Friday, March 21

Is bike commuting DANGEROUS?

The quick answer is "It depends".

For some reason, I've been on a bike safety kick today, and I've done a little bit of reading. I've always been interested in whether it is more or less dangerous to ride my bike to work instead of driving. I know my wife worries about me also, especially in bad weather. One of the articles I read today can be found HERE. It has a very good description of some of the misleading statistics that are common today along with some well thought statistics on why bike commuting MAY be safter than driving.

Based on what I've read so far, if you are riding on the sidewalk, breaking traffic laws, and hugging the shoulder in heavy traffic, then YES... bike commuting is probably more dangerous than driving. If you are using the road like your supposed to (like a VEHICLE), obeying all the traffic laws, and "taking the lane" when in heavy traffic on narrow lanes, then you are probably (in my opinion) safer on a bike or at least close to as safe as driving. The downside to riding like your supposed to, is rude drivers that have to go AROUND you instead of buzzing you with inches to spare. Your likely to get a few more honks from the folks that are running late for work because they stopped at Burger King to get an "Enormous Omelet Sandwich". But heck, your saving money and getting some great exercise.

So stay off the sidewalk, use flashing front/rear lights, pretend your a car, obey the traffic laws, ignore the rude drivers, and your golden. Oh, and wear a helmet, preferably a green one. ;-)


Stratomatic said...

Great post and linked article! There is an uphill grade in my original commute plan that makes me an 8 MPH obstacle to traffic for a long stretch on a busy street. I was resorting to sidewalk for that part but I looked at some satellite maps this morning and I think I have a better plan worked out. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

dmars said...

good post,

dale said...

ken kifer's site provides a lot of thought provoking pages, much like sheldon brown. I've read through most of kifer's thoreau commentary.

Yes, we may have the law on our side for our chunk of pavement, but riding were I don't impede car traffic is key, imo. I agree that route selection should be used to solve safety issues whenever possible.

Neighborhood 25mph streets we can ride easily.

35mph streets and above, I prefer 3+ lanes or a shoulder. This is in the city with traffic. In the country, two lane non main artery are good, but roads like military are not good during heavy traffic.