Author Topic: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous  (Read 7843 times)

Kiwi Mustache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 180
Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« on: April 11, 2016, 06:07:08 PM »
I've been commuting for a little under a year and have had two cars hit me and fell off once in the rain/wind.

I've decided to call the cycle commuting to and from work off and drive my car instead.

I live in Auckland, New Zealand.

Anyone else in the same boat with cycling too dangerous? I like the cost savings and exercise and the non stress of not sitting in traffic but I don't want any more serious injuries or the potential of even dying on the road just to save a few dollars.

ohsnap

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 249
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 06:24:10 PM »
I know it's not a mustachian point of view, but I agree with you.  My husband worked with a guy who suffered a major head injury (while wearing a helmet) because he was hit by a car on his way to work.  The cyclist never returned to work. 

I think as long as cyclists are sharing the road with 2000 pound vehicles, they are at a severe disadvantage.  If you can figure out how to do it through residential areas or on trails, that seems a lot safer.  That's where I ride my bike.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5726
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2016, 06:31:59 PM »
I spent my career helping people with disabilities get back to work and have seen a fair # of head injuries due to bike/car collisions.  I will only ride a bike on a trail.  Better safe then sorry.

tobitonic

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 549
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 07:03:59 PM »
I've commuted in the past (to class, to groceries, etc), but haven't commuted in years for the same reason, statistically speaking, most people who'd like to commute don't: I don't feel safe anymore. I'd be happy to return to commuting once I do. And statistically speaking, the factor that makes people feel the safest is, and has been the same for decades: protected infrastructure. If you build it, they will ride.





Those are just a couple of pictures from the dead of winter, and there are still more cyclists in those pictures than most of us see in a day (or week!). Note the clear separation between cars and cyclists. Note the dedicated bike lanes and how in the first photo, parked cars are used to shield cyclists from traffic, instead of the opposite scenario throughout the US. Good infrastructure makes it easy for people to choose bikes. Poor infrastructure makes it easy for people to choose cars.

There are cities in Europe where 40% or more people cycle to work every day; this didn't happen by accident any more than the national average in the US sunk to 1% or the average in Portland reached 7%. To get people on bikes, you've got to make them feel safe. And that means treating people on bikes like fast-moving pedestrians rather than as cars. As long as we ignore this as a country, folks are going to drive instead.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 07:06:14 PM by tobitonic »

csprof

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 229
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2016, 07:07:46 PM »
I've been commuting for a little under a year and have had two cars hit me and fell off once in the rain/wind.

I've decided to call the cycle commuting to and from work off and drive my car instead.

I live in Auckland, New Zealand.

Anyone else in the same boat with cycling too dangerous? I like the cost savings and exercise and the non stress of not sitting in traffic but I don't want any more serious injuries or the potential of even dying on the road just to save a few dollars.

Question:  Do you ride with full-time front/rear blinkenlights and reflective gear?

For context, I raced a bit in grad school, and have put in enormous numbers of miles on roads in some fairly horrible places to bike.  I've never been hit.  I've had one driver deliberately run me off the road, but that was not an "accident" -- it was someone deliberately trying to injure someone else for reasons I'll never understand.

The best way to stay safe on a bike is to be assertive about your right to be in the road, and make sure the cars know you're there.  That means riding in the lane when there's not a huge speed differential, being lit up like a christmas tree with active, high-powered LED blinkies, and taking charge to anticipate stupid or distracted drivers.

I found this pretty similar to my own philosophy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ghpwIkzfw

Miss Piggy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1323
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2016, 08:07:02 PM »
Not a chance in hell I'd ride a bike to work around here. Way too dangerous. Our roads are not set up to "share" safely; people in a hurry and on phones make matters worse.

kudy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 945
  • Age: 36
  • Location: RV Traveling the U.S.
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2016, 08:40:01 PM »
When I ride, my first 3 miles are along a highway frontage road with no bike lane and cars that travel 55-65 MPH. I don't feel in danger because I do 2 things.

First, I take the lane; if you hug the right-hand side of the road pretending there's a bike lane, cars will try to squeeze by and almost always pass me really close. If I ride in the middle of the lane, they have to acknowledge that I am there, and pass me like another vehicle. When I don't take the lane and ride less aggressively, then I am scared by how drivers pass.

Second, I have plenty of lights and reflecty things.

Once I get past the 3 miles of frontage roads, it's smooth sailing on normal bike-friendly streets with awesome bike lanes - nothing scary there!
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 08:41:53 PM by kudy »

Stupendous

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 42
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2016, 08:43:02 PM »
I live 3.5 miles from work. I wouldn't be saving much money riding to work. That also isn't much exercise. I cycle 100+ miles per week but do it along bike paths or in Meetup group rides where I feel much safer because there are 10+ of us.

coolistdude

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 204
  • Age: 29
    • Retirement Tree (Same One I Use):
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2016, 08:56:30 PM »
Like most things in life, I think it depends. I take a slightly longer route to my work since there are many more stop signs, better bike lanes, and slower traffic. It is also mostly 1 lane each side so, I only have to go into the road when the garbage cans are out. People in America have no idea how to position garbage cans. That's the only thing that makes me nervous...my ride is pretty bland otherwise. There is about a half mile section with a higher speed limit and two lanes going one direction, but the bike lane is huge. Like almost a car lane. I use bike lights except in summer when it is bright. The only debatable thing I do (that I know of) is I yield to cars at stop signs. If there are cars going with me, I will ride by them. If there are no cars going my direction, then I will come to a stop for any other cars. If there are no cars I go down a gear and look both ways at about 10mph.

Learning your route and not being afraid to take a slightly longer route is huge. If I lived next to a highway, I too would probably be afraid to cycle to work. No preaching here, just saying my situation.

dess1313

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
  • Location: Manitoba Canada
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2016, 09:09:29 PM »
i work in trauma, and see pedestrians, bike and motor vehicle collisions all the time.  our city is NOT bike friendly.  hell i don't feel safe in my car some days.  we also have winter 8 months of the year and its brutal winters.  some towns are much more friendly to biking.  my old place i grew up in, i had no problem doing it there.  here we have no bike paths, no bike lanes and terrifying drivers.  i understand some people's reluctance.  If i was a working a mile from home, as well as could use mostly quiet streets it might be different.

Ocelot

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 111
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2016, 09:37:56 PM »
I commuted every day for 3 years in Auckland from approx 2005-08. Ride like everyone is blind and actively trying to hit you and you should be ok. Also, sidestreets are your pals.

obstinate

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 888
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2016, 11:00:43 PM »
Objectively, it is not very dangerous. What's dangerous is living far away from work.

Subjectively, I totally get you. Bicycle commuting does feel much less safe. Not sure how to help you get over that one.

vhalros

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 309
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2016, 11:08:16 PM »
I think doing things by bicycle is great, but in a lot of situations the problems to be solved are more societal than individual. The safety conditions in a lot of places are deplorable, and if you are in one of those places, regrettably it may make sense to avoid it.

LAGuy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 317
  • Age: 45
  • Location: Los Angeles
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2016, 11:53:25 PM »
I don't have a long commute, but it's just too treacherous by bike. One of the things that really put me off besides the crazy vehicle drivers was the horrible pavement condition.

Kitties are the best

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2016, 12:51:37 AM »
I feel for you. I've been commuting mostly by bike for 20 months with a large 5 month gap. Three weeks in I slipped on wet tram tracks (thanks Melbourne) and hit a parked car. Had I fallen the other way, I would have been in the way of direct traffic. I tore up my legs and I still have ugly scars. And - I was lucky! No hospital visits or medical expenses but it really shook me up. It took me 5 months to get to grips with commuting again as there are no trails to my work - just roads and rush hour traffic.

I've had a few people say to me how dangerous it is and how they'd never risk it. But I still think it's worth it - I had to rationalise the risk by looking up studies of injury / death per journey. Cycling in Melbourne is about as safe as driving on a per journey basis. The kicker for me, ended up being health over finances - with a desk job it is it's a great way of getting exercise which will keep me healthier and ultimately improve my quality of life / life expectancy.

Couple of other points:
- I'm not fanatical about cycling - if it's chucking it down, or extremely windy, I'm not going to be a martyr about it. This improves its safety perception for me. I have public transport options or I can drive.
- I'm not in the tour de france. I don't know why but when I started, I kept timing myself to improve my speed to work. Post-crash, I have a mantra - safety before speed. I let other cyclists pass if they want and I never act aggressively with cars. Ironically, pedestrians have given me more heart in my mouth moments than cars - they're so dozy when crossing roads - I guess because they're looking for cars not bikes. Cycling slower, means I have more time to stop when some dude with a death wish steps on to the road without looking. 

SU

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2016, 01:17:00 AM »
For context, I raced a bit in grad school, and have put in enormous numbers of miles on roads in some fairly horrible places to bike.  I've never been hit.  I've had one driver deliberately run me off the road, but that was not an "accident" -- it was someone deliberately trying to injure someone else for reasons I'll never understand.

The best way to stay safe on a bike is to be assertive about your right to be in the road, and make sure the cars know you're there.  That means riding in the lane when there's not a huge speed differential, being lit up like a christmas tree with active, high-powered LED blinkies, and taking charge to anticipate stupid or distracted drivers.

I second this. Be assertive; at traffic lights, make eye contact with the drivers around you so they know you are there. Move into the middle of the lane if you are going to do something like turn a corner, change speed, enter a roundabout or change lanes. Don't be afraid to slow other people/cars down if you need more room to maneuver. Make big hand signals and clearly indicate to other road users what you are doing, where you are going and how much space you intend to take up.

I cycle commuted for 8 years and generally preferred main roads and bike paths to secondary roads. Also, commuting a bit before rush hour helps (I went to rowing training and from there to work, so most of the commute was at 5:30am).


gooki

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2380
  • Location: NZ
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2016, 01:50:33 AM »
If your willing to give it a second go, consider an ebike. The extra speed makes it much easier to command the lane and if you push yourself you still get a decent workout. An ebike geared for 40 to 50 km/h should do the trick.

Gondolin

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 571
  • Location: Northern VA
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2016, 08:35:52 AM »
The first 90% of my bike commute is on residential streets and bike trails.

The last 10% is Fury Road. I usually dismount and walk my bike in the grass. Takes an extra 5-10 minutes to get to work but, better to lose a bit of time then get clipped by some jerk who's desperate to get to his desk a few minutes faster.

UnleashHell

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6485
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Florida
  • Chapter IV - A New ... er.. something
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2016, 09:08:17 AM »
I live 7 ˝ miles from work. Sadly that work location is in Tampa and the road design here is set up to channel everyone onto major roads with no alternatives. Some of the roads that lead to the major artery are two lanes with no bike lanes and although posted as 45mph are often driven at 60. As the road has curves on it then the cars are on you before they realize it. The sidewalks are ripped up due to awesome planning of tree locations. Looked good 15 years ago but the routes have ripped up the concrete and are unsafe to use.
The major artery itself has a bike lane – paint worn off it, glass everywhere and grown over at the edges. Unmaintained and almost unusable. No separation from traffic and people are too busy texting and driving at 50 plus mph to realize that they are drifting into the bike lane. I’ve tried riding a few times but its just too dangerous. Traffic authorities are too busy planning where to plant more palm trees to concern themselves with bike lanes. Beside we have a few bike trails in the county so that’s cyclists catered for……   even if they don’t go where the bikes want to be.

Tampa has one of the worst records for car/bike accidents in the USA. I doubt if anyone in the traffic department has ever ridden a bike.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6765
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2016, 10:11:18 AM »
Here I'm going to say "it depends".

Depends on you, where you live, the route, the drivers, your age, etc.

We used to bike to work quite a bit.  It's harder now with 2 kids at 2 different locations and their schedules.  Plus, I worry a lot more of the "what if?" (What if my husband gets hit by a car.)

Locally, a couple of our friends have been hit by cars while biking.  These are guys who bike to work a lot - every day, or a few times a week (at 10-12 miles each way).  It only takes once...  My husband's coworker was hit by a car and needed shoulder surgery and was down and out for months.  He lives down the street so he got rides with husband to work several times.  In his case, he was in the bike lane going down a hill, and a woman just turned into the parking lot he was going by and hit him.  She wasn't looking, and was kind of panicking.

People are in a hurry these days, and it takes EFFORT to be aware behind the wheel.  I do my drive to work every day, the damn car could do it on its own.  There are parts where I have to work to pay attention.  At the stop sign before the freeway, it's a block or two from a school.  I have to stop and look to make sure there's nobody crossing.  Because right at the stop sign are a telephone pole and another sign.  I'm so used to seeing "vertical things" right there that a person doesn't always register.

AlwaysLearningToSave

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 437
Re: Cycle Commuting to Work is too Dangerous
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2016, 10:57:50 AM »
Ride like everyone is blind and actively trying to hit you and you should be ok.

+1

Be assertive; at traffic lights, make eye contact with the drivers around you so they know you are there. Move into the middle of the lane if you are going to do something like turn a corner, change speed, enter a roundabout or change lanes. Don't be afraid to slow other people/cars down if you need more room to maneuver. Make big hand signals and clearly indicate to other road users what you are doing, where you are going and how much space you intend to take up.

+1. 

people in a hurry and on phones make matters worse.

+1. 

I try to make eye contact with as many drivers as possible so I have a good sense of how they view me as a cyclist.  I find most drivers are aware of my presence and respectful.  Occasionally drivers stop too far forward at an intersection and block my path but most are at least apologetic about it. 

Drivers who are talking on a cell phone are a completely different story.  They are often completely oblivious to my presence and pay barely enough attention to not get in a wreck with another car.  If I can do so without risking my safety (such as at an intersection), I sometimes ride close enough that when they do see me they are startled by how close I am to them and give them a glare them as they pull away.  I like to think it teaches them a lesson that they need to pay attention.  But learning that lesson requires introspection and I suppose for some it just makes them think cyclists should get off the road. 

One time I sat through an entire red light trying to make eye contact with a driver in the lane poised to turn left in front of me when our light turned green (I was on the sidewalk).  I made eye contact with every other driver at the intersection and they watched me try to catch the other driver's attention.  This woman was yacking away and never acknowledged me so I stayed put when the light turned green and my crosswalk signal came on.  Sure enough, she darted in front of the oncoming traffic (which had the right away) to complete her left turn in front of me, completely oblivious to my presence.  I proceeded safely on my way and got a sympathetic headshake from the driver she had cut off to complete her turn.  I fully believe that if I had just started riding when I had the right-of-way, she would have mowed me down.