Here's an interesting post by my man, Mr. Money Mustache. If you've never read him before, he's an early-retirement blogger that focuses on lower consumption, particularly cycling instead of driving ("if I had to strip it down as far as possible, down to just one single action, and I wasn’t allowed to talk about anything else, the choice would still be simple: “Ride a Bike”. link)
But that link is not my point right now; Here's today's new post
Myself, I think his math is a little sketchy; I'd be curious what others think. But there are some good statistics; lemme quote:
After that point, is when I think the math starts to get sketchy. But near the end, there's this:First of all, in the entire United States (Population about 310 million), there were only 623 cyclist deaths in the year 2010. For perspective, there were about 26,000 deaths each due to each of “falls” and “alcohol”, and 35,000 caused by car crashes. So for every cyclist who dies on a bike, 56 die in cars. Out of the MMM readership alone (roughly 0.1% of the US population), 3 people die in car accidents every month.
But of course, we are a nation of Car Clowns, so as ridiculous as it seems, we cover a lot more miles in cars than on bikes. Still, we cyclists put in a good show given our small numbers, pumping out about Nine Billion Miles on our rippling leg muscles.
Dividing 623 into 9,000,000,000, we end up with a cycling fatality rate of about 6.9 per 100 million miles. According to the NHTSA, that same statistic is 1.11 for cars in 2010.
So on the surface, it looks like cycling in the US is about 6.2 times more dangerous than car-driving per mile (note that this is dropping as cycling grows in popularity – in the Netherlands, cycling risk is way down around 1 per 100 million). One of the goals of this blog is to help make the same thing happen here.
But we’re not done yet. First of all, let’s compare a cyclist at a comfortable commuting pace of 12MPH, with a car driver on the interstate at 75MPH. Now, the risk per hour is equal, because the car is covering 6.2 times more miles than the cyclist. So the accident risk per hour of the two activities is roughly equal.
So (at least) two questions I'm interested in; do you think that risk per hour, or per mile, is the more fair statistic? One thing driving (no pun intended) this issue is that Americans live far from work, so they drive a long time; if everybody lived within bike-commuting distance to work, then car- vs bike-commuting would be easier to compare.Remember the US cycling fatality ratio of 6.9 per 100 million miles? That’s with our current group of cyclists: a disproportionate number of children under 14 with no driver training, homeless people, DUI-convicts who have lost their license, competitive road racers and downhill mountain bikers, and the less than 1% of adults who actually ride bikes to work like they should be doing. 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.
Also, does anybody have any thoughts (or perhaps even facts?) about relative risk to safety-conscious bike-commuters, vs the general population of cyclists? How much do these lights, helmets, reflective vests, etc actually keep us safer than other cyclists?