Thursday, 28 July 2011

Cycling not so dangerous - Told you So!

So once again, I can do a "Told You So" post. This time it is relation to my "Experience Counts" post a couple of weeks ago. In this I explained about how I felt I had an advantage on a bike (with respect to safety) due to being middle aged and previous car driving experience, thus giving me the "6th Sense" - or in reality the ability to spot a crap driver from a distance.

The proof I offer is in this post which looks at cycling accidents broken down by age group you can see it HERE. As can be seen the 40 - 60 age group rock in the safety game.

The share of bicycle and motor vehicle crashes in which the rider was at fault was above 70 per cent for those aged 12 to 16 years and just over 50 per cent for those aged 17 to 20.
The cyclist-at-fault rate tapered down to about 20 per cent for riders between the ages of 30 and 60, before rising again for older cyclists.
Ms Schramm said her analysis suggested middle-aged riders were “relatively safe” on the roads.
“What the graph is showing is that the younger the bicyclist is, the more likely they are to be responsible for the crash,” she said.
Ms Schramm said the departmental bike and motor vehicle crash data released this week seemed to be “an aggregate of all crashes regardless of age”.
“If you look at age or look at whether the rider had a [driver] licence or look at any other factor you may see other trends,” she said."

But there is more to this than meets the eye - and I think there is a correlation to the "Cycling is Dangerous" argument here that needs to be investigated.

I have been in heated debates on other Blogs about the "Cycling is Dangerous" that some people feel it is their moral duty to tell everyone. Because, they know better than everyone else and we regular cyclist need teaching. OK rant over at the nanny state and the cycling is dangerous eulogists.

I have consistently argued that cycling is not any more dangerous than any other activity (I believe 10 times more people die walking down stairs in slippers each year than they do cycling) and my main point of argument is the fact that you can manage the risk significantly dependant on how you ride.

I have always had this argument ignored whenever I bring it up - but I think the the evidence shown by the breakdown is quite strong. Generally speaking I think the 40 - 60 bracket of riders will ride more carefully (not significantly slower) but they will be aware of potential problems earlier and risky situations - this I would call "Risk Aware" and not "carefully". This is only down to longer exposure to roads and other drivers, but it definitely shows that the risk of cycling can vary greatly depending on how you ride. There is also the other side to the coin and that of riding too carefully - I believe this has been shown by the proportionally higher number of female riders in accidents, mostly due to the fact that they hold back at junctions and end up having "issues" with trucks turning left.

Anyway being "risk aware" to me seems to make a lot of difference and the danger of cycling is to a large part (but by no means totally) under your direct control as a rider. There is a small minority of idiot drivers out there - it helps if you can spot them and get out of their way.

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