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Why the belief that MUPs and Bike Paths are Unsafe

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Why the belief that MUPs and Bike Paths are Unsafe

Old 11-03-16, 09:48 PM
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Inpd
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Why the belief that MUPs and Bike Paths are Unsafe

I've heard it on this forum a few times that MUPs/Bike-paths are unsafe or at least less safe than the road.

I don't understand this argument? I've traveled 1000s of miles on a bike path and always felt at ease. On the road however, I've had a few near misses and don't feel quite a ease.
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Old 11-03-16, 09:59 PM
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I will not use a MUP when it is busy. People stopping and turning without looking. People walking in a group and taking up the whole width. Dogs on leashes but not healing, thus taking up the whole path. Then there is the fact that if it is busy you can't ride fast. So for those reasons I prefer the road. Now this time of the year or early spring they are fine. IMO.
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Old 11-04-16, 12:05 AM
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Feelings do not mean real safety.

I have a few hundred thousand miles of cycling that includes road and bike paths.

Only serious injury occurred on the bike path due to runners.
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Old 11-04-16, 04:18 AM
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This "belief" is well founded in fact. Multiple studies have shown that mile-per-mile, MUP riding is more dangerous. Much of the danger is from the increased number of bike-car intersections.

Your greater sense of safety on a path is probably more a result of a lack of education on how to properly ride on a road than anything else. I would suggest a Cycling Savvy or Bike Safety 1 class for you; this will help you overcome your fear of riding in a venue more suited to it.
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Old 11-04-16, 04:50 AM
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I've complained about MUPs in the past here and the safety issue, based on my riding on them in the Washington D.C. area, but I never said they were less safe than the road. It's really difficult to compare the two. For kids, I do believe the MUPs are safer, but for people like me (kind of a lancewannabe) I feel safer on the roads. I've been riding on the roads for over 30 years, so I'm like a wild animal that can't be caged. MUPs being the metaphor for a cage.

The problem with MUPs is that you get a lot of lancewannabes riding on paths that have too much varied traffic doing other activities. MUPs in the DC area are not that wide and they don't afford great visibility, a lot of twists and turns, yet these lancewannabes go zipping thru...it's crazy.

The little time I have spent on MUPs, I've witnessed a couple accidents, all from people going way too fast. I personally don't ride fast on MUPs, but I do on the roads.
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Old 11-04-16, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
Feelings do not mean real safety.

I have a few hundred thousand miles of cycling that includes road and bike paths.

Only serious injury occurred on the bike path due to runners.
Oh please. One anecdote. Care to elaborate?

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Old 11-04-16, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by skye View Post
This "belief" is well founded in fact. Multiple studies have shown....
Cite them. It shouldn't take long. There are only a few.

ps. Many MUPS have fewer bike-care intersections than alternative road routes.

pps. Isn't there a whole subforum where cyclists fare better...?

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Last edited by mr_bill; 11-04-16 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 11-04-16, 05:56 AM
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I suspect that the stigma against MUPs here on the forum is based on the fact that the active members tend to be active riders. MUPs are unsuited for faster riders because the are too many surprises in the form of pedestrians, children, dogs, etc.

It also depends on how you define safety. while one may be more likely to crash on an MUP and suffer minor injuries, traffic collisions on the roads are more likely to cause more serious injuries or death.

My take is that, if your skill and comfort level has you preferring MUPs, you shouldn't let anyone talk you out of it. OTOH faster riders who are comfortable in traffic will probably prefer the road.

I have 50+years experience riding roads and also spend some time on local MUPs, and feel that the MUP is marginally safer, but slower and often more frustrating.
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Old 11-04-16, 06:05 AM
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MUP's are safe if you expect others users to always do the unexpected...
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Old 11-04-16, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I suspect that the stigma against MUPs here on the forum is based on the fact that the active members tend to be active riders. MUPs are unsuited for faster riders because the are too many surprises in the form of pedestrians, children, dogs, etc.

It also depends on how you define safety. while one may be more likely to crash on an MUP and suffer minor injuries, traffic collisions on the roads are more likely to cause more serious injuries or death.

My take is that, if your skill and comfort level has you preferring MUPs, you shouldn't let anyone talk you out of it. OTOH faster riders who are comfortable in traffic will probably prefer the road.

I have 50+years experience riding roads and also spend some time on local MUPs, and feel that the MUP is marginally safer, but slower and often more frustrating.
Kids/dogs etc are only part of it.

Every time I've been hit by a car? On an MUP that crosses a driveway be it residential/commercial. Here lots of miles of divided MUP double as "sidewalks" following along roads. Drivers gun their engines to get into traffic and don't watch where they are going or if anyone is there. WHAMMO. Pedestrians don't bite it, because pedestrians are a very rare thing and stick to the wooded bits.


Auto drivers pay more attention when they are ON roads...as opposed to when they are getting ONTO roads.

Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
MUP's are safe if you expect others users to always do the unexpected...

More like...do the most stupid thing imaginable...plan for it you'll be safer, and very seldom surprised.

Always expect dog owners to barely control their dog. Expect 50' long black elastic leashes (that are invisible) on every dog. Expect parents to walk at the edge and leave their kids hovering on the dotted line. Expect no one to understand what "on your left" or "passing left" means. Expect everyone to be a smartphone zombie. Expect people to screwup directional right-of-way.

Last edited by Marcus_Ti; 11-04-16 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 11-04-16, 06:52 AM
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It depends on the bike path. There are perfectly good bike paths. But there are bike paths that are never maintained and are full of debris and broken glass. And there are bike paths that are designed so badly that you suspect that the engineer was actually trying to murder cyclists.
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Old 11-04-16, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
MUP's are safe if you expect others users to always do the unexpected...
Oh, like drivers on the road...
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Old 11-04-16, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
It depends on the bike path. There are perfectly good bike paths. But there are bike paths that are never maintained and are full of debris and broken glass. And there are bike paths that are designed so badly that you suspect that the engineer was actually trying to murder cyclists.
Exactly...

Also the "danger" that is often mentioned is falling and skinning knees/hands... And of course intersections, where one leaves the actual MUP and has to ride across the street... perhaps at an unsigned intersection, or poorly designed intersection midstreet.

But one has to ask, where are cyclists killed... streets or MUPs?
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Old 11-04-16, 07:03 AM
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I don't think they are particularly unsafe, but you can't ride a crowded MUP like you do on an open road. Having said that the most violent accident I had was about this time last year when a lady cyclist on the wrong side of the MUP coming around a blind corner broadsided me. Messed up my left leg for a month. I was more damaged than the time I got hit by a car.
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Old 11-04-16, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
It depends on the bike path. There are perfectly good bike paths. But there are bike paths that are never maintained and are full of debris and broken glass. And there are bike paths that are designed so badly that you suspect that the engineer was actually trying to murder cyclists.
This. Just like roads, paths come in all different varieties, one must use sense as to which make sense and which do not. The ones I generally ride are old rail trails, which cross another road or driveway at most once a mile, and are rather rural and only heavily used on the quarter mile or so each side of a parking area. They are far safer than riding on any of the roads they run near, and fast group rides are safe and a common sight. Lots of fun when you hit one at a road crossing, though, and you have twenty bikes coming at you and you trying to go the other way, all navigating the stupid center island.

That said, there is a bike route connector that runs between two of them that is so horrible, I ride the five lane road it directly parallels instead. Disheveled concrete slabs, all sorts of debris, generally a few cars parked in driveways across it, far easier to take the road.
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Old 11-04-16, 07:34 AM
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FWIW I can get on the streets and just go. Keep an eye out for dangerous drivers and that's it. On the MUP, even without street intersections and when it's not crowded, I have to be constantly on guard against whatever might be happening around the next corner. It's far less predictable with more immediate and more frequent dangers.

The streets pose greater risk of severe injury, but the MUPS (my Greenway anyway) is more risky in general.
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Old 11-04-16, 07:48 AM
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MUPs are very safe except when bicycles are riding them in large groups. They tend to mindlessly pass as a group, and if your MUP has twisty bits, bluff switchbacks and bridges, it can be exceptionally dangerous.
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Old 11-04-16, 07:59 AM
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I guess I'm spoiled-- the river trails and rail trails around here were clearly designed with bicycles in mind, and feature, long, uninterrupted stretches where joggers, strollers, and dog-walkers are simply not present. On a Sunday morning, the only risk is the cycling equivalent of "Sunday drivers," who upon hearing "on your left," invariably swerve to the left.

But in many, many miles on trails, I've never been close-passed by an SUV, or right hooked by some guy who is incapable of waiting 5 seconds to make his turn into the Starbucks drive-thru. Say what you will, find whatever study you want, a MUP simply cannot be as dangerous as a roadway, because there are no cars on it. If you run into a jogger or hit an invisible leash on the trail, I'm sorry, but that's your fault. It's called traveling too fast for conditions. IMO, 99.5% of hazards encountered on the trail are manageable and avoidable (I give that half a percent to getting speared by a Tri-hard or having some sort of wild critter collide with you.) On the open road, without regard to how careful and observant you might be, there's always the chance-- no matter how remote-- that someone is simply going to run you over.
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Old 11-04-16, 07:59 AM
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The MUP's in my area are heavily used, and cross multiple municipal streets. Seem to be safe to me.

Having written that, two cyclists, also members of my local club, experienced falls on MUP's this year, resulting in significant injury to both.
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Old 11-04-16, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by jeichelberg87 View Post
The MUP's in my area are heavily used, and cross multiple municipal streets. Seem to be safe to me.

Having written that, two cyclists, also members of my local club, experienced falls on MUP's this year, resulting in significant injury to both.
Such as what, road rash, or actual broken bones.
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Old 11-04-16, 08:47 AM
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Riding on the roads vs. MUPs involve different sorts of risks. On the road, your primary risks are inattentive, reckless and drunken drivers. You can minimize those risks by selecting safer routes, wearing bright clothes and using a good light system. However, the consequences can be serious if someone runs into you.

On the MUPs, your primary risks are inattentive and careless walkers, runners, children, skaters and other cyclists. You can minimize those risks by using a bell, slowing down when passing or approaching other trail users, and riding at a speed that is safe for the trail conditions and traffic. You could very well be at a great risk of being involved in a crash while riding on a MUP, however, you are probably much less likely to receive serious injuries than if hit by a car (assuming that you wear a helmet).
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Old 11-04-16, 09:17 AM
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For every safety-thing, there will be people arguing that it's unsafe.
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Old 11-04-16, 09:18 AM
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He's really got you guys going.



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Old 11-04-16, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Such as what, road rash, or actual broken bones.
Broken bones requiring surgical attention. Significant (4 -10 months) downtime, including rehab.

ETA: First incident? Man made change to the trail as a speed bump was added. Rider, having ridden the trail numerous times, was unaware of the change and unfortunately encountered the bump in midst of taking a sip from the water bottle.

2nd incident? Downed log in trail, immediately after curve. 15 mph - 0 mph almost instantly.

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Old 11-04-16, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Exactly...

Also the "danger" that is often mentioned is falling and skinning knees/hands... And of course intersections, where one leaves the actual MUP and has to ride across the street... perhaps at an unsigned intersection, or poorly designed intersection midstreet.

But one has to ask, where are cyclists killed... streets or MUPs?
Cyclists die all over. Be specific. What do you mean by killed?
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