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Safety and Winter Cycling

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Safety and Winter Cycling

Old 01-13-09, 03:52 PM
  #26  
AndrewP
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I commuted by bike year-around from 1972-1997. I havent winter biked since then because the cycle path on the bridge I take is closed from Dec thru Mar. I am generally a fair weather cyclist and there were probably as many raindays in the summer as winter snowdays. There are times when more caution is required and the route may be adjusted. When there is 4" of new snow it is easier to ride on the side walk than in the ruts made by the motor traffic. When there was freezing rain, it was a pleasure to hear the motorists in the parking lot scraping the ice off their windows, and I would be almost home before they could start their journey
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Old 01-14-09, 03:35 PM
  #27  
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I agree with many of the responses so far.

It seems to me that motor vehicles are far more dangerous in winter conditions than bicycles are, to the motorist driving, other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Consider how many motorists have been killed this winter by being rear ended by a bicycle (the same goes for the relative number of pedestrians or cyclists killed by bikes vs. motor vehicles). If anyone has an example, I would love to hear about it.

Comparing the relative manouverability of a bicycle with winter tires compared to that of a motor vehicle equipped with same, as well as the greater chance of tragic circumstances in single vehicle crashes (the most common kind, by far with both bikes and motor vehicles), it seems that if crashes and the consequences therof are what is 'dangerous', the author should suggest that anyone who wishes to get around in icy conditions should walk or cycle.

The big caveat, of course, is that in extremely cold conditions, or in the event of mechanical failure, the chance of being injured or killed by exposure is far higher for cyclists compared to motorists, particularly in rural areas.

To sum up, if reducing crashes is the concern it is motorists who should be encouraged to switch to cycling, walking or public transit in the event of inclement weather, rather than encouraging cyclists to engage in an inherently more dangerous (for themselves and others) form of winter weather transportation.

This is particularly true in built up urban areas where it is unlikely that a cyclist will be injured by frostbite or killed due to exposure.
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Old 01-14-09, 06:44 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by rajman View Post
To sum up, if reducing crashes is the concern it is motorists who should be encouraged to switch to cycling, walking or public transit in the event of inclement weather, rather than encouraging cyclists to engage in an inherently more dangerous (for themselves and others) form of winter weather transportation.
I don't think so - in basically any car-car or car-stationaryobject collision short of 40mph or so, the car driver is basically guaranteed to survive - However, if you on your studded tires are riding down an icy road and an out-of-control car comes up behind you at 45mph or so - typical traffic speeds around here - you're basically a goner. I highly doubt your "chance of tragic circumstances" is much lower than if you were in that car and crashed into a ditch/post/wall/etc.

The chance of that happening, of course, is slim...but it's enough to keep me from riding during the freezing rain/black ice storms where ice is unexpected, traffic is driving normal speeds, and salt trucks have yet to come out. If motorists are driving according to weather conditions (i.e. after a snowstorm, when everyone crawls along at 30mph), I ride.
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Old 01-14-09, 09:44 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
I don't think so - in basically any car-car or car-stationaryobject collision short of 40mph or so, the car driver is basically guaranteed to survive - However, if you on your studded tires are riding down an icy road and an out-of-control car comes up behind you at 45mph or so - typical traffic speeds around here - you're basically a goner. I highly doubt your "chance of tragic circumstances" is much lower than if you were in that car and crashed into a ditch/post/wall/etc.
Exactly right, but what I'm trying to say is that it is motorists injuring cyclists, not vice versa. Ergo, as a third party observer it would make more sense to advocate for reducing driving rather than cycling, seeing as motor vehicles are involved in crashes causing injury to cyclists in inclement weather (at least in the account that you gave), not cyclists causing injury to themselves or motorists.
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Old 01-14-09, 10:14 PM
  #30  
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I've ridden carfree and year-round in Michigan for 6 or 7 years now. As somebody else said, winter cycling is very comparable to winter car-driving. You need to develop your skills and maintain your vehicle properly for both, and evaluate risk on a daily basis.

(OT--I did one of my rare driving trips in the snow tonight. I kept thinking, "This would be more fun If I was on my bike." Especially when I had to drive about 8 miles to get to the other side of a lake. If I had been on my bike, I would have just ridden right across the lake on the ice, and saved a lot of time.)
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Old 01-15-09, 01:51 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by rajman View Post
Exactly right, but what I'm trying to say is that it is motorists injuring cyclists, not vice versa. Ergo, as a third party observer it would make more sense to advocate for reducing driving rather than cycling, seeing as motor vehicles are involved in crashes causing injury to cyclists in inclement weather (at least in the account that you gave), not cyclists causing injury to themselves or motorists.
I would agree, but there's just too many car drivers, too few bicyclists, and too few people willing to walk or bike in the middle of a snowstorm.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:24 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
I would agree, but there's just too many car drivers, too few bicyclists, and too few people willing to walk or bike in the middle of a snowstorm.
It doesn't matter how many winter cyclists there are: if it's too miserable to ride, it's too miserable to drive. Since motorists are calling for bicycles to be banned during the winter and, in particular, during winter storms, why not turn the tables and demand cars be banned. After all, if a cyclist does fall, he hasn't killed or even hurt anyone than possibly himself, but if he is run over or struck, the driver was following too closely for weather consitions, failing to give enough room or traveling too fast---or all three---so why should the victim be blamed? Blame and punish those who create the danger. Looking at motor vehicle collision stats during the winter suggests driving in winter is hazardous at the best of times, so increase bus and train service---at least in urban centres where there are cyclists and pedestrians---and ban non-essential cars.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:35 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by EnigManiac View Post
It doesn't matter how many winter cyclists there are: if it's too miserable to ride, it's too miserable to drive. Since motorists are calling for bicycles to be banned during the winter and, in particular, during winter storms, why not turn the tables and demand cars be banned. After all, if a cyclist does fall, he hasn't killed or even hurt anyone than possibly himself, but if he is run over or struck, the driver was following too closely for weather consitions, failing to give enough room or traveling too fast---or all three---so why should the victim be blamed? Blame and punish those who create the danger. Looking at motor vehicle collision stats during the winter suggests driving in winter is hazardous at the best of times, so increase bus and train service---at least in urban centres where there are cyclists and pedestrians---and ban non-essential cars.
I'm all for blaming cars in the event of an accident, but trying to ban cars during winter storms is simply unrealistic - how many non-cyclist/non-pedestrian people you know would willingly give up a warm, comfortable and enclosed car and walk/bike through several inches of snow in the wind and cold? You have to keep in mind that there are more people in this world than just winter cyclists (who likely enjoy riding in the winter).
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