better, study of - Pete Carapetyan's personal blog

Cycling Is Dangerous, Period

06 Oct 2010
Posted by Pete Carapetyan

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid cyclist, so it might seem strange that I advise others against taking up this dangerous activity.

A pedestrian was hit by a cyclist and killed this weekend here in Dallas

It happened on one of the most popular hike and bike trails. Here is the story.

There has already been, and will continue to be much talk about how to make that very crowded trail a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians alike. This is necessary, but not sufficient, because wherever there are cyclists there is danger. That's a fact of the sport, regardless of all the good intentions.

This blog is not about how to make it safer, though that is just as important. This blog is about recognizing the danger in the first place.

There are So Many Ways that Cycling is Dangerous.

I've seen, been a part of, caused, or almost been a part of, or caused, every single one of the following types of events in my 41,000+ miles of cycling. After that many miles, you see it all:

  • Cyclist being hit by a car that never saw him.
  • Cyclist causing a car accident.
  • Cyclist hitting a pedestrian.
  • Cyclist running into a large stationary object.
  • Cyclist sliding on pavement after hitting object on road and going down.
  • Cyclist hitting another cyclist.
  • .... so many other variations ....

Almost all of my miles have been on bike trails, or the lightly trafficked side streets heading into the bike trails. So my experience is hardly shaped by the road-warrior mentality that is associated with hard core cyclists. The danger exists everywhere, don't kid yourself if you think otherwise.

Cycling is Dangerous to Others:

Please note that the above damages are not limited to cyclists. The dead pedestrian is just an example, there are plenty of others. Imagine the poor 16 year old that didn't see a cyclist and ran him over here locally a few years ago. That guy will be in therapy the rest of his life, and probably his parents too. Don't even think about the family of the father that got run over and killed.

Cycling is Dangerous with Low, Medium, and High Skilled Riders:

Each group has different danger profiles, but no group is free of danger.

  • Low skill weekender types might make dumber mistakes based on lack of experience, or might not.
  • Skilled riders have reason to take bigger risks like speed, because they know how.
  • All groups have simple lapses of attention, that is just human.
  • Some accidents are caused by instability when riding too slowly, which is itself counter-intuitive.

Cycling is a High Risk, High Reward Activity

Cycle because you love it so much you're willing to be super, even ridiculously attentive to safety.

But don't cycle if you think it's a harmless way to bring you the benefits of being outside and in the flow. Because it isn't always harmless. It's a judgement call, and one with huge consequences. 

Make the choice wisely, please. For all concerned. 

The safest thing to do is go to the gym, and not even ride your bike. So if you decide to do the more dangerous thing, take extreme care at all times.