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Transportation Stats Politics

How Safe Is Cycling? 947

Posted by timothy
from the endoskeleon-vs-exoskeleton dept.
theodp writes "With new bike sharing programs all the rage, spending tens of millions of dollars to make city streets more bike friendly with hundreds of miles of bike lanes has become a priority for bike-loving mayors like NYC's Michael Bloomberg and Chicago's Rahm Emanuel. 'You cannot be for a startup, high-tech economy and not be pro-bike,' claimed Emanuel, who credited bike-sharing and bike lanes for attracting Google and Motorola Mobility to downtown Chicago. Now, with huge bike-sharing contracts awarded and programs underway, the NY Times asks the big question, How Safe Is Cycling? Because bike accidents rarely make front page news and are likely to be dramatically underreported, it's hard to say, concludes the NYT's Gina Kolata. UCSF trauma surgeon Dr. Rochelle Dicker, who studied hospital and police records for 2,504 bicyclists treated at San Francisco General Hospital, told Kolata,'Lots of my colleagues do not want to ride after seeing these [city biking] injuries.' On the other hand, Andy Pruitt, the founder of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and an avid lifelong cyclist, said the dangers were overstated, noting he's only broken his collarbone twice and hip once in four decades of long-distance cycling. So, is cycling safe, especially in the city? And is it OK to follow Mayor Emanuel's lead and lose the helmet?"
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How Safe Is Cycling?

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  • How safe? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:13PM (#45224545)

    Google is your friend, it can show you every last killed and injured biker.

    http://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles [nhtsa.gov]
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811743.pdf [dot.gov]

    OTOH there are 89 car related deaths each and every day in the US, those too do not make the front page.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year [wikipedia.org]

    • by gweilo8888 (921799) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:16PM (#45224579)
      It will show you every last *reported* injured biker. That's a very big and important distinction. Equally important is how many of those injuries were on public roads. Whether or not some kid on an off-road course injured himself is of little importance.
      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:20PM (#45224641) Homepage Journal

        It will show you every last *reported* injured biker. That's a very big and important distinction. Equally important is how many of those injuries were on public roads. Whether or not some kid on an off-road course injured himself is of little importance.

        Depends on how "off-road" is defined; I agree a cyclist crashing into a tree on a backwoods trail shouldn't be included in the figures, but what about one that runs over a pedestrian because he was riding on the sidewalk? Technically 'off-road,' but still occurred in an urban setting next to the road, so it should be counted, just like if a car were to do the same thing.

        Also, I don't see any reference to a percentage by volume - of course more people will be injured by cars, because there are significantly more cars on the road than bikes.

        • by DriveDog (822962)

          That's it—not the absolute number of injuries/fatalities, but the rate. It's very high, at least around my area, considering the relatively small number of cyclist miles ridden on roads. And while city traffic scares me and Pruitt's "only broken my collar bone twice" is nothing to brag about if it was due to a vehicle collision, around here most of the worst injuries and deaths occur on moderate-to-lightly traveled suburban and rural roads. I probably never hear about most moderate injuries, but the c

          • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @06:14PM (#45229331)

            That's it—not the absolute number of injuries/fatalities, but the rate. It's very high, at least around my area, considering the relatively small number of cyclist miles ridden on roads.

            But would the injury rate remain the same if the number of drivers was reduced and the number of bicyclists was increased? Does their rarity contribute to the lack of awareness that cars have for them? Would an increase in bicyclists help justify extra costs of building extra safety measures for bicyclists (suck as bike lanes, perhaps even ones divided from other traffic?)

        • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @02:18PM (#45226519)

          but what about one that runs over a pedestrian because he was riding on the sidewalk?

          If you bothered to google this: cyclists are involved in collisions with .6% of pedestrian injuries in NYC that warrant a trip to the doctor, ER, or a police report.

          The other 99.4% are motor vehicle drivers.

          The statistics do not account for whether the cyclist or pedestrian is at fault. Quite a few pedestrians rely on hearing to tell if a vehicle is coming - I have people step right into the road in front of me all the time, and it's particularly annoying since I'm more likely to be injured trying to avoid them and hitting something or crashing, or glancing off them and then crashing. They're likely to only get a bruised rib, whereas I'll probably get a broken arm.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:32PM (#45224873)

        It also doesn't compare apples to apples: how many miles are the riders riding, versus the car drivers, and what is the accident rate per-mile?

        The simple fact is that bicycling (as much as I love it) is horrendously dangerous in urban areas, and the reason is cars (and even worse, SUVs). All these moves to build bike lanes are idiotic and wasteful, because they do absolutely nothing to physically separate bikes from cars, and cars will drive in the bike lanes whenever they want (which is, every time they need to take a right turn, or simply stop paying attention, or get drunk).

        If these idiot mayors want to encourage bicycling, they need to build real bike roads, like they have in Copenhagen, where the bikes are the only thing on the road, not cars, and not pedestrians either. That's the only way to do it.

        • by pmontra (738736) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:44PM (#45225065) Homepage

          Given the speed and travelled distance difference between cars and bicycles maybe per-hour accidents would be a better metric.

          Thumbs up for separating bikes from everything else, cars and pedestrians. Bike lanes on sidewalks in city centers are slow and dangerous because of pedestrians. I always prefer to share the road with cars: they're more predictable and I get home sooner.

          • by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Thursday October 24, 2013 @04:11PM (#45228023) Homepage

            Given the speed and travelled distance difference between cars and bicycles maybe per-hour accidents would be a better metric.

            Accidents-per-person-journey is probably best (or its reciprocal if you like larger numbers), as that most closely matches the likelihood of someone having an accident, given that the profile of time spent in different vehicles is different. It even handles how to compare with various kinds of mass transit schemes. You can then think in terms of "how likely am I to get seriously injured when going from home to work if I travel by bicycle?" which is actually a useful question (and comparable to "... if I travel by car?" by even not too statistically-sophisticated people).

        • by DriveDog (822962)
          Absolutely. Bike lanes on regular roads are barely better than nothing. Build no-car paths on the opposite side of Armco. But suburban/rural moderate-to-lightly traveled roads around me are where most of the fatalities occur. Cyclists frequently survive being hit by SUVs and pickups moving less than 25mph, but less often for 50+mph.
          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Yes, but even there, why would I want to risk my health getting hit by an SUV moving less than 25mph? I might have a lower chance of death, but I can surely expect serious injuries, a hospital stay, and who knows what kind of maiming, plus later arthritis and other complications from having broken bones. Just having a higher survival rate isn't enough to make cycling an attractive proposition if there's still lots of car/bike collisions.

        • by Shoten (260439) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @02:26PM (#45226641)

          The simple fact is that bicycling (as much as I love it) is horrendously dangerous in urban areas, and the reason is cars (and even worse, SUVs). All these moves to build bike lanes are idiotic and wasteful, because they do absolutely nothing to physically separate bikes from cars, and cars will drive in the bike lanes whenever they want (which is, every time they need to take a right turn, or simply stop paying attention, or get drunk).

          If these idiot mayors want to encourage bicycling, they need to build real bike roads, like they have in Copenhagen, where the bikes are the only thing on the road, not cars, and not pedestrians either. That's the only way to do it.

          Actually, while this seems intuitively obvious, a lot of research and testing indicates that it's the opposite of what is true. There's a Dutch city planner/traffic engineer by the last name of Monderman who did some fascinating work on the topic, re-engineering a Dutch village in the opposite way. What resulted was a dramatic drop in both the number and severity of accidents...of all forms. Instead of trying to calm traffic, separate cars and pedestrians/bikes from each other and provide tons of stop signs and other signage, he did the opposite. There's a surprisingly enjoyable book called "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do" that I recommend for anyone who drives a lot. I know, a book about traffic...must be insanely boring, right? It's actually quite good, both an entertaining read and full of solid academic rigor. Monderman himself is a riot. He points out, while driving towards a bridge, a sign that says it's a bridge. He asks if anyone really needs a sign to know that they're seeing a bridge. "Treat people like idiots, and they will behave as such," he points out. I agree.

    • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:34PM (#45224911)

      Google is your friend, it can show you every last killed and injured biker.

      No it cannot possibly show you every last injured cyclist. Killed I could believe but definitely not injured because most cycling injuries never get reported including those that involve cars. I've been in numerous cycling accidents myself of which *maybe* one may have been documented somewhere because it required sutures. I've been in and around competitive cycling my entire life (father races) and I assure you that very few bicycle accidents are ever reported to the police much less the NHTSA.

    • Re:How safe? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by funwithBSD (245349) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @01:03PM (#45225415)

      http://www.amazon.com/Effective-Cycling-John-Forester/dp/0262516942 [amazon.com]

      Has definitive answers to how and why Cyclists get hurt.

      I have an older version, but effectively the injury/death rate is mostly effected by poor decisions by the cyclist, not the car. Getting hit from behind by a car was 2% of injuries (but a major cause of death) while getting hit by the asshole riding against traffic was 33%.

      In fact, the most dangerous thing to a cyclist is another cyclist.

      • Re:How safe? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ronmon (95471) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @01:30PM (#45225863)

        Listen to this and believe it. I have lived in Key West since 1990 and sold my last fuel burner in 1995. I have a "grocery getter" bike with big baskets and a lean and fast bike for getting somewhere quickly or running my dog. I stop at traffic lights and stop signs, obey one way streets and respect car traffic while not expecting the same in return. However, I am in the minority and am fully aware of that.

        Most bicyclists do not think that road rules apply to them whether they are tourists or locals. Looking both ways when crossing a one way street has saved me from many accidents. Drivers don't see you, especially when they are talking on their phones. Bike lanes are not respected. It is up to you as a cyclist to anticipate the other guy doing something stupid and unexpected. They surely will.

        Having driven motorcycles for many years prior to moving here I already had this mind set and it helped a great deal.

        • Re:How safe? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by drhank1980 (1225872) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @02:41PM (#45226837)
          My cycling experience in Colorado has been the same (ditched my car in 2010). I frequently have cars shocked that I actually stopped at a stop sign when I am commuting to work, because all of the drivers here are so used to most cyclists blowing through them without stopping. I have also had far more close calls on the biking only trails in town with people not paying attention while riding than on the streets. The right mindset for riding is "being right doesn't bring you back" so always assume all other vehicles are going to do something dangerous when on the road.
        • by orthancstone (665890) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @03:58PM (#45227853)

          It is up to you ... to anticipate the other guy doing something stupid and unexpected. They surely will.

          This is the only rule you need to live by to drive, cycle, run, walk, or travel any road safely. Travel under the expectation that you need to anticipate someone else's dumb move and you will find yourself prepared for the majority of situations (note that I didn't say all of them, because someone out there will find a way to blow your mind one day).

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          It's also a bit regional maybe. If you head to suburban or rural areas cyclists tend to be more conservative with their riding habits, but in cities they can be downright arrogant. Also areas near to universities or colleges have an increase in bad cycling habits.

          For a long time (maybe still occuring) there is one road on Stanford land where the bikes will ride side by side blocking the entire lane while ignoring the bike lanes (most of them are probably not students). This is a road with a lot of auto t

        • Re:How safe? (Score:4, Informative)

          by dinfinity (2300094) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @05:51PM (#45229155)

          In the Netherlands, kids take a fairly thorough cycling exam to learn this stuff:
          http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&prev=_dd&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.veiligverkeernederland.nl%2Fverkeersexamen [google.com]

          Theory examples:
          http://www.veiligverkeernederland.nl/node/67294 [veiligverk...derland.nl] (Dutch, but it doesn't really matter)

          On the other hand, there are still about 80.000 people (out of 17.000.000 inhabitants; ~0,5%) requiring immediate medical care yearly due to accidents on their bicycle (although many of them are older people breaking their hip):
          http://www.veiligheid.nl/cijfers/fietsongevallen-algemeen [veiligheid.nl] (Dutch)

      • Re:How safe? (Score:5, Informative)

        by emj (15659) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @01:41PM (#45226033) Homepage Journal

        While I'm sure it's a good book I don't think you summary is right in anyway. First of all most bicycle accidents leading to serisou injury (at least a day in hospital) happen only to the cyclist, with no one else involved. The biggest cause of accidents is bad infrastructure and maintainance, i.e. gravel on the bicycle lane, or other surprises such as tight curves .

        It's of course possible that things are completely different here in Sweden, and it's also possible to blame this on the cyclist saying that bad judgement is the cause of these accidents, but you have to put it in a perspective you do not have the same types of problems in car lanes, no one would dig a hole in the middle of the road without giving motorist lots of warning and protection. This happens quite often in bicycle infrastructure.

        These are stats from Sweden [www.vti.se]
        27% can be related to operation and maintenance
        20% to road design
        27% to cyclist-bicycle interaction
        15% to the behaviour and state of the cyclist,
        11% to the interaction of the cyclist with other road users

      • Re:How safe? (Score:5, Informative)

        by JoeDuncan (874519) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @02:21PM (#45226575)

        ...effectively the injury/death rate is mostly effected by poor decisions by the cyclist, not the car.

        This is incorrect. In any study regarding bike-car collisions I have seen, the overwhelming majority of them are caused by motorist negligence. Take a look at this study by the City of Toronto based on police reports:

        http://www.toronto.ca/transportation/publications/bicycle_motor-vehicle/ [toronto.ca]

        It shows something like @83% of bike-car collisions were caused by the motorist, not the cyclist. This basic finding has been replicated in many other cities as well. I can't find the link at the moment, but IIRC it was like 90%+ caused by motorists in NYC.

      • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @04:02PM (#45227919)

        I have an older version, but effectively the injury/death rate is mostly effected by poor decisions by the cyclist, not the car.

        First off, "the car" doesn't do anything. The driver does. You're attributing behavior to an inanimate object, something I see people do constantly.

        Second: several decades of research proves your claim wrong. Most collisions are due to the driver doing something illegal, sometimes simply failing to yield because they think they have right-of-way over someone on a bicycle.

        Australian helmet cam study: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/study-blames-drivers-for-bike-crashes-20101122-18330.html [smh.com.au]

        London study: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/drivers-to-blame-for-twothirds-of-bicycle-collisions-in-westminster-8602166.html [standard.co.uk]

        UK-wide study: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study [theguardian.com]

        Toronto study which found cyclists at fault in TEN PERCENT of crashes: http://www.examiner.com/article/study-claims-cyclists-at-fault-only-10-percent-of-crashes [examiner.com]

        The list goes on. Keep in mind that studies which are based off police reports that aren't carefully analyzed are typically faulty because police very often incorrectly side with motorists, don't interview cyclists, witness statements are wrong, etc. It's common to review a report, see obvious signs that the motorist did something illegal, and police do not cite them, and often cite the cyclist.

        This guy was hit and two witnesses and the driver claimed he ran a red light; police tried to give him a ticket for running the light. He knew he hadn't. He found video from a traffic camera showing very clearly that he was cut off by the driver - what we call a "left cross": http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19284/it-must-have-been-your-fault-cmon-you-are-a-biker/ [greatergre...ington.org]

        It should make you stop and think to consider that many cyclists ride with helmet cameras. There's a reason - drivers lie, police don't believe us (or very often we're incapacitated or otherwise unable to defend ourselves), and witnesses are discriminatory towards cyclists or simply don't understand traffic laws or think they saw what they didn't.

  • only? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by themushroom (197365) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:16PM (#45224581) Homepage

    he's only broken his collarbone twice and hip once

    Only? That sounds like proof of concept rather than a proof of overstatement.

    • Indeed. In two decades of driving, I have had precisely zero driving-related injuries of any kind. (And in four decades of being driven or driving myself, I have been in precisely two accidents, neither involving injury to myself, and only one involving injuries to anybody -- all of which were extremely minor compared to those this single biker has received.)
      • On the other hand, the pollution from the car you drove for 20 years amounts to how much exactly?
        The conceptual problem with this approach is that we're thinking egocentrically while completely disregarding the indirect effects of our behavior.

        I've been biking for 15 years regularly (and irregularly for 10 years before that) and had zero incidents but quite a few close calls, all due to motorists not paying attention to what's around them. But I admit I had zero incidents because I bike very, very carefully

    • Re:only? (Score:5, Informative)

      by frinkster (149158) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:30PM (#45224837)

      he's only broken his collarbone twice and hip once

      Only? That sounds like proof of concept rather than a proof of overstatement.

      If you were to see the actual quote, you may feel differently:

      Dr. Pruitt cites his own example. Now 62, he was a bicycle racer and has been riding for the past four decades. He covers 5,000 to 10,000 miles a year.

      In all that time, he has had four serious crashes. He broke his collarbone twice while racing and had two crashes on a mountain bike, breaking a hip one time and spraining a wrist the other.

      This is a worthless data point.

    • Depends. Cycling can be very safe: get a big, comfortable city bike, stick to bicycle lanes, ride at about 15 mph or less, wear a helmet, stop at all intersections and generally coast with the hand on the brake. I can pretty much guarantee no accidents - at least, no accidents that you could have avoided. You still run the risk of getting run over by an idiot who isn't paying attention, but the risk at that point is similar to being a pedestrian.

      On the other hand, do some serious mountain biking, hit 35 mp

      • by guanxi (216397)

        You still run the risk of getting run over by an idiot who isn't paying attention, but the risk at that point is similar to being a pedestrian.

        ... if you walked in the street all day.

    • Re:only? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:54PM (#45225243)

      Only? That sounds like proof of concept rather than a proof of overstatement.

      It is only proof that America as a whole, of which NYC is a part of (contrary to popular opinion, who think it is America), has a shockingly low regard for bikers. Take for example, how the Dutch [youtube.com] handle bicycling -- they have not just dedicated lanes, but dedicated traffic signals. Bikes are an integrated part of their public transportation system. In the United States, it's viewed as "something children do, or people who haven't grown up." In other words, you're viewed as immature and/or poor if you ride a bike, not environmentally conscious, fiscally prudent, or body smart.

      Now I live in the midwest, and several of our cities, to little fanfare, have been adopting the dutch approach. In Chicago, Minneapolis, and other cities, we are creating dedicated bike lanes and signals. Minneapolis in particular has an extensive network of inter-city bike trails which it maintains year round. For those who forget, Minneapolis is located at the same lat/long as Moscow, and it regularly gets snowfall of several feet come high winter. Chicago's trains have been installing bike racks in the cars and on buses, though they are seen less than elsewhere during the cold season. New York, for all its bluster about this, barely registers on the scale of bike-friendliness; cyclists there might as well be armed mad-max style and shooting at motorists for as much hostility there is between the two groups, whereas in the midwest, and even along the West coast in places like San Francisco, motorists are much more tolerant of cyclists.

      This is starting to change as the millenials come into the workforce and seem decidedly uninterested in owning their own car. I'm not entirely sure why this is happening, because unlike Europe, the population density of America is such that owning a car is pretty much a necessity -- most people who own bikes also own, or at least have access to, a car or other form of motorized transportation. Even in Europe, scooters are a common sight, whereas around here, they're rare indeed.

      I guess my point is that while culture plays a role, the bigger hinderance to mass transit and cycling both in the United States is population density. We are really spread out. You could fit several Western Europes into the US, and we don't have nearly as many people per mile as most European countries. The other part of this is that our city's infrastructure has never been flat out replaced. Europe's has -- it was called WWII, when most of their infrastructure was blown up. Your welcome by the way -- we paid for fixing a lot of that. We've never done the same here -- our roads were never reimagined to include bikes, or mini-vehicles, etc. Our urban sprawl continues unabated. And this is, ultimately, why we have so many problems; We're too spread out, and infrastructure costs too damn much, which is why it's only basic. We should have had bullet trains and such a long time ago; But the maintenance costs of all this suburban landscape saps away our budget. And it makes cycling a losing proposition -- the average road trip is 15 miles in the midwest. That's 30 miles a day if you want to go by bike. And considering that over 1/3rd of our citizens are clinically obese... I don't know that even half of Americans could survive a 30 mile bike ride.

  • Please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krept (697623) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:19PM (#45224623)
    Wear a helmet.
    • And is it OK to follow Mayor Emanuel's lead and lose the helmet?

      In a city? No. The sort of accidents you're likely to have in urban cycling leave the risk of blunt-force trauma to the head. Serious cyclist who propose helmet-free cycling aren't talking about low speed urban cycling, they're talking about cycling on high-speed out-of-town roads, or high speed cycling on open roads downhill. There is an argument that in a high speed collision, the helmet increases the risk of torsional injury to the neck: if your head is in contact with a rough surface (eg a road) during

  • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:19PM (#45224627)
    Unlike Andy Pruitt, I would not consider three broken bones in 40 years to be "safe". I have been cycling for about that long, but no more than a couple thousand miles per year on average, and I have never broken a bone, not cycling, not in any other activity - and my activities include flying (powered and unpowered craft), motorcycles, white water kayaking, and mocking senior management.
  • by ddd0004 (1984672) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:19PM (#45224629)
    It's all the cars that are dangerous
    • The road near my house is like Mecca for cyclists. Creek Rd (Old Rte 100) along the Brandywine Creek in Chester County, PA. It is beautiful, but it has got to be the most dangerous road I could imagine for cyclists.

      1. It is CURVY and at the speed limit, you barely have enough time to see what is around the bend in time to stop if there is something stopped (or slow, like a cyclist)
      2. There is NO shoulder to speak of. It's an old PA road, which means it has been worn down over the centuries until the r

  • by Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:21PM (#45224671) Homepage

    Having seen a number of near-misses in London, no way would I cycle there. The main arteries are simply scary, the minor roads take too long and cross the main ones too frequently. Maybe the Greenway would make sense if both ends of the journey are in its vicinity.

    • I reached London after a 1000 mile trip from the French Med. Everyone thought it was incredibly brave of me to cycle across France, but it was only London that ever had me worried....
      • Everyone thought it was incredibly brave of me to cycle across France, but it was only London that ever had me worried....

        Ah, rookie mistake. Everyone forgets that traffic drives on the left once you cross the Channel.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:24PM (#45224711) Homepage

    It isn't. At least, not on roads shared with cars.

    Most drivers treat cyclists like pests (and in fairness, I see a lot of cyclists who completely ignore all traffic rules and deserve the reputation).

    Where I live, we've had the buses kill cyclists because the bike lane and the bus lane co-exist and the bus drivers don't look.

    I gave up on any notion of cycling on the same road as cars 15+ years ago. Unless you have an entire network of bike lanes which are physically separated from the cars (and even those tend to be spotty), I wouldn't consider cycling on city streets to be even remotely safe.

    I don't trust most drivers while I'm in a car, being exposed on a bicycle? No way in hell I'd be willing to do that anymore.

    • Where I live, we've had the buses kill cyclists because the bike lane and the bus lane co-exist and the bus drivers don't look.

      I compare cycling with buses to boating with giant whales. If a whale knows you're there, it won't hit you (nursing mothers excepted), but if it can't see you, it could obliterate your vessel unwittingly with a flick of its tail. Always be mindful of the huge blindspots on a bus, and if you're overtaking a stopped bus, pull out beyond its blindspot with several bike-lengths to spare in case he pulls out before he sees you.

  • Danger (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:28PM (#45224785) Journal

    Cycling carries its dangers, but cycling (even in a city) is probably less dangerous than not exercising at all.

  • Bike lanes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:29PM (#45224811)
    Where I live (Vancouver, Canada) there's been a multi-year program to install bike lanes throughout the city. It's caused a lot of tension between drivers and cyclists because there's a sense amongst drivers (and pedestrians too, for that matter) that we're spending millions of tax dollars catering to a group who a) don't follow the rules of the road and b) feel that the rules don't apply to them. They ride fixie bikes with no brakes and no bells. They blow through crosswalks, shouting and terrifying grannies. They ride at night dressed in black with no lights and then shout at me when I nearly run them over after they blow through a stop sign. They ride on sidewalks right next to bike lanes - And there's zero enforcement for any of this, and none of the bike advocacy groups seem willing to shame the bad apples.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:29PM (#45224817)

    The best way to make cycling in major cities safer would be to

    1) require a drivers license to cycle on city streets
    2) require cyclists to obey all traffic laws (this is already true in many jurisdictions)
    3) disallow cyclists (and motorcycles) from weaving between lanes to move ahead in traffic. Require them to use lanes in the same manner as other vehicles (you don't see 2 smart cars trying to share one lane of traffic)
    4) enforce #1, #2 and #3 as aggressivley with cyclists as with automobiles, with the same penalties

    I have seen more pedestrians run down (or nearly run down) by cyclists running red lights, weaving in and out of slow moving traffic, transitioning from using the streets to using pedestrian crosswalks to thwart lights or make lefts from a right hand lane across traffic. I cannot count the number of times I've seen aggressive cyclists in New York and Chicago weave through cars, use the wrong side of the road (!!!), etc. and then get upset when someone nearly knocks them over because they weren't seen being where they didn't belong.

    If you require a level of competence (driver's license), require all vehicles using the roads to abide by the same laws (and enforce equally, with equal consequences), you'd go a long way toward improving cycling safety.

    • by kpoole55 (1102793)

      All of those requirements are easily gotten around just by riding on the sidewalk. That's what they do here.

      More interesting are some towns in Europe that are eliminating sidewalks and all the extraneous traffic control signs and pavement markers. Apparently with all the distractions gone and everyone on feet and wheels sharing the same space there's a lot more paying of attention and a lot fewer accidents.

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth AT 5-cent DOT us> on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:36PM (#45224937) Homepage

    I lived in Philly til midway through my thirties. I rode a bike a *lot* - commuting, and, in fact, about 9 months as a bike messenger. No helmet.

    I went down three times, and limped away all of them. Scraped hand. Once was due to a very bad seam in the street itself. Back then, *no* *one* wore a helmet.

    Of course, back there, adults were supposed to ride in the street, not on the sidewalk, and in the street, you are suppsed to obey traffic laws like any other vehicle. If you ride your bike the way some self-proclaimed CotU (Centers of the Universe) drive their oversized, gas-guzzling SUVs, and think stopping for lights or stop signs is for weenies, well, there's a phrase for that:: think of it as evolution in action.

                          mark

  • "ONLY????" (Score:3, Informative)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:37PM (#45224955) Homepage
    It is hard to take serious someone that says they have "only" broken their collar bone twice and their hip once, even after forty years.

    I am over forty, don't bike, and have never borken ANY bone.

    • Read the full quote, he was an off-road bike RACER. The summary (as usual) does a piss poor job of *summarizing*.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:40PM (#45225011)

    Pick a safe route at an off-peak time, and you'll be all right. And don't be hard when the roads are slick--take the bus.

    I've bike-commuted for about 9 years now and it has worked out beautifully.

    Route planning is everything. I'll ride 25% further just to get the benefit of a lower traffic route or a wide shoulder. Timing is also key. In some places, half an hour can make the difference between peaceful solitude and rush hour madness.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:42PM (#45225025) Journal

    It's probably safer than watching TV. You don't get diabetes, obesity and coronary artery disease from cycling. If cycling gets you off the couch, do it. Hiking gets me off the couch. I don't worry about stumbling over a rock or yep... getting hit by a mountain biker. I worry about my mid-section getting flabby. Statistically, it's far more likely to kill me.

    I used to cycle. I didn't mind the 25 mph city streets, as long as they were wide enough to avoid car door openings. I hated faster roads. Braddock and Ox road area of Fairfax County, VA was the worst. I road on Braddock, and a driver yelled at me. I road on the sidewalk next to Ox, and a guy mowing his lawn yelled at me for riding where only pedestrians are supposed to be. Technically he was right, but my life was more important to me than your stupid law. I was not about to take my life into my hands and ride on the side of Ox road there. I see a lot more road riders in California where I live now, but I really don't want to join them. I could see myself cruising the El Camino and the little Main Streets on the Peninsula though. El Camino is 35 mph but the traffic is so bad it goes slower a lot. That's about the fastest road I'd ever want to be on. San Francisco? It's a madhouse. Fuggedaboutit. I'll see you on a mountain side, walking to get fresh air and exercise.

  • by hydrofix (1253498) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:42PM (#45225031)
    This is of course a complex question. Sure, cyclist are more prone to accidents and air pollution than those who commute by private car or by public transport. Then again, cycling to work is a "free" daily exercise – a benefit too often overlooked. A Danish study [jamanetwork.com] published in 2000 found that in a group of 30,000 randomly selected individuals, those who did not cycle to work experienced a 39% higher mortality rate than those who did – even after adjusting for other risk factors. So considering the overall effect, it seems that cycling is actually safer than not cycling, probably due to its positive effect on your physical fitness.
  • by SlashDread (38969) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:43PM (#45225035)

    In The Netherlands. Nobody wears a helmet, with a few exception for very young kids (Always flanked and shielded by a overly concerned parent.)

    I could show a graph that nicely shows that helmets are correlated with higher death rates. (No the helmet doesn't kill, its because helmets are worn in countries with low separation of slow cyclists and fast cars)
    There is also a correlation between more helmets (by law) leading to LESS cyclers. Its a burden.

    Seperation of slow and fast traffic is BY FAR the biggest factor here. Then also consider the health benefit of the exercise.

    Regular exercise will make you more healthy and prolong your life! So, on bike lanes, Cycling is Super Awesome Safe! No helmet needed.

    ps, incidents are on the rise due to old folks going faster on their electric assisted bikes.
    ps2 mopeds, scooters, especially those that clock 50km/h are more and more forced into the car lane in The Netherlands, the speeds fits better.
    ps3 Watch your juveniles, those pesky 12-18 y/o have a high incident rate. They are also likely to be offended by a helmet..

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:44PM (#45225071)

    Cycling seems fairly safe to me if you wear a helmet and you choose your routes to avoid cars.

    Here in Minneapolis I notice what I would call a lot of "aggressive" cyclists -- people who run traffic control devices (stop signs, lights, etc) and get dangerously close to traffic that might otherwise change speeds/lanes/turn/etc very quickly. From the cyclists I talk to, it almost seems like cycling is taking on a political component, too, which seems to contribute to aggressive cycling or at least an aggressive attitude.

    The other thing that kind of amazes me are the people who INSIST on cycling on a busy through street (like Lyndale through South Minneapolis) instead of moving over just a block on either side and riding on a nearly empty residential street, like Garfield or Aldrich. Or the bike racing gear wearers who insist on riding on the parkway instead of the bike path 25 feet away, in spite of the fact that the parkway is a single lane and the parking cutouts along the parkway are pretty narrow -- if cars are parked in the cutouts there's precious little room to pass a cyclist.

    As long as people insist on riding in traffic and people kind of a jerk about it, it doesn't surprise me that there are conflicts a cyclist will lose simply based on mass.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @12:45PM (#45225087)

    Cycling excludes many people, especially the elderly, the otherwise frail, and the uncoordinated. In the city, at least, they would be taking their lives in their hands.

    It seems like an idea by the young and healthy, for the young and healthy. Which is fine, but devoting significant public resources to it seems questionable. Should cities invest in transportation programs (such as bikeshare) that many residents are physically unable to utilize?

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @01:01PM (#45225387) Homepage Journal

    It is not the first time (nor the last) that the car industry try to eliminate alternatives to their products [wikipedia.org].

    Car accidents is one of the main causes of death in US [nsc.org], 1 in 108 (and maybe other causes in that report should be grouped in that category as are caused directly or indirectly by cars), while bicycles are 1 in 5000 (and a lot of them could be caused by cars). And those 2 are often ignored by the people that mainly fear being killed by a shark or terrorists that are 1 in several millons each.

  • by goffster (1104287) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @01:22PM (#45225709)

    bikers just need to cut risks:

    1) Don't ride in the dark.
    2) Don't ride in the middle of the street.
    3) Don't go down hills at full speed.
    4) Wear a helmet
    5) Be careful at intersections

    They don't have to be laws. Just what you do to live.

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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