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Old 05-16-12, 10:17 PM   #1
lungimsam
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How high the risk for getting hit by a car?

Hello everyone,

Been seeing articles about people getting hit by cars. I love commuting by bike, and came to these forums due to my love of cycling, but all this bad news is making me feel like my turn is gonna be any day now.

So tell me, what have I gotten myself into:

1. How high is the risk of getting hit by a car?
2. Is it safe to say that USA roads have not been developed with cycling in mind, and that maybe bikes really have no business on them if the roads are that inapproriate and dangerous for cycling? Are we deluding ourselves?
3. I am under the impression that Asian and European roads were built with cyclists in mind because there are so many. Here in the states cyclists seem to be rare, comparatively.
4. How many members are on these forums?
5. How many cyclists in the USA? Any stats of cyclist/hits ratios out there?

Moderator note: I put this in General because I wanted all eyes for max input. If it need to go to A&S, please do so with my apologies.

Last edited by lungimsam; 05-16-12 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 05-16-12, 10:38 PM   #2
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You'd be better off in A&S, where the are many posters who have these stats at their fingertips.

I'm in the UK, so those are the stats I am familiar with. The most recent Department of Transport figures show that there is one cycling fatality for every twenty nine million miles cycled. Cycling is extremely safe. Moreover, the chances of a cyclist being killed or seriously injured are very similar, per mile travelled, to the figures for pedestrians. One is just as likely (or, more accurately, unlikely) to be hit by a car when walking.

Now, the UK is not the USA. However, it isn't Copenhagen, either. Our newspapers are often full of articles about how dangerous cycling is, how our infrastructure is cyclist-unfriendly and so on. And while it's true that much could be improved, the figures above show that the risks are greatly overstated.

And the roads in Europe weren't built with cyclists in mind. In certain countries, notably the Netherlands, a lot of money has been spent in the past forty years to improve provision for cyclists, but for the most part the roads are just the roads. If there is a difference between Europe and the US it is that ancient settlement patterns have given rise to lots more small rural roads. There's almost always several ways to get from point A to point B over here, which has advantages if you want to take the road less travelled. But I have ridden pretty extensively in the States, and with intelligent route selection I didn't feel any less safe there than I do at home. Stay sober and visible, ride with due care and attention and stop worrying.

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Old 05-16-12, 11:44 PM   #3
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If you ride the wrong direction on the sidewalk then you will get hit.

If you use the road and follow John Allen's advice, the chances are fairly low of getting hit. The internet amplifies each event of a collision well out of reality.
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Old 05-17-12, 01:50 AM   #4
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You can reduce your own personal risk considerably by "vehicular cycling", understanding the top 10 types of bike-car crash and by selecting the safest route.
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Old 05-17-12, 02:06 AM   #5
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1. How high is the risk of getting hit by a car? -- I cycled "seriously" for 22 years before being hit by a car for the first time

2. Is it safe to say that USA roads have not been developed with cycling in mind, and that maybe bikes really have no business on them if the roads are that inapproriate and dangerous for cycling? Are we deluding ourselves? -- Wouldn't know. I've done a little bit of cycling in the US, and the roads seemed OK. But most of my cycling has been in Canada, Australia, and Europe.

3. I am under the impression that Asian and European roads were built with cyclists in mind because there are so many. Here in the states cyclists seem to be rare, comparatively. -- Again, wouldn't know the comparisons. But from my experiences in the US and Europe, one small, quiet country lane is much like another.

4. How many members are on these forums? -- Look in the stats at the bottom of the main page.

5. How many cyclists in the USA? Any stats of cyclist/hits ratios out there? -- Don't know, don't care. I'm not from the US and don't spend a lot of time there.
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Old 05-17-12, 05:01 AM   #6
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I have been riding for over 40 years and have only been hit once, that included 7 years of not owning a car and riding a bicycle everywhere I went. Bicycle/Car accidents always make the evening news. The statistics are flawed in that they seldom report everything that needs to be reported. However I think you are safer on a bicycle than in a car.

I pick and choose the roads I ride on as well as the time of day. Vehicular cycling is a start but by no means the only means, it is the best we have to work with at the moment.

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Old 05-17-12, 08:07 AM   #7
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You are going to diiiieeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-17-12, 08:20 AM   #8
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I would not ride a bike on the road. Roads are made for cars, not bicyclists, and you're rolling the dice. Notice that most who've replied so far have been hit by a car.

Fortunately, I ride on a Rails-to-Trails bike path that prohibits motor vehicles, and only occassionally crosses a road. But most people don't have that choice.
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Old 05-17-12, 08:28 AM   #9
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I've been riding on the roads, in traffic, for over 40 years, and no motor vehicle has laid a bumper on me yet (though I laid my head into the back of a stopped motor home once because I wasn't paying attention ).

If you pay attention (situational awareness), follow the rules of the road, ride predictably & courteously, maximize your visibility and plan for Murphy (always expect the other guy to do the stupidest thing possible and plan accordingly), you've got really good odds of getting similar results to mine and others.

I should add that part of planning for Murphy is to always assume nobody can see you, no matter what you do to be visible.
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Old 05-17-12, 08:31 AM   #10
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I would not ride a bike on the road. Roads are made for cars, not bicyclists, and you're rolling the dice. Notice that most who've replied so far have been hit by a car.

Fortunately, I ride on a Rails-to-Trails bike path that prohibits motor vehicles, and only occassionally crosses a road. But most people don't have that choice.
If you ride like a victim, you'll probably end up a victim...even on a MUP. I hate the smell of irrational fear in the morning.
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Old 05-17-12, 08:39 AM   #11
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I would not ride a bike on the road. Roads are made for cars, not bicyclists, and you're rolling the dice.
You're rolling the dice when you do anything. Statistically you are more likely to be injured by falling down stairs than by riding your bike. One death per twenty-nine million miles? How good do you want the odds to be before you'll do something?

Research published in the British Medical Journal estimates that they health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by a factor of 20:1. It is an extremely safe activity, as safe as walking around. It is not the activity itself that is the problem, it is your perception of it. Very common - people find it difficult to assimilate facts that are in conflict with their entrenched opinions and/or assumptions.
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Old 05-17-12, 08:48 AM   #12
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Notice that most who've replied so far have been hit by a car.
Yep ... once in 22 years of "serious" cycling and 39 years of cycling in general.

I've also been hit by a car once while walking. A person suddenly backed out of a parking spot in a crowded parking lot, and I happened to be there. So I shouldn't walk either?
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Old 05-17-12, 08:54 AM   #13
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Let's see...in nearly 50 years of riding a bike on the roads I have hit one motor vehicle, but have never been hit by one.

In nearly 40 years of driving have have been hit by another motor vehicle three times.

Dang, that driving sure is a roll of the dice, eh?
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Old 05-17-12, 09:08 AM   #14
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lungimsam, You can't go by the stories in these forums to judge risk. You get all the stories of hits and near misses here and it's not really representative. Roughly your odds of getting are about twice as bad as when you're driving. You cut those odds way down with just a couple of best practices and then the chances of getting hit are just about negligible.
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Old 05-17-12, 09:29 AM   #15
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I've only been hit by a car once, and it was dull and rainy out. On a sunny day in the exact same circumstances it probably wouldn't have have happened. I didn't get hurt but they did taco the front wheel of my bike.

In my car in the same time, I've been involved in three minor bumps and benders, and one major accident where an uninsured driver plowed into the back of my car at a red light, totalling it.

So at least in my experience, you're more likely to get hit by a car when you're driving a car, than when you're riding a bike.
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Old 05-17-12, 10:14 AM   #16
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I got hit by a car one time when I was lying in bed...

I was staying in a motor court type hotel and somebody ran a red light and came through the front of my motel room. I now only stay on the second floor of motels.

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Old 05-17-12, 10:15 AM   #17
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My random survey of the internet indicates that riding with clipless pedals raises a cyclist's likelihood of getting hit by a car to 100%, so there's that....
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Old 05-17-12, 10:18 AM   #18
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My random survey of the internet indicates that riding with clipless pedals raises a cyclist's likelihood of getting hit by a car to 100%, so there's that....
****ing scientists......nailed it!

You're not a real cyclist if you haven't been nailed by a car yet. Someday though.
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Old 05-17-12, 12:01 PM   #19
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Do you ride at night in dark clothes going the wrong way? Use daytime blinking lights front and rear and be aware of your surroundings? I've been rear ended 4 times while driving in Boston MA, and yet I still drive. They call the drivers around here, Massholes. HUFU, YRMV. Most importantly, I'm never to the right of a moving car going through an intersection.
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Old 05-17-12, 12:05 PM   #20
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In my state there's a law requiring motorists to try to run down cyclists and pedestrians. You'll get a ticket if you don't.
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Old 05-17-12, 12:06 PM   #21
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I'm a golfer and feel confident my chances of getting hit by lightening on the course are far greater than my chances of getting hit by a car while biking.
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Old 05-17-12, 12:22 PM   #22
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I was staying in a motor court type hotel and somebody ran a red light and came through the front of my motel room. I now only stay on the second floor of motels.
Don't you have a higher probability of getting hit by an airplane that way?
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Old 05-17-12, 12:26 PM   #23
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Never been to USA, but live in Denmark.
Copenhagen is a bit different from the rest of Denmark.
A lot of the transport in Copenhagen is geared towards bicycles - with bikelanes and everything.

On the bigger roads where i live (Kolding), there are no bikelanes, and i have to bike on the road.
Allright, drivers are pretty well behaved and normally keep a good distance. Im not scared about being on a bike among cars.

Holland/Netherlands are different. Almost everywhere you go they have a seperate bikelane.
I often come to the area of Eindhoven and you can just see that everyone is biking.
Its not chaotic and it just works. No spandex or lycra, just plain clothes and a dutch style bike. :-P
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Old 05-17-12, 12:34 PM   #24
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The internet amplifies each event of a collision well out of reality.
Here's your answer. Every day, nearly 100 people die in car crashes in general. About 2 cyclists die per day. If we paid close attention to car fatalities like we do of bike fatalities, we would be overwhelmed. The way we avoid it is that when we hear about car fatalities, we tune them out as background noise (and the new bureaus do the same; you won't hear about the car fatalities in places like Peoria). But here on BF, we hear about virtually every cyclist fatality all across the country. Of course it will sound scary.

The thing I try to take away from hearing about accidents, is to try to figure out, regardless of who was at fault, what the cyclist might have done to avoid getting hit. After hearing about some road rage confrontations, it seems to me that the most prudent action a cyclist can take to avoid injury is to either ignore people who yell at cyclists, or shrug them off with a smile and a wave to diffuse the situation. So based on what I've read here I've modified by behavior.

With each accident I try to look at what the cyclist could have done to produce a better outcome, and try to incorporate that into my riding style. I try to ride predictably, use low-traffic-density streets when possible, adopt an assertive lane position when low-traffic streets aren't an option, etc.
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Old 05-17-12, 12:44 PM   #25
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You are going to diiiieeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, eventually. But probably not on a bike.
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