Contrary to the shameless fear-mongering from so-called bike advocates who run the national organizations supporting a "Bike Friendly America", the U.S. Department of Transportation statistics indicate that bicycling is a very safe means of transportation.
Looking at this information, and at other traffic studies of bicyclist crashes and bicyclist behavior in traffic, it becomes pretty obvious that: 1) bicycliing is relatively safe - even when those bicyclists who have dangerous behaviors are factored in, and 2) bicyclists can largely control their fate by how they ride (In fact, those bicyclists who ride according to trafic rules are safer than motorists, hour-by-hour!).
Dangerous bicycling behaviors include:
- Riding against traffic - motorists aren't looking for bicyclists riding wrong-way
- Sidewalk riding - motorists aren't expecting bicyclists to be on the sidewalk traveling at bicycle speeds, and pedestrians have right-of-way on sidewalks
- Bicycling while impaired - drunk bicycling accounts for a high percentage of crashes
- Failing to obey traffic signs and signals - causes crashes, and promotes disrespect and animosity toward bicyclists as a group
- Riding at night and during poor visibility conditions without proper (legal) illumination - motorists can't avoid what they can't see
- Riding too far to the right - makes bicyclists suitable to opened car doors, "nose-outs" from driveways and streets
- Passing traffic on the right - motorists aren't expecting traffic to pass illegally on their right, and bicyclists who "filter" up the right gutter past stopped traffic become vulnerable to "right hook" and "left cross" collisions with turning vehicles whose drivers didn't see the bicyclist.
- Passing turning trucks - trucks make wide turns and their rear wheels pinch the curb, leaving no room for bicyclists on their right.
By avoiding the dangerous behaviors above, a bicycle rider can eliminate nearly ninety (90) percent of motor vehicle versus bicycle crashes! And remember - falls account for well over half of all serious bicycle crashes.
It isn't too hard to see why bicycling can be claimed to be so safe.
Do you ever wonder why we see so much dangerous and inconsiderate behavior from bicycle riders? Why do we tolerate the wrong-way riders, the que jumpers, the traffic signal scofflaws, the dangerous sidewalk riders, the invisible night riders, the weavers, and the riders who ride so close to parked cars that they are nearly inside them?
Have you ever watched a scofflaw bicyclist ride past a police officer who did nothing to correct the illegal behavior?
When there is a bicyclist fatality that makes the news, is the bicyclist's behavior that led to the crash correctly identified? How many times did law enforcement officers just "ride on by" that bicyclist before the fatal crash?