Author Topic: True expected value of Biking over Driving  (Read 13508 times)

FIRE_HELP!

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True expected value of Biking over Driving
« on: December 12, 2014, 04:16:18 AM »
Has anyone come across any hard numbers on the expected probability of getting into a serious accident for biking vs driving for a given number of miles in a suburban or small metro area?  I place a pretty high value on personal safety (and not dying) so even if there is only a 0.01% greater chance of getting into a serious accident by biking on a given day that seems pretty high to me.

I am considering switching from driving to biking for my daily ride to the train station.  It's only 3 miles, but on certain stretches the roads are extremely narrow with hardly any shoulder and I would mainly be traveling in the dark (before sunrise and after sunset, even during the summer).  Additionally I have noticed that, in their rush to not miss their train early in the morning (when there isn't much law enforcement around), a lot of people do not follow the law, driving well above the speed limit (35mph), running red lights, not stopping at stop signs, etc.

I conservatively estimate the cost per mile of driving to be roughly $0.35.  While the health benefits of biking might be slightly additive, I am an avid runner (I wouldn't consider running to and from the station as it would throw off my training) so there isn't a big fitness consideration here.

Thanks
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 05:40:22 AM by FIRE_HELP! »

Dyk

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 06:11:31 AM »
I don't know if statistics will help you.  I doubt you make the other choices during your day based on a difference of .01%.  Plus, your route is unique to you.

I have a route that I have decided not to bike in the winter, the roads are too narrow with snow drifts, high speed limit, and as you noticed on your route, the people are in a hurry, late for work.  So I understand how you don't feel comfortable with a route.

My suggestion:  Run.  You do it anyways, kill 2 birds with 1 stone.  I am sure you can figure out a way to work it into the training.

Good luck!

GuitarStv

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 06:40:43 AM »
How you bike drastically changes your odds of getting in an accident.  Having multiple lights on your bike, lots of reflective stuff, neon colours, following the rules of the road, etc.  will make things much safer than the biking casualty stats would imply.  If you don't bike while drunk, stay on the correct side of the road, and don't use the sidewalks you'll be well ahead of the curve.

I enjoy biking in the winter.  Cars tend to drive slower because of all the snow and slush which makes things safer for me.  Roads are narrower because of the snowbanks which means I bike further into the lane (which makes cars pass me correctly by switching lanes) making things safer.  People are always going to be in a hurry and late for work.  That's a good thing for you if you're very visible . . . because having an accident is a sure fire way to slow down your commute, so they'll do their best to avoid you.

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2014, 07:39:59 AM »
2nd year into MMM thing

My comute is 10 miles each way. I live on Québec city area and decided to drive when we switch from EDT to EST

Snow bank, slush, narrow lanes, road maintenance trucks, darkness, to much for me

I felt like a whimp 'til I find someone to carpol in wintertime to improve the winter driving decision

If I combine my "summer" biking + "winter" carpoling, I shaved 4,000 miles of driving! (now it's 2,000 instead of 6,000)

In your situation, walking in wintertime would probably takes +/-15 minutes more than biking but you got a lot more route options and a better control when roads are covered of white/brown shit

FIRE_HELP!

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2014, 07:49:29 AM »
I don't know if statistics will help you.  I doubt you make the other choices during your day based on a difference of .01%.  Plus, your route is unique to you.

I have a route that I have decided not to bike in the winter, the roads are too narrow with snow drifts, high speed limit, and as you noticed on your route, the people are in a hurry, late for work.  So I understand how you don't feel comfortable with a route.

My suggestion:  Run.  You do it anyways, kill 2 birds with 1 stone.  I am sure you can figure out a way to work it into the training.

Good luck!

To clarify, the 0.01% was just a random number to signify some small amount, but when I thought a bit more about how much a serious injury could cost (arbitrarily assume $100k for example) a 0.01% higher chance while biking instead of driving is $10/day, significantly more than the amount I spend driving to the train.

If I ran, it would just be in addition to my current training regimen (I do half and full marathons several times a year), and I might risk overtraining.  But more importantly, I don't have a shower facility at my office. 

Zummbot

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2014, 08:05:14 AM »
I don't know if statistics will help you.  I doubt you make the other choices during your day based on a difference of .01%.  Plus, your route is unique to you.

I have a route that I have decided not to bike in the winter, the roads are too narrow with snow drifts, high speed limit, and as you noticed on your route, the people are in a hurry, late for work.  So I understand how you don't feel comfortable with a route.

My suggestion:  Run.  You do it anyways, kill 2 birds with 1 stone.  I am sure you can figure out a way to work it into the training.

Good luck!

To clarify, the 0.01% was just a random number to signify some small amount, but when I thought a bit more about how much a serious injury could cost (arbitrarily assume $100k for example) a 0.01% higher chance while biking instead of driving is $10/day, significantly more than the amount I spend driving to the train.

If I ran, it would just be in addition to my current training regimen (I do half and full marathons several times a year), and I might risk overtraining.  But more importantly, I don't have a shower facility at my office.

1) Why is biking less safe than running? Both are done along the side of the road, no?
2) Are you uninsured? Why would you pay $100k out of pocket if you are injured?
3) I think you should re-read MMM's article Safety is an Expensive Illusion: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/ and Bicycling: The SAFEST Form of Transportation: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 08:10:22 AM by Zummbot »

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2014, 08:28:30 AM »

1) Why is biking less safe than running? Both are done along the side of the road, no?
2) Are you uninsured? Why would you pay $100k out of pocket if you are injured?
3) I think you should re-read MMM's article Safety is an Expensive Illusion: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/ and Bicycling: The SAFEST Form of Transportation: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/

It's not all black or white situations. On a given route, we talk about a 3 miles route here, some "transportation modes" are safer than others. In a place with narrow lanes, snow banks, slush, darkness, you could walk on the sidewalk (not recomended for biking), take some shortcuts across a piece of waste ground, parking lots etc. If these trails are covered with 6 inches of a snow/sluch/ice mix, good luck with a bike! You will ride at the same speed than a seasoned walker.

Biking is safe. Life ? well, not always ;)

GuitarStv

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2014, 08:51:46 AM »
What are you seasoning your walkers with?

Ottawa

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2014, 08:56:14 AM »
I have some numbers for you...
Mustachian household with 1 car and 2 bike commuters.

The Car
2003 VW - paid for.  The annual cost including Maintenance, insurance, gas, driver licence, registration, parking (anything related to car costs) is costing us $242 per month on a 12 month trailing annual basis as of today.  HALF of that cost is maintenance.  We use the vehicle for approximately 6,000KM per year.  This is about 35 cents per kilometre.  This does not include depreciation at this point.  The car is probably worth $2500. 

The Bikes
Maintaining our two commuter bikes is about $42 per month. This includes everything (bike clothing, wear/tear, parts etc.).  The bikes travel a total of 10,000KM per year.  This is around 5 cents per kilometre. 

A few notes: 
- I do a reasonable amount of car work myself and I do all the bike work myself. 
- Regarding safety:  What GuitarStv said.  Also, pick the safest (least cars) route to take even if it is longer.  AND - the .01% is very small given the health benefits of biking vs sitting in a car doing nothing.  I would estimate that the health benefits (i.e. not DYING early from heart attack/etc) outweigh the .01% hands down every day of the week. 



Bob W

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2014, 09:12:43 AM »
Not worth the risk at all.  Biking on commuter roads is extremely dangerous.  The best I could find puts it at around a 10 time more likelihood of death or very serious injury than car driving.   

I haven't seen one single bike on my commute route in a year.   There is a reason for that.  If people started biking the dangerous stretches the death rate would escalate significantly.

On the fuel savings front --

According to Mr. Google the average bike rider burns 5.5 calories per hour per pound of body weight riding = 1,200 cals for me for 10 miles. (I’m 225 and ride at 10 mph).

 I’m average and Mr. Google tells me I spend about $7 per day on food and need 3000 calories to keep my physique in order.

My cost for 1200 calories roughly comes out to $2.80.

So if I choose to ride to save money it will cost me $2.80 in fuel to ride my bike 10 miles or about 28 cents per mile. 

To save money and your life,  your better off buying a 4K car that averages 32 mpg.  Your cost per mile will be roughly 20 cents.  Even if your fit and spend less on food it would be hard to get below 15 cents per mile biking.   

I'm not opposed to biking --- Just do it in very safe areas at very safe times of day and use all the safety equipment possible while keeping your speed below 20 mph. 

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2014, 09:27:06 AM »
What are you seasoning your walkers with?

Sorry, maybe it's the language barrier. I mean "getting better at walking" the same way I do whit almost every activity you practice a lot (biking, saving etc)

Ottawa

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2014, 09:33:45 AM »
Not worth the risk at all.  Biking on commuter roads is extremely dangerous.  The best I could find puts it at around a 10 time more likelihood of death or very serious injury than car driving.   

I haven't seen one single bike on my commute route in a year.   There is a reason for that.  If people started biking the dangerous stretches the death rate would escalate significantly.

What you say is true.  BUT, what I say is that you can almost always mitigate your risk by changing your route.  Easy.

On the fuel savings front --

According to Mr. Google the average bike rider burns 5.5 calories per hour per pound of body weight riding = 1,200 cals for me for 10 miles. (I’m 225 and ride at 10 mph).

 I’m average and Mr. Google tells me I spend about $7 per day on food and need 3000 calories to keep my physique in order.

My cost for 1200 calories roughly comes out to $2.80.

So if I choose to ride to save money it will cost me $2.80 in fuel to ride my bike 10 miles or about 28 cents per mile.
 

This is a good point.  I estimate (using a heart rate monitor over my bike route) that I burn around 400 calories in 23 minutes during pleasant weather and 500 calories over 35 minutes in the winter.  It is, however, a pretty darn good problem to have.  43 years old, 9.5% fat and zero health problems.  Priceless. 

Oh, and it is not just about physical health benefits.  You know that ragey-anger that builds up as you commute by car with a bunch of other 'jerks who can't drive' (at least that's what everyone thinks about everyone else)?  That's pretty bad for the mental health.  Now:  while biking (to be safest) you live in the moment.  You aren't thinking about that ass at work, or shit project or idiot driver.  You are alert, focussed and purging your mind of bullshit.  By the time I get home after a day at work?  I've forgotten anything even remotely negative that I left the office with.  Priceless.

To save money and your life,  your better off buying a 4K car that averages 32 mpg.  Your cost per mile will be roughly 20 cents.  Even if your fit and spend less on food it would be hard to get below 15 cents per mile biking.   

Absolutely not.  This is a money pit and will not "save your life". 

I'm not opposed to biking --- Just do it in very safe areas at very safe times of day and use all the safety equipment possible while keeping your speed below 20 mph.

Yes, but go whatever speed you want on your bike.

TerriM

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2014, 09:42:09 AM »
The route is everything.  What you've described is not a route I would take lightly.  If you know for certain that even if you were wearing multiple bike lights, reflectors, etc, that someone would come around the corner and not see you in time to stop, I would not do that route.

I've been considering biking my kids home from school, but I can't find a good route.   None of the choices meet my safety standards during school dismissal times.  Too many post-school rushed moms (which I understand, because I am one), or kids biking en-mass the wrong way down the bike lane I need to use on a busy road.  Very frustrating.

beltim

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2014, 10:31:05 AM »
1) Why is biking less safe than running? Both are done along the side of the road, no?

It's not.  Running or walking are clearly less safe than biking, which is clearly less safe than driving, as backed up by all relevant statistics.

Quote
3) I think you should re-read MMM's article Safety is an Expensive Illusion: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/ and Bicycling: The SAFEST Form of Transportation: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/

The bicycling article by MMM has been thoroughly debunked.  Bicycling results in more injuries and more deaths per mile than driving does.  And since the OP has a modicum of physical activity already (in fact a great deal more), the additional health benefits of cycling are insignificant.

FIRE_HELP!

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2014, 11:10:19 AM »
I don't know if statistics will help you.  I doubt you make the other choices during your day based on a difference of .01%.  Plus, your route is unique to you.

I have a route that I have decided not to bike in the winter, the roads are too narrow with snow drifts, high speed limit, and as you noticed on your route, the people are in a hurry, late for work.  So I understand how you don't feel comfortable with a route.

My suggestion:  Run.  You do it anyways, kill 2 birds with 1 stone.  I am sure you can figure out a way to work it into the training.

Good luck!

To clarify, the 0.01% was just a random number to signify some small amount, but when I thought a bit more about how much a serious injury could cost (arbitrarily assume $100k for example) a 0.01% higher chance while biking instead of driving is $10/day, significantly more than the amount I spend driving to the train.

If I ran, it would just be in addition to my current training regimen (I do half and full marathons several times a year), and I might risk overtraining.  But more importantly, I don't have a shower facility at my office.

1) Why is biking less safe than running? Both are done along the side of the road, no?
2) Are you uninsured? Why would you pay $100k out of pocket if you are injured?
3) I think you should re-read MMM's article Safety is an Expensive Illusion: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/ and Bicycling: The SAFEST Form of Transportation: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/

1) I'm not running - I'm currently driving
2) I'm insured, but serious injuries have costs other than just medical bills.  Would you pay $100k in cash not to lose a limb or be paralyzed?  How much would you pay to not die?
3) My all-in cost of driving to the train is roughly $2.10/day.  The cost of biking is not free, and neither is the risk of injury 0%.  Hence if it is probable that I will get seriously injured even once in a 10yr period I'm pretty sure I would think it wasn't worth it.  And that was my real question - what are the probabilities

TerriM

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2014, 11:24:57 AM »
3) I think you should re-read MMM's article Safety is an Expensive Illusion: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/ and Bicycling: The SAFEST Form of Transportation: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/

Ok seriously.....  For a particular route at a particular speed, it would be idiocy to argue that a bike is safer than a car unless your car is prone to bursting into flames or you're likely to be beaten to death by throng of angry bikers for driving in a way that pissed them off (certainly feasible). 

The only reason that cars might overall compare to biking safety wise is because they can go much faster.   That's an apples to oranges comparison.  For a particular route at a particular speed on a normal road, biking is less safe, period.   If you got killed riding 25 mph in a car, people would consider it a freak accident.  You'll get killed with a lot less if you're on a bike. 

You might as well argue that police officers shouldn't wear bullet proof jackets because they're more likely to die while wearing them.

Eric

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2014, 11:33:47 AM »
3) My all-in cost of driving to the train is roughly $2.10/day.  The cost of biking is not free, and neither is the risk of injury 0%.  Hence if it is probable that I will get seriously injured even once in a 10yr period I'm pretty sure I would think it wasn't worth it.  And that was my real question - what are the probabilities

This is highly dependent on your options.  If your only option is a hilly, curvy two-lane road with a 55mph speed limit and no shoulder, your probabilities are going to be drastically different than a residential street with a bike lane and a 25mph speed limit.  Most routes are somewhere in between, but since you choose your own route, you have a lot of control over the chance of serious injury.  (and as mentioned above, lights, reflectors, and other shiny stuff is also both in your control and reduces chance of injury)

Bob W

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2014, 11:50:48 AM »
3) I think you should re-read MMM's article Safety is an Expensive Illusion: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/ and Bicycling: The SAFEST Form of Transportation: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/

Ok seriously.....  For a particular route at a particular speed, it would be idiocy to argue that a bike is safer than a car unless your car is prone to bursting into flames or you're likely to be beaten to death by throng of angry bikers for driving in a way that pissed them off (certainly feasible). 

The only reason that cars might overall compare to biking safety wise is because they can go much faster.   That's an apples to oranges comparison.  For a particular route at a particular speed on a normal road, biking is less safe, period.   If you got killed riding 25 mph in a car, people would consider it a freak accident.  You'll get killed with a lot less if you're on a bike. 

You might as well argue that police officers shouldn't wear bullet proof jackets because they're more likely to die while wearing them.

Agreed

I did a bit of research on this after MMMs article on bike safety(that has now been totally debunked).   I would call the article misleading to be kind.  Lying with statistics is more accurate.

Some of us like to ride bikes though.  We'll agree to not promote them on the basis of safety or money savings and just stick to the -- "I like to ride bikes as a lifestyle choice."  That is very cool with me and everyone else here.

What is not accounted for in the grim statistics for bike riding is rider selection of where to bike.  Bikers inherently know that most routes are very dangerous and thus avoid them entirely. 

If you live in a city that is bike friendly and has designated bike routes you can probably assume that your risk of death or serious injury is 5 to 10 times higher than the car next to you.  But in my neck of the woods it is so obviously unsafe that you see literally no one doing it.   

Sorry bikers and MMM biking is just flat out dangerous.    The other problem is that it either costs more or is break even with fuel cost vs an efficient car.   

Prius = 50mpg = 5 cents per mile  (depreciation adds 10 cents)
My  riding at 5 cals per lb of body weight per hour = 15 to 25 cents per mile.

Since the vast majority of us are keeping cars even if we walk or ride it is a no brainer that driving trumps biking on a cost and safety basis.  It also trumps on a functionally useful basis.   

Ottawa

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2014, 12:12:27 PM »
Come on Bob; Stop provoking with nonsense. ...I know that you are sitting at your desk on a Friday.  Can't wait for the weekend.  Just trying to have a giggle right? 

Quote
I did a bit of research on this after MMMs article on bike safety(that has now been totally debunked).   I would call the article misleading to be kind.  Lying with statistics is more accurate.

Do share.

Quote
Some of us like to ride bikes though.  We'll agree to not promote them on the basis of safety or money savings and just stick to the -- "I like to ride bikes as a lifestyle choice."  That is very cool with me and everyone else here.

Huh?  Not promote them on the basis of safety and money savings?  Are you serious? 

Quote
What is not accounted for in the grim statistics for bike riding is rider selection of where to bike. Bikers inherently know that most routes are very dangerous and thus avoid them entirely. 

What!?  Are you saying that there is no safe bike route choice?  Are you suggesting that in spite of choosing a safe route you are effectively dead man riding?  In my city most people that are killed biking are:

1) Biking at night while either drunk/no lights (Darwin Award)
2) Biking on a very busy road and right hooked.

I can and do avoid the above two scenarios/behaviours.

Quote
The other problem is that it either costs more or is break even with fuel cost vs an efficient car.   

Prius = 50mpg = 5 cents per mile  (depreciation adds 10 cents)
My  riding at 5 cals per lb of body weight per hour = 15 to 25 cents per mile.

Since the vast majority of us are keeping cars even if we walk or ride it is a no brainer that driving trumps biking on a cost and safety basis.  It also trumps on a functionally useful basis.

Now this is some serious bullshit.  Fuckity FUCK.

Eric

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2014, 12:20:41 PM »
The other problem is that it either costs more or is break even with fuel cost vs an efficient car.   

Prius = 50mpg = 5 cents per mile  (depreciation adds 10 cents)
My  riding at 5 cals per lb of body weight per hour = 15 to 25 cents per mile.

Since the vast majority of us are keeping cars even if we walk or ride it is a no brainer that driving trumps biking on a cost and safety basis.  It also trumps on a functionally useful basis.

Since the vast majority of us eat food whether we ride bikes or not, I'm pretty sure you can't just add food cost to biking and call it expensive.  But I could be wrong, because I bike everyday, so maybe if I stopped riding everyday, I wouldn't have to eat that day. 

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2014, 12:45:26 PM »
The other problem is that it either costs more or is break even with fuel cost vs an efficient car.   

Prius = 50mpg = 5 cents per mile  (depreciation adds 10 cents)
My  riding at 5 cals per lb of body weight per hour = 15 to 25 cents per mile.

Since the vast majority of us are keeping cars even if we walk or ride it is a no brainer that driving trumps biking on a cost and safety basis.  It also trumps on a functionally useful basis.

Since the vast majority of us eat food whether we ride bikes or not, I'm pretty sure you can't just add food cost to biking and call it expensive.  But I could be wrong, because I bike everyday, so maybe if I stopped riding everyday, I wouldn't have to eat that day.

When driving, I burn like 200cal/hour (to maintain my body, not for the car!)
While biking, I burns 600cal/hour (175 pounds at 15mph).
The difference is 400cal over 15 miles. Oatmeal worth 1714 calories/pound and cost is 70 cents/pound. If my calculations are accurates, the cost ends at 0.01$/mile

I always calculate ($)cal/mile with oatmeal because, if someone ride less than 50 miles/day, the other nutrients you need like vitamins and proteins are already covered by a normal diet.

GuitarStv

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2014, 12:51:55 PM »
Rice is cheaper than oatmeal.

Dan_at_Home

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2014, 12:58:01 PM »
Has anyone come across any hard numbers on the expected probability of getting into a serious accident for biking vs driving for a given number of miles in a suburban or small metro area?
Thanks

If you look at: The SAFEST Form of Transportation: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/

MMM reported from his research that one a strictly mile-for-mile comparison, biking is about 6 times more dangerous than traveling in a car.  This article resulted in controversy because MMM then went on to state someone driving in a car is much more likely to travel more distance (i.e. do more errands or traveling to further away stores) then someone riding a bike.  Thus, he concluded that the car is also dangerous because the person in the car is traveling more often and over longer distances that the person riding the bike.

I don't necessarily agree with MMM's conclusion that biking is safer.  I do however bike because it offers exercise and is much more enjoyable and interesting.  To minimize risk, I recommend some preventative measures.  For example, before I bike, I always go onto google maps, and use street view to very carefully plan my route.  As you pointed out, a lack of shoulder space on the side of a given road makes that road much more dangerous to bike on.  Try to avoid these as much as possible.  Also try to see if you can slightly alter your route to make it as safe as possible.  You may even find in your area that there are some places that you just can't get to by bike because there is only one road that goes there and it is simply too dangerous.  Also, you may want to only do biking during day light hours, wear a helmet, and obvious utilize bright reflective clothing and lights. 

In my opinion other factors that make roads dangerous include lots of steep hills or sharp curves, and high speed limits, because this limits your ability to see and react to cars coming at you when you are attempting to do turns at intersections.


« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 01:03:36 PM by Dan_at_Home »

beltim

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2014, 12:59:11 PM »
Come on Bob; Stop provoking with nonsense. ...I know that you are sitting at your desk on a Friday.  Can't wait for the weekend.  Just trying to have a giggle right? 

Quote
I did a bit of research on this after MMMs article on bike safety(that has now been totally debunked).   I would call the article misleading to be kind.  Lying with statistics is more accurate.

Do share.

Just read the article, then the comments. MMM gives data showing that it's about 6-7 times riskier (in likelihood of dying) to bike than to drive a given distance.  He then goes on to try to compare risk per unit of time, which makes absolutely no sense.  When the OP is deciding how to travel to work, that is a distance - 3 miles there, and 3 miles back.  The distance is invariant, not the time.

The other manipulation MMM does is to cite a study showing that increased physical activity makes people healthier.  This is true!  What MMM doesn't mention, though, is that that study shows that you hit peak benefits at a pretty early level – about 4 hours of biking per week, assuming no other exercise.  For someone like the OP, who regularly runs and trains for marathons, I would estimate that the marginal benefits of biking on health are pretty close to 0, based on activity levels and plugging it into the paper that MMM cited.

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2014, 01:18:52 PM »
Rice is cheaper than oatmeal.

True!

Oatmeal is 40 cents/1000cal
Rice is 37 cents/1000cal
Canola oil is 21 cents/1000cal

GuittarStv, you make me realise I can shave another 3.60$/year over my biking comute cost replacing oatmeal with rice or even better, 22.80$ drinking canola oil!
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 01:23:09 PM by Le Barbu »

NoraLenderbee

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2014, 01:21:40 PM »
All the handwaving about statistics aside--no, there isn't really a way to quantify the risk that includes all the variables (darkness, traffic, etc.). Given the small cost saving of biking, this seems like a decision to be made for reasons other than math. It doesn't sound as though you really feel comfortable riding because the risk of injury looms large to you. Can you try riding one day to see how it feels? You could even do it on the weekend at your normal commute time.

It's OK not to ride if it really bothers you.

GuitarStv

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2014, 01:30:35 PM »
Rice is cheaper than oatmeal.

True!

Oatmeal is 40 cents/1000cal
Rice is 37 cents/1000cal
Canola oil is 21 cents/1000cal

GuittarStv, you make me realise I can shave another 3.60$/year over my biking comute cost replacing oatmeal with rice or even better, 22.80$ drinking canola oil!

I prefer drinking canola to olive oil.  At least EVO.  Water doesn't seem to rinse the flavour out of your mouth.

TerriM

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2014, 01:59:33 PM »

Some of us like to ride bikes though.  We'll agree to not promote them on the basis of safety or money savings and just stick to the -- "I like to ride bikes as a lifestyle choice."  That is very cool with me and everyone else here.

Absolutely in agreement.  I love biking, but I do it with full understanding of the risks I'm taking in exchange for getting exercise which  I desperately need.  But when I'm making a trip with a kid, their safety is paramount, and there are trips I don't make--mostly during rush hour--because my child's life is not worth the risk.

I think the food price per calorie analysis is interesting, but not very useful.  I find that my munchy craving is reduced when I bike.  But if I decide to eat that donut anyways, I'd rather it not be followed by diabetes. :)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 02:24:55 PM by TerriM »

TerriM

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2014, 02:02:59 PM »
2) I'm insured, but serious injuries have costs other than just medical bills.  Would you pay $100k in cash not to lose a limb or be paralyzed?  How much would you pay to not die?

Heheh.... Yeah I'd pay $100K not to be paralyzed, but I'm unfortunately worth more dead (SAHM with life insurance).  So as long as it was quick, I wouldn't pay for that. :)

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2014, 02:31:51 PM »

Some of us like to ride bikes though.  We'll agree to not promote them on the basis of safety or money savings and just stick to the -- "I like to ride bikes as a lifestyle choice."  That is very cool with me and everyone else here.

Absolutely in agreement.  I love biking, but I do it with full understanding of the risks I'm taking in exchange for getting exercise which  I desperately need.  But when I'm making a trip with a kid, their safety is paramount, and there are trips I don't make--mostly during rush hour--because my child's life is not worth the risk.

I think the food price per calorie analysis is interesting, but not very useful.  I find that my munchy craving is reduced when I bike.  But if I decide to eat that donut anyways, I'd rather it not be followed by diabetes. :)

In fact, since I bike a lot, my food cost decreased! I dont need to eat as much shit (trans-fat, sugar, alchool) than before.

FreeWheel

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2014, 07:20:21 PM »
In the USA about 6 to 700 people a year die on bikes, and about 30,000 IN CARS! Why do people not worry about death and severe injury every time they strap themselves and their family into a car? Maybe they should. Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for kids and young adults.

Just like anything in life, there are risks on a bike. But my experience has been that most people who don’t cycle GREATLY exaggerate these risks. They’re afraid of what “might” happen, and can only imagine the worst. I get it, I was once there. Yet this fear doesn’t make the actual risks any higher than they are.

Millions of cyclists who ride to work every day know what really happens. They ride in a safe and predictable manner using the proper gear for the conditions, and have very few issues with drivers. And just like their friends in cars, they don’t fear every time they get on the road.

vhalros

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2014, 08:09:45 PM »
Well, lets see, it is probably more important to consider absolute risk than the factors. Because if something very unlikely to happen will happen 5 times as often, it is still unlikely to happen.

Using the NHTSA numbers, you have 6.9 fatalities/serious injury on a bicycle every 100 million miles, or approximately 1 every 14 million. With a six miles of total travel time, if you bike-commute every single day, you would except it to take 6 thousand years before experiencing a fatality or serious accident on your commute. Admittedly, you could drive for 36 thousand years before expecting to experience similar consequences.

The 6.9 figure is an average across all cyclists in the US. Presumably good habits would give you a number better than that. However, short of getting the city to put in good cycling infrastructure (a worthwhile if long term project), it would probably never be as safe as driving. If you can get the number as low as 3, you would expect 12 thousand years.

Of course, if the all routes are really bad, it is possible the number is worse.

You probably won't commute every single day either.

You would be saving approximately ~$500 a year (which you could then invest), given your estimated cost per mile of driving. I'm estimating the cost per mile of bicycling as zero, since calories are very cheap, if you cycle regularly you will become efficient and not burn too many, and almost every one eats too many of them to begin with. There is some cost to bike maintenance but it is low.

There would be some marginal benefit to your physical fitness, but the real exponential part of that curve is just getting off the couch (which you have already done), so benefits would be small and incremental.

« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 08:33:32 PM by vhalros »

TerriM

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2014, 08:48:17 PM »
In the USA about 6 to 700 people a year die on bikes, and about 30,000 IN CARS! Why do people not worry about death and severe injury every time they strap themselves and their family into a car? Maybe they should. Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for kids and young adults.

If you think cars are dangerous, try just being alive!!!!  There were 2,515,458 deaths in the US in 2011 according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm).   Clearly, we should all stop being alive so that we can reduce the risk of death.

Seriously, numbers aren't meaningful unless they're a percentage of the population doing the activity or, as another poster used, accidents per miles, which is a different, but also useful metric.  If 0.1% of the population bikes, and 95% drives, you have a very different picture from if 5% bike and 95% drive.

TerriM

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2014, 09:00:48 PM »
Using the NHTSA numbers, you have 6.9 fatalities/serious injury on a bicycle every 100 million miles, or approximately 1 every 14 million. With a six miles of total travel time, if you bike-commute every single day, you would except it to take 6 thousand years before experiencing a fatality or serious accident on your commute. Admittedly, you could drive for 36 thousand years before expecting to experience similar consequences.

Here's someone who's got similar stats, but compares to driving accident to mile as well:

http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac-safety.html

So we'll compare risk at both the 6.2 billion and 21 billion miles traveled levels.
784 cyclists died in 2005 (p. 86). That would make the death rate 0.37 to 1.26 deaths per 10 million miles.

33,041 motorists/passengers died (p. 86) from 3 trillion miles traveled (p. 15), making their death rate 0.11 per 10 million miles traveled.

So cyclists are either 3.4x or 11.5x as likely to die as motorists, per passenger mile.  Neither conclusion is very happy.

Rekon

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2014, 09:50:08 PM »
I commute 12 miles by bike in Los Angeles (heavy traffic) -- sometimes in the dark as I work late.  I have a road bike with high powered tail/head lights.  I think if you invest in good lights your chances of getting hit would be minimal. 

My wife works in a personal injury firm -- she hardly ever gets cyclists accidents.  More people get hurt in cars.

Zummbot

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2014, 08:41:42 AM »
Using the NHTSA numbers, you have 6.9 fatalities/serious injury on a bicycle every 100 million miles, or approximately 1 every 14 million. With a six miles of total travel time, if you bike-commute every single day, you would except it to take 6 thousand years before experiencing a fatality or serious accident on your commute. Admittedly, you could drive for 36 thousand years before expecting to experience similar consequences.

Here's someone who's got similar stats, but compares to driving accident to mile as well:

http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac-safety.html

So we'll compare risk at both the 6.2 billion and 21 billion miles traveled levels.
784 cyclists died in 2005 (p. 86). That would make the death rate 0.37 to 1.26 deaths per 10 million miles.

33,041 motorists/passengers died (p. 86) from 3 trillion miles traveled (p. 15), making their death rate 0.11 per 10 million miles traveled.

So cyclists are either 3.4x or 11.5x as likely to die as motorists, per passenger mile.  Neither conclusion is very happy.


What this shows is that both modes of transportation are immensely safe, so much so that even worrying about the risk of one vs. the other is silly. Follow the rules of the road, drive/bike defensively and you will be fine. If the differences in safety for both are so small as to be non-consequential (which it is), then the cost savings/environmental footprint/health advantages of bikes make them the clear winner.

As an aside here, I am skeptical of comparing miles to miles with cars vs. bikes. It is possible to commute for 50 miles a day in a car, but not so on a bike, and pretending like it is on paper is not genuine. If you're comparing a 3 mile commute to an identical 3 mile commute in a car vs a bike I am sure a car is technically safer. I think it would be a much better comparison to compare an average car commute with an average bike commute.

GuitarStv

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2014, 06:31:44 AM »
Meh, those stats don't really tell the whole picture.  For example, I'd like to see bike stats where being drunk is removed from the equation.  You are far less likely to die in a car while drunk, but more likely to kill someone else.  You are far more likely to die on a bike while drunk and far less likely to kill someone else.  I'm guessing that the people on this forum don't bike while drunk.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #37 on: December 15, 2014, 06:37:07 AM »
*shakes head* another thread like this? *sighs*

Biking isn't intextricably linked with terrorism. There, I said it.

MrsPete

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2014, 06:39:27 AM »
I think the statistics about biking safety are less valuable than the specifics about your location. 

If I biked, for example, I'd have to do it on a busy and narrow road . . . shared with teenaged drivers  . . . in the dark in the mornings at this time of year . . . and I'd have to cross over a busy 4-lane highway.  Even if biking is a safe activity in other places, this is too much risk for me personally. 


gt7152b

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #39 on: December 15, 2014, 07:07:11 AM »
Rice is cheaper than oatmeal.

True!

Oatmeal is 40 cents/1000cal
Rice is 37 cents/1000cal
Canola oil is 21 cents/1000cal

GuittarStv, you make me realise I can shave another 3.60$/year over my biking comute cost replacing oatmeal with rice or even better, 22.80$ drinking canola oil!

I prefer drinking canola to olive oil.  At least EVO.  Water doesn't seem to rinse the flavour out of your mouth.

Drinking any kind of oil just doesn't sound too appetizing but you can definitely cook more food in oil as a way to add some cheap calories. My wife, like most people, likes to soak fried foods in paper towels to the get the excess oil out but that's just wasting precious calories and paper towels. Personally, I don't eat any extra food when I bike to work vs driving. The reality is that I just eat more calories than necessary and the biking just keeps my gluttony in check.

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #40 on: December 15, 2014, 07:40:23 AM »
Rice is cheaper than oatmeal.

True!

Oatmeal is 40 cents/1000cal
Rice is 37 cents/1000cal
Canola oil is 21 cents/1000cal

GuittarStv, you make me realise I can shave another 3.60$/year over my biking comute cost replacing oatmeal with rice or even better, 22.80$ drinking canola oil!

I prefer drinking canola to olive oil.  At least EVO.  Water doesn't seem to rinse the flavour out of your mouth.

Drinking any kind of oil just doesn't sound too appetizing but you can definitely cook more food in oil as a way to add some cheap calories. My wife, like most people, likes to soak fried foods in paper towels to the get the excess oil out but that's just wasting precious calories and paper towels. Personally, I don't eat any extra food when I bike to work vs driving. The reality is that I just eat more calories than necessary and the biking just keeps my gluttony in check.

GuitarStv and me just drifted on that irrevelent $/calories thing. I am alway amazed when people include the food cost in the biking option, especialy when it's exagerated like BobW exemple: 12-20 cents/mile!

Gas is to cheap to be compared to anything else, 1 gal. = 31,500,000 cal. @ 2.70$/gal. it's 0.000000085$/cal.

But I wouln't drink it ;)

gt7152b

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #41 on: December 15, 2014, 08:35:41 AM »
Sorry, that went right over my head.

I agree that the extra cost of food is small. No way it adds up to total car expenses especially if you can replace a car with biking. If you still need your car on occasion the money savings is not going to make biking worth it if that's the only benefit you can imagine. Fortunately, there are way more benefits than money. Biking is just one of those activities that makes you feel more optimistic about life in general because it is so self sufficient. The freedom you gain from it is really undervalued.

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #42 on: December 15, 2014, 08:46:45 AM »
100% true

And if you keep the car and drive very little, the cost/mile of the car goes up! I bike to comute (25%), I carpol (50%), bike short errands. My cost/mile is still around 45 cents/km (the same when I use to drive a lot more) but the TOTAL cost is lower. I drive 7,500km less at 45 cents/km it's over 3k/year

Freedom and health (both physical and metal) are the most important, $$ saving is the bonus!

darkadams00

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #43 on: December 15, 2014, 11:27:28 PM »
If I leave home at 5:30am, I take Route A. If I leave at 6:30am, I take Route B. If I leave at 7am, I take Route B with a small detour.

If I leave work at 5:00pm, I take Route B with the detour (reversed of course). If I leave at 6:00pm, I take Route B. If I leave anytime after dark, I take Route C to avoid a tricky spot.

I figured it out all by myself over a couple months as I learned the area from the pavement level. Give me a temp, a time, and a place to be in town, and I can tell you the route I will take and what I will be wearing (sweat-free is the usual goal, staying warm is easy).

"Convince me biking is/will/can..." -- my God, for three generations, my forebears were handed a weapon in their teens and pushed out of a boat/helicopter to shoot or get shot. And non-cyclists and first-timers whine about 0.01% likelihoods, millions of vehicle miles, "oh, a driver honked at me today." Get out there and figure it out, or sit on your can. As you wish. Grow a set or just be honest that you can't face your fear. Don't hide behind questionable numbers.

And if you do live in a place with only one route down a maniac-infested speedway, then you have a housing choice to make. I don't need a number to tell me getting passed by 49 18-wheelers at 55mph is a bad idea. Get your house in order, make the move, and enjoy your new digs and your new-found freedom--or not. I make my living with stats, but I don't think 5% of folks use them for anything other than blatant justification for actions taken or excuses for actions not taken.

Ottawa

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #44 on: December 16, 2014, 04:27:35 AM »
If I leave home at 5:30am, I take Route A. If I leave at 6:30am, I take Route B. If I leave at 7am, I take Route B with a small detour.

If I leave work at 5:00pm, I take Route B with the detour (reversed of course). If I leave at 6:00pm, I take Route B. If I leave anytime after dark, I take Route C to avoid a tricky spot.

I figured it out all by myself over a couple months as I learned the area from the pavement level. Give me a temp, a time, and a place to be in town, and I can tell you the route I will take and what I will be wearing (sweat-free is the usual goal, staying warm is easy).

"Convince me biking is/will/can..." -- my God, for three generations, my forebears were handed a weapon in their teens and pushed out of a boat/helicopter to shoot or get shot. And non-cyclists and first-timers whine about 0.01% likelihoods, millions of vehicle miles, "oh, a driver honked at me today." Get out there and figure it out, or sit on your can. As you wish. Grow a set or just be honest that you can't face your fear. Don't hide behind questionable numbers.

And if you do live in a place with only one route down a maniac-infested speedway, then you have a housing choice to make. I don't need a number to tell me getting passed by 49 18-wheelers at 55mph is a bad idea. Get your house in order, make the move, and enjoy your new digs and your new-found freedom--or not. I make my living with stats, but I don't think 5% of folks use them for anything other than blatant justification for actions taken or excuses for actions not taken.

Hear, hear! 

Le Barbu

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #45 on: December 16, 2014, 06:21:19 AM »

"Convince me biking is/will/can..." -- my God, for three generations, my forebears were handed a weapon in their teens and pushed out of a boat/helicopter to shoot or get shot. And non-cyclists and first-timers whine about 0.01% likelihoods, millions of vehicle miles, "oh, a driver honked at me today." Get out there and figure it out, or sit on your can. As you wish. Grow a set or just be honest that you can't face your fear. Don't hide behind questionable numbers.


Would that be also honest to say that the Marketing Machine understood many years ago how to use "safety" in the pitch to sell just about anything, not only cars. I drive for almost 30 years now and NEVER EVER think about the safety devices included in the vehicule I drive. Why do they keep talking about this in ads?

I'm from Canada and if I make my mind reading comments about how dangerous it is to bike or at the very end, just go out your home with something else than armored SUV, I may think that the US are as dangerous as Bagdad or Gaza. In fact, I traveled to Boston, Maine, Virginia and NYC and havent seen many differences with our country. Maybe I did't went trough the fearful places yet...

vhalros

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #46 on: December 16, 2014, 06:29:05 AM »
I always thought it sort of interesting that we can have the thought that "Bicycling is not safe" and not follow it up with the thought that we must have built our roads an an absurd way, if people feel the need to take a 2 ton safety cage to travel 3 miles.

Dyk

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Re: True expected value of Biking over Driving
« Reply #47 on: January 05, 2015, 10:33:56 AM »
i came back after a while:

Quote
If I ran, it would just be in addition to my current training regimen (I do half and full marathons several times a year), and I might risk overtraining.  But more importantly, I don't have a shower facility at my office.

I don't have a shower at my office, no problem.

Bottom line, you can make something work if you want it to work.  If you don't want it to you won't!