Is cycling on roads getting safer or more dangerous?

The probability of getting killed while cycling on the road in Australia is declining in “real” terms i.e relative to the increase in the numbers of cyclists. Serious injuries though seem to be more of a problem

Is cycling on roads getting safer or more dangerous?

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One Comment on “Is cycling on roads getting safer or more dangerous?”

  1. Ian McAuley says:

    Good analysis. But it would be useful to cover cyclist-cyclist hazard.

    In recent years I have noticed a particular demographic — macho young men with road bikes riding aggressively. Riding side-by-side on narrow paths and pushing others off. Speeding through crowded areas. Playing “chicken” with other users at choke points where two way paths narrow..

    At night, with their arms race of ever-stronger LED lights, they have completely excluded other riders from bike paths. It’s common to find them with one 1000 lumen helmet-mounted light, directly pointed at other riders, and another flashing handlebar light. These are much higher-mounted, and much more directional, than anything that would be permitted on a car or truck. Other riders are dazzled, and fail to regain any sense of night vision for some time after such an encounter. Head-on collisions are not unusual.

    If one drove a car at night with bright and high-mounted directional lights, one strobing, and with no attempt to dim them to oncoming traffic, a serious prosecution would result. Yet these louts can take over our paths and streets with impunity, while all the police can care about is use of helmets.

    We need enforceable standards on cycle lighting, particularly in cities. Mounting height limits (handlebar), lumen limitations, prohibitions on flashing lights, would be a good start, and would allow other people to use paths at night.

    I have ridden in Germany and France, on lit and unlit paths. The norm, almost always followed, is for cyclists to use one handlebar mounted light, pointed downwards and to the right, like a low beam car headlight. In those same countries I have also come across the occasional cop on a path — and have been ticked off myself for not keeping to the right.

    If cycling is to be encouraged, we need the same attention to behavior and levels of enforcement that apply to motor vehicle use.


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