Is Safely Riding A Bike In The Street Much Safer Than Being On A Motorcycle?



hollowbackerdale

New Member
Jun 11, 2015
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I'm wondering because a couple people I know have suffered crippling injuries on their motorcycles. One even lost a leg, and they were both following the rules. I know a couple people who have been hit while riding a bicycle, but they were on the sidewalk and weren't paying attention to blind driveways. Is riding a bike in the street statistically much safer than being on a motorcycle? (Aside from accidents being relatively low speed)?
 
May 9, 2015
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Overall, bicycling is safer, but to an extent it's an apples and oranges comparison.

Motorcycles operate at general traffic speeds, so the hazards related to being passed from behind are reduced, compare to bicycles. OTOH, higher speed on a heavier vehicle introduces greater risks on their own.

IMO- safety is more about the driver than the vehicles. Regardless of what they're on or in, some drivers seem to have multiple accidents and close calls, and others can go for miles, years, or entire careers with few close calls and no accidents.

Ride smart, take control of your destiny, manage what you can, and accept what you can't, and you should be OK.
 

tarverten

New Member
May 26, 2015
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I think any statistics you might find would be meaningless. There are many things you can do on a bike to increase your safety, predictability and visibility being the biggest two. The crash statistics for bicycles are likely skewed by the large number of people engaging in unsafe behavior. Which isn't surprising considering I've seen few safety guides that cover the less intuitive methods to stay safe on the road.

I have to wonder how many of the "he swerved in front of me" crashes are the result of a cyclist weaving in and out of gaps in a line of parked cars instead of maintaining a consistent line outside the door zone. Any time I reach the end of a line of cars I can hear the engines gunning behind me.
 

blastguardgear

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May 9, 2015
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I have ridden a motorcycle(Honda 650 then Suzuki GS 750), only as a passenger. So I definitely feel safer on my (road)racing bike, than I did on a motorcycle.

Cyclists' and motorcyclists' have to deal with some of the same things. Things like motorists' treating both as if they are ghosts'. Either by almost hitting them, or hitting them outright.

The difference between the two. Is that a motorcycle weighs' more than a bicycle.

At the same time, if a motorcycle has a side-impact collision with a vehicle, at speed. There isn't much chance of survival of the motorcyclist. The same if a motorcyclist is the one that is hit from the side.

If a cyclist has a side-impact collision with a vehicle, there is still a possibility of survival. Because, Not every cyclist can go at speed, and at speed on varying speed limits. So, They can still be passed without the motorist breaking the speed limit. But if a vehicle hits a cyclist even from the side even gently. The cyclist has less of a chance of survival.

I have been in bike accidents on major arteries, and on side streets, in the business district, and in residential areas. All of those when I was on my bike.

Still, I feel that riding a motorcycle, outright. Is far more dangerous. Than riding a bicycle on the street. Because, With the increase in speed, is the increase in the lack of control. Some motorcycles can go 160mph on the highway. When they crash, if they haven't crashed with another vehicle. The motorcycle and motorcyclist(s) will individually skid along from the point of the crash. Depending on the speed, the inertia from the speed also transferred to the motorcyclist, the weight of the motorcycle and motorcyclist, individually, and the friction on the road surface. Will determine how far the skid.
 

thepieeatingjay

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Feb 22, 2015
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I'm not sure about overall safety but, for me, I feel safer on a motorcycle.
I"ve been riding motorcycles for 50+ years and bicycles for 20. My experience is that you are much more in control of your own destiny on a motorcycle than on a bicycle. Motorcycles provide the ability to place yourself better in relationship to threats. You have the ability to flow with traffic or accelerate away from uncomfortable situations. Motorcycles usually have two decent mirrors so it is possible to keep better track of your surroundings. If you choose you will have much better protective clothing while riding a motorcycle. You are more visible and the noise of the motorcycle (hopefully not too much noise) allows people to be aware of your presence. I believe a person is at much greater risk while learning how to ride a motorcycle than while learning how to ride a bicycle but at some point that reverses.
Anecdotally, I have lost 8 friends to bicycle accidents over the years and one to a motorcycle accident, another 2 friends were paralyzed while racing motorcycles. Two of the friends that were killed on bicycles were lifelong motorcycle guys. Almost all these deaths were caused by being run over from behind. While a couple of the bicyclist were run over at night most of them were killed during the day.
All that being said bicycling will keep you healthier than motorcycling. Bicycling also makes the motorcycle experience better.
 

shadowsupernature

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Jun 10, 2015
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I have the impression (which could be wrong) that motorcycle accidents often result in paralysis from spinal injuries, although some also die, while cyclists just die, or suffer broken limbs, fractured bones, head trauma, etc. Not saying no cyclists become paralyzed after accidents, but seems less?
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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Around 700 a year die as a result of injuries sustained on a bicycle compared to nearly 5000 on a motorcycle. I am not sure how that shakes out if you do a per mile ratio but I would imagine the numbers would be closer. Most bicycle deaths are a result of head injury and occur in urban areas. Many motorcycle deaths occur as a result of a non-auto incident where the rider simply looses control.
There is a stretch of road called the Dragon near me that has claimed numerous lives due to motorcycle wrecks. Speed is the dominating reason and so I would say that the motor powered bike is more dangerous due to that factor.
 

9lines

Member
May 7, 2015
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As long as you follow the rules it is always safe whether on a bicycle or a motorbike. The advantage of a motorbike here is that you can travel faster and less tiresome than cycling. You cannot cycle at high speeds making you to commute for longer hours.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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Better change that to, if everyone follows the rules and travels at the same rate of speed. Nothing should be tagged as completlely safe. Nothing is!
 

joshposh

Banned
Apr 16, 2015
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With a motorcycle you increase the danger because of the speed and torque that is attainable. You won't be hitting the upper ranges of a motorcycle. Reaction time is cut significantly and the speed alone will kill you.
 

neednoexcuse

Member
Jun 2, 2016
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If you don't have the required skill, you are in danger. If you consider motorcycle riding as a dangers job, you don't know how to ride a motorcycle. In my opinion, riding a motorcycle is easier than riding a bike. To ride both the vehicles, you need the skills and you need to practise.
 

Corzhens

Well-Known Member
May 26, 2015
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Motorcycle accidents is very common in Metro Manila. As what the region administrator said, not a day will pass without a motorcycle accident. Worse, the number of deaths are increasing because of the irresponsible driving of motorcycle riders. Compared to riding a bike, maybe the statistics would something like 99% versus 1% in terms of accidents with the bike getting that 1% share of the stats. It is much, much safer to ride a bike than a motorcycle provided you are a responsible rider.
 

Jcycle

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May 14, 2015
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I'm guessing that they run about the same risk where I live (Seattle Suburbs). I'm not sure for anywhere else. We have a lot of both on the roads here.
 

Econjoe

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Jul 3, 2016
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I feel more in control of the situation on a motorcycle than on a bicycle. Having two mirrors, a horn, and the ability to rapidly accelerate and maneuver on a motorcycle make me feel like I'm more likely to avoid an incident than when I'm on a bicycle. Although if I'm ever in an accident on a motorcycle I expect it to be much more serious than on a bicycle simply because of the rate of speed plus I ride the motorcycle on more crowded (and higher speed limit) roads than I ride my bicycle.
 

Jcycle

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May 14, 2015
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I feel more in control of the situation on a motorcycle than on a bicycle. Having two mirrors, a horn, and the ability to rapidly accelerate and maneuver on a motorcycle make me feel like I'm more likely to avoid an incident than when I'm on a bicycle. Although if I'm ever in an accident on a motorcycle I expect it to be much more serious than on a bicycle simply because of the rate of speed plus I ride the motorcycle on more crowded (and higher speed limit) roads than I ride my bicycle.
In reality being at higher speed gives you less control of a situation, not more. It isn't hard to add mirrors or a horn to a bicycle. They are available.
 

joeyduck

New Member
Apr 29, 2014
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Vancouver, BC, Canada
I stopped riding motorcycles in my city cause I didn't trust drivers. I started cycling to work since it was faster (and I loved riding bikes).

But I almost lost a leg last year in a bad accident on my way to work. There are always freak occurrences and situations that can change things drastically.

I think it all depends on your attitude and risk assessment.

Ultimately the risks are almost the same if you are safely operating both vehicles.
 

Damien Lee

Active Member
May 16, 2015
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Motorbike users probably run a higher risk on the street, mainly due to the higher speed that they can attain. Another reason, is that motorbikes are bulkier than bicycles, and that also increases the chances for getting hit or scrapes. Personally, I know more people that have suffered injuries from riding motorbikes than bicycles, so that's telling.