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Just how dangerous is cycle commuting?

Hairy JockHairy Jock Posts: 558
edited August 2007 in Commuting chat
I have been cycle commuting on a regular basic for over 13 years (before that my cycle commuting was only sporadic), in that time I have never felt that what I was doing was in any way inherently dangerous. Yet I often hear people saying that they could cycle to work because it is too dangerous.

Just recently I came across a report from the NHS entitled Cycling – the actual risks which makes for interesting reading. The key points of which are, as a means of transport walking is more dangerous that cycle, Cycling in Britain is safer than driving in some European counties, Cycling is far safer than driving anywhere, Cycling gets safer as it gets more popular, and that There is no known example in recent decades when an increase in cycling led to an increase in cyclist deaths.
**************
Best advice I ever got was "better get a bike then"
Cycle commuting since 1994. Blog with cycle bits.
Also with the old C+ crowd at Cycle Chat.

Posts

  • Hairy Jock wrote:
    I have been cycle commuting on a regular basic for over 13 years (before that my cycle commuting was only sporadic), in that time I have never felt that what I was doing was in any way inherently dangerous. Yet I often hear people saying that they could cycle to work because it is too dangerous.

    [snip]

    It is now compulsory to be in favour of helping the environment etc. etc. Therefore it is compulsory to always ride a bike unless one cannot possibly do so

    Danger is the only acceptable excuse.

    Anyway, if cycling wasn't dangerous, why would London spend twenty million or more pounds each year tastefully painting bits of the road? Why would so many people start wearing funny hats and the appropriately matching sunglasses?

    Anyway, how do you know that, for them, cycling isn't dangerous? Not everyone feels like riding as Cyclecraft recommends.

    Reputedly, Compulsory Basic Training dramatically reduced motorcycle accidents. The cycling equivalent, bikeability, is pretty new, and most people haven't heard of it. Of those who have heard of it, it's generally only women and children who are willing to take
    the course

    Jeremy Parker
  • andrewc3142andrewc3142 Posts: 906
    Sunglasses are cool. Funny hats not.
  • adifiddleradifiddler Posts: 113
    The perceived dangers of cycling are very high and sadly this perceived danger is reinforced for many when they get out on the roads, this is often down to the lack of skill on understanding on the part of the rider by gutter hugging and being submissive to other road users.

    There needs to be better cycle training provided that is free or at least cheap for everyone and it must be well advertised. I had not heard of Bikeabilety until i joined the forum it is not well advertised although i am sure it is in schools as i believe it is aimed at children. Maybe it should be expanded to the adult population with adult Bikeabilety classes provided by the local authorities at community centers. Maybe this is already happening but I have never seen any advertising for such schemes locally.

    I would be interested in getting the instructor qualification but there is little information on how to become a cycle instructor that i can find.
    No 1 fan in the jonesy124 Fan Club
  • jeljel Posts: 758
    Depends what you mean by dangerous. Some people count minor injuries like cuts and grazes which makes cycling extremely dangerous indeed.
  • david2david2 Posts: 5,200
    In the last 5 years I have been hospitalised 4 times as a result of cycling activity, 3 of those times occured while commuting. Commuting makes up about half my cycling mileage. Of the total time spent in hospital I reckon two thirds came from the one time I wasn't commuting.

    So I'm not really sure if that makes cycle commuting any more dangerous than any other cycling or not.

    I haven't spent any time in hospital for any other reasons during that time. That would suggest that cycling (for me) has been more dangerous than driving, walking, swimming or any of the other things I've been up to in that last 5 year period.
  • Hairy JockHairy Jock Posts: 558
    david2 wrote:
    In the last 5 years I have been hospitalised 4 times as a result of cycling activity, 3 of those times occured while commuting. Commuting makes up about half my cycling mileage. Of the total time spent in hospital I reckon two thirds came from the one time I wasn't commuting.

    How did you manage that? I have never been hospitalised as a result of cycling activity and I have been cycling nearly 8 times longer.
    **************
    Best advice I ever got was "better get a bike then"
    Cycle commuting since 1994. Blog with cycle bits.
    Also with the old C+ crowd at Cycle Chat.
  • AndyGatesAndyGates Posts: 8,467
    Actually hospitalised or just a trip to Casualty?

    And is this a case of the newbie screwups (which us grizzled veterans got out of our system before our o-levels) or are you a magnet for woe and turmoil?
    Wanted: Penny farthing. Please PM me!
    Advice for kilted riders: top-tubes are cold.
  • GambatteGambatte Posts: 1,453
    Read something a while back that said the more cyclists on the road the safer it was.

    They looked at America & European countries and compared how often you'd see cyclists on the road and the accidents.

    Basically said if theres plenty of cyclists, then drivers expect to see them and are used to dealing with them.

    So if we want the roads safer, lets promote cycling!
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    adifiddler wrote:
    The perceived dangers of cycling are very high and sadly this perceived danger is reinforced for many when they get out on the roads, this is often down to the lack of skill on understanding on the part of the rider by gutter hugging and being submissive to other road users.

    There needs to be better cycle training provided that is free or at least cheap for everyone and it must be well advertised. I had not heard of Bikeabilety until i joined the forum it is not well advertised although i am sure it is in schools as i believe it is aimed at children. Maybe it should be expanded to the adult population with adult Bikeabilety classes provided by the local authorities at community centers. Maybe this is already happening but I have never seen any advertising for such schemes locally.

    I would be interested in getting the instructor qualification but there is little information on how to become a cycle instructor that i can find.

    Try:
    http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=3529
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
  • david2david2 Posts: 5,200
    Hairy Jock wrote:

    How did you manage that? I have never been hospitalised as a result of cycling activity and I have been cycling nearly 8 times longer.

    I managed 7 times longer than that previously without being hospitalised. Then a car pulled out of a junction ahead of me (Broken leg), A went off on a newly resurfaced junction (broken wrist). A car T boned me as it pulled out of a supermarket car park (broken pinkie) and a deer jumped out on me (rather badly damaged skull)

    I can only claim any resposibility for the bad road surface incident as I was probably going faster than I should have as I took the corner.

    I wish you many more years of uneventful cycling :D
  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    I was heading home early on a Friday afternoon during a heavy rain storm, when a memo went round saying that as the roads were starting to flood, all non-essential staff could leave early. As I was heading out the building I had a brief discussion with some of the women I work with, who were all horrified that I was cycling home in such conditions.

    "I'll be fine"
    "No you won't be fine, it's not safe!"

    This from a group of people that included two smokers, and one woman who still walks with a limp after breaking her leg falling off a chair while drunk at a work dinner! People have very strange perceptions of what's dangerous and what isn't.

    I got home safely in pretty much the same time that I normally do, going by all the standing traffic I passed I'm fairly sure a lot of other people were late home that night.
  • GambatteGambatte Posts: 1,453
    I work a few 100m from the Don at Sheffield. When the floods hit I was stuck at work till 1a.m. There was no point even going to the car as it was gridlocked. If I’d had the bike, I could have been home in just over an hour. Unfortunately I was due to pick it up and it was at the other side of the river……
  • adifiddleradifiddler Posts: 113
    No 1 fan in the jonesy124 Fan Club
  • AleAle Posts: 180
    No incidents all my life, till I moved to London and started commuting here.
    How, every June I get knocked off near the Hackney rd, shoreditch high st. junct.

    Each time a car has pulled out infront of me without looking. Last year it was 20 stitches on my arm, and this year it was a broken collarbone. I've just started back on the bike this week!

    If I've learnt any lessons, apart from maybe finding a new route to avoid that junction, it's that I don't seem to handle filtering past stationary traffic too well, which is a shame as there's an awfull lot of it in central London!
  • overmarsovermars Posts: 430
    I've been hospitalized once in six years of cycling. Thankfully I was knocked unconscious so remember nada.
  • passoutpassout Posts: 4,609
    'Non - cyclists' on bikes (a paradox I know but you know what I mean) are probably more dangerous than you or I. Even if this isn't true their lack of confidence will ensure that a cycle journey 'seems' dangerous to them.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,047
    Gambatte wrote:
    I work a few 100m from the Don at Sheffield. When the floods hit I was stuck at work till 1a.m. There was no point even going to the car as it was gridlocked. If I’d had the bike, I could have been home in just over an hour. Unfortunately I was due to pick it up and it was at the other side of the river……

    Nightmare.... :P

    I ve been doing it in nodnoL for the last year and the only times i ve fallen off were entirely my fault, 1 - rear ended a car, 2- slipped on some leaves

    2.5 - bloody policeman didnt look and opened his door and nearly killed me
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • dondaredondare Posts: 2,113
    Britain's biggest killer is heart disease.
    There is only one thing more dangerous than cycling, and that is not cycling.
    This post contains traces of nuts.
  • BuggiBuggi Posts: 674
    my work got some figures from RoSPA and deaths whilst cycling far outweighed deaths by any other form of transport COMBINED. can't remember the actual figures but it even shocked me.
    _____________________________________________

    To infinity... and beyond!
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  • dondaredondare Posts: 2,113
    Buggi wrote:
    my work got some figures from RoSPA and deaths whilst cycling far outweighed deaths by any other form of transport COMBINED. can't remember the actual figures but it even shocked me.

    Over 3000 people killed in road accidents annually, how many are cyclists?
    This post contains traces of nuts.
  • Hairy JockHairy Jock Posts: 558
    dondare wrote:
    Buggi wrote:
    my work got some figures from RoSPA and deaths whilst cycling far outweighed deaths by any other form of transport COMBINED. can't remember the actual figures but it even shocked me.

    Over 3000 people killed in road accidents annually, how many are cyclists?

    If you bother to read the report for the NHS I which referenced at the start of this thread, "Typically only 3-7 third parties are killed in fatal bicycle crashes annually, as against 145 cyclist deaths. In fatal car crashes, 1,600 third parties (600 passengers; 650 pedestrians; 75 cyclists; 250 motorcyclists) are killed in addition to 1,100 drivers."

    As Dondare points out above "Britain's biggest killer is heart disease", one of the best ways to avoid heart disease is to take regular exercise. Added to which "The extra lifetime risk of a fatal crash borne by this cyclist vis-à-vis a British driver is 0.2%. The life-extending benefits of cycling are taken to compensate this burden 10-20 times over. This cyclist will be ten times less likely to kill another road user than a driver."

    Now which is more dangerous?

    It is also notable for the comments above that, anecdotally at least, London is the most dangerous place in the UK to cycle. This fits with the evidence which show that the lower the percentage of the population cycling the greater the risk of injury and dead while cycling. Recent figures show that in London only 5% of the population cycle regularly compared with 7% outwith London. The best way to make cycling safer is to get more people out on their bikes.
    **************
    Best advice I ever got was "better get a bike then"
    Cycle commuting since 1994. Blog with cycle bits.
    Also with the old C+ crowd at Cycle Chat.
  • PorgyPorgy Posts: 4,558
    Most of my accidents have been self inflicted - not paying attention; ice on road; hitting kerbs, etc. I hit a sign pole last year - stupidest accident of my life.

    I've been to hospital once due to a crash - I rear ended a car that pulled in and emergency stopped in front of me.

    I was car doored about 4/ 5 years ago - it hurt!

    Most of my "accidents" occured in my 20s - I had an endless stream of buckled wheels because I always assumed motorists were going to be reasonable or competent.

    I've learned better now and have barely had a collision in years.

    Experience does count.
  • david2david2 Posts: 5,200
    It is also notable for the comments above that, anecdotally at least, London is the most dangerous place in the UK to cycle.

    Really?

    We've got one guy from London who has had 20 stitches and me from not London who has suffered a broken leg, a broken wrist, a broken pinkie and a fractured skull. Not much other anecdotal evidence listed.

    Despite my run of bad luck I still cycle, still cycle commute. I still believe its probably the safest way of travelling (all the wards I've shared have had more victims of other forms of transport, except when I was having my wrist fixed, then there were just two of us cyclists on the ward). I'm just puzzled by your interpretation of the evidence.

    My current commute is 22 hilly miles each way through the Cotswolds. Cars aren't much of a danger, I'm unlucky if I see more than half a dozen on the entire journey, but you really have to watch out for the wildlife, no road sense whatsoever.[/quote]
  • Hairy JockHairy Jock Posts: 558
    david2 wrote:
    It is also notable for the comments above that, anecdotally at least, London is the most dangerous place in the UK to cycle.

    Really?

    We've got one guy from London who has had 20 stitches and me from not London who has suffered a broken leg, a broken wrist, a broken pinkie and a fractured skull. Not much other anecdotal evidence listed.
    [/quote]

    Have you not read the rest of the Commuting forum, or for that matter the old C+ forum? It could be that Londoners complain more of coarse.
    **************
    Best advice I ever got was "better get a bike then"
    Cycle commuting since 1994. Blog with cycle bits.
    Also with the old C+ crowd at Cycle Chat.
  • david2david2 Posts: 5,200
    Hairy Jock wrote:

    It could be that Londoners complain more of coarse.

    Now that I can believe, I think I'd complain more if I lived in London, I'd have more to complain about :)
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