Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Advocacy & Safety
Reload this Page >

Car/bike collision outcomes for cyclists versus motorcycles

Notices
Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

Car/bike collision outcomes for cyclists versus motorcycles

Old 09-25-12, 02:26 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
spunkyj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 252
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Car/bike collision outcomes for cyclists versus motorcycles

Due to a horrible Op-Ed in today's Toronto Star (posted in another thread) I've been thinking (more than I'd like) about the view some people hold that Cyclists don't belong on the road. And in particular, the view that getting Cyclists off the road is motivated by safety concerns for Cyclists, rather than general annoyance that cyclists are in the way or impede traffic. However, I don't hear anyone telling Motorcyclists (who are also not surrounded by a protective metal cage) to get off the road. I think the difference in treatment rather nicely illuminates the "for the Cyclists' own safety" argument as the load of bullocks that it is.

Or am I making a false assumption about motorcyclists and cyclists having similar numbers and outcomes in collisions? To make a fair comparison let's restrict the analysis to proficient cyclists who follow the rules and hold drivers licenses (since motorcyclists are required to have a license and pass a test).
spunkyj is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 02:36 PM
  #2  
incazzare.
 
lostarchitect's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Catskills/Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 6,970

Bikes: See sig

Liked 56 Times in 39 Posts
As a motorcyclist, I have often heard car drivers complain about us. The perception is similar to cyclists--they think that because some ride irresponsibly they should all be lumped together.
__________________
1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1986 Schwinn High Sierra, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2011 Dick Chafe, 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter
lostarchitect is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 02:37 PM
  #3  
genec
 
genec's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: West Coast
Posts: 27,079

Bikes: custom built, sannino, beachbike, giant trance x2

Liked 4,532 Times in 3,158 Posts
No, I think you hit the nail on the head. Bicycles are slow and motorists of any breed don't want to be slowed down by the rights of others to use the roads... And since motorists often regularly speed, their is a danger of fast traffic violently overtaking slower traffic... and we cyclists tend to deny this while citing traffic law and statistics, and then take the lane... a dichotomy in of itself, if one believed in physics.
genec is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 02:58 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Burnaby, BC
Posts: 4,144
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Well as a motorcyclist I've often heard how dangerous it is, "organ-donor" is a common refrain. Always from cagers, of course.

The consensus seems to be (in my experience) that motorcyclists are just stupid, as opposed to cyclists who are stupid and have no right to be on the road.

As a practical matter however, there is a certain chunk of people who are just cowardly bullies, and cyclists are especially vulnerable and easy to escape when said bully is operating a car. Motorcyclists are similarly vulnerable physically, but generally have no problem catching said bullies, at which point the motorist faces certain repercussions for their actions. Even if it's just getting yelled at, at least it makes an impression.
Commodus is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 03:02 PM
  #5  
On your right
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Southern California
Posts: 735

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix Elite

Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The reason some motorists don't think cyclists belong on the road is the same reason some cyclists don't think children belong on the bike path:
1. They slow me down.
2. They're unpredictable, so I might hit them.
3. If I do hit them, they get hurt way more than me, so I'll be the bad guy and feel terrible.
4. Even though I'm bigger than them, some are rude, play chicken and dare me to hit them.
5. Any fool can see they're in a dangerous place, so what are they thinking being out here in the first place?

So yes, motorists are concerned about cyclist's safety, but their real beef is inconvenience and a violation of their sense of "the way things ought to be". So it is with some cyclists and children.

Sorry, I didn't really address the motorcycle question. Car drivers don't care about motorcycles because motorcycles don't slow them down.
Daves_Not_Here is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 03:23 PM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 206

Bikes: 2009 Specialized Sirrus

Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
There is an anti-motorcycle sentiment as we as anti-bicycle. It comes from a different reason though. Motorcycles are loud, speed, and drive aggressively, whereas bicycles are slow, unsafe, and impede traffic. Same story, different day.

Haters gonna hate.
Speedwagon98 is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 03:38 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
spunkyj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 252
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here
The reason some motorists don't think cyclists belong on the road is the same reason some cyclists don't think children belong on the bike path:
1. They slow me down.
2. They're unpredictable, so I might hit them.
3. If I do hit them, they get hurt way more than me, so I'll be the bad guy and feel terrible.
4. Even though I'm bigger than them, some are rude, play chicken and dare me to hit them.
5. Any fool can see they're in a dangerous place, so what are they thinking being out here in the first place?

So yes, motorists are concerned about cyclist's safety, but their real beef is inconvenience and a violation of their sense of "the way things ought to be". So it is with some cyclists and children.

Sorry, I didn't really address the motorcycle question. Car drivers don't care about motorcycles because motorcycles don't slow them down.
Points 2., 4. apply to cyclists who aren't behaving well, whereas I'd like to restrict the discussion to good, predictable cyclists, who motorists still have a problem with. Point 5. is clearly circular ("it's dangerous because it's dangerous"), and represents a knee-jerk reaction by some motorists (most likely the stupid ones who don't vote anyway) rather than those that attempt to make principled arguments. I'm really interested in focussing on the latter. Point 3. isn't an argument against cyclists being on the road, but a motorist admission that we make them uncomfortable.

That leaves point 1 as the only reasoned argument. Cycling is dangerous precisely because we move slowly as well as being exposed. Because motorists will try to overtake. Because they aren't anticipating and looking out for slower moving traffic. It follows that if motorists are more aware of cyclists on the road, and pass us safely, then this will alleviate most of the danger (as well as cyclists generally riding in a predictable manner). In all other circumstances (when moving at the speed limit, or navigating intersections) cyclists are similar to motorcyclists in their visibility and vulnerability and therefore should not endure specific criticism from motorists.

Why does this all irk me so? I feel most threatened on the road by aggressive drivers: those who make dangerous passes, who overtake and right hook, who try to left-turn in front of me, and even a select few who have used their vehicles to intimidate me. At least where I do most of my cycling, the single biggest threat to my safety is the refusal of a subset of motorists to respect my right to the road. So when that right is fundamentally challenged (especially in a way that disparages cyclists in general) supposedly in the name of my safety, I take it personally. \endRant
spunkyj is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 03:59 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
cale's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,248

Bikes: Kuota Ksano. Litespeed T5 gravel - brilliant!

Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by spunkyj
...am I making a false assumption about motorcyclists and cyclists having similar numbers and outcomes in collisions?
When I ride my motorcycle I wear a lot of protective gear: full face helmet, protective jacket, protective pants, boots and gloves. The speed contributes to the need for the added protection but in a car/motorcycle or car/bike collision, there's no substitute for protective gear.

As far as having a right to the road. I think some communities are more tolerant that others. Our mayor commutes to work by bike and we have one of the highest bike commuting populations in the country (Seattle, WA). I sure there are a lot of drivers that would like to see us off the road but the atmosphere is more tolerant here than many other areas (especially if you eliminate the college towns that tend to skew bicycling statistics).

Op-Ed articles are the sort of bias articles that tend to get ignored by most readers. So you're pobably one of the few that read it.
cale is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 04:12 PM
  #9  
On your right
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Southern California
Posts: 735

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix Elite

Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by spunkyj
Points 2., 4. apply to cyclists who aren't behaving well, whereas I'd like to restrict the discussion to good, predictable cyclists, ... That leaves point 1 as the only reasoned argument. Cycling is dangerous precisely because we move slowly as well as being exposed. ... should not endure specific criticism from motorists.

Why does this all irk me so? ... At least where I do most of my cycling, the single biggest threat to my safety is the refusal of a subset of motorists to respect my right to the road. So when that right is fundamentally challenged ... supposedly in the name of my safety, I take it personally. \endRant
Spunkyj -- I looked in your profile but couldn't figure out where you are located. (where are you located by the way?) Are you riding in an area of low ridership, such that motorists are unaccustomed to cyclists?

On points 2 & 4, I would emphasize that I am referring to motorist perceptions -- you can have a perfectly predictable straight-riding cyclist, and some motorists may still be unsure of what he'll do next, or may recall other rude cyclists they have previously encountered.

My opinion is that none of points 1-5 are reasoned arguments, rather they are emotional responses that motorists or cyclists have towards foreign agents in their perceived territory. I don't think motorcyclists are resented so much, because they are expected - they belong. Cyclists on the road? Like tits on a bullfrog for some motorists, especially in areas of low ridership.

As to the aggressive drivers in your area that don't respect your right to the road -- I wish I had good advice to offer. I'm blessed to ride in an area that is very accepting of cyclists so I haven't developed the skills or thick skin to deal with motorist hostility.

Finally, I have to agree with you -- if someone is being rude or aggressive supposedly out of concern for your safety, I think they are rationalizing or being disingenuous. I don't think you are going to be able to make rational sense of the difference in treatment between motorcyclists and cyclists based on the irrational statements made by motorists.
Daves_Not_Here is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 04:16 PM
  #10  
On your right
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Southern California
Posts: 735

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix Elite

Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by cale
... Op-Ed articles are the sort of bias articles that tend to get ignored by most readers. So you're pobably one of the few that read it.
You make a good point -- if you think cyclists are disrespected, the op-ed page is the backwater of journalism. Nobody reads those, even other journalists.
Daves_Not_Here is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 04:23 PM
  #11  
genec
 
genec's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: West Coast
Posts: 27,079

Bikes: custom built, sannino, beachbike, giant trance x2

Liked 4,532 Times in 3,158 Posts
Originally Posted by spunkyj
Points 2., 4. apply to cyclists who aren't behaving well, whereas I'd like to restrict the discussion to good, predictable cyclists, who motorists still have a problem with. Point 5. is clearly circular ("it's dangerous because it's dangerous"), and represents a knee-jerk reaction by some motorists (most likely the stupid ones who don't vote anyway) rather than those that attempt to make principled arguments. I'm really interested in focussing on the latter. Point 3. isn't an argument against cyclists being on the road, but a motorist admission that we make them uncomfortable.

That leaves point 1 as the only reasoned argument. Cycling is dangerous precisely because we move slowly as well as being exposed. Because motorists will try to overtake. Because they aren't anticipating and looking out for slower moving traffic. It follows that if motorists are more aware of cyclists on the road, and pass us safely, then this will alleviate most of the danger (as well as cyclists generally riding in a predictable manner). In all other circumstances (when moving at the speed limit, or navigating intersections) cyclists are similar to motorcyclists in their visibility and vulnerability and therefore should not endure specific criticism from motorists.

Why does this all irk me so? I feel most threatened on the road by aggressive drivers: those who make dangerous passes, who overtake and right hook, who try to left-turn in front of me, and even a select few who have used their vehicles to intimidate me. At least where I do most of my cycling, the single biggest threat to my safety is the refusal of a subset of motorists to respect my right to the road. So when that right is fundamentally challenged (especially in a way that disparages cyclists in general) supposedly in the name of my safety, I take it personally. \endRant
The problem is that to a motorist, all cyclists are alike... and no matter how law abiding and predictable, you still get lumped into the same pool as others. Further, if you are law abiding and predictable, and you do something like legally "take a lane" well then, you are "one of them."

Years ago I took a Road 2 cycling class... just out of curiosity... just to compare my experience with the lessons taught. I followed the instructions, I rode where I was told, I was told where and how to ride and why... Yet in this class there were two experiences with motorists that told me that no matter how well I did my job, motorists will still treat me poorly.

One of these instances was making a left turn in faster traffic... we waited for a gap, signaled the lane change (each cyclist doing this one at a time into different gaps) and moved left into our proper spot. As I was waiting in line at the left turn light, a motorist chided me and told me I wasn't doing it right. (I was doing it very right actually). I asked what I should be doing... the motorist pointed to a curb hugging cyclist way over on the right and said "like that." (she wasn't in our class, nor was she making a left turn). I asked well how do I turn left from there... his response. " I donno, that's your problem."

The other incident was as we were group riding, off to the right, on a wide outside lane road... we were well out of the way when a large SUV came by and started honking. They continued to honk as they passed. They had plenty of room, we had plenty of room... but for some reason, they felt that they had to warn us the whole way. (passed 6 cyclists).

Again, no respect given to the needs or rights of the cyclists by the driver of the SUV. And yet we could not be doing a better job. We were riding very legally and very predictably... we even had a group leader with an orange vest.

Motorists do not want anything out there that makes them think while they pilot their rolling living rooms... never mind the laws or any other detail... cyclists are just too much bother. Most motorists will tolerate you... but there is always this small group... that may act on their idiosyncrasies... Just because you are a cyclist.

Last edited by genec; 09-25-12 at 04:26 PM.
genec is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 04:29 PM
  #12  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
spunkyj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 252
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here
Spunkyj -- I looked in your profile but couldn't figure out where you are located. (where are you located by the way?) Are you riding in an area of low ridership, such that motorists are unaccustomed to cyclists?

On points 2 & 4, I would emphasize that I am referring to motorist perceptions -- you can have a perfectly predictable straight-riding cyclist, and some motorists may still be unsure of what he'll do next, or may recall other rude cyclists they have previously encountered.

My opinion is that none of points 1-5 are reasoned arguments, rather they are emotional responses that motorists or cyclists have towards foreign agents in their perceived territory. I don't think motorcyclists are resented so much, because they are expected - they belong. Cyclists on the road? Like tits on a bullfrog for some motorists, especially in areas of low ridership.

As to the aggressive drivers in your area that don't respect your right to the road -- I wish I had good advice to offer. I'm blessed to ride in an area that is very accepting of cyclists so I haven't developed the skills or thick skin to deal with motorist hostility.

Finally, I have to agree with you -- if someone is being rude or aggressive supposedly out of concern for your safety, I think they are rationalizing or being disingenuous. I don't think you are going to be able to make rational sense of the difference in treatment between motorcyclists and cyclists based on the irrational statements made by motorists.
I ride in Toronto, which I think is a great city for cycling. And generally I feel pretty safe doing so. Drivers here are aware of cyclists so much so that the only times I really feel threatened are when motorists behave aggressively. I'm not sure if all these drivers have some hate-on for cyclists (now a T-shirt slogan: "Hard-on, not hate-on for cyclists!" comes to mind...), or are just in a hurry. Certainly some just don't like us, and feel the need to show it. Either way, they need to be taught to give us enough room, and be patient rather than told we don't belong on the road. In general, I think the "don't belong on the road" rhetoric is bad for cyclist safety as it may encourage aggression in some cases.
spunkyj is offline  
Old 09-25-12, 05:05 PM
  #13  
CRIKEY!!!!!!!
 
Cyclaholic's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: all the way down under
Posts: 4,276

Bikes: several

Liked 701 Times in 376 Posts
I find there's a significantly higher amount of respect from drivers towards me when I'm on my motorbike. I suspect that might be because I am one of those obnoxious looking and sounding bikers on a matt black bike with very loud pipes, and there's no way a driver will be able to yell abuse at me and just gas it to get away. I do however ride very defensively in traffic in order to minimise my risk of collision.
__________________
"Surely one can love his own country without becoming hopelessly lost in an all-consuming flame of narrow-minded nationalism" - Fred Birchmore
Cyclaholic is offline  
Old 09-26-12, 03:06 PM
  #14  
Transportation Cyclist
 
turbo1889's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Montana U.S.A.
Posts: 1,206

Bikes: Too many to list, some I built myself including the frame. I "do" ~ Human-Only-Pedal-Powered-Cycles, Human-Electric-Hybrid-Cycles, Human-IC-Hybrid-Cycles, and one Human-IC-Electric-3way-Hybrid-Cycle

Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I would like to offer some incite I have on the situation. In that I have one bicycle that is a "motorized bicycle" with a 35cc 1.6hp 4-cycle little motor on it that is chain driven on the left side of the rear wheel with the regular pedal drive on the right side of the rear wheel. The rest of my bikes are either pedal only or electric assist bikes, that is the only bike I have that is anywhere close to a motorcycle and it is not a motorcycle proper but rather a regular bicycle with a small "wead-wacker size" internal combustion engine added on to it in kit form (Staton-Inc.com axle mount drive kit if anyone wants to know the specifics).

Anyway, long story short it only goes just slightly over 20-mph with the motor only and if I pedal and run the motor at the same time I can push that up to a little over 25-mph. It's a heavy commuterized and cargo-ized mountain bike with big rear basket racks and such. Yet, I have clearly and distinctively noticed that when riding in town and "taking the lane" and riding with traffic I do get noticably more respect on that bike then I do on any of my other bikes including my electric assisted bikes even though one of them is faster in both acceleration and top speed. It does in-fact appear that just hearing the sound of that little wead-wacker motor and having it mounted on my bike in plain sight makes a difference for at least some of those driving cars on the roads and they do treat me with more respect then when riding pedal only or electric assist in the same way on the same roads in the same towns at the same times of the day with assumably some of the same other drivers on the road.

Maybe, a fake light weight hollow fiber glass mock-up of a motor in the frame triangle with a "motor noise" little black box that takes batteries would be a good idea. It seems to make a difference even if it is just a little wead-wacker motor and you arn't going any faster then you could on a lighter pedal only bike.

Please note: I'm not saying I get the full level of respect as a fellow road user that I get with a full sized vehicle, there is still always the random #$^%^ out there regardless. But, I do get noticeably more respect on that bike then I do on any of my other bikes including the one electric assist one I have that actually has better performance with better acceleration and top speed then the IC power assisted bike just doesn't make the noise and have a noticeable motor.

Last edited by turbo1889; 09-29-12 at 05:01 PM. Reason: added note at end
turbo1889 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
volvo850t5
Advocacy & Safety
10
01-05-18 06:49 PM
1989Pre
Advocacy & Safety
53
09-22-17 07:55 AM
Squeezebox
Advocacy & Safety
92
05-07-17 07:43 PM
shyonelung
Advocacy & Safety
160
11-19-13 02:43 PM
alcanoe
Fifty Plus (50+)
103
09-21-11 08:33 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.