It’s funny how many people say “Oh, I would love to ride to work, but it’s too dangerous! I would feel much too unsafe sharing the roads with the traffic. It’s too dangerous!” I used to get into it, pointing out that in fact it’s driving a car which will endanger your health and wellness, not riding a bike. It always surprises me how few people understand the risk they undertake every time they get behind the wheel of a car, and yet they refuse to ride a bike for safety’s sake! Nobody seems to be aware that the number one reason that people are admitted to hospital for a serious head injury is a car accident, not a bike ride. Bikes are safer than cars, and by a landslide. Where are the helmet laws for people in cars?
They’re the ones involved in most of those high speed crashes that are taking people out at such an alarming rate.
THAT’s what makes it so funny that normal, everyday average people all share this myth of a belief, this silly lie, that cycling is somehow dangerous or risky. It is something we are all comfortable seeing a four year old doing, so how dangerous can it be? The truth is that Riding a Bicycle is Safe!! It is so very much safer than driving or catching a lift by car could ever hope to be, because speed is the one consistency between dangerous accidents, and a person on a bike can always choose to stay away from cars which travel at speed, whereas a person in a car seeks faster roads out. Crashes that happen at any speed over 30 km/hr are far more likely to cause injury or death. Anything that happens at speeds under 30 km/hr, (or 20 American) is more benign. Survivable. It’s several orders of magnitude safer, in fact. Speed is alsays the defining difference.
Motor crashes are not inevitable, and it really isn’t hard to enforce slower speed limit with a little digital surveillance. Easy. If we rewrite our motor vehicle acts so that maximum speed in urban centers is half what people travel today, the accident and injury numbers would plummet dramatically, and the mass destruction of life and limb would become a thing of history. What do you think? Would you slow your car down enough to save a life?
Vision Zero a multi-national road traffic safety project which aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997. Vision Zero is working beautifully. It’s completely do-able. Let’s make it so already, shall we?