Is Bicycling Safe?This commentary from Canada is a very effective summary of the risks of bicycling, in terms of hours spent cycling, distance traveled, commute mode, and life expectancy. In essence, it argues that responsible cyclists can effectively minimize their risks and avoid injury. And enjoy many happy, healthy miles on a bike.
The odds of dying from a bicycle crash are one in 71. This compares to one in 75 for a light truck (pickup truck, SUV, van), one in 108 for a car, one in 43 for a truck, one in 26 for a motorcycle, and one in 15 for a pedestrian. In other words, the odds of dying in a bike crash are about the same as the odds of dying in an SUV crash. The false sense of security that comes from an SUV tends to produce far more dangerous driving behaviour.
It also obscures the fact that an individual cyclist's choices strongly influence their risk of fatality. Cyclists are not helpless victims of safety statistics (even encouraging statistics).
It might not be politically expedient to state, but in the majority of bicycle crashes, the cyclist is at least partly at fault. Cyclists are hit when they ride on the sidewalk and appear out of nowhere at intersections; when they pass on the right; when they ride at night without lights and reflectors; when they ride the wrong way down one way streets; when they ride too closly to parked cars; and so on.
Bike infrastructure can certainly help: streets with clearly marked, well-maintained bike lanes are safer than streets without them. It's also clear that bike lanes increase the perception of safety for would-be cyclists.
However, the way you ride is a bigger factor in accident prevention. The absolute best way to avoid accidents is to ride as though you are driving a motor vehicle. In other words: be visible, follow the rules of the road, pay close attention to what's happening around you, and practice defensive riding. You will earn the respect of motorists, maximize your safety, and get the most enjoyment from cycling. (Read more.)
Image: Web capture.
Visit: Mikael Colville-Andersen: Why we shouldn't bike with a helmet, TEDx Copenhagen
Visit: Vermont: Cycling Safety 101, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Brooklyn: Bike lanes save lives, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: What to do if you have a collision (Interview with bicycling attorney Gary Brustin), Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bicycling Safety, Bike Commuting Tips
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips