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  1. #1
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    How can cyclists defend themselves?

    Wow, too many posts about killed cyclists are making me feel vulnerable! Can we do anything to protect ourselves? The cars are not only bigger, but faster than us as well. I started thinking how animals protect themselves: Some can run fast, some can fight, some have hard shells, spines, etc. Some travel in schools or herds - Hey, that's it. Strength in numbers. Seems to me most if not all the reported fatalities happened to lone cyclists.

    Are cyclists less likely to get hit by a car while riding in a group? When I overtake someone while commuting, I always try to ride with them rather than pass them, especially when it's dark. Must be my survival instincts.
    Tom

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    using your brain is the best defence. remember your smaerter then the average driver. (G) your not in a car.

  3. #3
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    I also think that riding in a pack is safer because you are more likely to be seen my motorists. But you still need to ride safetly and put yourself in the drivers shoes and try and think what they would do in a situation.

  4. #4
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    pretend that you are invisible

  5. #5
    Pat
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    Actually, cycling is safer then driving. I know it does not FEEL that way but it is true.

    What you are seeing is people reporting just about any account of a cycling fatality. If you look in the papers, people are killed in cars all the time. It is so common as to be part of the background noise and it ceases to be newsworthy unless it is local news.

    I think a large part of the reason why cycling is safer then driving is the inherent difference between cyclists and motorists. A very large fraction of motorists killed, die because they were drinking and driving (not really feasible for cyclists - you fall down too often), going to sleep at the wheel (most cyclists go riding when they are reasonably well rested, and just going way too fast for conditions (cyclists have a hard time riding fast enough to add to their risk).

    Also a close call in a car does not have much psychological impact. After all, your bumpers are some distance from you and it is not that horribly scary. However, a miss that is not nearly as close feels dreadful in a bike because the car comes close to your flesh. This situation encourages defensive driving in cyclists.

    If you examine the statistics, about 800 people on bicycles are killed in the USA per year. Interestingly about half of these are killed at night and I suspect that these riders were riding without lights (not the greatest idea). Of the 400 fatalities remaining, it seems that most of them are inexperienced riders often not obeying the traffic laws.

    Forester found that the more experienced the cyclist, the lower the accident rate they had. Forester found in his study that cycling commuters who rode in the most adverse conditions on busy roads during rush hour had the lowest accident rates of any group of cyclists Forester examined. The rates were so low that Forester was unable to estimate them accurately because his sample size of commuters was too small.

  6. #6
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Pat is right. Cyclists who follow the rules have a miniscule injury/death rate. That's part of why I started this thread.

    You don't need to ride in a pack, but you do need to be visible and predictable. As Forester showed, you are generally safer taking the lane than hugging the curb.

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    It's the fear factor that keeps you alive. Knowing that you can easily get bumped off by cars let's you stay on your Q's: keeping alert to your 360 surroundings at all time, paying attention to what can happen every moment of the ride esecially for park cars with someone in them, driveways that have a blind spot, a car behind you passing by, and looking ahead for whatever is taking place by the time you get there, and being prepare for a unleashed dog: by having a mace spray available, or water bottle at hand and open ready to wet it if you have too; practice this to see how it works. A friend of mine rides with a left rear mirror when he rides, but I think you can see behind you just by turning your head back quickly for a fast glance. My theory is look for what can happen and be ready to do something before it happens to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daily Commute
    Pat is right. Cyclists who follow the rules have a miniscule injury/death rate. That's part of why I started this thread.

    You don't need to ride in a pack, but you do need to be visible and predictable. As Forester showed, you are generally safer taking the lane than hugging the curb.
    iIt does happen. I got hit two Fridays ago and it was pretty much unavoidable. I was going along not too fast as there is a little bit of grade starting. A woman pulls up to the road on the right. She stops then starts and stops again. I had brakes when the did that but when she stopped again I thought she had seen me. But he foot slipped on the gas and it was too late to stop then. I tried to go around her and she hit me in the side. We both were going pretty slow then. I did a belly flop and did not get any road rash. My leg got cut from the front derailleur and my knee was a bit out of whack.
    So it can still happen but it far more rare if your are careful.

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    I just bought one of those palestinian suicide bomber packs -- now if anyone runs over me its MAD (mutually assured destruction). That should hold them off.

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    only if you have I carry a bomb or some such on your back (G) but I doubt it would stop anyone.

  11. #11
    Jazz from Hell glomarduck's Avatar
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    Guns. Lots of guns.
    I carried it around with me for days and days.. playing little games like not looking at it for a whole day and then.. looking at it. to see if I still liked it. I DID!

  12. #12
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveknight
    using your brain is the best defence. remember your smaerter then the average driver. (G) your not in a car.
    Good point. I know I sure FEEL smarter than the average driver. We also have unobstructed vision and can hear better. I try to use everything to my advantage.
    Tom

  13. #13
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveknight
    iIt does happen. I got hit two Fridays ago and it was pretty much unavoidable. I was going along not too fast as there is a little bit of grade starting. A woman pulls up to the road on the right. She stops then starts and stops again. I had brakes when the did that but when she stopped again I thought she had seen me. But he foot slipped on the gas and it was too late to stop then. I tried to go around her and she hit me in the side. We both were going pretty slow then. I did a belly flop and did not get any road rash. My leg got cut from the front derailleur and my knee was a bit out of whack.
    So it can still happen but it far more rare if your are careful.
    Sorry about your accident. But also note, you were not rear-ended. The real threat to cyclists comes from the side. Where the lane is too narrow for a car to pass you safely (i.e. most lanes), taking the lane is generally the safest way to ride.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveknight
    only if you have I carry a bomb or some such on your back (G) but I doubt it would stop anyone.

    Why should I let them know? H*ll, if they f*ck with me, they're dead. Its set on a hair trigger, any little jolt and they're gone along with anything else in the block. That's what those palestinian suicide bomb packs can do for you. Driver beware. (I just hope that I don't fall off my bike by accident.)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by glomarduck
    Guns. Lots of guns.

    Why don't you get a palestinian suicide bomb pack? That way you wouldn't miss and you wouldn't have to worry about whether you can get the *** out in time after the car hits you.

  16. #16
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssmaniac
    pretend that you are invisible
    I learned this from riding a motorcycle for 10 years. Even though a motorcycle is huge compared to a bicycle, motorists don't see you. Pretending you are invisible really works!

    I commuted by motorcycle for 6 years, 35 miles each way and split lanes between the cars (legal in California). I used to wait for another lane-splitter to pass me, then I would follow, letting the other bike assume most of the risk. People in cars react to a motorcycle passing close by them by saying "Oh s**t!" and moving away slightly after it has passed. I used to ride in this "wake" behind the other bike as if I were invisible.
    Tom

  17. #17
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erraticrider
    I just bought one of those palestinian suicide bomber packs -- now if anyone runs over me its MAD (mutually assured destruction). That should hold them off.
    Ha! Back when I rode a motorcycle, I used to muse about mounting a 16 lb. bowling ball under my headlight so it would take out anyone who pulled out in front of me. At the last moment I could aim right at the driver. I know this dates me, but that was before the invention of the suicide bomber.
    Tom

  18. #18
    Bent_Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by JavaMan
    Wow, too many posts about killed cyclists are making me feel vulnerable! Can we do anything to protect ourselves? The cars are not only bigger, but faster than us as well. I started thinking how animals protect themselves: Some can run fast, some can fight, some have hard shells, spines, etc. Some travel in schools or herds - Hey, that's it. Strength in numbers. Seems to me most if not all the reported fatalities happened to lone cyclists.

    Are cyclists less likely to get hit by a car while riding in a group? When I overtake someone while commuting, I always try to ride with them rather than pass them, especially when it's dark. Must be my survival instincts.
    Tom
    Riding in a pack......Critical Mass. Safest ride ever.

  19. #19
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssmaniac
    pretend that you are invisible
    I see your point, but it is a bad idea. It could lead you to do relaly studip things, like hugging the curb. You need to learn to follow the same rules as other traffic. You are generally safer taking the lane than hugging the curb.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JavaMan
    Ha! Back when I rode a motorcycle, I used to muse about mounting a 16 lb. bowling ball under my headlight so it would take out anyone who pulled out in front of me. At the last moment I could aim right at the driver. I know this dates me, but that was before the invention of the suicide bomber.
    Tom
    That is a great idea -- maybe I should attach a bowling ball by some loose, easy to break system under the back of my seat. That way, if I get hit from the side or back, the bowling ball will come loose from its attachment and roll up the car's hood until it hits the windshield and goes right though into the driver's face. The attachment has to be easily breakable in a crash so that the bowling ball comes loose, but not so easy to break that the bowling ball comes loose bunny hopping off curbs. And, the drivers might even see it and stay far away (which gives it an advantage over the idiot who wants to pack a *** or palestinian suicide bomber pack).

  21. #21
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat

    Forester found that the more experienced the cyclist, the lower the accident rate they had. Forester found in his study that cycling commuters who rode in the most adverse conditions on busy roads during rush hour had the lowest accident rates of any group of cyclists Forester examined. The rates were so low that Forester was unable to estimate them accurately because his sample size of commuters was too small.
    Sample size was so low as this is the least pleasurable type of riding... this type of riding requires high concentration, is noisy, not relaxing at all and there is "no wind in your hair."

    The kind of riding I know I enjoy the most is spinning fast on an isolated country lane swooping up and down gentle grades along tree lined roads.

  22. #22
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssmaniac
    pretend that you are invisible
    I go into Casper mode... and do just that... it is both quite amazing and somewhat scary to see drivers suddenly realize you are there with that "oh sh*t" look on their faces just as they were about to pull a right turn into you.

    Hey on the flip side of the coin... total visibility... what would happen if we all rode naked? Think cars would see us then?

  23. #23
    TLN
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    "Why don't you get a palestinian suicide bomb pack? That way you wouldn't miss and you wouldn't have to worry about whether you can get the *** out in time after the car hits you."

    I heard those Israeli sucide bomb packs are more powerful..........

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLN
    "Why don't you get a palestinian suicide bomb pack? That way you wouldn't miss and you wouldn't have to worry about whether you can get the *** out in time after the car hits you."

    I heard those Israeli sucide bomb packs are more powerful..........
    But they always go off after the palestinian suicide bomb.

  25. #25
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    This is just my opinion, but the last thing this thread (or this forum) needs is a non-bike-related discussion of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Could y'all please take that to the Political Forum?

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