is in the potential pool for getting the flu.
Lets say (I am using easy understand numbers for MY benefit as I have limited math skills) there are 100 million people in the US. Lets say 1000 people a year die from biking and 1000 per year from biking.
Well, for the flu a person has a 1000 in 100,000,000 chance. Biking is different. Lets say there are 100,000 bikers in the US. This means if you bike you have a 1000 in 100,000 chance.

These numbers are just round numbers and probably not even close to accurate - but it is an example to explain how using examples like falling, driving, or the flu are just inaccurate.


_______________


Now, as galen pointed out - if you boil down the stats, it still is a very low chance.

Thanks to all for some pointers on how to ride and other thoughts and points of view.

The truth is that I am Mr. Safety. I am well above the average in insurance (life, disability, umbrella, biz, etc). I put on winter tires on my family's cars. Change wiper blades every 6 months, use rain-x, etc. I have been known to wear a helmet when working on my roof. As such, I will follow all the bike safety tips.
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Old 12-05-06, 07:49 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by ccd rider
I think that's a very misleading frame of reference. That statistic is taking into account all people....and the fact is most people don't commute on their bicycle. If you do commute with your bicycle, your chance is probably much greater from a vehicle collision than a fall. It would be akin to the seemingly most widely used comparison for risks.....chance of being hit by lighting. Well, if you are hardly ever outside in an exposed area, you probably won't be struck. But if you hike up in the mountains quite often in the summer (let's say.....about as much as you commute with say....your bicycle), your chances of being struck go up considerably. In this context, your argument is a ridiculous one....albeit a true statement on the whole.
I've been commuting for over 30 years - never had a car lay a glove on me (at least that knocked me over). You're allowed to be afraid, just don't go spreading your fear to others and, for your own sake, don't let it dictate how you live your life. Cycling isn't dangerous, unless you are a dangerous cyclist.
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Old 12-05-06, 08:04 AM   #19
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The problem with that line of thinking IMHO is that many drivers don't understand (or want to take the time) to properly "separate" when there isn't sufficient room for them to go past you on a bike. The car behind you often will not slow and wait for the oncoming vehicle to go by and then go around you with sufficient space. Taking more lane (at least in my neck of the woods) does not go over well and certainly would do anything but discourage close passes. I've had people honk, scream out (those two things alone have caused me to crash...without getting hit afterwards luckily) and flat out get close as close to hitting without actually hitting when I was even close to the right tire track (so you might argue that since I wasn't actually hit that that strategy ostensibly was doing it's job keeping me alive....I disagree, I say I was lucky). Not saying your idea is wrong from out standpoint as cyclists, I'm saying my experience has been that it's not realistic to expect the vehicles to accomodate (from their standpoint). When I've stayed as far to the right as possible I've had FAR fewer incidents, and I feel relatively safer regardless of the lack of bailout space. I think you might be fortunate to actually realize you needed to bailout before it was too late.
It sounds to me like the problem is your riding skills, rather than any danger posed from traffic. If things like honking and hollering cause you to crash, perhaps it's best that you stick to the sidewalk or path after all - at least until you learn to concentrate on your riding rather than letting the frustrations of drivers cause you to freak out and crash.

Trust me, nobody (except a small percentage of total loons) 'want' to hit you and will avoid doing so at all costs, even if they are not happy about doing so and try to intimidate you with 'noise'.
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Old 12-05-06, 08:07 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by ccd rider
The problem with that line of thinking IMHO is that many drivers don't understand (or want to take the time) to properly "separate" when there isn't sufficient room for them to go past you on a bike. The car behind you often will not slow and wait for the oncoming vehicle to go by and then go around you with sufficient space. Taking more lane (at least in my neck of the woods) does not go over well and certainly would do anything but discourage close passes. I've had people honk, scream out (those two things alone have caused me to crash...without getting hit afterwards luckily) and flat out get close as close to hitting without actually hitting when I was even close to the right tire track (so you might argue that since I wasn't actually hit that that strategy ostensibly was doing it's job keeping me alive....I disagree, I say I was lucky). Not saying your idea is wrong from out standpoint as cyclists, I'm saying my experience has been that it's not realistic to expect the vehicles to accomodate (from their standpoint). When I've stayed as far to the right as possible I've had FAR fewer incidents, and I feel relatively safer regardless of the lack of bailout space. I think you might be fortunate to actually realize you needed to bailout before it was too late.
I'm confused by your post. You say that people pass you close when you take more lane and force them to move into the oncoming lane. What do they do then when you ride further right? Do they still move into the oncoming lane or do they pass within the same lane? If they pass within the same lane, how much room are they giving you? From personal experience cycling in many environments, if I take the center of a lane, I get that whole lane, meaning the vast majority of drivers will completely leave the lane to pass me. Sure, some get frustrated by me being in their way (BFD), but at worst they honk or yell something. You learn to not let it bother you and certainly not let it frighten you to the point of crashing.

Also, to consider being honked or yelled at an "incident" means that you are taking people's driving emotions way too seriously.
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Old 12-05-06, 08:11 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by chipcom
I've been commuting for over 30 years - never had a car lay a glove on me (at least that knocked me over). You're allowed to be afraid, just don't go spreading your fear to others and, for your own sake, don't let it dictate how you live your life. Cycling isn't dangerous, unless you are a dangerous cyclist.

Chip, I have to agree with you there from my own experience when I commuted. Your experience also tallys with Forester's findings. Forester found that the group of cyclists with the lowest injury rates were commuters who paradoxically rode on the busiest roads at the times of peak traffic. In facts, the injury rates among commuters was so low that Forester was unable to really get an accurate measurment of it because the number of commuters he found was relatively small.

I looked up the statistics on cycling fatalities a few years back. About 800 cyclists are killed per year. But 50% of those are killed at night and I just bet you the vast majority of night time cyclists who were killed were not using lights. Unfortunately, the statistics kept do not take into account the kind of cyclist involved. I suspect that most of the fatalities are people on bicycles who do weird things like ride against traffic and jay walk on bicycles.

Cycling per hour has half of the fatality risk of driving an automobile. I know that sounds incredibly low. But think about it. What kills motorists? Well DUI is the big one. I rather doubt that very many people ride bikes when DUI. Another big killer of motorists is falling asleep at the wheel. Cyclists generally do not ride when dangerously fatigued. Speeding also gets motorists. It is hard for cyclists to get up to dangerous speeds even where the speed limit is 25 mph. Finally, distractions get motorists, things like talking on cell phones, eating, drinking, fooling around with the radio, reading the paper and putting on make up and whatever other fool things motorists do when they should be watching the road. Cyclists who don't pay attention to what they are doing crash and that is a fast reminder to pay attention. I suppose cyclists who ignore this one enough get enough road rash and pain to get out of the sport altogether. The thing is that it seems reasonable that cycling is a mode of transportation that is far less conducive of dangerous behaviors then driving a motorized vehicle. Also if you have a close call on a bicycle, you really, really notice it. It scares the #$%! out of you. Motorists can shrug off close calls all too easily.

It seems to me that it is quite likely that the majority of miles ridden per week by cyclists are ridden during Saturday and Sunday mornings by club cyclists out on their group rides. Now if all cyclists have the same accident rate, one would expect a huge peak of cycling fatalities for weekend mornings. When I examined that fatalities (they have them by day of the week and time of the day), weekend mornings were actually lower than week mornings which reveals that club cyclists have vanishingly low fatality rates on their rides. In short, as Chip says, cycling is not dangerous unless you are a dangerous cyclist.
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Old 12-05-06, 08:28 AM   #22
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Chip, I have to agree with you there from my own experience when I commuted. Your experience also tallys with Forester's findings. Forester found that the group of cyclists with the lowest injury rates were commuters who paradoxically rode on the busiest roads at the times of peak traffic. In facts, the injury rates among commuters was so low that Forester was unable to really get an accurate measurment of it because the number of commuters he found was relatively small.

I looked up the statistics on cycling fatalities a few years back. About 800 cyclists are killed per year. But 50% of those are killed at night and I just bet you the vast majority of night time cyclists who were killed were not using lights. Unfortunately, the statistics kept do not take into account the kind of cyclist involved. I suspect that most of the fatalities are people on bicycles who do weird things like ride against traffic and jay walk on bicycles.

Cycling per hour has half of the fatality risk of driving an automobile. I know that sounds incredibly low. But think about it. What kills motorists? Well DUI is the big one. I rather doubt that very many people ride bikes when DUI. Another big killer of motorists is falling asleep at the wheel. Cyclists generally do not ride when dangerously fatigued. Speeding also gets motorists. It is hard for cyclists to get up to dangerous speeds even where the speed limit is 25 mph. Finally, distractions get motorists, things like talking on cell phones, eating, drinking, fooling around with the radio, reading the paper and putting on make up and whatever other fool things motorists do when they should be watching the road. Cyclists who don't pay attention to what they are doing crash and that is a fast reminder to pay attention. I suppose cyclists who ignore this one enough get enough road rash and pain to get out of the sport altogether. The thing is that it seems reasonable that cycling is a mode of transportation that is far less conducive of dangerous behaviors then driving a motorized vehicle. Also if you have a close call on a bicycle, you really, really notice it. It scares the #$%! out of you. Motorists can shrug off close calls all too easily.

It seems to me that it is quite likely that the majority of miles ridden per week by cyclists are ridden during Saturday and Sunday mornings by club cyclists out on their group rides. Now if all cyclists have the same accident rate, one would expect a huge peak of cycling fatalities for weekend mornings. When I examined that fatalities (they have them by day of the week and time of the day), weekend mornings were actually lower than week mornings which reveals that club cyclists have vanishingly low fatality rates on their rides. In short, as Chip says, cycling is not dangerous unless you are a dangerous cyclist.
Great post Pat - being able to cite and explore actual data goes a lot farther than my 'cuz I'm a old grouch and I said so' arguments.
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Old 12-05-06, 09:39 AM   #23
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I think that's a very misleading frame of reference. That statistic is taking into account all people....and the fact is most people don't commute on their bicycle. If you do commute with your bicycle, your chance is probably much greater from a vehicle collision than a fall. It would be akin to the seemingly most widely used comparison for risks.....chance of being hit by lighting. Well, if you are hardly ever outside in an exposed area, you probably won't be struck. But if you hike up in the mountains quite often in the summer (let's say.....about as much as you commute with say....your bicycle), your chances of being struck go up considerably. In this context, your argument is a ridiculous one....albeit a true statement on the whole.
Maybe you're the ridiculous one. More bike "accidents" are falls, rather than collisions with other vehicles. Also, there are more bike-bike crashes than bike-car crashes, IIRC.
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Old 12-05-06, 09:54 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by ccd rider
The problem with that line of thinking IMHO is that many drivers don't understand (or want to take the time) to properly "separate" when there isn't sufficient room for them to go past you on a bike. The car behind you often will not slow and wait for the oncoming vehicle to go by and then go around you with sufficient space. Taking more lane (at least in my neck of the woods) does not go over well and certainly would do anything but discourage close passes. I've had people honk, scream out (those two things alone have caused me to crash...without getting hit afterwards luckily) and flat out get close as close to hitting without actually hitting when I was even close to the right tire track (so you might argue that since I wasn't actually hit that that strategy ostensibly was doing it's job keeping me alive....I disagree, I say I was lucky). Not saying your idea is wrong from out standpoint as cyclists, I'm saying my experience has been that it's not realistic to expect the vehicles to accomodate (from their standpoint). When I've stayed as far to the right as possible I've had FAR fewer incidents, and I feel relatively safer regardless of the lack of bailout space. I think you might be fortunate to actually realize you needed to bailout before it was too late.
You seem to be very concerned about a car hitting you from the rear. In most car-bike crashes, the car actually hits the cyclist from the front or side. That's the main reason for riding away from the curb or gutter--so that oncoming drivers have a better chance of seeing you.

You bring up another safety issue:
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I've had people honk, scream out (those two things alone have caused me to crash...without getting hit afterwards luckily)
This illustrates that you have to be in control of your bike (and yourself) at all times. You shouldn't let a buzz, a honk or a yell throw you. Learn how to keep your cool and maintain control of yourself.
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Last edited by Roody; 12-05-06 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 12-05-06, 10:34 AM   #25
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Maybe you're the ridiculous one. More bike "accidents" are falls, rather than collisions with other vehicles. Also, there are more bike-bike crashes than bike-car crashes, IIRC.
Nothing is more ridiculous than considering all accidents as equal in severity. Adding up and/or comparing the totals of "accidents" with no consideration of their severities or the potential exposure to the risk- now that is ridiculous (and the mark of a sophmoric risk "analysis".)
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