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Is riding a bike (on roads) a statistically quite dangerous activity/sport?

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Is riding a bike (on roads) a statistically quite dangerous activity/sport?

Old 05-18-20, 04:12 AM
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eaglesandcycling
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Is riding a bike (on roads) a statistically quite dangerous activity/sport?

iíve recently gotten into riding a lot. Around 5 days a week on my gravel bike so iím both on roads (i try to get on calmer roads) and in the woods. One thing that does worry me is getting hit by a car. Obviously where you live and ride of course makes a difference but I just mean in general. Iím in a smaller European capital city and do my rides out of town.
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Old 05-18-20, 04:17 AM
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It depends on which roads. Some roads are fairly safe. Some roads have an increased chance of having an accident.
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Old 05-18-20, 04:25 AM
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I think there have been studies indicating that the health benefits of riding outweigh the risk of death by cycling. But, one also has to consider being maimed.

However, not everyone is exposed to the same risk. Ride safely and defensively, and use lights at dawn, dusk, and after dark. Wear bright clothing and reflective clothing or vests.
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Old 05-18-20, 04:35 AM
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Road cycling is dangerous depending on where you are. In Southern California , we have to be vigilant about our awareness and surroundings. Distractions are a major cause of all accidents(cel phone use!) and we are more vulnerable for more than one reason. I chose my route with this in mind and do not listen to music , I have a flashing light helmet(Lumos) and always stop at stop signs and red lights. I was taught proper cycling in the seventies at a local community college and that included vehicular cycling . The instructor taught us that once you put your fanny on the saddle and feet on the pedals , you are a vehicle , subject to the same laws and right of way as automobiles. I use the turning blocks for left and right turns and arm signals combined with the signals built into the Lumos helmet. Even with this, it is a dangerous activity no matter which way you look at it. Some cars and trucks don't have much regard for a cyclist's safety and therefore do not observe the "share the road" laws that are in effect in many states. Joe joesvintageroadbikes.wordpress
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Old 05-18-20, 05:03 AM
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It also depends what you mean by dangerous. In some other forms of cycling like mountain biking, BMX etc. you are far more likely to crash than riding on road. On the other hand, if you crash on road or get hit by a car, you are more likely sustain more severe injuries or even die.
If you ride on road, do your best to be seen - lights, reflectors, bright clothing, proper trajectories that place you more in the view at the intersections etc., but don't ever just assume you are seen and do your best to be aware of your surroundings.
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Old 05-18-20, 05:47 AM
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Seems like a good candidate for A&S.
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Old 05-18-20, 06:04 AM
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You Make Your Own Safety

ď99 percent of all statistics only tell 49 percent of the story.Ē
Ron DeLegge II, Gents with No Cents

The statistics, if done "right", are made up of large populations. That includes people who ride drunk at night wearing dark clothes with no reflectors (and at this point, it doesn't matter whether they are facing or riding with traffic...). For yourself and your family, the "statistics" tell you to put effort into learning safe practices.

What is important is how you behave. There are a lot of resources out there:

https://www.bicyclesafe.com/ This is a good quick overview of what to be alert for. You can jump start your situational awareness by looking for the collision types developing as you ride.

https://www.bikeleague.org/ridesmart Besides the internet content, here in the US the League facilitates training classes. I've taken it twice and I'll take it again in the future because I learn something new each time.

There's lots more out there. I've been commuting by bike for over 15 years on US suburban roads and I am still learning how to be a safer rider.

Maintain situational awareness and be conspicuous.

Then it will be much less likely that you'll be the individual in the "statistical population" that gets injured or killed.
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Old 05-18-20, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Seems like a good candidate for A&S.
i have no clue what A&S means..
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Old 05-18-20, 06:13 AM
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flangehead
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Originally Posted by carminepraha View Post
i have no clue what A&S means..
Poster is suggesting to the moderator that this thread be moved to ďAdvocacy and SafetyĒ.

Last edited by flangehead; 05-18-20 at 06:15 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 05-18-20, 06:19 AM
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I don't know why anyone wouldn't recognize riding a bike on roads is multiple times more dangerous than riding in a car. There are 6 million auto accidents annually. A car weighs 100 times a bike, occupants wear seat belts, have air bags, and are encased in steel. Yet 3 million people are injured in auto accidents annually. All a rider wear is a helmet. When a bike interacts with a car, the car wins 100% of the time.

Bicycle trips account for 1% of all road use, yet there are approx. 470,000 bike injuries annually according to the CDC. So, auto injuries 3 million on 99% of trips; bike injuries 470,000 on 1% of trips. That makes bike riders 15X more prone to injury than auto riders and that doesn't adjust to auto accidents with multiple injuries..

No thanks; I get all the enjoyment I need on trails.

I had an accident due to a car coming from the opposite direction, totally unavoidable. At the hospital, the doctor told me the previous person on the gurney was also riding a bike when someone opened a car door.

There are millions of drivers out there who aren't concerned about cyclists and I don't want to meet them.

Everyone, please ride on roads so I have the trails to myself.

Last edited by Tony P.; 05-18-20 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 05-18-20, 06:29 AM
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Well, in fairness, a bike weigh a fraction of what a car does, and it far more manoeuvrable, and takes up maybe 2 feet of space on the road. As long as a person remains fully aware of their surroundings, and reacts appropriately, it's fairly safe out there.

And when I'm on narrow mountain roads, flying downhill, I feel a lot safer on a bike than in my car, since on a bike I don't take up much of the road, and it's very easy to get out of the way of danger. In a car, if someone crowds you on a turn, there's gonna be a wreck, and cops, ambulances, lawyers, and insurance, etc. On a bike, you just quickly zip out of the way, give them the finger. and continue riding.
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Old 05-18-20, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by carminepraha View Post
iíve recently gotten into riding a lot. Around 5 days a week on my gravel bike so iím both on roads (i try to get on calmer roads) and in the woods. One thing that does worry me is getting hit by a car. Obviously where you live and ride of course makes a difference but I just mean in general. Iím in a smaller European capital city and do my rides out of town.
If you want to know if it's "statistically quite dangerous," I think you need to know a baseline level of risk, then try to get similar info for your locale and situation. In the USA, if you search assiduously on the Internet you can usually find government data that tries to give the number of cars, number of automobile crashes, and number of fatalities. It's also good to know the number of mile (or km of course) travelled a year. Usually the metric for automotive safety improvement is to look at annual fatalities per vehicle mile. The US national number of fatalities has remained in the 10s of thousands per year since the 1960s, but the number of vehicle miles travelled has increased by at least 100 since then. So the fraction of non-fatal miles per year has increased greatly, presumably as automotive technology has improved. So to get for yourself an understanding of this for your country and perhaps the size of your city would tend to set a baseline for you.

In the USA we only know anything about national safety because the Department of Transportation requests all 50 states to share police reports of collisions and injuries, and compiles a national report every year. Usually bicycle crashes are not fully represented and the reports often say something like "bicycle collided with car" rather then unobservant driver struck bicycle without speed reduction, but to be honest the picture of what actually happenned is not available to the police officer.

I know Germany, France, UK, and Netherlands are at least as good at collecting and reporting safety data, as the United States. So hunt online. You should be able to find our what's available in your country.

Many US cyclists become very nervous if there is a fatality in our town or city. I assume the thinking is mainly two things: 1) that could have been me, and 2) if only one was reported, there must have been many more that were not reported or correctly blamed. These are real feelings, but they might not be supported by a more scientific investigation, if such an investigation is possible.
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Old 05-18-20, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by carminepraha View Post
i have no clue what A&S means..
It's an additional sub-forum within BikeForums.net. Topic is as was stated. Moderators are able to take a thread and move it to another forum if they judge it to be more appropriate in that group.
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Old 05-18-20, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Well, in fairness, a bike weigh a fraction of what a car does, and it far more manoeuvrable, and takes up maybe 2 feet of space on the road. As long as a person remains fully aware of their surroundings, and reacts appropriately, it's fairly safe out there.

And when I'm on narrow mountain roads, flying downhill, I feel a lot safer on a bike than in my car, since on a bike I don't take up much of the road, and it's very easy to get out of the way of danger. In a car, if someone crowds you on a turn, there's gonna be a wreck, and cops, ambulances, lawyers, and insurance, etc. On a bike, you just quickly zip out of the way, give them the finger. and continue riding.
Interesting perspective. But I believe most people involved in an altercation between a car and a bike would prefer to be in the car. To each his own.
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Old 05-18-20, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
If the OP really wanted the answer, and not anecdotal palaver from a bunch of us who are not researchers by trade, then he could do the following:

- develop a meaningful metric (hospital visits per mile ridden, deaths per mile traveled, injuries per hour of activity...whatever)
- identify reasonable or accepted standards against that metric for similar activities
- mine for relevant data, using private and governmental sources, maybe prior reports
- analyze/solve for the metric
- compare your results to the standard
- present finding

So, to the OP, do your own work and report back. That would be both instructional to you as well as informative for the rest of us. Don't ask here.
lol..wow, you sound like a lovely, lovely individual. jeez, i was simply asking a very general question. try and work on your anger a bit
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Old 05-18-20, 07:50 AM
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Thread moved form General Cycling forum to Advocacy and Safety forum.
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Old 05-18-20, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
If the OP really wanted the answer . . .
Dang Phil, what got into your wheaties this morning?
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Old 05-18-20, 08:22 AM
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It depends on where and how you ride. I only go into bike lane in side streets here, if the road even has one, and don't go into the street and even then it is mostly on the way to the bike trail. It's pretty unlikely anyone would get me unless they were being quite reckless. If you lived in a more country area or ironically somewhere traffic is so heavy it is slowed down then you might do better but it's definitely not safe to 'take the lane' here.
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Old 05-18-20, 08:31 AM
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I have my riding down to where the only way someone is gonna hit me, is if they are deliberately trying to. I ride defensively enough, that I think I have taken "being hit by accident", pretty much out of the equation. Your local conditions may vary.
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Old 05-18-20, 08:44 AM
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One thing I know for sure, is that most people greatly over estimate the risks of riding on the roads. Especially people who don't cycle. Some people at my work, when first learning I'm riding my bike home, are convinced even a single ride is some sort of death defying risk. Yet after 2700 commutes, here I am, incident free! My favorite was the guy who told me I was crazy and going to get myself killed... as he then took a big drag off his cigarette!
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Old 05-18-20, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Oneder View Post
If you lived in a more country area or ironically somewhere traffic is so heavy it is slowed down then you might do better but it's definitely not safe to 'take the lane' here.
I'm curious, what do you base this assertion on?
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Old 05-18-20, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
I'm curious, what do you base this assertion on?
We have a hit and run accident every week here and thirty deaths a year even though it is not that big HARDLY ANYONE rides bicycles, it is probably literally the most dangerous place in the country to ride a bicycle. I have also been hit twice in the past and that is a big wakeup call.
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Old 05-18-20, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
One thing I know for sure, is that most people greatly over estimate the risks of riding on the roads. Especially people who don't cycle. Some people at my work, when first learning I'm riding my bike home, are convinced even a single ride is some sort of death defying risk. Yet after 2700 commutes, here I am, incident free! My favorite was the guy who told me I was crazy and going to get myself killed... as he then took a big drag off his cigarette!
People that live in my building are convinced the tap water is gonna kill them (it actually does have a slight oily film) so they buy bottled water. But 90% of them also smoke cigarettes, and not just regular cigarettes, but the really cheap ones that smell like moldy cardboard burning.

The way I see it, if you smoke cigarettes, you pretty much forfeit your right to complain about air quality or most forms of pollution, especially since you're a major contributor. But I digress, as usual ...
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Old 05-18-20, 09:01 AM
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Anecdotal evidence won't suffice here. A good study can be found at this website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920084/

The study shows that although the risk of death by accident among cyclists may be 5x higher than motorists, the average life expectancy of a cyclist increases by months to years.

The "Conclusion" section of that study states the following: "On average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks of cycling relative to car driving."

The study took into consideration exposure to air pollution (lower for cyclists), risk of accidental death (higher for cyclists), and health in terms of mortality rates (far lower for cyclists). Also worth mentioning, the death by accident rate was measured in terms of deaths per billion kilometers traveled. Also, although death by accident was 5x higher for cyclists, keep in mind that five times a very small number is still a very small number. It was estimated in the study that accidental death reduced estimated life span of cyclists by 5 to 9 days, whereas the health impact increased average life expectancy of cyclists by three to fourteen months.

"The ratio of life years gained to lost was 8.4 for persons < 40 years of age, 8.6 for persons 40Ė64 years of age, and 10.8 for persons ≥ 65 years of age." So expect that the health benefit compared to risks is an 8:1 or 10:1 ratio depending on your age. Also consider that these numbers are about mortality rates. A person who leads a healthy lifestyle can, on average, expect to also have a better quality of life.

I've ridden in Portland for years, Los Angeles for years, and Salt Lake City for years. My anecdotal evidence is that there will be a few scares along the way, and a few jerks on the road, but that I'm healthier and happier when I'm getting in my daily rides. To me it's worth the risk. However, there are roads that I would never want to travel. For example, in Los Angeles, there's no great way to get from the San Fernando Valley to Hollywood via direct routes. You have to go around; take the Sepulveda Pass, not the Hollywood pass.

Last edited by daoswald; 05-18-20 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 05-18-20, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by daoswald View Post
Anecdotal evidence won't suffice here. A good study can be found at this website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920084/

The study shows that although the risk of death by accident among cyclists may be 5x higher than motorists, the average life expectancy of a cyclist increases by months to years.
Survivor bias. People who are most unhealthy can't ride in the first place, and when you get unhealthy enough you will drop out of riding.
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