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Old 09-13-07, 08:30 AM   #1
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Heart Attacks vs. Bicycle Accidents

My brother (not a cyclist) was preaching to me this morning how dangerous cycling is in terms of the risk of riding in traffic. I concluded the exchange with the assertion that more people probably die from heart attacks as a result of being sedentary than die while cycling for cardio health.

I feel like that was a pretty clever observation. Anyone have stats to back me up on that?
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Old 09-13-07, 08:34 AM   #2
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Do you want lies, damn lies, or statistics?
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Old 09-13-07, 08:35 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Towlie View Post
My brother (not a cyclist) was preaching to me this morning how dangerous cycling is in terms of the risk of riding in traffic. I concluded the exchange with the assertion that more people probably die from heart attacks as a result of being sedentary than die while cycling for cardio health.

I feel like that was a pretty clever observation. Anyone have stats to back me up on that?
Might ask in A & S but prepare for a headache.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:43 AM   #4
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I'm trying to find a post, though I'm not sure it was even on BikeForums. It gave some figures for the ratio of deaths per person on a number of things. Statistically, cycling was safer than driving a car. The post even cited the study. But I don't recall what was considered "cycling" and if they included the dude who rides 5 miles on the MUP every Saturday.

If I can find it, I'll post it here.

EDIT:

Found it: Is Cycling Dangersou?

Haven't had a chance to read much of it, so no idea on it's bias.

About halfway down the page, you'll find a table that lists "Fatalities per Million Exposure Hours." If that data is to be trusted, then cycling is slightly less than twice as safe as driving. But I have no idea how they came to their results. So grain of salt and all that crap unless you want to follow it up.

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Old 09-13-07, 08:47 AM   #5
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It's basically a pointless argument anyway. Both cycling in traffic and leading a sedementary lifestyle have their risks. There is really no way to quantify which is greater. You are perfectly safe riding your bicycle in traffic as long as someone isn't about to run over you with a car. You are also OK leading a sedementary lifestyle if you are genetically blessed and don't have any risk factors.

So who is more at risk? It depends on the moment in time.
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Old 09-13-07, 09:05 AM   #6
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Sedentary cycling is the most dangerous of all...


Time to log out and eat some lunch.


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Old 09-13-07, 09:16 AM   #7
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By that argument, though, you probably should just hit a trainer or spin bike. All the exercise benefits without the traffic accident risk.
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Old 09-13-07, 09:37 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Towlie View Post
My brother (not a cyclist) was preaching to me this morning how dangerous cycling is in terms of the risk of riding in traffic. I concluded the exchange with the assertion that more people probably die from heart attacks as a result of being sedentary than die while cycling for cardio health.

I feel like that was a pretty clever observation. Anyone have stats to back me up on that?
How 'bout heart attack ON the bike? Specifically a widow maker.
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Old 09-13-07, 10:00 AM   #9
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Heart disease is a leading cause of death to americans...
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Old 09-13-07, 10:23 AM   #10
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Heart disease is a leading cause of death to americans...
Fear not. The rest of the world is catching up.
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Old 09-13-07, 10:28 AM   #11
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Old 09-13-07, 11:00 AM   #12
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Heart disease certainly is more risky. As was mentioned, heart disease is the number one killer of americans. Something you should also point is how family genes make you more likely to die from it. Have you ever heard of a family being plagued by cycling deaths? There are so many causes of heart disease that can kill, but only a handful of ways to die on a bicycle. You can be a smart cyclist and have a risk of dying less than .5% I'd say. There is always the chance of being a healthy individual but inherited genes make you likely to have heart failure. Bad valves, rhythm, cholesterol or what have you.
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Old 09-13-07, 11:01 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Towlie View Post
My brother (not a cyclist) was preaching to me this morning how dangerous cycling is in terms of the risk of riding in traffic. I concluded the exchange with the assertion that more people probably die from heart attacks as a result of being sedentary than die while cycling for cardio health.

I feel like that was a pretty clever observation. Anyone have stats to back me up on that?
It is a rather old observation and one that is very unlikely to convince anyone. You have fallen into a couple of traps. What is your goal in this discussion? Is it to make clever points? Is it to 'win' an argument? Perhaps it is, but I don't think so. What you most likely want is to convince your brother that cycling in traffic is a reasonable activity.

OK now let's go and look at the cycling vrs. Heart disease idea. I would counter that if I get killed cycling I die now, heart disease is most likely to be 20 or more years from now. And as others have already pointed out there are other activities that involve less (or at least less perceived) risk that will maintain fitness.

Addressing the risk in cycling I thnik the first thing is to admit it is there, but really pretty low. A good cyclist is aware of the risks and keeps his eyes and ears open to minimize them. This can include staying away from bad roads. The habits of a good cyclist carry over and make him a safer driver and pedestrian. This reduces the risk in those activities and that pay off is now. Also admit there are cyclists who ride whith their heads up their @sses and that these account for a huge percentage of cyclist deaths and accidents.


But to me the strongest argument is a bit different. Just about everythign involves some risk. If you avoid things you like because of some slight point then what is the point of living? Without fun then you are not alive, just undead. Now if riding in traffic is scarry to someone then unless it is needed it should be avoided, or at least kept to levels where the scariness does not kill the fun. What can be surprising is how one finds after a few years that traffic that was terror generating at first is later of minimal concern. And this is really very little different from other activities. Surf at the beach that was huge and scarry becomes enticing after practice. Hikes that would have been a death march become a fun days outing. The list could go on forever.
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Old 09-13-07, 11:10 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Towlie View Post
My brother (not a cyclist) was preaching to me this morning how dangerous cycling is in terms of the risk of riding in traffic. I concluded the exchange with the assertion that more people probably die from heart attacks as a result of being sedentary than die while cycling for cardio health.

I feel like that was a pretty clever observation. Anyone have stats to back me up on that?
The average human uses a heart 8,760 hours per year.

How much time does the average human spend riding a bicycle per year? Hell, how much time do YOU spend riding a bicycle per year?

It's kind of like people who point out deaths from crashes involving only automobiles vs. deaths from crashes involving an auto and bicycle. If you put things into a certain perspective, riding a bicycle can be made to look pretty dangerous.
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Old 09-13-07, 07:05 PM   #15
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No ****e. I was talking to my cousin the other day. He told me that his sister's boyfriend had to be taken to the hospital the other day because he was having chest pains, his arms were numb and his hands were shaking. They think he might have had a heart attack. The dude is 35 I think, not more than two years my senior. Diference is, this guys doesn't get any exercise at all, drinks a bit and generally leads a sedentary lifestyle.

Not to toot my own horn, but I don't know what is going on with my generation, in general. Me, I can't not ride. My job has me sitting on my arse twelve hours a day. If I don't ride, I'll turn into a blob. Its like there is a fat man chasing me. That fat man is the man I'd become if I stopped with the cycling.

Sorry for the convoluted post, but these are the things that are on my mind about this topic.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:00 PM   #16
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Also hearing from the kinds of accidents around here, it mainly seems that they're caused by situational awareness problems, not a car running them down (like, not seeing a car making a left hand turn seems to be #1).
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Old 09-13-07, 08:32 PM   #17
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Also hearing from the kinds of accidents around here, it mainly seems that they're caused by situational awareness problems, not a car running them down (like, not seeing a car making a left hand turn seems to be #1).
I personally know of two forum members here who have been struck from behind, a situation which they had NO control of. One was killed and the other one nearly was.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:38 PM   #18
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I personally know of two forum members here who have been struck from behind, a situation which they had NO control of. One was killed and the other one nearly was.
And I've had two stories so far of people being hit by cars turning left, and one being cut off by a truck with a trailer and clipping it, a few close calls from behind that end up in shouting matches... *shrugs*

Depends on where you ride though I guess, roads with narrow or bad shoulders I'd figure you'd be way more likely to be hit from behind.


Anyway from the article you have the two top risks being accidents that can be avoided with proper awareness of whats around you. You can't watch out for a heart attack coming up to you and get out of it's way. My point is nothing more but extra care (and maybe a dorky mirror as suggested by the article) can make you MUCH safer.

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