How safe is cycling?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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How safe is cycling?

Postby Mark1978 » 23 Jul 2012, 3:59pm

OK I might know what the answer is going to be. But my decision to start cycling again after 12 years has caused some concern amongst my wife but mostly from my Mum, who seems to think I'm going to come a cropper instantly. I cycled a lot all those years ago but never had a problem, but just wanted to reassure them that that it's all (mostly) ok.

The suggestion I got last night was that I put my bike in the car and then go and cycle around the country park (5 miles away), which has maybe a couple of miles of path. Whereas I'm more thinking about 30 mile round trips on road.

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby tatanab » 23 Jul 2012, 4:16pm

A long time ago, when I was 23, I crashed when track racing. When I got home from hospital a few hours later my mother said "aren't you getting a bit old for this". That was almost 40 years ago and I've yet to stop riding. 8 years ago I was struck from my machine by a car sliding on ice. I had a cut leg and a wrecked wheel. That was the first injury since the racing crash all those years before and many 10s of thousands of miles in between. Having grown with it I am not bothered by the increase in traffic, although I can understand that people coming back from a long lay off or just starting later in after life might find it intimidating.

Going for a ride around a park is not cycling (in my view) it is taking exercise for the sake of it. Use your bike to get into the lanes and enjoy nature and our countryside.

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby gilesjuk » 23 Jul 2012, 5:02pm

Cycling itself is very safe, as safe as you are on a bike. But I suspect you mean, how safe are motor vehicle drivers on our roads? I would say it varies.

You can probably gauge which roads you will want to be on by knowing what they are like in a car (assuming you drive at the moment). If they are generally fast roads with poor visibility and where overtaking a bike is difficult then it's probably one to avoid.

Cycling statistics suggest it is safer to cycle than drive, but cyclists are outnumbered quite considerably.

I have a variety of routes I use and I avoid cycling on the road as much as I can now. I just don't trust the idiots we have on our roads with my safety. There's too many people on phones, texting, messing with Tomtom and daydreaming.

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 23 Jul 2012, 5:56pm

Safer than not cycling. The last research stats I saw suggested 20 times safer than not cycling.

Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke.... all less likely in a cyclist.
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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby ANTONISH » 23 Jul 2012, 6:32pm

You have to weigh up the long term health benefits and enjoyment against the statistically small risk of serious injury.
There are plenty of elderly and still active cyclists like myself.
All things in life carry some risk - it isn't something I dwell on.

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby 531colin » 23 Jul 2012, 6:39pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:Safer than not cycling. The last research stats I saw suggested 20 times safer than not cycling.

Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke.... all less likely in a cyclist.

Brilliant answer.
Can I add "boredom, sniping at the family"

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby Vorpal » 23 Jul 2012, 6:57pm

Statistically, cyclists live longer than non-cyclists. Much of that, I'm sure has to do with the amount of physical activity they do compared to other people. But I also think that it is partly due to mental well-being.

I ride my bike to work and arrive feeling energised and enthusiastic. I ride the bus or drive, and I arrive feeling lethargic and in need of coffee.

Cycling is also by many measures 'safer' than other sports in which we encourage people to participate, such as football and swimming.

The CTC site has statistics about the benefits of cycling with references and links

You can also help yourself ride more safely by taking training, or getting and reading a copy of "Cyclecraft" by John Franklin.

p.s. if you aim for the medically recommended 200ish minutes of moderate exercise per week, you'd have a hard time getting there with 2 miles of paths round the country park.
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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby gbnz » 23 Jul 2012, 8:49pm

I have to admit my Grandfather died in his 70's and he was a cyclist :shock:

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby hondated » 23 Jul 2012, 8:58pm

Safe all the time you remain alert and aware of what is going on around you.I have ridden motorcyles for over 45 years now and cycled even longer and ok had a few scrapes in that time but survived. Sadly my younger sister was killed at the age of 16 getting a lift home in a car so get out there and enjoy yourself before its too late.

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby 7_lives_left » 23 Jul 2012, 11:51pm

Mark1978 wrote:OK I might know what the answer is going to be. But my decision to start cycling again after 12 years has caused some concern amongst my wife but mostly from my Mum, who seems to think I'm going to come a cropper instantly. I cycled a lot all those years ago but never had a problem, but just wanted to reassure them that that it's all (mostly) ok.

Their fears aren't based in reality. You will be wasting your time trying to convince them otherwise. If you do get a minor injury, deal wth it yourself and say nothing. This aproach may appear a bit brutal but it works for me.

Do they fret about you driving a motor vehicle? Didn't think so.
Last edited by 7_lives_left on 23 Jul 2012, 11:58pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby Big T » 23 Jul 2012, 11:52pm

I've been riding for 38 years, have ridden 175,000 miles and have been knocked off by a car once - and that was whilst riding a time trial on the A1. You'll see plenty of stupid behaviour from motorists, but very little is actually dangerous.
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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby Gearoidmuar » 24 Jul 2012, 6:46am

I've been cycling more or less all my life and I've been hit by a car once and got a nasty hand injury. I've had broken ribs twice, a broken thumb another time. I've had concussion once.
I've actually known 7 people in my lifetime who've died as a consequence of a bike accident. This, I know, makes my a statistical freak but as a consequence, my gut says that it's a lot more dangerous than the CTC claims. I've also knows several people who've had bad fractures from it.

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby Dynamite_funk » 24 Jul 2012, 7:34am

Welcome back to the world of cycling!

If your looking for quiet lanes and an idea of where to go why not pop into your local bike shop? Alternateively have a look and see if there are any clubs in your area which you could join. Most larger clubs have a variety of rides available from the leisurely ride (where getting to the cafe for tea and cake is the main objective!) to the chain gangs who really push each other to the limit of what they can do with everythign in-between. My main weapon on plannign a route is an OS map (gives the contours) which are now available FREE through Bing ( ) and google route planner which is currently using a BETA (unfinished) version of a cycle route planning tool. Using these online tools is very easy and theres tons of advice on how to get to grips if your unsure how to view various maps.

Wherever you are there are places you can go which are quite safe. I could'nt imagine cycling around a park, for me it has to be out on the road with a good few hills to really strain myself before I feel I've been on a ride. If your in a city why not catch a train to a small station just outside the city and explore there? It's a great way to visit new places and there really is no better way of seeing the countryside :D

I'd also recommend joining the CTC as they give excellent advice in terms of routes (available through a memebrs only portal on the website). This, along with 3rd party and legal advice for accidents, memebrship is a real no-brainer for me as that covers most legal aspects if something should happen.

Let us know how you get on!

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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby Edwards » 24 Jul 2012, 7:43am

After such a long break you are going to need to show them it is safe (If you want to stay married).

Agree where you will start to learn to ride again, if it is the country park so be it. Do this on the clear understanding that you will eventually progress to riding elsewhere "as you get better at it".

Stay to your part of the bargain, then use a local cycling map to find recommended routes. Then you can point out these routes are also intended for use by children, thus somebody with more road experience will be safe.

You can stamp your feet and throw the toys out of the spare bed or shed, if you listen then work them around what you want slowly. Even wait for your mum to annoy the wife then you can "stand up to the old dear and show her together".
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Re: How safe is cycling?

Postby PT1029 » 24 Jul 2012, 7:53am

Statistically, rural minor roads account for alot (half?) serious injuries/deaths, I do alot of riding on such roads and find it OK.
If you wanted to allay family fears, you could get a top up course of on road cycle training (trainers listed on the CTC website somewhere). You might not need the training, but it might keep the family happy - take the wife alot for training too!
Ironically being told to ride well out in the road (its safer) might not be what the family want to hear!