A 2005 for BISA, I looked at the risks of cycling, compared to risks in other areas of life.Some numbers.. the numbers are based on 1999, based on a truly enormous survey State Govt did on peoples travel habits, and havent repeated since. So they give the picture for 10 years ago. They're the best guide I can give for 2011, and I think might still be useful, to help think about this.
1. Cyclists killed on Adelaide roads annually - around 3-4 on average, though can vary from 1 some years to maybe 6 or . Compare that to the number of cyclists you see around you every day ... risk is actually pretty small.
2. We all need exercise, everyday life no longer provides enough to stay healthy. Compare cycling to other sports - all sports have risk of injury. For football, basketball, soccer, the risks of injury per hour, are 6-19 times those of cycling
3. Compare cycling to riding a motor bike - cycling is around same risk per km, of injury or crashing - about half the risk of death.
4. Some time ago Prof Harry Owen at Flinders Uni, who works as a medical specialist during the day - did a risk-benefit analysis, of health benefits of cycling versus risks. Cycling did have risks (crashes); but the health benefits vastly outweighed those. As usual, this is cause our environment creates a lot of health problems due to lack of exercise.
5. Trying to make sense of that, into what one cyclist might experience. How scary the road feels, may not be a good guide, to how dangerous the road actually is. Back of the envelope: a cyclist doing 6 hours a week might experiece - 2-3 near misses a week. That varies a lot from person to person, for some it was 0-1 and others, 20-30. What one person counts as a near miss, another might hardly even notice. Those incidents are frightening, sure. But that high rate of near misses, doesnt translate into a high rate of injury - e.g just because a car nearly missed you this week, doesn't mean it will injure you next week or the week after. My active cyclist might have not 1-2 injuries per week or month, but 1-3 incidents per 10 years,. Most of those incidents would be the type of thing, that required maybe a visit to the doctor, some first aid, maybe a visit to A&E , and would be painful - but that is all, and one would expect to recover and be back on the bike. They're unlikely to e.g need a fortnight in hospital, then months of rehab. (those are rarer still). In a lifetime of active cycling - my "active cyclist" is far more likely to die of other things, than of being knocked off his/her bike.
So for those wondering whether to give up the bike - up to you, but whatever you do instead, has its own risks. If you spend the same time walking to places - your risk of a car hitting you is lower, but the risk of being killed by a car, is about the same. If you give up the bike for footy, tennis, or sport - you can get injured, specially us middle age blokes. if you give it all up, lock the doors and stay home - you get health problems from lack of exercise.
I hope those numbers put some perspective on the risk. In talking about risk, numbers are needed, as plain English words aren't adequate. We have "could", "might", "probably will" - are often used, but not actually much use. "You could win $10 million tonight in Cross Lotto" . So when we have "could", used to mean "almost certainly will not, not this week or next week or ever" - you can perhaps see how difficult, it is to talk about risk accurately, in words not numbers. ... I suspect "you could die cycling" has about the same meaning.
I'm hoping to update the data maybe 2013 - depends whether Dept of Transport run another big travel survey - which they do only every 10-15 years.
If anyone thinks about giving up cycling - you don't have to - try the alternative MTB!!
All of the important things are there - two wheels, fresh air, exercise, fantastic scenery and best of all no cars, plus plenty of friends and chamois time at the end of the ride.
Whilst it seems like a flippant thing to say at what is a very tragic time, have a think about the fundamental issue here which is keeping away from cars.
For those that think it is bit like giving up and taking up lawn bowls, MTB is not about riding on fire roads. There are heaps of trails to ride in the Adelaide Hills some long climbs some technical some easy some really hard. Even though you might only do 50kms, you will feel like you have done 100kms. Whole body gets worked, as well as mind (you won't just be staring at the next riders bum for 4 hours). Dangerous?? Well sometimes, but you control the danger by riding slower or faster...and you are not at the mercy of some blind fool.
The MTB community is working on getting more access for riders to even more trails in the Hills (we have another set of issues to contend with and it is not the attitude of motorists).
Its a whole new world. Watch this space.
Sadly, I knew this last man very well, having suffered through countless races both road and track with him. As well as having riden to Melbourne and back with him, just the 2 of us. Memories do flood back, but I hope (this is a difficult part) it's not a reason for us to give up on a passion. The more of us are out on the road the more we will be seen the more drivers will "have" to be more observant as well as us.
This leads me to a another point, we as cyclists do have to be accountable. I live on Binney Rd Willunga. This morning riding down to the Rail Trail a car passed me and I could see the brake lights go on as rider crossed Binney rd. seemingly not looking, only to be just missed by this car. This is not giving the driver a chance
RIP John Jonas.
Julia, It is something I have thought about, but I like my daily commute too much at the moment and spare time on weekends is an issue with other priorities.
I do have a good mate of mine who is struggling with the traffic issues (he has been knocked off a couple of times with minor fractures) and our most recent conversation went along the lines of, "one more traffic hassle and I am off on the Mtb".
Most cyclists have more than one bike and I have a nice Giant Xtc2 in the shed which has done little riding since I purchased it over a year ago..
Who knows, the trails do offer challenges of a different kind, but definitely safer than the roads of late.
Johnny you have done a lot to minimize the risk of being involved in another accident by looking at other contributing factors that increase the risk of riding.
Hmm, reading about cyclists injured and worse killed, is extremely sobering and unless your a cold hearted bugga I believe we would all give thoughts to riding on the roads or not??
I have had my own incidents like many others and my wife and I have discussed my daily commute to and from work...all up 200+kms weekday riding!
The compromise is that I have recently bought a few of those fluro green jersey's to add a little safety to my riding! I have to say I ride with lights on(AY-UP) all the time anyway, and soon to add some helmet lights as an added precaution...
Cutting to the point, if I can be hit in good to excellent visibility at 5.15pm riding in a bike lane on a main road then I am stuffed if I know what else a cyclist is expected to do????
Everyone I have discussed the details with including accident investigator, SAPOL, Solicitor and private investigator all say I was in the right and there is no excuse as to why I was not seen.
Will I keep riding? Damned right I will, and I have given instructions to my solicitor if I get hit and killed and it's a clear cut case, I want the drivers "head" on a legal plate with my wife and kids looked after....
If I sound a little pissed off, then you are very perceptive, I am old, a slow rider, and very conservative in my riding style..
I do not accept the term accident but I will go along with collision, crash, negligence or incompetence and I am amazed why anything but an accident is not worth a charge and visit to court.
I ride in and out of work just about every day, and often people say something like "I'd cycle in but its just too dangerous". I think the danger is there, but its over-rated. I'd also rather be part of the solution than part of the problem. If we all just stop cycling and start driving, the world will (continue to) go to hell. We need to keep pushing the cycling message. Its the old critical mass thing. The more cyclists on the road, the more drivers become aware of cyclists. If there's only one cyclist on the road every blue moon, they'll never be considerate towards cyclists.
My son also cycles in and out of school. Yes, I worry about him. But, he's fitter than most of his mates, he's got better road awareness than his non-cycling mates, which will benefit him later in life, he's more independent. These are the positives.
Could not have said it better Mike. The more cyclists that drivers see on the road the more they have to be aware of us. One would hope so anyway.
Thanks for the message.
Your son cycling to school? I have just been reading a book "Carjacked" and they talk of Mum's Taxi. She has to have the better of the familys 2 cars, to pose in front of the other mums and if there is a school bus, to ride in it is seen as a sign of poverty. God help our children in the war against obesity.