How Safe Is Cycling? It's Hard to Say
Part of that difficulty, and part of the reason the statistics show no trends in bicycle injuries, I think, relates to the fact that many bicycle injuries are caused by things that are difficult or impossible to measure.
Swerving to avoid something (related to handling skills, but also to a lot of externalities that are in themselves difficult or impossible to measure). the driver may report the cyclist swerving, but how often can a hit cyclist remember exactly what they did prior to being hit, with the high rate of concussions when a cyclist crashes?
A person's ability to assess risk (ie does a particular maneuver in traffic involve excess risk?)
Some things that would be easier to measure if data were collected, and may show trends:
Weather and visibility conditions
ALL safety gear the cyclist may or may not be using (not just the presence of a helmet, which isn't all that telling), including colors of clothing, use of active lighting, types of reflective surfaces present, use of mirrors, use of cameras as event recorders, etc
I specifically want to know how many riders are hit who are salmon riding vs. those riding with traffic. I'm seeing a lot of that where I live and it's driving me insane.
Yeah, it's hard to make any sense of the numbers when we are lumped in with the salmons, ninjas, and even the little kids that might ride right in front of a car.
I do know that the last few bike accidents in my area bad enough to be publicized (deaths, serious injuries) both appear to be 100% caused by impaired drivers crossing the center line and hitting cyclists going the other way in single file in broad daylight. I think when so much is beyond our control it makes it feel more unsafe.
How Safe Is Cycling? It's Hard to Say
Around here, it is a regular occurrence for cyclists to be hit by cars. The vast majority of the time, when footage of the scene is supplied, the bike is a dept store pos, which makes me wonder about how seriously the rider is taking their riding and safety.
Fwiw, these incidents do not get a lot of attention. A few secs on the evening news is all mostly.
Equipment failure plays a role, too.
The emergency room shows that the injuries can be severe, but it doesn't show how many cyclist miles of everyone who might be brought to that hospital. It does not show how dangerous the patients were riding before and causing the accident (like a ninja salmoning at night with no lights and flat out riding through red lights and stop signs). I was asked why I was still riding after my face plant. I heard that a front flat while cornering fast is a guaranteed accident. In all my riding and that of friends and others I know of, I had never heard of it happening. The chances of it happening again are pretty small. Not zero, but I will likely never have it happen again. So it is an exceedingly rare but with severe consequences. Humans can't process one in a million miles events. They can only see the severe damage. That is the emergency room reaction. So with no mileage basis, the effort to determine how safe cycling is as a commuter is futile.
I like blaming kids and the homeless, and the injury collision stats around here sort of support that:
14 and under: 18%
Under 25 is nearly 50%, although a lot of that might just have to do with a higher incidence of cycling?
The cyclist errors (and cyclists only made improper actions less than 40% of the time) were:
Disobey Traffic Signal 18%
Failed to Yield Right of Way - Uncontrolled Intersection 14%
Stop Sign Violation 5%
Improper Passing 4%
Left of Centre 4%
Improper Lane Change 4%
Left Turn Across Path 4%
Yield Sign Violation 3%
Improper Turn 3%
Failed to Yield Right of Way to Pedestrian 2%
Followed Too Closely 2%
Backed Unsafely 1%
I thought this part was interresting:
"She and her colleagues reviewed hospital and police records for 2,504 bicyclists who had been treated at San Francisco General Hospital. She expected that most of these serious injuries would involve cars; to her surprise, nearly half did not."
Think salmon are included there? While they really stand out and piss off "real" cyclists to no end, maybe we`re a little too uppity about it.
Originally Posted by newfangled
^^ I found that interesting too - but I wonder how the cyclist in Newf's numbers managed to "back unsafely" (1%)?
NYC's Risk Indicator is interesting too:
Their numbers look like cars are involved much more than in the SanFran study, >90%
These numbers are from 2012, but every year there's at least one injury from "backed unsafely." I can't figure it out either.
Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
^^ "Backed unsafely" Can't be a dismounted 'walk it back' as the person is a pedestrian at that point with a bike between the legs. Pedestrians whether with a bike or no, have the right of way. So I suppose it is a roll down a driveway or similar situation backwards and into the street (or down a street and into a car, pole, or other immovable object? I can see the under 18 year old group doing that especially under a dare. It would be rare but with a high likelihood for a bad outcome. It would be better listed as failure to yield, if coming out of a driveway or street.
Haha! I hadn`t noticed the backing one! Yeah, that`s a bit tough to explain.
Brian, you call the switch to pedestrian even is the (ex)rider is still straddling the bike and doing the foot shuffle thing? It takes both feet on the ground and on the same side of the bike for me to say "pedestrian".
^^ So walking beside a bike on a sidewalk is OK while doing so straddling it is not? If I am using my feet on the ground with my butt out of the saddle, I am walking as far as I am concerned, but this is the sort of minutiae that lawyers thrive upon!
Analysis of NC bicycle collision data: http://people.aapt.net.au/~theyan/cy...ention%203.pdf
Although biking facing traffic was found partly associated with non-injury, head-on collisions greatly increase the probability of fatal injury (101.2% in Table 3).
I assume this is in addition to increase with vehicle speed. Which would mean that salmoning on a > 50 mph road is 30 x more likely to be fatal than riding correctly on a <20 mph road should a collision occur with an over taking vehicle. See the Opinion piece thread for mph figures.
May I suggest that one should move right and force the salmoning rider into traffic even if it means coming to a stop. You have avoided the accident by doing so. They are increasing your risk substantially by making you less predictable to the motorist. (How many drivers are going to see your need to move over?)
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