Author Topic: Safety is an Expensive Illusion  (Read 8068 times)

johnnylighthouse

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Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« on: June 08, 2012, 01:02:47 PM »
About those safety lectures:  I recently realized that when someone tells me a road isn't safe to bike on its because that person drives badly on it!
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 01:23:01 PM by johnnylighthouse »

Daley

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2012, 02:28:24 PM »
About those safety lectures:  I recently realized that when someone tells me a road isn't safe to bike on its because that person drives badly on it!

There's an alternative explanation, as well. Some folks just live in cities with some of the highest urban sprawl paired with one of the highest uninsured motorist rates in the country, some of the shoddier roads, and an extraordinarily high ratio of angry drunken rednecks on the road who like to play pin the bumper on the cyclist. There are days and routes where I literally fear I'm gonna get greased, and it's compounded by the fear of knowing more cyclists in this city who've been in a serious car-related wreck than not.

People in Oklahoma are bat guano CRAZY, and some days you just need some mechanical assistance to safely get out of the way.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 02:30:44 PM by I.P. Daley »

nolajo

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2012, 01:08:31 PM »
About those safety lectures:  I recently realized that when someone tells me a road isn't safe to bike on its because that person drives badly on it!

There's an alternative explanation, as well. Some folks just live in cities with some of the highest urban sprawl paired with one of the highest uninsured motorist rates in the country, some of the shoddier roads, and an extraordinarily high ratio of angry drunken rednecks on the road who like to play pin the bumper on the cyclist. There are days and routes where I literally fear I'm gonna get greased, and it's compounded by the fear of knowing more cyclists in this city who've been in a serious car-related wreck than not.

People in Oklahoma are bat guano CRAZY, and some days you just need some mechanical assistance to safely get out of the way.

I hear you there - New Orleans is trying to become more bike friendly, but the narrow streets, foot-deep potholes, and negligent drivers make some areas very touch and go. The better solution though is to make sure that appropriate precautions are taken and then bike (or whatever) anyways. Yes, be better than me and wear a helmet. Yes, make sure that the route you're on either has a designated bike lane or is slow enough and wide enough for safety. No, for God's sake, don't wear headphones! Life is all calculated risks and decisions, and not doing something is as much of a choice with attendant risks as doing it is.

Furthermore, I find that general safety concerns tend to be based on the actions of the most inept individual imaginable, so while I'd hardly say I'm the smartest person around, I think I can judge when the risks are overblown versus legitimate concerns.

Bakari

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 02:50:08 PM »
There are definitely worse drivers, and worse cities, than others, but the total statistics are misleading because the majority of bike / car collisions are the cyclists fault:
http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/TaleOfThree.htm

 At first, looking at the data, it doesn't look like this is true as the first two involve a car which should have stopped hitting a cyclist, but if you keep reading to discussion you find out that in the vast majority of those cases the cyclist was either riding the wrong way, or on the sidewalk (85%).  In the 3rd most common, the cyclist ran a light or sign.

You reduce your risk compared to the overall statistics something like 90% just by following the same rules of the road as car drivers do, which is, you know, the law.

Daley

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 04:56:57 PM »
You reduce your risk compared to the overall statistics something like 90% just by following the same rules of the road as car drivers do, which is, you know, the law.

Amen, brother.

nolajo

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 05:30:29 PM »
You reduce your risk compared to the overall statistics something like 90% just by following the same rules of the road as car drivers do, which is, you know, the law.

I've got to say, bikers who don't do this are one of my biggest pet peeves when I am driving. I'm aware of them and try to be a safe driver, but I've got to have some ability to predict your behavior. Bikers going the wrong way, riding on the sidewalks, totally tuned out, or without lights make it so much harder to not hit them.

Bakari

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2012, 02:02:26 PM »
Unfortunately, there have already been quite a few people, even on this forum and in the comments on the blog, who say they ride on the sidewalk because they feel safer.

Maybe I should try to find those threads and post these stats there too...

James

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2012, 02:10:53 PM »
One of the biggest things with biking is teaching kids, my kids all knew how to bike on the road by age 7, we bike 10 miles round trip into town about once a week. (My 7yo handles it better than my 10yo)  I'm hoping biking will be so natural to them that they won't consider biking to work "alternative".

TLV

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2012, 02:21:16 PM »
At first, looking at the data, it doesn't look like this is true as the first two involve a car which should have stopped hitting a cyclist, but if you keep reading to discussion you find out that in the vast majority of those cases the cyclist was either riding the wrong way, or on the sidewalk (85%). 

Without data on proportion of total riders on sidewalk vs. in the street I can't say that that data supports riding in the street over the sidewalk as long you're going the same direction as traffic - when riding the right direction, cases 1, 4, and 5 have more accidents for street riders than sidewalk, and case 2 is about equal. The data is a lot stronger (though still missing that total proportion) for saying that riding the wrong way (against traffic) is more dangerous, especially on the sidewalk.

[/nitpicking]

Bakari

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2012, 02:33:41 PM »
"The three most frequent collisions in Gainesville comprising 82 (51.9%) crashes involve the motorist facing either a traffic control device or merging from a midblock location and the bicyclist on a crossing path. Of these bicyclists, 65 (79.3%) were riding on the sidewalk facing traffic.

"These crash types ["Drive Out At Stop Sign," "Right Turn On Red," and "Drive Out At Midblock"] are more likely to occur as a result of riding on the sidewalk."

In other words, the 3 types of common crashes which appear to be the fault of the driver, are all more likely from riding on the sidewalk (regardless of whether going with or against traffic).  The next most frequent accident types are clearly the fault of the rider (failure to yield).


"Conclusions/Recommendations... Due to the inherent conflicts at driveways and intersections, bicyclists should ride in the street and not on the sidewalk. "


When combined with the fact that getting hit from behind by a driver while going straight is one of the rarest accident types, there is really no justification for riding on the sidewalk.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 02:36:28 PM by Bakari »

poko

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2012, 02:46:41 PM »
Oh man! I meant to post to this topic yesterday after what I saw on my way home. I have to say that I abhor riding on the sidewalk, and I always feel like so much less of biker when I'm forced to ride on the sidewalk for whatever reason. (Obviously, I try to keep this to a minimum).

So, I'm riding home after work, on a road with a flipping bike lane, no less, zipping by the stopped traffic. I see a lady riding on the side walk approaching the intersection in front of me. I assumed that she was on the sidewalk because she had just unlocked her bike or something, and was thinking 'ok, she's going to get into the bike lane in front of me come this intersection, I'm going to slow down'.

No, she procedes through the intersection and stays on the side walk. I think 'oh, ok, she's not a real biker, she has no idea what she's doing, there's a whole flipping bike lane right here!". Then, I promptly watch a car pull into a driveway right in front of her, and her nearly slam into it. Of course, the driver wasn't expecting her on the sidewalk! I'm glad she wasn't hurt, but really? I'm sure in her head, it was the driver's fault and "omg, see how unsafe biking is, I nearly got hit on the sidewalk!". All I could do was shake my head at her when she caught up to me at the next light.

johnnylighthouse

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2012, 07:47:46 PM »
Yes, bicyclists need to be safe and many aren't.  But also:
Quote
Effort should also be put forth to better ensure motorist compliance with stopping at a stop limit line and prior to crossing over sidewalks or sidewalk crosswalk areas
...  The article doesn’t say anything about motorist speed or compliance and I've got to believe many of these accidents result from fault on both sides.

I've been biking here since I was a kid and I've done some stupid stupid things on a bike, enough to learn that almost all the close calls were my own fault.  Most of the other close calls  I should have anticipated. On the other hand my father who is a very responsible and visible rider was hit from behind by a car that never stopped.  I've had drivers pass me with reckless disregard and others cut in on me while passing.  I think its fair to be concerned about the behavior of other road users, particularly the ones who decide to lecture me.  Around here almost everyone speeds, therefore I don't want to hear "gee its dangerous out here, what are you doing in the street" from a random co-worker or acquaintance unless they obey the speed limit and stop at the line.  I think my new counter obnoxious safety lecture will defiantly involve a discussion of speed limits and reaction times.

Bakari

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2012, 04:11:31 PM »
...  The article doesn’t say anything about motorist speed or compliance and I've got to believe many of these accidents result from fault on both sides.

oh oh, absolutely!!!!!!!
I didn't mean to make it sound otherwise.
Drivers are terrible, even where I live with lots of bikes on the road all the time. 

But as cyclists, we are the ones who are going to get hurt if a collision does occur,  and at that point it doesn't matter who was legally "at fault".
The important thing is to know that riding on the sidewalk makes you more likely to get hit by a car, not less.  As far as assessing risk, its relevant to realize that in the majority of bike crashes the rider was at least partially at fault, because you, knowing basic bike safety, are significantly less statistically likely to die or get hurt riding than the average rider. 

Just like with MMMs data in the blog - the statistics are overall for the general population, including all the drunk drivers, all the speeders, all the texters.  As long as we choose not to do those things, our actual risk is substantially lower than his calculations indicate.
There are no accidents.  There is only negligence.

erwannabe

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2012, 06:54:06 AM »
I haven't got a bike yet, and I am definitely a bit anxious about riding on the road.  A big thing I worry about is drivers who are texting, have you seen how bad that makes people drive??

sol

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2012, 09:44:37 AM »
In other words, the 3 types of common crashes which appear to be the fault of the driver, are all more likely from riding on the sidewalk (regardless of whether going with or against traffic). 

Technically, a driver pulling out at midblock is required to stop twice, once at the sidewalk and then again at the street.  I lost points for this on my driving test, oh so many years ago.

I've been hit by cars twice while riding, and neither time was I riding in traffic like I do now.  Both times I was crossing a street in a crosswalk, when a car turning right and looking left drove right into me.

New riders, heed all of this advice.  Ride in traffic, pretending you're a slow car; it's much safer.

darkelenchus

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2012, 10:16:18 AM »
I've been hit by cars twice while riding, and neither time was I riding in traffic like I do now.  Both times I was crossing a street in a crosswalk, when a car turning right and looking left drove right into me.

New riders, heed all of this advice.  Ride in traffic, pretending you're a slow car; it's much safer.

Seconded. My wife was hit while in a crosswalk, when a car was turning right. Same thing happened to me.

As tempting as it may be to hop onto the sidewalk, it's safer to ride with traffic; although riding in traffic can be dangerous in another way. I got heckled by some asshole in a Cadillac Escalade the other day while riding through downtown Milwaukee & nearly lost my temper. He tried to run me off the road into parked cars because, as he put it, I was "taking up too much of the fuckin' lane" on a four lane road! I had to restrain myself from kicking in his goddamn door at the next stoplight. Road rage sure isn't limited to automobile drivers if you're a cyclist w/ a shorter than normal temper!

Richard3

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2012, 02:54:27 AM »
In New Zealand riding on the "sidewalk" is only legal for children and people delivering mail unless it's in a marked cycle lane.

That is the way it should be. On top of anything else, bikes are dangerous to pedestrians.

I'll admit to bending the law a few times back when I used to ride in a city (transforming into a pedestrian when it was their turn at traffic lights especially) but I think that this is a perk of not taking up 6x the space and pumping fumes into the air.


OrchardTree

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2018, 11:54:28 AM »
I'm a few years late on this one. Nonetheless I think it's a topic that is of consistent interest to people. I'm not sure where MMM got the stats from that are listed in the beginning of the article, but when I looked into it myself it wasn't entirely clear if SUVs are in fact safer than subcompacts.

The article that looked into this is here:
http://www.accessmagazine.org/fall-2002/suvs-really-safer-cars/

I find it interesting how often our first intuitions don't hold up to statistics. How come no one thinks of rollover risk when they think about SUVs?

pab88

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Re: Safety is an Expensive Illusion
« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2018, 05:40:52 PM »

The article that looked into this is here:
http://www.accessmagazine.org/fall-2002/suvs-really-safer-cars/

I find it interesting how often our first intuitions don't hold up to statistics. How come no one thinks of rollover risk when they think about SUVs?

Since 2002 SUVs have become more like cars in their construction. Most now have stability control, lower ride height (and therefore centre of gravity) than truck-based SUVs, wider, low-profile tyres and a full suite of airbags. This makes them more resistant to roll over and safer in the event of a large accident, which was the main drawback of 1990s SUVs (Ford Explorer and its dodgy tyres were known for this).

So most SUVs now match or exceed cars in most active safety respects, and have greater passive safety due to their greater mass and crumple zones.

As much as I hate to say it, a European-prestige clown car SUV like a GLE500 or Q7 would be among the safest cars on the road.