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Jan/Feb Bicycling Mag - Scary article for newbie

Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

Jan/Feb Bicycling Mag - Scary article for newbie

Old 01-04-08, 08:48 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by MTBLover View Post
Sort of. I'd be very careful in interpreting these numbers (I'm a FARS researcher). These are count data- simple numbers of fatalities. What is more important than this is the fatality rate- and for this you need a denominator. This could be the number of people exposed or the number of miles walked/ridden/driven, etc. Many, many, many more miles are walked than cycled- unfortunately, we don't have a good sense of this number, but a reasonable guesstimate would put the fatality rate for cyclists at a much higher level than that for pedestrians. We're trying to figure out exactly why that is- and you can't get at this issue just from FARS.

I can tell you that of all fatal crashes reported to FARS (and that's just about all of them that occur in the US, territories, and possessions), the proportion that involved a pedalcycle (this includes trikes and even unicycles) is very low. However, in about 99% of the fatal crashes that involved a cyclist, it was the cyclist who died.

Sorry, but those are the cold facts. We're no match for a ton of steel, no matter how it hits.

So, that said, I believe there are two ways to avoid a crash: vehicular riding and defensive riding. The two aren't contradictory, by any means. And they won't completely mitigate the risk of a crash, fatal or otherwise. I can't help but believe that practicing (constantly) safe riding skills (stopping at stop signs, stopping for red lights, even for turns-on-red, yielding the right of way to pedestrians (and never, ever riding on sidewalks), using hand signals (all the time), making eye contact with drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, etc., etc. are the key to staying as safe as possible on a bike. Only one thing bugs me as much as an unhelmeted cyclist- one that sails through stop signs and red lights with nary a thought. Ugh.
Appreciate the clarification. Given it's a guesstimate about the number of mile walkers put in over "pedacycle" miles, how can any claim be made about one being more or less safe? (Not attmepting to challenge, but attempting to understand.) On what are the guesstimates based?

If I understand your comment that I've underlined in your post, it seems it's still safe to say that you're less likely to be killed while cycling than while in a moving car...yes?

Is there such a thing as a multi-variable safety index? What I mean by this is do we compare deaths per mile or deaths per hour spent in the activity, or deaths per accident incident, or all of them?

The size/mass thing is interesting. My father has argued for years that as long as there are tractor-trailer tucks and other very large vehicles on the road, compact cars are a completely stupid choice in terms of safety. I think it's an analogy that matches the cyclist/car one. Big almost always destroys small in impact situations.

I agree with your belief about safe riding skills being key to staying safe on the bike.
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Old 01-04-08, 12:44 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
Appreciate the clarification. Given it's a guesstimate about the number of mile walkers put in over "pedacycle" miles, how can any claim be made about one being more or less safe? (Not attmepting to challenge, but attempting to understand.) On what are the guesstimates based?
It's a real stab in the dark, and frankly, no one has really offered a good way to estimate this. Even miles-driven/year is a rough estimate (based on self-report, or gas consumption factoring in auto make), so getting at miles-walked or miles-ridden is even tougher.

Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
If I understand your comment that I've underlined in your post, it seems it's still safe to say that you're less likely to be killed while cycling than while in a moving car...yes?
No- you're less likely to be in a fatal crash while riding a bike than if you were in a car (if only because fewer fatal crashes involve bicycles, but that's just count data, and not a rate). However, if you you're in a crash that involved at least one fatality (which is what is captured in FARS), and that crash involved a pedalcycle, the odds are overwhelming that at least one of the fatalities in that crash is the cyclist.

Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
Is there such a thing as a multi-variable safety index? What I mean by this is do we compare deaths per mile or deaths per hour spent in the activity, or deaths per accident incident, or all of them?
Yeah- we try to! The problem is the quality of the denominator. The best we can do in terms of total miles driven is what I described above. As far as time spent in an activity- this is pretty much all self-report... we have to rely on what people reveal in surveys. We do look at things like fatality rates specific to particular types of highways or in specific regions/locales, as well as the type of vehicle(s) involved, etc. There's a multitude of ways we can (and do) stratify the analyses, but ultimately the lack of a good, robust denominator is our Achilles' heel.

Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
The size/mass thing is interesting. My father has argued for years that as long as there are tractor-trailer tucks and other very large vehicles on the road, compact cars are a completely stupid choice in terms of safety. I think it's an analogy that matches the cyclist/car one. Big almost always destroys small in impact situations.
Yeah- I'm afraid so! That's one reason why I think we have to be a zillion times more defensive than a motor vehicle driver!

Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
I agree with your belief about safe riding skills being key to staying safe on the bike.
Thanks- I live in Philly, where there's a lot of bicycling-related recklessness, so I'm sort of sensitive to this. To be honest- I fear other cyclists running lights and stop signs more than cars!
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Old 01-04-08, 01:20 PM
  #28  
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Cycling can surely feel dangerous.

I examined some government statistics on cycling some years back. It was estimated that cycling was half as dangerous per hour than driving. How could this be? Well how do people manage to kill themselves in automobiles? They drive drunk. If a cyclist is drunk, they crash right after getting on the bike. There just are not many drunken cyclists (however, they do exist by all reports). Motorists also fall asleep behind the wheel. Most cyclists are pretty awake. Riding drowsey is another good way to crash. Third, motorists love distractions like eating, cell phones, changing CDs and Lord knows what else. Most cyclists are pretty distraction free but I have seen cyclists talking on cell phones.

Not to down play the hazard of motorized vehicles, something like 80% of all cycling fatalities involve motorised vehicles. You can kill yourself cycling without one (I know a guy who did), but it is not easy.

However, the statistics do not catch the fact that we have a number of populations of cyclists out there. I believe that recreational cyclists tend to be pretty safe as far as fatalities go. About half of the bicycle fatalities occur at night. The vast majority of riders that I have seen who ride at night do so without lights. You just gotta be nuts to do that.

Also a good percentage of the remaining fatalities involve cyclists doing things that are illegal and rather bone head like wrong way cycling. That is something that an experienced recreational cyclist does not do.

I will make a comment about the 3' passing rule. Florida now has a law for this. But it seems to have virtually no effect on driver behavior and I do not think the police will enforce it. It is a nice gesture.

Oh, years ago I found a national base of cycling fatalities. It even had fatalities by hour of the day and day of the week. Now I would suggest that the time when most of the miles ridden by cyclists are in the mornings of Saturday and Sunday. That is when you get all the big club rides going. Now if recreational cyclists had even average (for cyclists) fatality rates, one would expect to find a big peak in fatalities on Saturday and Sunday mornings. However, the data showed that, if anything, cycling fatalities were lower on the weekends in the mornings. Cyclists on club rides have a nearly 0 fatality rate. That also squares with other information I have. DALMAC is a big multiday organized ride in Michigan. In the 30+ years of its existance (at 2000 cyclists per year), it has had one bicycle fatality. That rider was not even on his bike at the time. He was standing beside the road when he was squished by a drunk driver. The Mount Dora Bicycle Festival in Florida has been running almost 30 years. They have had one fatality. Again the rider was standing beside the road and was run over by a guy who was late to church (I guess he thought God has a very strict policy on late attendees).

Now one can get seriously injured on club rides. If you are in a fast group and close together, a single mistake on your part or someone near you can cause a really bad crash. They are seldom fatal but people often suffer broken collar bones, have concussions and all that good stuff.
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Old 01-04-08, 01:29 PM
  #29  
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I used to get BUZZED daily by some idiot or another.
Since I've started wearing a Hi-Viz Jacket and using two Planet Bike
Superflash tail lights combined with and old blinky, I've not had one
single close encounter. THE CARS HAVE TO SEE YOU TO NOT HIT YOU!!!

Now I know for certain, if I get hit from behind, it was on purpose.
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Old 01-04-08, 02:56 PM
  #30  
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There was one line in that article that realy caught my attention: if he'd had a rearview mirror AND had been using it he might have had a chance.

I used to get the cheapies, went thru them fast, on the single tracks. I would have a spare in my little
breakdown pack. Then I smartened up and got a zefal bar end mirror. It is a lot sturdier and has a couple of detents on it so it just flips out of the way.

But I will not ride without a mirror anymore. The trails around here some times make a jog along a
highway here, and many times when I see an eighteen wheeler or other truck or car coming up behind
me I move completely off the road. Adjusted for minimum eye movement, I constantly check my 'six'. It has saved my life several times. Same in town. no checking over the shoulder any more. For me that is
a suicide move anyway, with a stiff neck from arthrtis.
Just my opinion any way.
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Old 01-04-08, 03:49 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by AAX View Post
There was one line in that article that realy caught my attention: if he'd had a rearview mirror AND had been using it he might have had a chance.

I used to get the cheapies, went thru them fast, on the single tracks. I would have a spare in my little
breakdown pack. Then I smartened up and got a zefal bar end mirror. It is a lot sturdier and has a couple of detents on it so it just flips out of the way.

But I will not ride without a mirror anymore. The trails around here some times make a jog along a
highway here, and many times when I see an eighteen wheeler or other truck or car coming up behind
me I move completely off the road. Adjusted for minimum eye movement, I constantly check my 'six'. It has saved my life several times. Same in town. no checking over the shoulder any more. For me that is
a suicide move anyway, with a stiff neck from arthrtis.
Just my opinion any way.
I am not a big fan of mirrors. I have probably been passed by over 100,000 motorist and I have yet to been hit by an overtaking accident.

That is not enough.

I might be persuaded to use a rear view mirror if I could know that I could tell if a car approaching me was going to hit me and I could take evasive action in time. But I just do not think that I can tell when someone is going to hit me from the rear.

Also staring into a mirror has a cost. I am not spending as much time paying attention to things ahead of me.

Now I know that over taking hits do occur. I know a guy who was killed this way. I have also seen it happen to a cyclist.

I am just not persuaded that it is something that I can avoid.

Mercifully, overtaking hits on cyclists are pretty rare. They do happen but not often.
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Old 01-04-08, 04:03 PM
  #32  
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If you bike, you will die.

If you don't bike, you will emit carbon dioxide into the air (which you do anyway when you bike, but not as much), then the earth heats up, polar bears die, and their death hangs over your conscience for ever and ever, you heartless son of a biscuit.

The choice is yours.
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Old 01-04-08, 05:32 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
If you bike, you will die.

If you don't bike, you will emit carbon dioxide into the air (which you do anyway when you bike, but not as much), then the earth heats up, polar bears die, and their death hangs over your conscience for ever and ever, you heartless son of a biscuit.

The choice is yours.
It's this kind of sage advice that makes me think of you as a much older brother to me.
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Old 01-04-08, 06:02 PM
  #34  
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I too live in the immediate area in the article and have ridden with one of the victims. I'd give good odds that you could have written the same story for many a town. Likely the author knows some people in this area and was able to easily get the material needed for the report. The point is well made if things like these can happen in such a lovely and bike conscious area.

I thank BICYCLING for keeping things in balance. For good reporting we need more then warm, fuzzy stories.
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Old 01-04-08, 06:12 PM
  #35  
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I will make a comment about the 3' passing rule. Florida now has a law for this. But it seems to have virtually no effect on driver behavior and I do not think the police will enforce it. It is a nice gesture.

I have to agree with Pat on this one. The 3' rule.....The no cell phones in the hand law....and several other motor vehicle laws are really not going to be enforced in any large scale manner. They exist mostly to enable the prosecutor to up the anti after something goes wrong. I'm still waiting for insurance companies to stop paying medical if its proven that the occupants weren't wearing seatbelts. for example.

Adjusted for minimum eye movement, I constantly check my 'six'.

Please note the adjusted for minimum eye movement. As with pilot training or serious driver training, the operator should have a regular pattern of eye movement that includes the mirror and instrumentation without using too much time. Just the knowledge that a vehicle is coming from behing can allow you to change your pace so as not to enter a "dangerous" piece of roadway at the same time as the vehicle. I don't think that fixating on the vehicle to determine if its about to hit you is the real value here. The value is more in the situational awareness and planning ahead area.
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Old 01-04-08, 07:36 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
I will make a comment about the 3' passing rule. Florida now has a law for this. But it seems to have virtually no effect on driver behavior and I do not think the police will enforce it. It is a nice gesture.

I have to agree with Pat on this one. The 3' rule.....The no cell phones in the hand law....and several other motor vehicle laws are really not going to be enforced in any large scale manner. They exist mostly to enable the prosecutor to up the anti after something goes wrong. I'm still waiting for insurance companies to stop paying medical if its proven that the occupants weren't wearing seatbelts. for example.

Adjusted for minimum eye movement, I constantly check my 'six'.

Please note the adjusted for minimum eye movement. As with pilot training or serious driver training, the operator should have a regular pattern of eye movement that includes the mirror and instrumentation without using too much time. Just the knowledge that a vehicle is coming from behing can allow you to change your pace so as not to enter a "dangerous" piece of roadway at the same time as the vehicle. I don't think that fixating on the vehicle to determine if its about to hit you is the real value here. The value is more in the situational awareness and planning ahead area.

Great post MadMaxx! I completely agree on the scanning and proper use of your helmet mirror to have adequate situational awareness. One should always know when he/she is about to be overtaken and how closely. If the shoulder is minimal or nonexistent then one should have a bailout plan. Going out onto the shoulder is FAR less dangerous than being struck by the amount of kinectic energy a 4000# car going 50 mph has.
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Old 01-04-08, 09:32 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by ken cummings View Post
I too live in the immediate area in the article and have ridden with one of the victims. I'd give good odds that you could have written the same story for many a town. Likely the author knows some people in this area and was able to easily get the material needed for the report. The point is well made if things like these can happen in such a lovely and bike conscious area.

I thank BICYCLING for keeping things in balance. For good reporting we need more then warm, fuzzy stories.
Hi Ken, We lived off of Mark West Springs Road when that one particular accident happened. I drove by the scene of the accident just before they figured out that there was a victim of that crash. I'm so sorry that one of the victims in that article was someone you knew.

How's this for warm and fuzzy: On New Year's day we rode the Prince Memorial Greenway to Willowside for the first time. What a lovely path, and the weather was beautiful. We frequently ride from home (near Sutter Hospital) to Willow Wood Cafe in Graton for breakfast. Nice 30 mile round trip ride and worth every mile to eat one of their great breakfasts. I've only been riding for a few months, but have never experienced a rude or careless driver yet. (I know they are out there, but fortunately everyone so far has been really nice.)

Wow, Ken. You're in print! http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/articl...76/1033/NEWS01

Last edited by TruF; 01-04-08 at 09:35 PM. Reason: This just in...
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Old 01-04-08, 10:15 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
If you bike, you will die.

If you don't bike, you will emit carbon dioxide into the air (which you do anyway when you bike, but not as much), then the earth heats up, polar bears die, and their death hangs over your conscience for ever and ever, you heartless son of a biscuit.

The choice is yours.
And in the end you still die.
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Old 01-04-08, 10:20 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
I will make a comment about the 3' passing rule. Florida now has a law for this. But it seems to have virtually no effect on driver behavior and I do not think the police will enforce it. It is a nice gesture.

I have to agree with Pat on this one. The 3' rule.....The no cell phones in the hand law....and several other motor vehicle laws are really not going to be enforced in any large scale manner. They exist mostly to enable the prosecutor to up the anti after something goes wrong. I'm still waiting for insurance companies to stop paying medical if its proven that the occupants weren't wearing seatbelts. for example.
This reminds me of that "special circumstances" law, wherein if you commit a crime against someone who's gay or of certain ethnicities the penalty is worse than if you commit the same crime against a Caucasian fully-functioning person. Puh-leeze. Crime is crime is crime. How can it be worse just because someone is cycling/gay/disabled/challenged in any other way?
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Old 01-04-08, 10:45 PM
  #40  
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I ride in rural areas (99.99% of Wyoming is rural) and have the luxury of wide open roads with very little traffic. I can frequently do a 40 mile weekday ride and see only one or two cars. But even here bad things can happen. Two years ago a local kid got his driver's license under the WY hardship rule at 15. Within a week he had run over a cyclist who lost her leg and nearly her life. The cause was the fact that he was attempting to adjust the radio as he went around a (amazingly large) curve apex (with perfect line of sight), crossed over the center line and hit the cyclist on the OPPOSITE side of the road. I have never had a close call in WY but have some in MD and HI. I think about using a mirror and may do so next outdoor riding season. I wear brightly colored clothing and hope for the best. Truthfully I'd rather die that way than many of the other "available" options.

p.s. amazingly in WY we have a 5 foot minimum rule and WYDOT actively supports cycing events
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Old 01-04-08, 10:59 PM
  #41  
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I've been hit by a car twice, while walking accross the street. Does that count? It is unfortunate that people get into their cars and lose focus of the other people on the road. There is a major increase in the amount of drivers who are using their cell phones. Prior to the cell phones there were other things that drivers did in their cars that distracted them. So I try to be as careful as I can while using my favorite mode of transportation and I pray that I do not get hit by a car.



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Old 01-05-08, 12:19 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Red Rider View Post
This reminds me of that "special circumstances" law, wherein if you commit a crime against someone who's gay or of certain ethnicities the penalty is worse than if you commit the same crime against a Caucasian fully-functioning person. Puh-leeze. Crime is crime is crime. How can it be worse just because someone is cycling/gay/disabled/challenged in any other way?
Say it with me.... Political Correctness gone awry.

Every time I ride at night (the only time I can ride during the week) I know I am taking my life in my hands when I ride outside our neighborhood, sometimes even inside. I have a lot of lights/reflectors in addition to reflective tires, vest, and pedals, but there's only so much I can do. Hubby always seems relieved when I get back home.
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Old 01-05-08, 08:33 AM
  #43  
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Being car-less, when I am not riding my bicycle, I'm on the motorcycle. They are similar in one respect: if one does get into an accident, it may be a really gross one, involving having one's body or head being crushed, things like that. In-car accidents offer the prospect of less frightening injuries though, at 70mph on the freeway, that advantage would seem to me fairly illusionary. My intended strategy is to try to bring reduced risk into my decisions about almost everything having to do with the ride. Still, I'm sometimes reminded or Rollerball in that the body is very vulnerable in a very violent situation.
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Old 01-06-08, 10:41 PM
  #44  
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The only thing Bicycling's good for is . . . car ads!
In a quarter million miles of bicycling, have had 3 serious hits: one by a car, two by pickup trucks.
One slow motion two @ +/- 45 mph; drivers got the ticket/citation. One had license suspended for 3 month, the other his conditional license was revoked.
Am alive and well and still pedalin' at age 75.
My motto: If you don't do nuthin', you'll die anyway!
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Old 01-07-08, 08:10 PM
  #45  
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One thing alluded to above, if worried about distracted drivers or not being seen group rides significantly increase your visablilty. Our local club has relaxed pace and novice type group rides so you don't have to be a pseudo racer/ hammerhead with pace line and tight group skills. When I moved to Dallas I did significantly more group rides because of street layout (multi lane, no shoulder with curbs) high traffic density and my poor local street knowledge.
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Old 01-08-08, 09:15 AM
  #46  
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The fundamental problem is a legal system which is highly biased in favor of motorists. Judges drive cars. Jurors drive cars.* All of them much too easily empathize with the defendant in a typical vehicular manslaughter trial. Until our society recognizes careless, distracted, or inattentive motoring for the murderous crime it really is, we shall continue to wrist-slap the perpetrators and killers. We need some real accountability.

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* Several years ago, another bicyclist and I were "excused" during voir dire from the prospective juror panel for a vehicular manslaughter trial. I did not want to risk contempt of court by asking the judge why he did not excuse all of the motorists in the panel, as well.
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Old 01-08-08, 11:50 AM
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After decades on the roads, I've pretty much given them up except to access another trail or path. Thing is, I'm liking it more not having to worry about folks applying lipstick, reading the pony sheet, cell-phoning, under-the-dash maintenance, and just plain carelessness. Collecting injuries for four decades is enough. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the relief from the pointless anger I have with careless drivers.
 
Old 01-08-08, 02:19 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
Illinois just passed a 3 foot minimum clearance law for cars passing cyclists. They did it because there is an average of 9 accidents a day where a bike & car collide, and 26 cyclists were killed there in the last year.
I'm a retired (2005) highway engineer from Illinois and used to get accident and fatality statistics every year and don't remember seeing numbers that high. However, I pulled up the most current accident data (2006) that I could find and you are pretty much correct. In 2006, there were 25 bicycle fatalities in Illinois and 3,185 total accidents or 8.7 per day. I must say, I'm fairly astounded. I seem to remember not too long ago when the numbers were about half that.
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Old 01-08-08, 02:49 PM
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Here is another perspective from some National Safety Council estimates on number of deaths in 2000. These are causes of death for accidents with a number of deaths comparable to that of pedalcyclists.

Pedalcyclists: 740
Occupant of all-terrain or other off-road motor vehicle: 717
Fall involving bed, chair, other furniture: 650
Exposure to excessive natural cold: 742

And these two together total 908
Drowning and submersion while in or falling into bath-tub: 341
Drowning and submersion while in or falling into swimming-pool: 567

Full list at: http://danger.mongabay.com/injury_death.htm
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Old 01-08-08, 03:12 PM
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Last night there was a programme on TV showing Cyclists in London. In the main it was showing Cyclists riding through red Traffic lights and They were being stopped by Cycle police. I know it was editted to make the programme- but ordinary cycle commuters at red lights and they were ignoring them. Police just the other side of the lights and they were being pulled over and automatic 30 fine. Surprising how many there were.

Another point that was made and that was never to "Undertake" vehicles. This is one of the problems where cyclists take the to the Kerb and forget about the trucks and cars that are going to turn across them and cause injury. I am in the truck trade and it is a problem. Truck pulls up at lights- Cyclist pulls along side him- Truck turns and squashes the cyclist. Truck drivers do not have mirrors that look at what is alongside them and out of view of the main mirrors.

I know that in the main we are talking about car drivers causing a problem to cyclists- but if you had seen that programme last night- You would start thinking about your riding.
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