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Fear of death/Planning my route

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Fear of death/Planning my route

Old 11-21-11, 11:34 AM
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formicaman
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Fear of death/Planning my route

So I've been commuting for 10 years and never had so much as a close call, but last Friday some drunk driver with a previous DUI from the PREVIOUS EVENING killed a father of 11 cycling on the same street I will be commuting on if I get a new job. At 6 in the evening! Now, the cyclist probably had no lights and maybe he wasn't in the bike lane, but it's hard not to think that it could have been me.

I know the answer is to just be aware and well-lit and hope for the best, but part of my route would be where this doofus and about a thousand other people drive in from all over to get their drugs. I am considering avoiding this heavily-trafficked 4-lane avenue with marked bike lanes in favor of sidestreets where speeds would be lower and traffic lighter. However, the downside of THOSE streets is that they are through REALLY bad neighborhoods. Again, never had a problem riding through the ghetto apart from people asking me if I wanted drugs, but jeez.
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Old 11-21-11, 11:38 AM
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You can get hit by drunk/distracted driver on any street. Plan for the common case, not the unexpected.

I was almost hit from behind by a possibly drunk driver who was speeding. I consider the road this happened on to be safe. Stuff happens.
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Old 11-21-11, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
So I've been commuting for 10 years and never had so much as a close call, but last Friday some drunk driver with a previous DUI from the PREVIOUS EVENING killed a father of 11 cycling on the same street I will be commuting on if I get a new job. At 6 in the evening! Now, the cyclist probably had no lights and maybe he wasn't in the bike lane, but it's hard not to think that it could have been me.

I know the answer is to just be aware and well-lit and hope for the best, but part of my route would be where this doofus and about a thousand other people drive in from all over to get their drugs. I am considering avoiding this heavily-trafficked 4-lane avenue with marked bike lanes in favor of sidestreets where speeds would be lower and traffic lighter. However, the downside of THOSE streets is that they are through REALLY bad neighborhoods. Again, never had a problem riding through the ghetto apart from people asking me if I wanted drugs, but jeez.
I do this very thing for a portion of my commute - I avoid a road with a bike lane (very narrow lane, in the door zone and buzz zone, 35mph posted limit 45mph typical speed), opting instead for urban neighborhoods with trees, 25mph speed limit. For me it is just better all around.

Yes,, an idiot driver could take me out anywhere, but if I have an option to take a less anxiety-inducing route, I'll take it, if for no other reason than to make my commute that much more enjoyable.
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Old 11-21-11, 12:06 PM
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When your number is up it is up but factoring safety into your route is just common sense.
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Old 11-21-11, 06:00 PM
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Drunk drivers kill bicyclists sometimes, but overall it's quite rare. Plan for safety, but, as Ira B just stated, sometimes it's just going to happen. And not just to bicyclists, but to people doing anything - I don't think anything is risk-free.

A lot of cities seem to plan their bicycle lanes and routes on busy streets. I tend to avoid them and ride through neighborhoods, even if the route is not as direct. But no matter what I do, close calls eventually happen.
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Old 11-21-11, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
Drunk drivers kill bicyclists sometimes, but overall it's quite rare. Plan for safety, but, as Ira B just stated, sometimes it's just going to happen. And not just to bicyclists, but to people doing anything - I don't think anything is risk-free.

A lot of cities seem to plan their bicycle lanes and routes on busy streets. I tend to avoid them and ride through neighborhoods, even if the route is not as direct. But no matter what I do, close calls eventually happen.
Bingo. A man was killed in Louisville earlier this year. He was sitting in one of the bus shelters waiting for the bus when a drunk driver plowed through. You just can't plan for everything.
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Old 11-21-11, 06:46 PM
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Try out both routes....and use the one you feel safer on. Or switch it up from time to time. I have about 4 different rides to work...it feels good to ride on different streets.
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Old 11-21-11, 06:48 PM
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If a drunk driver kills somebody, it should be treated the same way as a premeditated murder. Minimum of 10 years in a dungeon ,no not a jail.. but a dungeon....The justice system and the lawyers are a joke.
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Old 11-21-11, 06:58 PM
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I understand your concern, but you could get hit by a drunk or distracted driver at anytime.
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Old 11-21-11, 07:34 PM
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Statistically, bicycle riding is a little more dangerous than riding a car. In 2009, there were 24000 car/trucker drivers killed, 4,000 peds and 630 cyclists.

https://www.census.gov/compendia/stat...es/12s1106.pdf

If you want a safe way to travel, get on a plane or a train.
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Old 11-21-11, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
Statistically, bicycle riding is a little more dangerous than riding a car. In 2009, there were 24000 car/trucker drivers killed, 4,000 peds and 630 cyclists.

https://www.census.gov/compendia/stat...es/12s1106.pdf

If you want a safe way to travel, get on a plane or a train.
Pretty sure there are 10,000 times more people driving in cars every day vs. biking on streets!
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Old 11-21-11, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
Pretty sure there are 10,000 times more people driving in cars every day vs. biking on streets!
I've seen different numbers for relative risk regarding biking and driving, taking population differences into account. It seems to boil down to mile by mile cycling is more dangerous, but hour to hour they're about the same. I go by the hour to hour, since most people put a lot more miles on their car; but there's a pretty standard amount of travel time that we're willing to tolerate, regardless of mode of transportation. And this doesn't even take into account the health benefits of regular cycling.

People wouldn't be getting killed at such high rates, biking or driving, if fewer people drove. So you can be part of the problem and not be a whole lot safer, or be part of the solution and enjoy the ride. I'm with canyoneagle, low speed side streets are the way to go; I got offered drugs or a "good time" occasionally back when I lived in and biked through Fairview, and I got by with the occasional "no thank you" and a whole lot of minimal eye contact. Try not to look like your flush with cash (you are on a bike, it shouldn't be hard) and keep your speed up and you'll probably be fine.
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Old 11-21-11, 10:23 PM
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I like low speed side streets too. It's easier to hear individual vehicles vs constant traffic noise, and there's less exhaust fumes. Usually nicer scenery too.
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Old 11-21-11, 10:40 PM
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formicaman, I saw that story too and it really was sad. It has me rethinking my route now too. I currently ride Spring Garden down to the Art Museum and across the Schuykill river. It's really a bit crazy at some spots during rush hour. I did get clipped by a car a couple weeks ago around the Art Museum when a women got impatient in traffic and tried making a quick right. Luckily she just clipped my bag on the rack and I was able to stay upright. For you I would think the bad neighborhood option would be fine until summer when the weather is warm and everyone is outside lingering. Just keep moving at a good speed.
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Old 11-22-11, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by GriddleCakes View Post
I've seen different numbers for relative risk regarding biking and driving, taking population differences into account. It seems to boil down to mile by mile cycling is more dangerous, but hour to hour they're about the same.
Do you have a link to those studies? I am not arguing, just curious.

Originally Posted by GriddleCakes View Post
I go by the hour to hour, since most people put a lot more miles on their car; but there's a pretty standard amount of travel time that we're willing to tolerate, regardless of mode of transportation.
Not sure that I follow this line of argument. If the risk of injury per hour is the same whether I am in a car on on a bike, then isn't the difference between the risks of an individual commute be the same as the difference between the commute times, right? If it the risk of injury is X per hour, and my commute takes 1 hour by car and 3 hours by bike, aren't I 3 times as likely to be injured riding on my bike as commuting by car?

Thanks,

Mike
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Old 11-22-11, 11:28 AM
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I have a theory that drunks also like quiet side streets for the same reason we do. A colleague was killed while riding on an 8 foot wide shoulder. It's not that cycling is so dangerous, but there are definitely some dangerous drivers out there. Unfortunately, they generally don't know that they are dangerous, and most keep driving after they kill.
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Old 11-22-11, 11:58 AM
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A pedestrian was hit and severely injured by a drunk driver here in Louisville this morning. Link.
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Old 11-22-11, 12:10 PM
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dcrowell: My cousin lives in Covington, and is car-free. He was nailed at the beginning of this year when he was riding home from work (as a bus driver!) and the person that hit him apparently didn't stop. My cousin was found by a passer-by, he was pretty f'ed-up.

I'm in the 'burbs on the north side of Cincinnati, and I got nailed pretty good a couple of months ago.

I guess this region is out to get us two-wheelers!
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Old 11-22-11, 12:43 PM
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I commute on heavy traffic roads where I have to merge to turn, lovely suburb streets, portions of 55mph highways. I feel safer on the highways than I do on the streets.

Listing them in my comfort zone would be highway, suburbs, streets. People seem more in a hurry on streets and less in a hurry in the burbs. People on the highway are only concerned with the cars around them so I figure that they are more aware and less of a threat.

I agree, you cannot plan on becoming street grease. Mitigate your damages, increase your profile, and be aware.
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Old 11-22-11, 01:09 PM
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The only close call I've had commuting was on a very quiet back road. Some obvious drunk in a Cadillac weaving all over the road and probably trying to dodge the Sheriff's patrols by bypassing the highway missed me by a couple feet. Not real close but a good reminder to be careful and alert. Funny thing is that the Sheriff is on to that game and frequently stakes out that road.
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Old 11-22-11, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by mikepwagner View Post
Do you have a link to those studies? I am not arguing, just curious.
Nope, it's just the impression that I got when I cared enough to look around the web for information about the relative risks of cycling. A lot of numbers posted on websites with varying degrees of coherency, so take from that what you will.

Not sure that I follow this line of argument. If the risk of injury per hour is the same whether I am in a car on on a bike, then isn't the difference between the risks of an individual commute be the same as the difference between the commute times, right? If it the risk of injury is X per hour, and my commute takes 1 hour by car and 3 hours by bike, aren't I 3 times as likely to be injured riding on my bike as commuting by car?

Thanks,

Mike
You're right, but I was referring to the preference of most people to minimize their commute; a three hour commute is hardly representative of what most people are willing to do. There's a point where most of us will switch to a different mode of transport if we feel that cycling takes too long, and this will limit risk exposure. For short trips where travel times are the same, risk is probably about the same, and for longer trips the risk isn't that high anyway.

My school commute takes 20 minutes by car (easily half of which is spent sitting at stop lights =/ ) and, if I take the road and not the MUP, about 35 by bike; so I guess that I'm almost doubling my exposure risk when I cycle on the road. But the risk that I'm doubling is very low, and by cycling I mitigate other risks, like those for heart disease and obesity.

I feel (no data or science or whatever here, just a hunch) that low speed roads offer less risk, regardless of mode of transport, and when I drive I eschew them for higher speed arterials because I just want to get back out of the car as soon as possible; so by driving I tend to take more dangerous roads, which might equalize the risk exposure with cycling where I avoid high speed and high traffic roads whenever possible.
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Old 11-22-11, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by GriddleCakes View Post

But the risk that I'm doubling is very low, and by cycling I mitigate other risks, like those for heart disease and obesity.
That makes perfect sense to me. I think that there are a host of risks reduced by regular exercise. That - and fun - is why I ride.
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Old 11-22-11, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by GriddleCakes View Post
Try not to look like your flush with cash (you are on a bike, it shouldn't be hard) and keep your speed up and you'll probably be fine.
Good thing my bikes range in age from 18 to 44. If I get this job my commute will be long enough that I'll wear my grungy sport clothes rather than my shirt and slacks.
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Old 11-22-11, 05:17 PM
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I would also take the slower neighborhood roads. I think your risk of getting mugged are FAR lower than getting hit by some idiot doing 50 in a 35 with four lanes of traffic. And if a drunk did come into a neighborhood I doubt he would get up the speed to be able to do much damage without hitting something else first.
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Old 11-22-11, 05:31 PM
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About a month ago I was commuting home on a Friday afternoon on a side street with a 30mph speed limit that is rarely traveled by cars. About a quarter mile back I hear the unmistakable rev of someone with their pedal to the metal and a truck comes up from behind travelling at freeways speeds. This guy decides to go into the empty oncoming traffic lane and blows by me and several other cars doing the speed limit. Well he apparently was very, very drunk and hit the curb, rolled his truck what looked like about 15 times, ending up in a drainage ditch. He was very badly bruised up but alive, and I and the other people travelling that road were very lucky to be alive.

You can't plan for things like that, and that experience proved to me that even the seemingly safest roads are not safe from drunk drivers. I say just do the commute, because you have just as much chance of being killed by a drunk while you are driving a car as you are when riding a bike, and the health and de-stress benefits you'll get by bike commuting are a sure thing.
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