Is Cycling Dangerous? Why Riding a Bike is Safer Than You Think (Even in the UK)
Even with provision and facilities for bike riders growing all the time in the UK, it is still lagging behind the likes of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark as a cycling hotbed. For instance, only in 2018, it was reported that cycling made up just one per cent of the mileage accumulated by all vehicular road traffic, compared to the 77 per cent made up by cars and taxis.
Motor traffic, and the potential perils it brings, is the obvious primary reason for this. Carlton Reid may have argued that ‘Roads Were Not Built For Cars’, but clearly they swarm them nowadays. Indeed, the congestion and the heightened sense of danger proving a huge deterrent to potential cyclists, be it for commuting or cycling for health.
But how dangerous is cycling these days? Well, not as much as some may have you believe, in fact. Let’s take a look at why ditching the couch or the steering wheel for the handlebars can be a wholly positive lifestyle change, and debunk that ‘Is cycling dangerous?’ myth:
Cycling Is Safer Than Not Cycling
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A sedentary lifestyle is one of the world’s biggest silent killers, and there are few countries threatened by this more than the UK. Research from Diabetes UK as recently as November 2019 found that 13 million adults (about 29 per cent) are obese, as well as one-fifth of children leaving primary school. These are figures surpassed by only a handful of other first-world nations.
With that in mind, even a small amount of regular cycling can do your health the world of good. But don’t just take our word, for it – the World Health Organisation, for instance, recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intensive exercise each week. That’s not even as demanding as it might sound – it can equate to a half-hour cycle at a leisurely pace, from which you will reap the health benefits in no time.
Or, take the word of a 2000 study in Copenhagen, which found that, among their 13,375 female and 17,265 male participants, all aged between 20 and 93, cycling to work lowered the overall mortality rate by roughly an enormous 40 per cent.
What’s more, a similar investigation in Denmark, which followed more than 25,000 men and in excess of 28,000 women aged between 50 and 65, discovered that the risk of coronary heart disease was 11 per cent to 18 per cent lower in cyclists compared with non-cyclists.
And of course, with a healthier body comes a healthier mind, as well as safer, less congested roads, which in turn will mean you breathe in fewer toxins while cycling in highly-populated areas. It will also lead to a reduced strain on the already overtaxed NHS, too.
Cycling On The Road Is Safer Than It Seems – And Cycling Stats Prove It
There’s an idea among some cycling sceptics that to ride on the road, in such close proximity to on-rushing vehicles, is essentially putting your physical wellbeing in jeopardy. According to Cycling UK, approximately 60 per cent of the British public consider it too dangerous a risk to take.
In short: it generally isn’t, and bike accident statistics reflect that. Designated lanes are always ideal, but for the most part, road cycling is much safer than you think.
Cycling statistics provided by the National Travel Survey showed that one cycling fatality occurred every nine million bike rides, and that the risk of any injury while riding was just 5 per cent for 1,000 hours of cycling. Essentially, then, though not impossible, the risk is as minimal as the number of bicycle deaths per year, at least when compared to the amount of journeys undertaken in that time.
And again, you’re far more likely to feel the health benefits of cycling than you are to sustain an injury. More than 30 times more likely, in fact, say Cycling UK, who state that the benefits outweigh the risks by between 13:1 and 415:1, according to various studies.
How To Ensure Bicycle Safety
First off, if you’re still not entirely at ease cycling along busy roads, swamped by aggressive, carefree cars drivers, this Ordnance Survey map will help you find every bike path in your area, so you can totally eliminate any potential worries that come with driving against endless traffic.
But if you are drawn more towards city cycling, then there are plenty of basic pointers to help alleviate the risk of bicycle accidents. Keeping a good distance between yourself and both parked cars and the kerb is a good start, as is not tailgating vehicles so as to always afford yourself a clear exit if need be.
As well as these, always remember to stay particularly safe around heavy good vehicles – these are among the most prone to causing injuries, and if you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you. Always adhere to the essentials of bike safety, too – no headphones (at least for the most part), keep yourself highly visible at all times, and if you find yourself in a designated cycling lane, treat it as you would a regular lane if you were driving.
What Extra Steps Do You Take To Stay Safe While Cycling? Let Us Know In The Comments…