Is a bike crash inevitable?

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009
By Yokota Fritz

Alan posted his views on the safety of cycling, which I'm in general agreement with. It's fascinating to me to see comments like this in the interesting discussion that follows Alan's post. What do you think? Do you expect to be run over when bicycling?

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Absolutely not! Maybe I'm being naive but I don't expect to be in an accident although I know they happen. We had a couple biking deaths here in Seattle recently and I kept on riding. I use common sense and hope for the best.
I try to ride as safely as I can. Attention is always paid to traffic, door zones, road conditions etc.

I suppose it's likely that I will crash sooner or later, but I've not had any painful things happen in the past few (3000km+ each) years.
I do expect some non-fatal road rash; I don't expect that to be caused by collision with another vehicle. More likely it's an expected road hazard -- e.g. a hard-to-see road seam catching my tire while crossing the bridge on Shoreline.

My motorcyclist friend mentioned a mean time to crash of 5 years. I've experienced similar with cycling, though a cycling crash is usually much less damaging.
I'm with Asa: I do not EXPECT to be in an accident at all, and the ones that do occur don't raise my nervousness, they're just the way things work. I trust my bike, my skill, and my luck.
That is just as rediculous as someone saying they'd expect to get beat up because they're gay or a minority.
KWC checkin in from Japan! Woo hoo!

My worst crashes have involved just me -- wiping out on a fast turn and road hazards. My worst of all time was in a charity ride (back when I thought charity rides were races) and I ended up heels over head and I lost my shorts -- literally shredded off my body. I finished the ride toga style in a borrowed towel.

I ride defensively and watch the other traffic, but I don't start out on a ride expecting to get hit, same as I don't expect to get in an accident when I go for a drive. If a collision happens (and yeah, they happen), it's an exceptional event that gets blogged about. Most days, my rides are unexceptionally fun :-)
Well, it probably depends on your competence and how you ride compared to your skill level. My friend is is much more competent rider then me, but he loves to do tricks, hops, and, in general, ride at the edge of his ability. He's had a number of accidents and while he claims most are not his fault, I'm not sure that his riding style doesn't contribute to them. Meanwhile I can't do half of what he does on his bike, but I don't try. I ride conservatively and I may take a spill every once in a while, I wouldn't say it averages once a year, nor have I have been in a collision with a motor vehicle although I commute on the streets daily.

So do I expect to get into an accident and hurt myself on a regular basis? No. But that doesn't mean that the original poster does not know whereof he speaks. Some people have riskier riding styles and/or ride in riskier conditions. However if they get in that many more accidents then their co-riders, they may want to consider some changes.
Not in Japan yet (leave this weekend)

I should add that I do expect to be in a car accident, but I think there's some distinction here being made between whether or not expectation=behavioral change. It sounds like plenty of people in this thread *have* crashed on their bike -- I imagine that many have been in car accidents as well. I still get in my car and I'd still rather ride my bike than get in my car.
I ride in the school of if you expect it you will find it, if you don't expect it you won't find it. No need to have negative thoughts will getting out for a ride.
Lets just say I don't expect it anymore than if I were making the same commute/ride by car.

Overall, I think that the probability of getting in a transportation related accident (any vehicle) sometime in your life is rather high. If your primary mode of transportation is a bike then you will likely get into a bike accident at some point in your life. The "statistic" of several times this years seems a bit (ha!) exaggerated.

This expectation of mine doesn't change how I ride
I knew an accident was more than likely going to happen and had this confirmed when hit riding to work last week. I'm lucky that most of the energy went through the bike and the driver stopped, but it is not something I want to experience again anytime soon.
What nonsense. An accident can happen, certainly - but I don't *expect* one. In fact, I feel much SAFER on my bike than on a car - I have a better view; slower speed; faster reaction time, less likelihood (look at the statistics for car incidents vs bike incidents).
...i tend to agree w/ "mr c"...

...statistics & "inevitable outcomes" are for charts & graphs & those who have a need for such sociological claptrap... they say, "shit happens" but i also believe you can project or make shit happen by believing it to be "inevitable"... if you're going to "take the time" to be concerned, use it to believe that you can ride through any problem...then, should a situation arise, your positive subconscious attitude won't be bowing to "the inevitable"... any mtb-er will tell you "look where you want to go"...
Attitude defines outcome?

As soon as the word "RISK" is mentioned, commenters go wild. As the credit crunch shows, risk management is not well understood and therefore often poorly managed. How do you measure hunting hours? The data at best indicates some measure of risk that was designed to be used by insurers.

Black Swan events, whether on a bike or in an investment portfolio, are hard to measure. Both times I ended in a hospitable bed for days in cycling accidents, I was out for recreational rides and never expected to be seriously injured.

PS. At least this wasn't the 13th comment.
By the way Fritz, how smart are we in our math knowledge? When 1001 Americans were asked the simple question "How many times larger is a trillion than a million?", only 21% got it right.
...first off, let me say we're all on the same side here, jack, so don't consider this an attack but...

..."Attitude defines outcome?"...ahhh, ya...simple preparation (ie: honed skills, constant awareness) can result in a very different outcome...
...i tend to carry a slight paranoia when i ride, in that i NEVER expect people to do what would seem intelligent or logical...that being said, most people would tell you i look very relaxed on a bike & after 40 years of serious riding, i am...but i've always got a "working" edge...

...just as you train your body for riding, you also train your mind for the same task & unfortunately that can often include being prepared to unexpectedly deal w/ the stupidity of others (& in my case, sometimes my own)... james dean said "there's NO WAY that guys gonna pull out in front of us"...

..."Both times I ended in a hospitable bed for days in cycling accidents, I was out for recreational rides and never expected to be seriously injured."...sorry to hear it & pure extrapolation on my part, jack but perhaps because you weren't out on a "serious" ride, your 'cycling' defenses were down...maybe you were more relaxed (as we all should be "able" to be) because it was a recreational ride...

...anyway, i guess if there is a common thread here it's that no matter what, we're all gonna keep riding...& that's a good thing !!!...
bikesgonewild goes wild with more numerous speculations than someone who invests their nest egg in Lotto tickets.

Sorry dude but every one of your comments are misleading and wrong. No offense taken and keep riding.
...obviously you did take offense, so basically you're giving me a reasonably polite "fuck you"...

...well, sir, maybe i was wrong about your situation (& thanks for clarifying so that i might better understand your actions...not that it matters at this point) but my comments are not in any way "misleading & wrong" in that they work quite well pour moi first & foremost, i gotta protect my own butt, which i've done quite well through the years...

...& you drawing defamatory conclusions relating to your own obvious dealings in the financial world says what exactly ???... may ride, sir but it sounds like you need to get more out of your rides...

...good day...
Do ego-induced injuries count? For instance, my ego says I can sprint up a short hill, but my knees have other plans. Actually, I think I've been injured more by laying tile over the last year than I've been injured on the bike. In over 35 years of road riding, I've had two crashes involving cars, both due to drivers, not my cycling. And I've fallen twice with injuries. Like so many others, I've had my share of ego-bruising falls (some of them comic!) but I don't live in fear of the next car coming up behind me. I don't worry that every driver is a potentially homicidal maniac, and believe me, I've actually worked with sociopaths. They just aren't that common, so why be concerned?
People who ride there bikes like the majority drive their cars quite likely should expect frequent crashes. Those that have had a rectal craniotomy should have no problem staying off the ground and clear of other vehicles.
I did ride into the back of an abruptly stopping SUV last year, but it was just a bump, and doesn't count as a crash.
I guess I should have titled this different: I guess a crash is inevitable, but do I expect to crash today?

I think we know enough to ride defensively -- is riding that way, though, an admission that I expect to crash?
i don't expect it at all. just like i don't expect getting hit by lightning.
Nope. I've had one serious injury riding and it was the result of a faulty (and faultily adjusted) quick-release front hub. I've ridden some sketchy-for-cyclist towns like Baltimore and have rarely been any more concerned on my bike than walking on the sidewalk.
I bought my rack bag based on testimonial that when one user was hit by a car and their bike went flying, the bag stayed on the rack and protected their laptop. When I am a bloody corpse on the side of the road, my bag sure as hell better be on that rack.

So yes, I expect to quite possibly die riding my bike. Everyone I know who rides regularly has been in a serious accident.
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