How Dangerous Is Road Cycling?
Road cycling can be extremely dangerous. In fact, cycling-related accidents are so frequent that they seldom get reported in the news. Even a short-distance ride on a busy street can get you into an accident. Despite this, everyone should know that staying safe and protected on the road is not impossible.
In this blog, we'll look into how dangerous road cycling can be and what are the essential steps you should take to avoid getting into accidents.
How dangerous is road cycling?
According to recent studies, an average of 30 cyclists die in road crashes every billion miles traveled. This is exceptionally high compared to car drivers, with a ratio of 2 deaths for every billion miles traveled. Aside from this, nearly 1,000 cyclists die, and 130,000 are injured yearly in road accidents in the United States alone.
It's also worth noting that most cycling injuries happen in urban places rather than in the countryside, as most cycling-related accidents involve larger vehicles. Adults aged 55-69 have the highest bicycle death rates, while teens aged 10-24 have the highest rate of bicycle injuries.
What makes road cycling dangerous?
There are various reasons why cyclists get into accidents. However, recent studies have shown that these are the top 3 causes of cycling-related crashes.
1. Lack of visibility
Drivers in cars and other larger vehicles find it challenging to see cyclists, especially at nighttime and in heavy traffic.
Because of this, cyclists must wear visibility accessories on the road, such as bike lights. Major cities worldwide have already required cyclists to use a combination of front lights and rear lights to increase their road visibility. The minimum required brightness for a front light is 400 lumens, while it's 100 lumens for rear lights.
Aside from this, it's also essential for cyclists to get smart bike lights with ambient light technology. This feature automatically adjusts the light's brightness depending on the environment. When used appropriately, Ultra-bright lights can cause blindness and nausea to other road users, leading to accidents. Ambient light technology automatically tones down the brightness of lights when not needed.
T-junctions are hotspots for cycling-related accidents. Around 45% of cyclists' deaths occur near junctions, and under 1/3 of these accidents occur at roundabouts and crossroads.
Most accidents in intersections and roundabouts happen because cyclists are unaware of motorists' blind spots when turning. Drivers of trucks and other large vehicles have limited peripheral vision, especially when riding in heavy traffic. When riding in places like this, it's best to occupy a space on the road instead of just cutting into curbs.
3. Faulty road users
Unfortunately, cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users. About 1/3 of crashes that result in a cyclist's death involve alcohol use by other motorists–be it car drivers or even other cyclists. Aside from this, a simple faulty act of opening a car door or a small rock can lead to cycling injuries. Other motorists also tend to intimidate cyclists on the road so as not to occupy space, forcing cyclists to ride near curbs with uneven flooring.
Even though major cities worldwide have made extra efforts to keep cyclists safe on the road by improving their traffic regulations and creating designated cycling spaces, cycling-related accidents remain prevalent.
How can you keep yourself safe while cycling?
Based on cycling research and statistics, here are the best ways to protect yourself from road accidents.
1. Use essential cycling accessories
Even though not required, it's best to equip yourself with essential cycling accessories.
As mentioned earlier, your front light and rear light are the two most essential accessories to avoid road crashes. If you're looking for extra road protection, it's also best to use a brake light instead of a regular rear light. Brake lights with accelerometers notify other road users of your movements, especially if you'll be coming to a full stop, allowing them to maneuver appropriately.
Aside from these, it's also best to get a GPS tracker with an advanced tracking system. This will allow you not just to navigate the road easily and safely but also gives you the ability to share your location should you get into accidents. Some GPS trackers also come with advanced climbing assist technology, giving you enough details on how to ride through a difficult road.
2. Follow traffic rules
Traffic rules are meant to be followed by everyone, even cyclists. Avoid cutting other road users or going beyond the speed limit despite occupying less space compared to cars. It's also best to stay on bicycle lanes to ensure your safety.
When joining tours or riding in foreign countries, it's best to learn about road regulations for cyclists before traveling. Some cities are much more strict in enforcing their traffic regulations than other places. Surely, you might not want to get pulled up just because you didn't follow the required cycling accessories on your cross-country tour.
3. Communicate with other road users
As much as possible, take time to learn hand signals for cyclists. This will allow you to communicate with other road users efficiently, especially when turning. As we mentioned, a significant percentage of cycling-related accidents happen in junctions, intersections, and roundabouts, so make sure to use hand signals and slow down when riding through these areas.
4. Wear appropriate cycling outfits
Major cities require cyclists to wear neon-colored cycling jerseys, which further increases cyclists' visibility. But aside from this, wearing appropriate cycling outfits is a must, as your comfort level can also determine your riding style. When you're uncomfortable, you lose power in your pedaling and alertness when maneuvering, making you more prone to cycling accidents.
When riding during summertime, a well-ventilated cycling jersey is highly suggested. On the other hand, it's best to have a thermal inner layer when riding during wintertime or in cold weather.
5. Ensure you maintain the quality of your ride
Last but not least, ensure that your bicycle has a regular tune-up or maintenance schedule to assess its capacity. Even though you're equipped with all the necessary cycling accessories and follow all road rules and courtesies, you would still be prone to road accidents when you have faulty gears.
This doesn't just apply to long-distance rides or terrain cycling. Even when you're just cycling to work on a city road, your bicycle can still damage due to continuous use.
Keep yourself safe on the road by driving smart.
Road cycling is indeed dangerous. Fortunately, there are already lots of smart cycling accessories to help you ensure your road safety. But aside from using these technologies, it's also imperative to ride the smart way by following road regulations, learning various cycling techniques, and being extra aware of your surroundings.