I came across a rather obscure little article in the motoring section of the Newcastle Herald on Saturday. Here it is verbatim:
It was probably the strangest question I had been asked, and the answer took a bit of thinking about. "What," the woman asked, "do you think is the most dangerous vehicle currently available?"
The scanner in my head started clicking over the available information to search for the answer.
Was it the ultra-high performance vehicles boasting powerful engines? No. Maybe four-wheel-drives with their bulk, high ground clearance and semi-offroad tyres? No, not that category either.
Perhaps small cars that break so easily when walloped by one of those four-wheel-drives? Nope, wrong again. How about any one of a number of categories of motorcycle? No, I decided after working through a mental checklist of pros and cons.
"The most dangerous vehicle currently available, in my opinion," I told her, "is the common or garden variety bicycle."
I did not arrive at this conclusion simply because I am not a fan of bicycles. My personal dislike of them is not because of what they are, but how they are often ridden.
The rationale is based on the observations that bicycles are slow vehicles which are generally not able to keep pace with traffic flow and that their design offers nothing in the way of visual protection to the rider or other road users (bikes are not required to have rear vision mirrors, lights or indicators meaning riders cannot see what is happening behind them nor show any intended action).
Couple that with the fact that bicycles and their riders make for a very small "package" that is often quite agile and difficult for even observant drivers to spot and you have the making of an incident waiting to happen.
That situation is made even more difficult by riders who are generally loath to adopt even the most basic safety measures to protect themselves.
Sorry, but I just cannot see the protective value of lycra shorts, joggers, a T-shirt and a plastic and styrene foam helmet offering nothing by way of cover for the sides of the head and face at those times when bicycle and rider suddenly part company.
Now the funny thing is that, with Christmas approaching, parents all over the country will soon be happily gift-wrapping bicycles for their kids.
The sad thing is that very few of those youngsters will be given much (if anything) by way of instruction on how to use it other than to "keep your balance and watch out for cars".
Somehow I don't think my answer was quite what the woman thought it would be.
I've read this a couple of times, and while the author makes some salient points, it's primary purpose appears to be to incite comment. So I thought why the hell not, I'll throw in my two bob's worth. You can too! I'll collect any comments you want to make and forward them on.
Here's a summary of the points to be discussed:
bikes are the most dangerous vehicle on the road because
- they are slow, and don't flow with traffic
- they don't provide adequate protection for the rider
- they don't incorporate safety features such as mirrors and signals
- they are small and agile, making them hard to see
- riders are always not given sufficient instruction on riding in traffic
- riders are always not given sufficient instruction on road rules and etiquette