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Jan/Feb Bicycling Mag - Scary article for newbie

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Jan/Feb Bicycling Mag - Scary article for newbie

Old 01-03-08, 05:39 PM
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Jan/Feb Bicycling Mag - Scary article for newbie

I just read the latest Bicycling magazine and got really frightened while reading their article about vehicle versus bike "accidents." What really hit home is that the examples are from the area where I live. Now I'm wondering if it's stupid to do any riding on the road.

On the other hand, I wonder if the chances of being killed while riding a bike on roads is any higher than being killed by another vehicle while driving or jogging. Thoughts?
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Old 01-03-08, 05:46 PM
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Depends...........are you a good driver?
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Old 01-03-08, 05:48 PM
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Never been in an accident, yet. (Knock wood) But it's not my driving I worry about. It's distracted drivers. The other guy.
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Old 01-03-08, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
Never been in an accident, yet. (Knock wood) But it's not my driving I worry about. It's distracted drivers. The other guy.
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Old 01-03-08, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
Never been in an accident, yet. (Knock wood) But it's not my driving I worry about. It's distracted drivers. The other guy.
I see 'em and deal with 'em every ride. I stopped cycling twenty years ago precisely because I was involved in three near misses on one ride.

But I started up again, and so far <knock wood> it's not been a problem.
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Old 01-03-08, 05:57 PM
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[QUOTE=TruF;5918254 I wonder if the chances of being killed while riding a bike on roads is any higher than being killed by another vehicle while driving or jogging. Thoughts?[/QUOTE]

Very disturbing cycle accidents are going up in CA but so is almost everything else. Last count; 38 million or so people reside here. Car accidents are a daily occurance in this CA town, but they used to be about 5 a year. Same thing rings true on a low recumbent trike as car driving for me- driving defensively; that and a little plain old dumb lusk has kept me on a trike 28+ years.

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Old 01-03-08, 06:21 PM
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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 think some of it is due to how people ride. If you are going to shoot through stop signs and red lights as if they are hardly there, and ride half-way out into the road or double-file around curves, then your odds of getting hit are going to be much higher than the safer cyclist.

And then some of it is due to very poor car & truck drivers, some of which rarely pay attention to bike riders.

I try to be very alert and respectful of cyclists, but still have the occasional close call due to how reckless many of them are around Madison.
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Old 01-03-08, 06:22 PM
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I keep hoping that CA will pass a "defenseless" law that makes it has stiff penalties for motorists who hit cyclists, pedestrians, or horse rides -- basically anyone who, on th rod, is defenseless against a ton of metal.
These laws make the default decision AGAINST the driver unless they can prove otherwise.
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Old 01-03-08, 06:59 PM
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I don't put much stock in anything Bicycling Magazine has to say.
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Old 01-03-08, 06:59 PM
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It's very easy to be preoccupied with the dangers of riding on the road (I went through this with motorcycling as well) and if you read enough articles and forum stuff, you'll get yourself completely nervous which is very danerous (and no fun). Be aware that there are dangers and ride predicibly, confidently and like you are invisible...
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Old 01-03-08, 07:06 PM
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I try to ride safely and always wear high vis clothing and a helmet. At the same time, these words from Helen Keller ring true for me:

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure."
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Old 01-03-08, 07:29 PM
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Once I read the article, I hid the magazine from my wife. She's always jittery when I ride on the road, and that article would not help. I've only been riding for a bit under 2 years, and have had only one "close call", and that one wasn't that close. I try to ride like I drive...defensively, know what's going on around you. Always try to leave myself an "out." Still, there is a certain amount of risk in what we do.
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Old 01-03-08, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis View Post
I don't put much stock in anything Bicycling Magazine has to say.
+1 These are the guys who provide you with helpful articles like "Never Get Dropped" or "The Yellow Jersey in 3 Weeks". Although in fairness, there is some good information embedded in the article.
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Old 01-03-08, 07:38 PM
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I have 100k cumulative miles of road cycling experience, but I admit to riding less than I would otherwise wish to, out of fear of inattentive or aggressive motorists. I think cell phones and other distractions are a huge part of the problem, and motorists seem to take an increasingly cavalier attitude toward driving.

My response is to choose my routes, times of day, and weather conditions very carefully, to wear the brightest, most conspicuous clothing and the safest helmet I can find, and to ride (and drive) in a defensively assertive manner.
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Old 01-03-08, 07:57 PM
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I'm not a commuter but I do most of my riding on a mix of urban and rural roads. In the last two years I have had one semi close call from someone turning right into a parking lot in front of me. Other than that I have to report that I am either benignly and safely ignored or acknowledged visually by the vast majority of drivers. I do not feel threatened or endangered on the road. I do obey traffic signs and use tail lights day or night and do wear bright colored clothing. To me, that is nothing more than common sense. Hell, cars have tail lights. Right?
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Old 01-03-08, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
I just read the latest Bicycling magazine and got really frightened while reading their article about vehicle versus bike "accidents." What really hit home is that the examples are from the area where I live. Now I'm wondering if it's stupid to do any riding on the road.

On the other hand, I wonder if the chances of being killed while riding a bike on roads is any higher than being killed by another vehicle while driving or jogging. Thoughts?
I read the same article and found it extremely disturbing, especially the graphic description of the cyclist being tossed about after being hit while the driver was oblivious to what happened.

Yeah, I'm particularly sensitive about this having been hit myself (not a serious one) many years ago.

The article implied she was a "distracted driver" having reached down to pick up her cell phone which could happen far more often than we realize.

There's another thread on BF talking about how the US DOT will be employing "new technologies" to lessen congestion on our major highways. If drivers avoid the more congested highways and freeways, they wind up on secondary roads where that Bicycling Magazine accident article happened. I don't see any way of improving the situation of the road cyclist that shares the road unless gas prices rise sharply and many people just can't afford to drive.

As long as we have more drivers, distracted drivers and drivers that see cyclists as a nuisance, we continue to be at risk.
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Old 01-03-08, 08:16 PM
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I was in traffic court the other day and listened to a hearing for a fellow charged with careless driving. He was about 60, and an engineer at Kennedy Space Center. One weekday around noon, on a clear sunny day, he was turning left out of his subdivision onto a somewhat busy local road. He didn't see a van approaching from the left and hit it. The passenger was ejected and killed. He and the other driver had minor injuries. The passenger was a 35-year old mother of three returning to work after lunch.

There were no drugs or alcohol involved, no cell phone, no nothing other than simple inattentiveness that shattered the lives of many people. That simple negligence resulted in a ticket for a simple traffic infraction.

Lance said that if you're afraid of falling off the bike, you shouldn't get on it. I know I could get killed anytime I'm on the road, either on my bike or in my car. I reduce the chances by driving safely and riding safely. But the chances of something bad happening will never go away.
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Old 01-03-08, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
Lance said that if you're afraid of falling off the bike, you shouldn't get on it. I know I could get killed anytime I'm on the road, either on my bike or in my car. I reduce the chances by driving safely and riding safely. But the chances of something bad happening will never go away.
Totally agree...I'm just beginning to think it's actually safer to ride in the cities with bike lanes than through the more rural routes without them...
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Old 01-03-08, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
I just read the latest Bicycling magazine and got really frightened while reading their article about vehicle versus bike "accidents." What really hit home is that the examples are from the area where I live. Now I'm wondering if it's stupid to do any riding on the road.

On the other hand, I wonder if the chances of being killed while riding a bike on roads is any higher than being killed by another vehicle while driving or jogging. Thoughts?
I feel safer riding my bike on the rural roads in my area than driving my van to work.

The majority of my biking is done on rural roads with light traffic. I wear visible clothing, obey traffic rules and try to use common sense when cars are in the area. Most drivers give me plenty of space when passing and stay behind me until it's safe to pass on a hill or curve.

I don't commute to work by bike since it's a 30 mile ride and through one of the most congested areas in the county and another area with a very high crime rate. Hell, I don't even like driving through the one area. I could count on one hand the number of cyclist I've seen on my drive to work over the last few years.

I feel if you choose the roads wisely and pay attention to your surroundings you'll be just as safe on the bike as you are in a vehicle.
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Old 01-03-08, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis View Post
I don't put much stock in anything Bicycling Magazine has to say.
+1 The title of the article was probably How to get abs of steel while getting run over by a truck..........
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Old 01-03-08, 11:35 PM
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Thanks, everyone. I took a Street Skills for Cyclists class offered by our local bicycle organization a few months ago. It said that most accidents are not the ones described in the Bicycling article (the car running over the cyclist from behind). That about half are the fault of the cyclist for not obeying rules and half the fault of the motorist. Most accidents were from car doors being open as cyclist rode past or the car making a right turn cutting off the cyclist. The class was interesting in that the instructor was against bike lanes because in his opinion most bike lanes are hazardous to cyclists (too close to parked cars; cars more likely to turn right and cut off the cyclist; drivers thinking that bikes don't belong in the lane; etc.) This article just revived my previous fears of being hit from behind. I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts with me about this.
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Old 01-04-08, 08:00 AM
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Riding a bike is safer. Take a look at the figures on this site, and you'll see that even folks walking are killed more often. http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
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Old 01-04-08, 08:11 AM
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Minnesota has the 3 foot minimum clearance law, too. Yet, I was talking to a friend of mine about how much I hate having to take the lane for a left turn, and she was totally surprised that this was even legal. She said she gets so mad when bikes are in the middle of traffic that way, and later in the conversation she said that she bikes that rode on the right side of the road were dumb, because they couldn't see the traffic.

I don't believe she's that atypical of a non-rider, so I have absolutely no confidence that drivers will be aware of this 3 foot clearance law. It will only help in determining fault after the accident!

On the other hand, I don't think I've ever been passed by a car closer than 3 feet. They usually give me a huge berth...

Actually, semi trucks and busses seem to be the vehicles most likely to cut it close, but maybe it just feels that way.
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Old 01-04-08, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
Riding a bike is safer. Take a look at the figures on this site, and you'll see that even folks walking are killed more often. http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
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.
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Old 01-04-08, 08:39 AM
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There is no doubt that what we do is dangerous, but most of the road bike crashes I have seen or been involved with over the last 20 some years don't have anything to do with cars. A few of my friends have been hit by cars, but most of the bad crashes are downhill solo or bike vs. bike. My worst crash ever was in 1987 on the bike path.
Having said that, I know there are crazy, drunk, stupid, suicidal, anti-social, inattentative, megalomaniacal, and just plain bad drivers out there. Choose your route carefully, and watch your ass.
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