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Is cycling safe?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Bazarchie, Jul 13, 2020.

  1. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    Following on from Roger’s terrible news I will ask the obvious question, is cycling safe?

    When I was at senior school I cycled every day and never had an issue. Mainly B roads but quite busy. No helmets in those days, the only problem I can remember was pupils from a local school putting tacks on the road.

    After school I cycled very little and when I did I felt unsafe unless I was on a cycle path like a disused railway line.

    Too many stories of injuries, some very serious, some fatal.

    Is it safe?
  2. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    As a watcher of "24 Hours in A & E" (and assuming that the programme's notes are truthful) I'm more worried now about the vulnerability of cyclists than before I started watching. As for motor-cyclists, I wonder if they're allowed on the roads simply to give A & E & other medics plenty of training in complex injury cases!

    In my own case, I really ought to be doing more exercise and cycling would be good for that, but I'm now mindful of how even minor bumps do seem to turn into serious injury cases very easily - and being 80+, I expect my bones must now be quite brittle.
  3. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    Cycling is safe. Some drivers are dangerous.
    Scphoto likes this.
  4. Danno

    Danno Member

    I courted my ( now, current and only) wife by bicycle from the family home, 15 or 20 km ( IDK) . I occasionally had access to the Da's car, but most travel was by bike.
    I still have the chassis of my GrandPrix Raleigh, which I commuted to work on, after the first couple of kids were born.

    When my legs, lungs and general attitude gave up, I went motorized, with a big 1100cc Honda, but I gave that up due to the cost of insurance.

    I'd prefer the quiet and the exercise of a well-tuned bicycle again, but cost, and the abusive traffic, shame me from attempting it. My loss.
  5. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Some cyclists and some pedestrians are also dangerous. If we all behaved with more consideration for others the accident rate would drop off substantially.
    ascu75 and dangie like this.
  6. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Cycling carries inherent risks, which have remained mostly unchanged for decades. What has worsened is the infrastructure, traffic and killing potential of other vehicles (cars for example becoming much larger/heavier etc. whilst providing more distractions through entertainment and navigation systems).

    Around the world society has become overly car-reliant, to the extent that for many it is inconceivable to restrict speeds in urban areas, pedestrianise urban areas, or to even provide better cycling infrastructure. Studies in several countries have shown motorists don't see cyclists as human, others have shown dangerous levels of hatred, all because they 'get in the way' or slow them down. Drivers who kill cyclists often receive little more than a slap on the wrist.

    So really it's a perfect storm of society being unwilling to take the steps to make it safer for everyone, in case a few drivers complain. In both Edinburgh and East Lothian proposals to temporarily widen pavements to allow for better social distancing by removing some on street parking have been pushed back and shelved. The consultations were open for a month but once the measures were agreed car people started screaming and saying they hadn't been consulted. That's not about cycling specifically, just an example of how drivers feel their right to have an opportunity to park near a particular shop is more important than public health for all. :confused: A councillor tweeted recently that in her years of service as a councillor the single biggest obstacle to just about everything had been car culture.

    So where's this going? Basically we need bold vision and determination to make positive changes. Make it easier and safer for people to get around by bike and public transport, naturally removing many cars from the roads and freeing up space for people who really need it. In Copenhagen for example the bike dominates, but most cyclists don't see themselves as cyclists, just people on bikes because it's the easiest and quickest way around town. Wouldn't it be great to see that change here too?

    PS, no apologies for starting sentences with so and basically!
  7. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    I foresee the whole issue of personal transport being transformed over the next ten years. Go stand by a motorway and count the large saloon cars with just one occupant. It really is scandalous that with the climate change furor going on this continues without acerbic comment - yet.

    It seems commute cycling is on the increase, so lets have a cheap electrification system - perhaps not as primitive as the old two-stroke motor rubbing against the tyre, but something more like the current 80cc add-on kits from the US, but battery powered. Proper electric bikes are too expensive, but if you already have the bike...

    Imagine an electric , hydrogen or hybrid version of the Messerschmitt KR200, Heinkel Kabine or BMW Isetta of the nineteen fifties as a city commute vehicle. Small, light, cheap to build (low carbon footprint), cheap to run. Make it the only motorized 3+ wheeler for individual city use.

    I must stop there, or you will all think I have gone green, all of a sudden. I can assure you, my Lamborghini sees daily use! :D

    dangie and Zou like this.
  8. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Cycling carries some risk. This risk can be higher or lower depending upon how you go about it.

    With respect to motor vehicles the cyclist is always the more vulnerable. The vast majority of drivers are kind and considerate. There are a few who aren’t and a there are a few with poor driving skills. I haven’t come across any of the very few who drive illegally and recklessly.

    There are some inconsiderate cyclists who should know better. Being close passed by a cyclist going fast is on par with being close passed by a car if they don’t warn or give space. There are a host of people on bikes who mix it with pedestrians on pavements and generally ignore all rules of the road, the few times they are on the road that is. As a cyclist and road user I treat them as I would as a car driver, assigning a probability that they’ll jump off the pavement in front of me, turn across a pedestrian crossing without looking etc. My second near-miss of last year was a bloke on a mountain bike who rode across a pedestrian crossing in front of me while I had a green traffic light. He didn’t even look.

    The lock down has seen a lot of people start cycling. Many have done so because of the reduction in traffic. A proportion of those riding on the pavement do so because of fear of traffic rather than “just because they can”. It isn’t pleasant riding in traffic, especially if there are heavy goods vehicles/buses and where traffic moves at speed.

    There are ways to mitigate risk. Be visible is an important rule. You are less likely to get knocked off while wearing high visibility clothing and running “see me” lights (often flashing front and back lights run in daylight) than riding around dressed head to foot in black. “Own the road” as Andrew said in another post. This means not riding in the gutter, giving yourself room to see and to avoid obstructions and force drivers to make a conscious decision to over-take. Holding the line is important for trailers and caravans. It is very dangerous, although a natural thing to do, to pull in when being overtaken then swing back out as the car passes. The only time (touch wood) I’ve been knocked off is riding too close to the kerb. I was passed by a bus on a left hand bend, the bus driver didn’t get wide enough and the back of the bus pushed me into the kerb. Lastly ride defensively. Stop and look at junctions. Signal yourself and don’t trust the signals of others. Beware cars joining a main road as a common accident is the driver who looks right and left but not in front.

    I went back to cycling just over a year ago. I rode with a club as a schoolboy -so 50 years before - and hadn’t been on a bike for 40 years. I joined the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) now operating as Cycling UK. They provide insurance and legal assistance. I was pleased and delighted to find CTC have several active groups/affiliated groups in my area. I ride mainly with 3 but there are another two that I have been out with. I rode 4,000 miles last year and during lockdown have ridden about 1,000 on my own, so in total I’ve done about 4,700 miles since May 2019.

    For me now the most “risk” is the road surface. My biggest fear is hitting a pothole and coming off. This makes me a slow rider as I don’t like going more than 20 mph downhill and my absolute limit is 30 mph on a road I know has no holes.

    I don’t like traffic. I don’t see riding in traffic as an unacceptable risk. I wouldn’t choose to ride a busy A road, it is not nice. We are fortunate that around here it is reasonably possible to ride mainly on unclassified and B roads. Joining a club and being able to tap into knowledge of the minor roads has been a blessing. I’d advise anyone who wants to start to cycle for pleasure to join a club. Clubs usually affiliate to CTC (Cycling UK) or British Cycling - which is the more sport oriented of the two.
    beatnik69, dangie, Zou and 1 other person like this.
  9. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Sadly I encounter the dangerous and illegal driving every single time I'm out - ranging from speeding to handheld phone use and failing to indicate etc. Worth noting that in Edinburgh I feel safer on my bike than I do on foot, so bad is the general standard of driving. At least on the bike the speed differential is reduced.
    Scphoto likes this.
  10. dream_police

    dream_police Well-Known Member

    Although it doesn't affect how she drives as she is very cautious, I am sad to say that is my wife. She gets so cross if she has to wait behind a cyclist/s. She doesn't do anything dangerous, in fact she is too slow to overtake and misses plenty of safe opportunities to do so. That then frustrates her even more. Hell, it might even add a minute to our overall journey!

    I then get abused sitting next to her because "You are one of those too":)
    beatnik69 and Zou like this.
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    My wife also.

    As a rider I get concerned if a car driver repeatedly misses opportunities to pass safely. I feel it increases the risk they’ll go when it is not safe. Especially if they have a queue behind them.
    Zou likes this.
  12. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    Happens frequently. They don't pass on the straight section of road but then decide to pass on the bend. To cycle safety you need to think like a top snooker player. Try to think moves ahead. 'What shall I do if...???' Plan your escape strategy.

    I used to work shifts and cycled to and from work. When cycling late at night I worked on the premise that every motorist had just come out of the pub. Of course they hadn't but it served me well.
    beatnik69 and Zou like this.
  13. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Walking our tiny lanes the last few days, I have had to leap aside for bikes rushing through on several occasions. They are a menace in Surrey.
  14. dream_police

    dream_police Well-Known Member

    Another issue is some drivers stay too far back (further than is necessary) from the cyclist/s that they want to pass. When the time comes to overtake they have too much ground to take and invariably at too slow speed. Any way following is then frustrated by the lead cars hesitance and thus they become frustrated or forced into a dangerous position because the lead car that has overtaken then slows down considerably as soon as they have passed by the cyclist.
    ascu75 and Zou like this.
  15. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    Watching BBC News last night Laura Kuenssberg was presenting her report standing near the crossroads outside Parliament. The number of cyclists going through the red traffic lights was absolutely terrible.
  16. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    Deviating slightly, many pedestrians do not know the correct side of the road to walk on when there's no footpath.
    Danno and Zou like this.
  17. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    Conversion kits are readily available.


    Bazarchie and SqueamishOssifrage like this.
  18. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    Sometimes it takes me a long time to get past cyclists, too.

    Just the other day I was driving along a country road and came up behind a ladies cycling club ride-out. I got stuck behind all those shapely young female derrieres, clad in tight-fitting lycra, for absolutely ages. :D
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
    LesleySM likes this.
  19. AndyTake2

    AndyTake2 Well-Known Member

    Always difficult to know what to do when there is a group of cyclists.
    Some are fine, but invariably one finds a few that insist on swerving out to chat to a mate beside them without checking behind.
    I usually just bide my time if there are a few and the road conditions not suitable for overtaking (i.e. potholes everywhere, visibility problems) or just sound the horn then wave to let them know I am there before overtaking - this usually results in at least one of the cyclists letting their mates know not to be jelly babies and it is then safe to pass.
  20. Stephen Rundle

    Stephen Rundle Well-Known Member

    Some cyclists are no better

    This is just ONE


    Oh and in case anyone wonders here are ours........................................... Therefore I am not just a bias motorist.

    I would never ever ride anywhere such as a country lane because drivers DO NOT give a t*** and speed down them, I also believe that all motorists should have to spend a day cycling as part of the driving test Dscn0679.jpg

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