Cycling may be safer than gardening, but what about sheep herding? Image credit: Sami
Cyclists find safety in numbers
Lloyd has noted before that it is more dangerous NOT to ride a bike, and there is evidence to suggest that cycling saves countries millions in health costs. Now Chris Peck, Chairman of the UK bike advocacy organization Cyclists Touring Club, is making the case over at The Guardian that cycling is less dangerous than gardening. He also argues that there is safety in numbers. Peck starts by pointing to the massive growth in urban cycling in recent years - citing studies that claim cycling has nearly doubled in London since 1992, with a 30-50% increase in other cities across the UK. Yet despite such explosive growth, the number of reported casualties from cycling accidents has remained steady.
While such stats may, at first, seem counterintuitive, the logic is really pretty simple - the more folks there are biking, the more they are seen by motorists and the greater the chances are that motorists will either know someone who bikes, or may even be part time cyclists themselves. The result is a legitimization of cyclists as fellow road users, rather than simply a pest or a hazard to be a "dealt with".
Peck points out though, that it's obviously not simply a case of increasing bike numbers until we stop having accidents - the Netherlands has a much higher rate of cyclist mortality than the UK, for example - but that can simply be accounted by the fact that the Dutch cycle, on average, ten times further than their UK counterparts. In fact, the risk per mile is much lower - under pressure from activists, the Dutch government has finally started reporting cycling accidents per mile, rather than simply listing frequency.
But ultimately, Peck backs up Lloyd's argument that cycling is safer than not cycling. By both increasing overall health, and by stopping people doing statistically more dangerous activities like, errm, gardening ("An hour spent gardening is more likely to result in injury than the same time spent cycling" says Peck) - cycling contributes to an average of two years extra lifespan compared to non-cyclists. So while ghost bikes and the World Naked Bike Ride are important reminders of cyclists rights - let's remember that one of the best things we can do to stay safe on our bikes is simply to get on our bikes more.