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Old 06-14-13, 01:15 PM   #26
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Here's a good question. Do you base how you live your life on statistics?
No, I was bike-commuting before that article, and I'll continue after (and would after anyways even if it showed statistically, validly, that biking is more dangerous than driving -- but I would be armed with information that would help me take increased precautions)

But really the article is not for preaching at the choir; it is for helping to educate the masses who do not bike because they think (unfoundedly feel) it's too dangerous, a thought which is false, and which might be successfully rebutted with a statistical argument.
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Old 06-14-13, 01:16 PM   #27
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This calculation has been done by others in the past and the result was that the added years of life due to being less likely to come down with fatal diseases earlier in life outweigh the risk of death by traffic accident by a factor of TWENTY.
If you had a link, I would click on it...
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Old 06-14-13, 01:35 PM   #28
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I'm pretty certain that driving 75 mph on a freeway is much more dangerous than biking at 12 mph just about anywhere other than a freeway. It's also an unreasonable comparison.

The safety statistics for bicycling do look pretty good if you factor out things like "homeless people, DUI-convicts who have lost their license, competitive road racers and downhill mountain bikers" but I'd bet the driving statistics look really good if you take out drunk drivers and driving on freeways.

I feel pretty safe on my bike commute, but if I drove anything like the same route I would be even safer in the car (unless you count the chances of a stress-induced heart attack while sitting in traffic).

I saw an article some time ago that compared risk of death per hour of various activities and it made some crazy claim like you were more likely to die while not biking (doing anything else at all) than you were while biking. Statistics are fun that way. Here's a page with a similar statistic: http://cyclehelmets.org/1026.html

Deaths per hour:
Living (all causes of death): 1.53
Bicycling: 0.26

That's scary stuff. I might not be able to get off my bike when I get home today.
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Old 06-14-13, 01:39 PM   #29
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If you had a link, I would click on it...
Ken Kifer had some bicycle safety links. I don't mean this in poor taste, but Ken was hit and killed while riding his bike, which just goes to show that no matter how much you know about the subject, accidents can happen to anyone. ItsJustMe makes a good point about statistics. I don't want to live my life doing the statistically safest thing. That would be boring, and ultimately, pointless. I enjoy cycling, I hope my experience and wisdom help minimize my risk, but I know there will always be risk. When I get on my bicycle, I tacitly accept that risk, just like I do when I get in my car.
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Old 06-14-13, 01:44 PM   #30
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I saw an article some time ago that compared risk of death per hour of various activities and it made some crazy claim like you were more likely to die while not biking (doing anything else at all) than you were while biking. Statistics are fun that way. Here's a page with a similar statistic: http://cyclehelmets.org/1026.html

Deaths per hour:
Living (all causes of death): 1.53
Bicycling: 0.26

That's scary stuff. I might not be able to get off my bike when I get home today.
This reminds me of an old essay by Mark Twain on the Danger Of Lying In Bed.
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Old 06-14-13, 02:04 PM   #31
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...
After that point, is when I think the math starts to get sketchy. But near the end, there's this:

When you and I ride our bikes, we stop at the red lights and stop signs, obey the lane markings and use arm signals, use bright lights and reflective clothing at night. We plan our routes to pick the safest roads and paths. By following these steps, our own crash rate can be much lower than the national average. Probably even safer than the average for cars.






The numbers look right IMO until this. Accidents related to intersections account for a large portion the fatalities but not enough to make up for the 6.2 times higher rate per mile, and ditto the lights and clothes.

It looks to me like even after narrowing the group down to experienced cyclists the chance of accident relates better to how much time you spend on the road.
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Old 06-14-13, 02:09 PM   #32
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The cyclists who are safe and take precautions are also the drivers who are safe and take precautions, so his whole line of reasoning is off.

Roads are dangerous, period. Best to take precautions, be safe, and obey the rules regardless of which type of vehicle you choose.
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Old 06-14-13, 03:04 PM   #33
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"This calculation has been done by others in the past and the result was that the added years of life due to being less likely to come down with fatal diseases earlier in life outweigh the risk of death by traffic accident by a factor of TWENTY."

If you had a link, I would click on it...
Looks like he was referring to Hillman's paper. It's the first one listed in the the table here:
http://cyclehelmets.org/1015.html#210
which also gives the reference. But I don't believe the original paper is freely available online.
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Old 06-14-13, 03:58 PM   #34
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It's interesting how we play games with statistics and add in all sort of non-relevant conditionals to make the statistics seem better for bicycling. But the bottom line is if you need to transport yourself from point A to point B and have two choices, a car or a bike, the car is clearly safer. Whether 6.9X safer, or 69 times safer we can debate. But in the car, you're wrapped by metal. On the bike, your flesh is around the metal. You are clearly more vulnerable, and while fatalities are low for both, I recall very clearly that bicycles have much more failure modes for injuries and I have many scars that show it's not as safe as a car. I have yet to have a scar from a moving car. Let alone skin grafts on my elbows from sliding out on my bike, or whole shins shaved of skin on one side or the other or both. I've got patches on my neck, skull, dents on my ribs, and more from cycling.

So if the goal is to convince the masses that bicycling is good, well, it's not because it's safe. It clearly isn't especially if you got some punk kid in an SUV with loud music texting and punching the accelerator around a corner and then running up onto the sidewalk. Well, a guy did that last year in Pleasant Hill, CA and killed a Dad and daughter, and the other daughter was injured. All three were cycling... on the sidewalk. I'd place bets if they were inside another modern car with safety cage unit body and air bags, they'd still be alive and not minced meat.

But we bike for other reasons than safety. We accept the risks and try our best probably to minimize the risk. Below some threshold, like less than 1 in 10,000 probability on that event, we'll get hurt, we probably don't really care anymore. It's not high enough probability to really be at the forefront of our thoughts. Instead, we consider other things. I consider convenience and parking and total door-to-door time. In my car, it can take 30 minutes door to door if I factor in the search for parking and the final decision to park far away and walk in to the office. My door to door time with less than half red lights on my commute is only 25 minutes. I get 5 extra minutes at the watering hole. Not to mention, all the folks in the hallway get to see that I was the Politically Correct guy on the bike who rode in, not to mention all the cute, super-fit females on my hallway, and not so fit, but still cute females all like to stop by and talk about "getting fit." It's welcome attention for us guys who'd otherwise be geeks in front of some computer console slinging weird code to do weird things like process stupid voice wave forms for some national security agency without knowing it was going to do that.

Some of us will ride because at $4/gallon for gas and maintenance costs on the car, which has 300+ horsepower opposed 6 cylinder with really crappy gas mileage and some euro-japanese pedigree is euphemistically "expensive." Bikes are cheap locomotion and give far more independence than waiting for mass transit in the big city, where gangs of teens regularly like to assault riders and steal their phones. Given such choices, bicycles force those bullies to actually chase you, which they won't because it's easier when they've got you cornered in the back of the bus or the front for that matter.

But to address the masses who don't bike, you need to get at the core reason why people don't bike and instead insist on driving the car. And that's because people are lazy. It's far easier to hop in the car, turn on the A/C and step on the accelerator than to turn the cranks. We're the weird folks who enjoy this sort of thing with the wind through our helmets, quads burning, lungs processing double the oxygen, and having to deal with motorists, occasional weather anomalies, bugs in the mouth/eyes/nostrils, and flats on the road.

No, biking was never safer than driving, and it's never as easy physically as driving. But it doesn't have to be equally safe, just acceptably safe, and it doesn't have to be equally easy. As driving gets less convenient, and more expensive, there will be more of us commuting on bikes. You can count on that.
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Old 06-14-13, 04:33 PM   #35
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You're not helping
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Old 06-14-13, 05:00 PM   #36
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However gyozadude, the article was not about safety in general, but death in particular. Sure, you are less likely to get scrapes in a car, but are you less likely to die? There are car accidents all the time; death by automobile accident is quite prevalent, death by bicycle is assumed by some to be a high risk, the question is, how does it really compare to cars?

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But to address the masses who don't bike, you need to get at the core reason why people don't bike and instead insist on driving the car. And that's because people are lazy.
I'll grant you that the #1 problem is that people are lazy. But people being afraid is an actual problem that's fairly prevalent as well (look at how many people drive gas guzzlers, and would never buy a Smart Car because "those tiny tin cans are death traps! I'd get run over by an SUV!"). The objective should be to get rid of all irrational or unfounded fear. How to get rid of laziness, that's not so easy, but as you say, if driving becomes less convenient (stop maintaining roads and only maintain bike lanes?) and more expensive (raise gas taxes so US pays like Europe?) then we might see something happen...
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Old 06-14-13, 05:41 PM   #37
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The numbers look right IMO until this. Accidents related to intersections account for a large portion the fatalities but not enough to make up for the 6.2 times higher rate per mile, and ditto the lights and clothes.
Nope.
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811743.pdf

On page two, data is given for the location of cyclists deaths. In 2011, 59% of pedalcyclists deaths occured at a non-intersection location, 31% of deaths occured at an intersection, and the other 10% occured at other locations.

Although I'm not quite sure how this is possible, as most near-crashes for me have occured inside or at least 20 feet outside of intersections, but numbers don't lie.

Another interesting statistic, pedalcyclists accounted for just 1.9% of all traffic related fatalities, and pedestrians accounted for 13% of traffic related fatalites. Simple math shows that the other 85.1% is made up of motorists. Alors, a mon avi, cyclisme est plus sauf de conduite. (So, in my opinion, cycling is more safe than driving)
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Old 06-14-13, 06:34 PM   #38
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1.9% < 85.1% is just as misleading as 623 bicycle deaths vs 26,000 automobile deaths in the original article (which is what the whole rest of the article is about -- trying to figure out the right way to compare those numbers)
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Old 06-14-13, 06:39 PM   #39
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I'll grant you that the #1 problem is that people are lazy. But people being afraid is an actual problem that's fairly prevalent as well (look at how many people drive gas guzzlers, and would never buy a Smart Car because "those tiny tin cans are death traps! I'd get run over by an SUV!"). The objective should be to get rid of all irrational or unfounded fear. How to get rid of laziness, that's not so easy, but as you say, if driving becomes less convenient (stop maintaining roads and only maintain bike lanes?) and more expensive (raise gas taxes so US pays like Europe?) then we might see something happen...
I'd say the "I'm afraid" argument is a red herring. In the example I gave of my car pooling buddying being unwilling to bike (it's roughly a whole 2.5miles), it's laziness. He cites how dangerous biking would be as his reason, but I can guarantee you he's completely unaware of the stats. Furthermore, with a little effort, I'm pretty sure we could find a route that's mainly bike paths and back roads. Same guy doesn't mind keeping loaded guns around the house despite the danger, he doesn't seem too concerned that the extra 70lbs he's carrying around is dangerous, doesn't wear a helmet skiing, etc, etc, etc. IMHO, fear isn't the actual problem, it's an excuse masquerading as a reason not to bike.
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Old 06-14-13, 06:49 PM   #40
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I'd say the "I'm afraid" argument is a red herring. In the example I gave of my car pooling buddy...
OK, you can give an anecdote, I can give an anecdote. I have a friend who lives just a few miles from work. Sometimes he jogs to work, but it's a hassle to deal with showering and clothes. I suggest to him biking, because a bike can have a rack or you can wear a backpack, and immediately his wife who is right there explodes "There's no way I could ever let him ride his bike to work, not on that road, the cars drive so fast, I would be in constant fear every day and eventually lose my husband yadda yadda yadda..."

This guy not biking, not because he's lazy (if he were lazy he'd bike instead of run!), he's not riding because of fear (and not even his!)

I already ceded above that laziness is certainly the #1 real underlying reason people don't bike. But fear is a real factor as well.
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Old 06-14-13, 08:44 PM   #41
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Nope.
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811743.pdf

On page two, data is given for the location of cyclists deaths. In 2011, 59% of pedalcyclists deaths occured at a non-intersection location, 31% of deaths occured at an intersection, and the other 10% occured at other locations.

Although I'm not quite sure how this is possible, as most near-crashes for me have occured inside or at least 20 feet outside of intersections, but numbers don't lie.
Because non-intersection collisions tend to happen at higher speeds? Just a guess.
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Old 06-14-13, 08:59 PM   #42
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Nope.
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811743.pdf

On page two, data is given for the location of cyclists deaths. In 2011, 59% of pedalcyclists deaths occured at a non-intersection location, 31% of deaths occured at an intersection, and the other 10% occured at other locations.

Although I'm not quite sure how this is possible, as most near-crashes for me have occured inside or at least 20 feet outside of intersections, but numbers don't lie.

Another interesting statistic, pedalcyclists accounted for just 1.9% of all traffic related fatalities, and pedestrians accounted for 13% of traffic related fatalites. Simple math shows that the other 85.1% is made up of motorists. Alors, a mon avi, cyclisme est plus sauf de conduite. (So, in my opinion, cycling is more safe than driving)
Why "nope?" 31% is a large portion of the accidents, but not enough to balance the 6.2 times greater danger if you eliminated them. Just as I said.

FWIW, the numbers I've seen elsewhere were closer to 40-50% involving intersections, particularly at non-rural locations. Rural locations involve other factors, and logically efforts to reduce danger at intersections would apply only to those who deal with numerous intersections (for example non-rural commuters).

Regarding the reasoning in the final paragraph, it doesn't follow from looking at only the total numbers of fatalities. You have to normalize to some factor, miles driven or hours on the road or some other quantity. The most generous calculation I've found anywhere was that cycling was about 2 times more dangerous than driving for most cyclists. That's not particularly bad odds though in my opinion.
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Old 06-14-13, 09:43 PM   #43
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OK, you can give an anecdote, I can give an anecdote. I have a friend who lives just a few miles from work. Sometimes he jogs to work, but it's a hassle to deal with showering and clothes. I suggest to him biking, because a bike can have a rack or you can wear a backpack, and immediately his wife who is right there explodes "There's no way I could ever let him ride his bike to work, not on that road, the cars drive so fast, I would be in constant fear every day and eventually lose my husband yadda yadda yadda..."

This guy not biking, not because he's lazy (if he were lazy he'd bike instead of run!), he's not riding because of fear (and not even his!)

I already ceded above that laziness is certainly the #1 real underlying reason people don't bike. But fear is a real factor as well.
Technically he's not riding because of his wife's fear, so I really can't count that. My children and I don't get to do a lot of things due to my wife's (irrational) fears too.

Nevertheless, while our evidence is only anecdotal, I'd guess the vast majority of those driven by fear are really driven by laziness (or both), or they'd be jogging to work and we wouldn't be a nation where being overweight is the norm.
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Old 06-15-13, 01:23 AM   #44
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Hurtling yourself along at tens of miles an hour, with your head just inches away from glass and sheet metal just can't be safe.
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Old 06-17-13, 12:25 PM   #45
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This guy not biking, not because he's lazy (if he were lazy he'd bike instead of run!), he's not riding because of fear (and not even his!)
That's extra-ironic because pedestrians have a higher death risk per mile than bicyclists.
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Old 06-17-13, 01:11 PM   #46
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To me, the per-mile statistic makes much more sense than the per hour one. It seems like a tricky way to play with numbers to further trivialize the risks of cycling. And that's not to say that I feel that cycling is terribly risky. But, particularly for those of use who commute on bikes, we don't say, "I'm going to bike for an hour, then I'm going to start working regardless of whether or not I'm actually at my job." Nor do you do that in a car. You bike/drive to get where you're going. It's 8 miles to work whether I bike, drive, or pogo stick. The most dangerous for me would clearly be the pogo stick, even though there's a dearth of pogo-stick-related death statistics.

It may be true, and likely is true, that people who use bikes for transport tend to travel shorter distances then people with cars. But to say that it all works out, and that somehow cyclists and drivers end up spending the exact same amount of time transporting themselves sounds like a "fact" that's wished into being just to make the numbers work out. To make a real world estimate, we'd need to see numbers showing the amount of time spent in a car vs. on a bike.

Ultimately, like ItsJustMe pointed out, these numbers don't occur in a vacuum. Even though fatal accidents may be higher, per mile traveled, on a bike, life expectancy goes up. If traffic fatalities were the number one killer, that probably wouldn't be the case. But because there are several health-related causes of death to contend with, it seems that the increased accident risk is more than balanced out by the health benefits. That's a number that isn't shown by per mile nor per hour risk statistics.
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Old 06-17-13, 01:23 PM   #47
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I apparently havent' watched enough Dirty Jobs. Does that mean Safety First, Second and Third?
A less catchy but more apt take would be Safety Always - we do things (e.g. commute) for a purpose, if safety was first priority, over everything else, we'd never leave our homes. Just don't do stupid crap, be mindful of safety as we are doing what we need to get done.
The host was relating to the fact that in one particular instance, the safety officer for a particular job was so concerned about safety, it meant that he couldn't get his job done.

In this context, we commute somewhere to do things. If safety is paramount over everything else, we should not be commuting in Bikes or Cars at all. Both have their risk.
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Old 06-17-13, 01:40 PM   #48
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I feel safer in my car
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Old 06-17-13, 01:50 PM   #49
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The host was relating to the fact that in one particular instance, the safety officer for a particular job was so concerned about safety, it meant that he couldn't get his job done.
So to combat safety paralysis, what are 1st and 2nd? Get the job done and... get it done well? quickly? cheaply? dirtily?
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Old 06-17-13, 02:02 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by gyozadude View Post
But to address the masses who don't bike, you need to get at the core reason why people don't bike and instead insist on driving the car. And that's because people are lazy. It's far easier to hop in the car, turn on the A/C and step on the accelerator than to turn the cranks. We're the weird folks who enjoy this sort of thing with the wind through our helmets, quads burning, lungs processing double the oxygen, and having to deal with motorists, occasional weather anomalies, bugs in the mouth/eyes/nostrils, and flats on the road.
I must be lazy because when I ride my bicycle, my quads do not burn, I never get out of breath, nor do I ride so fast that I get bugs in my mouth/eyes/nostrils. Helmets? The less said the better. I ride at a pace that doesn't bring about those masochistic pleasures. I would not enjoy cycling otherwise.

A lot less people would ride bicycles anywhere if they had to be amongst the "weird folks" and make a g-d hammerfest out of every ride.
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