Is road cycling dangerous?



sammyjay

New Member
May 23, 2012
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I know this question is subject to some variables, but I want to know if road cycling is dangerous if you follow the rules. My mom thinks it is quite dangerous, and has come up with all sorts of things that could happen, such as getting attacked by bears or wolves, getting knocked off the road by the wind coming off of a semi(I don't think that is very likely), getting hit by a drunk driver, or getting hit by someone who isn't paying attention and is on the wrong side of the road. Do you think that any of these things is very likely? All of her concerns are valid except probably the part about the wind of a semi knocking me off the road, but drunk drivers are rare around here, and I don't see either wolves or bears attacking me, and I have never seen anyone driving on the wrong side of the road badly enough to hit me. The only thing I saw that was very dangerous was someone driving down a hill in the middle of the road pulling a piece of farm equipment that took up the entire road, but that is quite rare. Do you guys think that road cycling is dangerous enough that I shouldn't do it at all?


Nathan
 
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maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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That's a loaded question.

There is always an element of some risk in all activities but you can choose to act in a safe or unsafe manner. Done correctly the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Sitting at the computer all day responding to internet message boards has risk too.
 

Dave Pace

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Aug 3, 2012
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Everything has a risk. Driving a car. Riding a bike, Flying on an airplane. Walking down the street. There are all kinds of "Statistics". With that said I agree that it is a very loaded question. Heck at the beginning of this year here in Buffalo NY we had a very weird series of cars running in to buildings. It got to a 32 different accidents of cars running into houses/businesses in 1 month. But here in the past week 2 people were killed while walking on 1 of the rails to trails path due to a drunk drive took the wrong turn. (That was this Sunday and I just missed being in that statistic by 10 mins.Heck i think I passed them 2 poor ladys.) http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/news/top-news/Two-Killed-When-Motorcycle-Crashes-Into-Pedestrians-On-Bike-Path-178901421.html

Then there was the Idiot that made me lay down my bike last Monday just because he wanted to ram on the gas to turn the corner first while I was going strait.

In the end it does not matter what you do you are a statistic to someone somewhere. All that you can do it take the safety 1 step further that helps to protect you. We can not argue the point to your Mother as she is......well...... Your mother, and worring is her job.
 

dominikk85

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Oct 29, 2012
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sure it is risky. a lot of professional riders have been killed in training (actually not a lot if you consider all rider but still a significant number). even if you do follow the rules there is always a danger since there are a lot of idiot drivers out there who drive while being tired, angry or even drunk.

but there are a lot of things you can do to minimize risks:

-make sure your equipment is in shape (no cracks in fork or frame, good brakes, good tires)
-don't be aggressive and don't make bold "moves"
-do not use high frequented or high tempo roads
-make sure you have lighting and reflectors in the dark or better avoid riding in the dark (which is difficult in the winter when you do your training after work)
-slow down on sharp or unknown curves or in the rain

...

but still there is a risk but getting fat in front of TV is risky too:D.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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maydog said:
That's a loaded question. There is always an element of some risk in all activities but you can choose to act in a safe or unsafe manner. Done correctly the benefits far outweigh the risks. Sitting at the computer all day responding to internet message boards has risk too.
Exactly. People tend to focus on the risks of doing things that aren't common activities, while ignoring the risks of things they consciously or subconsciously consider mundane, like driving a car; yet some of those seemingly mundane activities have higher injury and fatality rates than cycling. It's pretty universal that people overestimate the risk of activities of which they're not familiar.
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by sammyjay .

I know this question is subject to some variables, but I want to know if road cycling is dangerous if you follow the rules. My mom thinks it is quite dangerous, and has come up with all sorts of things that could happen, such as getting attacked by bears or wolves, getting knocked off the road by the wind coming off of a semi(I don't think that is very likely), getting hit by a drunk driver, or getting hit by someone who isn't paying attention and is on the wrong side of the road. Do you think that any of these things is very likely? All of her concerns are valid except probably the part about the wind of a semi knocking me off the road, but drunk drivers are rare around here, and I don't see either wolves or bears attacking me, and I have never seen anyone driving on the wrong side of the road badly enough to hit me. The only thing I saw that was very dangerous was someone driving down a hill in the middle of the road pulling a piece of farm equipment that took up the entire road, but that is quite rare. Do you guys think that road cycling is dangerous enough that I shouldn't do it at all?
With the exception of the bears and the wind, most of these things can also happen in a car. Does your mom advocate not driving too? But I digress you are asking folks on a riding forum if cycling is dangerous enough that it shouldn't be done at all. Many folks on a riding forum really like riding and like with any activity in our lives many have probably weighed the risk/reward ratio (even if subconciously) and have determined it is better for our overall life quality to cycle. I'm not sure how old you are but like myself you may have to live by moms rules until you can pay your own rent. Personally I think the self esteem and fitness benefit one gets from cycling far outweighs any downside.
 

An old Guy

Active Member
Feb 12, 2011
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I knew 6 people who have been killed by car while bicycling. I don't know 6 other people killed by a single cause.

A couple years ago I was hit by an uninsured DUI - driving on the wrong side of the road. $150K in bills paid for by my insurers. Still not fit for working hard all day.

I am old. My wife worries when I ride on the roads.

---

Since you have a mother, you might be young enough for her to worry about you. It is terrible to bury a son or daughter.
 

steve

Administrator
Staff member
Aug 12, 2001
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Here in OZ, 22 people were killed by cars while riding a bike in 2011. Compared to in 2008;

Falls involving bed 316
Falls involving chair 29
Falls on and from ladder 26
HIV 64
Suicide 2191
Assaults 205
Accidental poisoning 622
Accidental drowning 159

I don't give any of these a second thought throughout the day, but I worry about getting hit by a car every time I go out, how odd. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
 

jpr95

Well-Known Member
Oct 11, 2010
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Originally Posted by steve .

Here in OZ, 22 people were killed by cars while riding a bike in 2011. Compared to in 2008;

Falls involving bed 316
Falls involving chair 29
Falls on and from ladder 26
HIV 64
Suicide 2191
Assaults 205
Accidental poisoning 622
Accidental drowning 159

I don't give any of these a second thought throughout the day, but I worry about getting hit by a car every time I go out, how odd. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
From that list, it looks like you should be most worried about yourself! I suppose it's even worse when you're on a bike--you have to resist the urge to swerve in front of a large truck.

But, those stats don't tell the whole tale. What was the experience/fitness level for each of those categories? Let's face it--I'm fairly fit, healthy and somewhat agile--I'm not likely to die falling from a chair or bed. I use ladders quite a bit in my profession, which puts me at risk there, but I have a lot of experience at it and I use that safety device between and above my shoulders. I am at zero risk for HIV. I'm not a likely target for assault (potential perps don't like to take on someone who can hurt or shoot them). As for the other two, well, stuff happens.
 

vspa

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Jan 11, 2009
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it is more dangerous to hung out with teenager friends experimenting with drugs and alcohol, instead, once you aqcuire cycling habits, you will up at 7:00 am on sunday mornings getting ready for your club ride or race,
 

walrus1

New Member
Oct 27, 2012
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Tell your mom, that I have had more scary run ins with cars walking then I have on a bike. Follow the rules of the road. Stay in bike lanes as much as possible. Signal and for god's sake wear a helmet! And you should be fine.
 

bartsie

New Member
Jun 20, 2011
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In my experience, cycling clubs are full of lawyers, doctors and other reasonable and serious people, who would be happy to talk to your mom about safety. You may want to talk to experienced riders yourself. Following the rules is all fine and good but you may want to get pointers beyond that, appropriate for your geographic area.

Yes, I think she has every right to be concerned.
 

MotownBikeBoy

Well-Known Member
Nov 24, 2012
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Hi, new here. I think lighting is probably the most crucial on-board safety feature for winter biking in dark conditions. I lit mine up like a Christmas tree, 8 lights plus a flexible led light cable (guess it is LED). Make sure they can really see you. Bright and flashing is best, IMHO.
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by MotownBikeBoy .

Hi, new here. I think lighting is probably the most crucial on-board safety feature for winter biking in dark conditions. I lit mine up like a Christmas tree, 8 lights plus a flexible led light cable (guess it is LED).
Make sure they can really see you. Bright and flashing is best, IMHO.
I would juxtapose this with CampyBob's statement about the inherent danger of cycling - we can make the activity substantially more or less safe with our personal decisions when riding I.e. lights riding at night/in rain, choice of riding partners, obeying traffic laws, engaging in predictable riding behavior, etc. vs. bad riding habits, drinking alcohol and riding, ignoring red lights and other traffic signs, etc.
 

vspa

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Jan 11, 2009
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contact sports can be worse, like ice hockey or football, there you have more chances of getting injuries, in cycling, accidents happen lest often but the outcome of a crash against a car for example can be worse,
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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A little perspective on this whole "danger" thing would be nice. In 2010 618 cyclists were killed; 751 construction workers were killed; and 4280 pedestrians were killed. Interestingly, few people carry on and pull their out over the "danger" working construction or the extreme hazard of being a pedestrian. Not being active leads to a magnitude or more deaths per year than cycling. Let's face it: life is dangerous as judged by the current "danger" metric. In 2010 the US census said there 786,098 people who cycled to work. The number of cyclists in general is much higher than that for commuters. If you compute the odds of being killed on bike that year based purely on the number cyclists killed vs. people who cycle to work, you'd have much less than a 1/1000 chance of being killed. If you compute the odds of dying on a bike based on the number of bike trips in the US (2002 data says cyclists made 2.4 billion trips) you'd have a 2.5 in 100 million chance of being killed on a given ride. That's much better than your odds of dying in a plane crash on one of the top 25 safest airlines. In fact it's 75% less than your chance of dying on a flight on one of the top 25 safest airlines. I'll take those odds every day of the week. Time to panic! ...or not.
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/facts/crash-facts.cfm

"As mentioned, bicyclists seem to be over-represented in the crash data as they account for almost two percent of fatalities but one percent of trips."

Death is not the only measure of danger. Throw in more than half a million injuries per year. Just the simple fact that there are a metric **** ton of websites devoted to the statistical analysis of cycling crashes and injuries should tell anyone there is a significant amount of danger associated with practicing the sport.

Mechanical failures, gravel, dogs & animals, motor vehicles, poor roads, sewer grates, fatigue, etc., the risk factors are many. Looking back on 40 years in the saddle, I call it a dangerous sport with significant risk of serious injury. YMMV.