Excuse Me For Biking

by Darla Bennett
in Blog
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Excuse Me For Biking

There are many reasons (we like to call them excuses) that prospective bike riders, and even seasoned riders, may use to wriggle out of saddle time. Work, stiffness, soreness, weather, not enough time, and mechanical issues are a few which I hear (and use) most often. There is one, however, that always leaves a great big question mark burning in my mind and this is “perceived safety”. Not safety, but perceived safety.

?????

In 2009, the National Household Travel Survey found that women represented only 24% of persons traveling by bike.

Why aren’t more women riding?

The answer, the experts seemed to agree, had to do with safety concerns. Riding alone can be intimidating for some people and lack of protected or dedicated bike lanes can make beginning cyclists feel vulnerable.

What does “safe” cycling look like? I think, it is learned in groups, not unlike ours. Being in a pack, one isn’t as anxious about mechanical issues or visibility. The group rides allow us to build confidence on our bike and learn from fellow-cyclists. Some riders may still find they are happiest and most comfortable riding with others and some may learn to weather the road alone.

I’d like to take a moment to share some far MORE frightening statistics with you than the ones you will read about cycling injuries (which can be found here: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in 2012, 726 cyclist fatalities, 4,743 pedestrian fatalities, 4,957 motorcycle fatalities, and 22,912 vehicle occupant fatalities.

Granted the numbers are not as meaningful without comparing them to the total numbers of people using each mode of transport (maybe there are far less people on bike and so the percentage of fatalities would be higher), but from my admittedly biased perspective, cycling seems to be the safest way to travel.

If I can’t sell you on cycling with those statistics, try some of these on for size:

The leading cause of death in 2013, according to the CDC was heart disease. 611,105 people died of heart disease that year alone. Stroke and diabetes made the list, too. As did suicide.

In Muskogee, specifically, statistics from CDC indicate we have a slightly higher percentage than the state and national numbers for diabetes, obesity, and people who say they’ve participated in “no physical activity in [the] past month”.

Considering the data, is cycling really as dangerous as we think it is? It seems to me that NOT cycling is far more dangerous!

 

If you have a bike, but you still feel riding it isn't as safe as, say, oh I don’t know, having a heart attack… I encourage you to find a group like Muskogee Area Cycling, where members just like you, who started out exactly where you are now work diligently to create the safest spaces possible for enjoyable riding.