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What affects bicycle safety the most?

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What affects bicycle safety the most?

Old 02-28-10, 12:09 PM
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What affects bicycle safety the most?

How would you rank these factors for their impact on bicycle safety?

( )bicycle infrastructure
( )bicycle maintenance
( )bicycle speed
( )car drivers
( )helmet use
( )pedestrians
( )other cyclists
( )rider handling skills
( )rider situational awareness
( )riding style (choice of VC, or other)
( )traffic laws
( )visibility (of bicycle and rider)
( )weather
( )other (describe please)

Which factors have the most room to be optimized in North America? Where do you think we can gain the biggest increase in overall safety for the least amount of money, effort, or unwanted side effects?
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Old 02-28-10, 12:17 PM
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Well, IMO:

(1)rider situational awareness
(2)rider handling skills
(3)visibility (of bicycle and rider)
(4)riding style (choice of VC, or other)
(5)traffic laws
(6)car drivers
(7)bicycle infrastructure
(8)weather
(9)pedestrians
(10)bicycle maintenance
(11)bicycle speed
(12)other cyclists
(13)helmet use

In my area, more cycling education could be used both for drivers and cyclists. Most cyclists here are either riding against traffic or on the sidewalk, and most drivers aren't sure how to deal with cyclists. This, of course, doesn't ring true for everywhere...
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Old 02-28-10, 02:16 PM
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I agree with sudo bike's list order. Stupid is stupid, whether it's a cyclist or a driver, and someone's own stupidity is more likely to get themselves into trouble than someone else's.

Cyclists, especially around this forum, aren't willing to accept their own idiocy.
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Old 02-28-10, 02:24 PM
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Situational awareness is at the top. The rest is a jumblecluster.

I would rank ice pretty high on the ladder. Luck should be on there too. We try to keep it near the bottom but it finds its way up.

Originally Posted by Dan The Man View Post
... Where do you think we can gain the biggest increase in overall safety for the least amount of money, effort, or unwanted side effects?
Raise the legal driving age.
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Old 02-28-10, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
Raise the legal driving age.
I see stupid people at any age.
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Old 02-28-10, 03:18 PM
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My choices

(1)car drivers
(2)rider situational awareness
(3)visibility (of bicycle and rider)
(4)bicycle speed
(5)riding style (choice of VC, or other)
(6)rider handling skills
(7)bicycle infrastructure
(8)traffic laws
(9)bicycle maintenance
(10)weather
(11)helmet use
(12)pedestrians
(13)other cyclists

The result that I was hoping to see was that the topics which take up most of the discussion and debate about safety: VC and helmets, are not actually the most important topics in safety. The only reason they take up so much attention is that people have strong emotional attachment to their point of view. Helmet's cramp my style should be replaced with Visivests cramp my style.
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Old 02-28-10, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan The Man View Post
The result that I was hoping to see was that the topics which take up most of the discussion and debate about safety: VC and helmets, are not actually the most important topics in safety. The only reason they take up so much attention is that people have strong emotional attachment to their point of view. Helmet's cramp my style should be replaced with Visivests cramp my style.
I agree. To me, number one is as a rider you've gotta be aware of what's going on around you. That keeps you alive. As RobertHurst, I had a bit of a hard time ranking after that. I feel the first four are the most important, after that distinctions aren't so clear.
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Old 02-28-10, 03:34 PM
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Situational awareness by both the cyclist and motorist is the most critical safety factor by a significantly large degree.
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Old 02-28-10, 07:25 PM
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A lot of issues factor in. One not on the list is drivers' speed. If we could get them to keep their speed down ... say, to the legal limit ... it would enhance their awareness, and that makes a big difference.

And enforcement is cheaper than infrastructure.
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Old 02-28-10, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by sudo bike View Post
Well, IMO:

(1)rider situational awareness
(2)rider handling skills
(3)visibility (of bicycle and rider)
(4)riding style (choice of VC, or other)
(5)traffic laws
(6)car drivers
(7)bicycle infrastructure
(8)weather
(9)pedestrians
(10)bicycle maintenance
(11)bicycle speed
(12)other cyclists
(13)helmet use

In my area, more cycling education could be used both for drivers and cyclists. Most cyclists here are either riding against traffic or on the sidewalk, and most drivers aren't sure how to deal with cyclists. This, of course, doesn't ring true for everywhere...
+1
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Old 03-01-10, 08:16 AM
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1. Situational awareness – recognizing potential hazards early, so you can preempt them instead of reacting to them.
2. Visibility.
3. Predictability/following the rules of the road.
4. Inattentive/impaired motorists.
5. Speed differential.
6. Enforcement of traffic laws.
7. Discriminatory traffic laws that do not treat cyclists as drivers of vehicles.
 
Old 03-01-10, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sudo bike View Post
I agree. To me, number one is as a rider you've gotta be aware of what's going on around you. That keeps you alive. As RobertHurst, I had a bit of a hard time ranking after that. I feel the first four are the most important, after that distinctions aren't so clear.
Right. What illustrates that point is that different riders can have different experiences in the same city, in the same neighborhoods, and even on the same streets at the same time of day. One rider will say, "Man, they're all out to kill me!", but another won't even have much to say.

Originally Posted by SlimAgainSoon View Post
A lot of issues factor in. One not on the list is drivers' speed. If we could get them to keep their speed down ... say, to the legal limit ... it would enhance their awareness, and that makes a big difference.

And enforcement is cheaper than infrastructure.
Can't really use that, because the legal limit is anywhere from 15 to 55+ mph. A car passing at 45 instead of 55 is still fast, so that won't make any difference.
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Old 03-01-10, 08:43 AM
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I'm not sure raising the driving age will have quite the expected effect. It's true that you MIGHT get better thinking and less tendency to distraction, but then again, as someone has said, there are stupid people doing stupid things of all ages.

Also, a lot of safe driving is skills, and you get skills by driving a lot. It's even possible that a 20 year old that has been driving for 5 years is a more skilled driver than a 25 year old who started driving at 20 - it is probably easier to learn things at 15 than 20.
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Old 03-01-10, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I'm not sure raising the driving age will have quite the expected effect. It's true that you MIGHT get better thinking and less tendency to distraction, but then again, as someone has said, there are stupid people doing stupid things of all ages.

Also, a lot of safe driving is skills, and you get skills by driving a lot. It's even possible that a 20 year old that has been driving for 5 years is a more skilled driver than a 25 year old who started driving at 20 - it is probably easier to learn things at 15 than 20.
I can say that I learned a lot of driving skills by doing pizza delivery. Eight-hour shifts (or longer), from lunch through dinner, while trying to stay safe and drive clean can teach a lot. I got to see the driving population change during the day and how their behavior also changed, I got to learn little tricks to see around corners, and I learned to expect certain things on certain types of roadways and intersections (even they were unfamiliar).

Same with interstate highways, rural highways, night driving, being around semi trucks, winter and ice driving, race driving... the list goes on and on. The best teacher is seat time...

.... Usually. But seat time won't help if you've been taught poorly from an early age. If your parent was a road rager, habitually changed lanes unsafely, or did any number of other stupid things, it's going to take extra effort for you to un-learn all of it.

These days, I say that I wish I knew as much about driving when I was a teenager as I do now. I think that I could have been taught as much, too. My original driver's ed lessons were pretty good, but the program should have been a lot more thorough. We didn't cover winter driving, we didn't look at the differences between rush hour and midday "retiree hour" -- heck, we didn't even have lessons at night. I never was taught how easily a car can get into a skid, let alone what to do once it happened.

Anyway... back to bikes...
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Old 03-01-10, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I'm not sure raising the driving age will have quite the expected effect. It's true that you MIGHT get better thinking and less tendency to distraction, but then again, as someone has said, there are stupid people doing stupid things of all ages.

Also, a lot of safe driving is skills, and you get skills by driving a lot. It's even possible that a 20 year old that has been driving for 5 years is a more skilled driver than a 25 year old who started driving at 20 - it is probably easier to learn things at 15 than 20.


Agreed. Although I would have no problem with slightly more strict exams and behind the wheel exams, as is done in some other places (I'm only going by what I know of CA's exam process). I would like to see more included about how to deal with cyclists. There can be more education in that regard, both for cyclists and drivers. My family, for example, knew that bikes belong on the road - however none of them knew that bicycles are supposed to take up the entire lane if cars can't pass safely. This isn't due to poor driving skills, this is due to lack of education on the subject and lack of dealing with it that often.
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Old 03-01-10, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
I agree with sudo bike's list order. Stupid is stupid, whether it's a cyclist or a driver, and someone's own stupidity is more likely to get themselves into trouble than someone else's...
At first glance that was my thought, but after I gave it a bit of thought and came back, I was surprised to see that (so far) only Dan the Man placed car drivers on the top of the heap.

Can anyone imagine if all the motorists disappeared from the streets? Virtually all cyclist deaths and serious injury would disappear. Sure we'd still be prone to our own incompetence as well as others (that would place pedestrians and other cyclists up on the list) but most of the injuries from collisions with those others would be minor.

We all know people aren't going to abandon cars and trucks so maybe what would be reasonable is to expect them drive with a sense of safety of others. Wouldn't it be something if there would be some consequence if motorists didn't pay heed and hit or brushed a cyclist. Just how would people drive if they knew that getting within 3 feet of someone on a bike they would catch a horrible, painful, disease? I'd bet they'd drive more safely.

It would be great if traffic laws would have the affect of keeping drivers driving safely, but they don't. Problem drivers are problem people and we'll always have them around. We should do a better job of keeping the problem people out of cars.

To me facilities or VC are just ways of eliminating the selfishness of others that impede your progress. In that way, they're almost the same thing.

Awareness, skill and visibility are great ways to avoid those that aren't paying close enough attention and are heading into trouble.

I'm sure to the surprise of no one, helmets rank last on my list.

(1)car drivers
(2)rider situational awareness
(3)rider handling skills
(4)visibility (of bicycle and rider)
(5)pedestrians
(6)other cyclists
(8)traffic laws
(4)riding style (choice of VC, or other)
(9)bicycle infrastructure
(10)bicycle maintenance
(11)bicycle speed
(12)weather
(13)helmet use

Last edited by closetbiker; 03-01-10 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 03-01-10, 09:08 AM
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Situational awareness is tops on my list too.

i suspect if we had strong vulnerable user laws and a host of social inducements that supported bicycling to a high modal share, cyclists would be safer in the usa.

what affects bicyclists safety in Germany or Copenhagen are fundamentally different than what affects bicyclist safety inTennessee or Cleveland.

sure, situational awareness affects safety those places too. as it does anywhere i guess, like at the airport or going to get the morning newspaper.

vulnerable user laws, better trained motorists, cyclist presence and effective infrastructure have larger sway in other locales.
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Old 03-01-10, 09:35 AM
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IMHO We need something from the 5 E's (Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Evaluation and Encouragement.) While I put a lot of stock on what we can do amongst ourselves for improved safety it should not end there, therefor this list is missing a lot of items.
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Old 03-01-10, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker View Post
At first glance that was my thought, but after I gave it a bit of thought and came back, I was surprised to see that (so far) only Dan the Man placed car drivers on the top of the heap.

Can anyone imagine if all the motorists disappeared from the streets? Virtually all cyclist deaths and serious injury would disappear. Sure we'd still be prone to our own incompetence as well as others (that would place pedestrians and other cyclists up on the list) but most of the injuries from collisions with those others would be minor.

We all know people aren't going to abandon cars and trucks so maybe what would be reasonable is to expect them drive with a sense of safety of others. Wouldn't it be something if there would be some consequence if motorists didn't pay heed and hit or brushed a cyclist. Just how would people drive if they knew that getting within 3 feet of someone on a bike they would catch a horrible, painful, disease? I'd bet they'd drive more safely.

It would be great if traffic laws would have the affect of keeping drivers driving safely, but they don't. Problem drivers are problem people and we'll always have them around. We should do a better job of keeping the problem people out of cars.

To me facilities or VC are just ways of eliminating the selfishness of others that impede your progress. In that way, they're almost the same thing.

Awareness, skill and visibility are great ways to avoid those that aren't paying close enough attention and are heading into trouble.

I'm sure to the surprise of no one, helmets rank last on my list.

(1)car drivers
(2)rider situational awareness
(3)rider handling skills
(4)visibility (of bicycle and rider)
(5)pedestrians
(6)other cyclists
(8)traffic laws
(4)riding style (choice of VC, or other)
(9)bicycle infrastructure
(10)bicycle maintenance
(11)bicycle speed
(12)weather
(13)helmet use
While I think Sudo's list might apply to many cyclists out there... I doubt that it is applicable to most long term skilled cyclists...

Many cyclists that come to BF probably have situational awareness, and work hard to increase their visibility... We already signal and destination position ourselves to be as predictable as possible...

I have to agree somewhat here with closetbiker... If you as a cyclist are doing everything humanly and legally possible to be safe... what's left? It's the other users of the road that are the problem.

No matter how good my skills and how sharp my reflexes, there is no way I can know what is going on behind the wheel of every vehicle that may cross my path... I have no idea if the motorist is truly looking at me or through me, or even if their mind is on the road at all, or if they are deep in the middle of some nasty phone call.

For these reasons, I agree with closetbiker. Take the cars off the road and cyclists would have practically no deaths.
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Old 03-01-10, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker View Post
At first glance that was my thought, but after I gave it a bit of thought and came back, I was surprised to see that (so far) only Dan the Man placed car drivers on the top of the heap.

Can anyone imagine if all the motorists disappeared from the streets? Virtually all cyclist deaths and serious injury would disappear. Sure we'd still be prone to our own incompetence as well as others (that would place pedestrians and other cyclists up on the list) but most of the injuries from collisions with those others would be minor.
Seriousness isn't the issue, IMO. Lack of situational awareness, predictability and competence leads to accidents. Lots of accidents don't make for safe, efficient, transportation, even if the number of fatalities and serious injuries are few.
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Old 03-01-10, 10:20 AM
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we need to educate the drivers about how to properly deal with cyclist on the road. this should be done via the new organizations as a series of stories over a one week period several times during the early spring. each network should be required to run these news stories which when edited run about 2 minutes.
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Old 03-01-10, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
Seriousness isn't the issue, IMO. Lack of situational awareness, predictability and competence leads to accidents...
Agree that lack of situational awareness, predictability and competence leads to accidents, but I'm thinking what affects bicycle safety the most.

I think a fatality is the most serious consequence of a lack of safety followed by serious injury.

No doubt little accidents are bad too. That's why I placed awareness, skills and visibility near the top. To avoid those injuries from happening in the first place.

Experience should rate highly too.

Last edited by closetbiker; 03-01-10 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 03-01-10, 11:15 AM
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I'm not sure we're going to get meaningful results out of this. When we ask these questions in A&S, we're already polling a bunch of people who have given enough thought to the issue of bike safety to collectively write thousands of pages of semi-unintelligible theories on it.

I can only speak for myself. I'm not going to speculate on the roadside experiences of the guys who ride 5 miles an hour on the sidewalk, or ride the MUP all the way, or whatever. And although I've wiped out due to my own failings more times then I'd care to review, none of those incidents truly made me fear for my life or anything. If I did something stupid and fell in front of a car that would be different, but I've never had that happen, not even almost.

So I'm left with a recital of the times I was riding along with my best estimate of safety and awareness, and a motorist, unintentionally or otherwise, either hit me or nearly hit me with a speed differential of concern.

Of course I'm going to ID motorists as the number one concern. But what the hell do I know?
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Old 03-01-10, 12:03 PM
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At the moment I am reading the book Asphalt Nation. I am very influenced to believe that the problem is overwhelmingly infrastructure. The way we live, die, spend, think, build, design our society etc is all dominated by the use of the automobile.
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Old 03-01-10, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TnBama View Post
At the moment I am reading the book Asphalt Nation. I am very influenced to believe that the problem is overwhelmingly infrastructure. The way we live, die, spend, think, build, design our society etc is all dominated by the use of the automobile.
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