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​Are Bicycles Safer Than Cars?

A topic that always seems to spark a debate between bicyclists and motorists is whether a bicycle is safer than a car. From common sense, we know bicycles lack some protection since they do not have a surrounding metal barrier like cars. Nevertheless, there is more to this subject than just that.

As more and more people turn to bicycles as their preferred method of transportation for various reasons, including having a healthier lifestyle, does this mean that the risk of accidents increases, too? The question is understandable with more urban and heavily populated cities growing and developing. If you or a loved one suffer an injury in an accident with a vehicle involving a bicycle, be sure to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your case.

How Are Bicycles Made?

A bicycle consists of a metal frame, two wheels, handlebars, pedals, and a seat – not much else. The metal frame is the central and essential structure of the bicycle. A diamond frame, consisting of a main and a rear triangle, is the best type of frame based on safety. This type is strong, light, and sturdy. Steel is the most common material used for the structure because it is firm and not too expensive, but it can also include carbon fiber or aluminum. Carbon fiber tends to provide the most robust material.

Nowadays, the frame’s tubes are typically welded together for extra sturdiness instead of using metal lugs that are less safe. The alignment gets checked, and any necessary adjustments get made. The wheels consist of metal tubing, a rim, and some spokes. The tubing can also consist of aluminum or steel; titanium is another option.

Putting the wheels together is a relatively straightforward process, involving just placing the rim into the cut tubes, followed by adding the spokes by threading them through the metal tubing and rim. Finally, the hub gets added to the center of the wheel. Not many materials go into the making of a bicycle.

How is a Bicycle’s Safety Tested?

There are specific tests used to analyze the overall safety of a bicycle. The maker conducts various static strength and fatigue tests on every part of the bicycle, including the seat post, handlebars, belt, frame, and more. These tests ensure that all the parts can resist stress, not only daily but in the long run, as a bicycle typically lasts five years (assuming frequent use and depending on the type of bicycle).

The visibility of the bicycle is also tested by assessing the reflectors and the lights. Labels get placed in their respective spots regarding safety requirements, maximum weight, and other warnings. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission enforces several different regulations. For instance, while the brakes or road performance get tested, no steering part nor the frame should show any visible break.

They test the brakes by pushing the hand lever down to the handlebar with a force of 100 pounds and then again by rocking it back and forth, but this time with 150 pounds. Control cables within the bicycle parts must have caps or sheathes so they do not unravel while in use, as this might make the bicycle fall apart. Many tests and requirements are put in place to ensure the bicycle is as safe as possible.

What Are The Advantages of Riding a Bicycle?

Bicyclists find many benefits to riding a bicycle, not only for their health but for the environment. These benefits are just some of the many reasons why more people are turning to bicycles every day when they can instead of motor vehicles. Over the last decade, bike commuting increased by 61 percent nationwide, leading to bicycling becoming the third most popular form of traveling to work. Many times, people do not consider the safety of a bicycle as a priority before purchasing one; they focus on other benefits.

First, they’re the most cost-effective. It’s also an excellent option for those restricted from using other vehicles, such as unemployed people and those not yet old enough to drive or own their car. Bicycles do not contribute to the growing pollution in our air and provide a superb form of regular exercise. They can travel faster than cars in dense cities, and the maintenance costs less than a car.

With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that more than 870,000 people report commuting to work every day on bicycles. By 2050, the world will contain five billion bikes. Even given these benefits, many still wonder if bikes are worth the risk to riders on the road with hundreds of cars.

What Are Some Bicycle Safety Statistics?

Considering that bicyclists make up only one percent of all trips in the nation, they account for more than two percent of people who die in car accidents. Unfortunately, thousands of bicyclists die each year in the U.S. Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die, and another 130,000 suffer injuries. These accidents are expensive, typically costing society $23 billion every year. Most of these deaths occur in urban areas due to higher populations and more motor vehicles present.

Bicycle helmets can significantly decrease the risk of receiving a traumatic brain injury during a bicycle-car accident. Therefore bicycle helmet laws have helped reduce the number of deaths. According to the CDC, wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing has helped reduce or avoid accidents, especially at night.

Considering all these statistics, it may be surprising to learn that bicycling is the same as driving and walking in terms of danger. The number of bicyclists across the nation may be growing, but so are rules and regulations to ensure their safety. Many will claim that the health benefits far outweigh the risks on the road. Bicycling often gets compared to sports, but it shouldn’t be: the injury rate is one of the lowest for being such an everyday activity.

How Do Most Bicycle Accidents Occur?

Irresponsible drivers cause many bicycle accidents. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of these accidents, often by drivers that have their eyes off the road and on their phones instead. They can be distracted by the surroundings or talking to someone else in the car.

These accidents can also happen because of careless drivers who just do not check twice for bicyclists. They may make illegal decisions on the road, such as making a U-turn when they’re not supposed to and not giving the bicyclist the right-of-way when it’s their turn.

Bicyclists are vehicles, and drivers should treat them as such, but many drivers do not want to acknowledge this and will think less of them. This lack of respect can lead to them becoming aggressive toward bicyclists, and road rage can ensue.

Drunk driving is another hazardous risk for bicyclists, as alcohol can impair a car operator’s balance, coordination, and decision-making. Many car and truck drivers can also be tired and sleep-deprived, meaning they will not be as alert as they need to be on the road. Bicyclists are in danger of getting struck by these drivers.

There are more risk factors than these for cyclists, but people should have the ability to choose to ride a bicycle and get to their destination safely. These are vehicles like any other and have the right to use the roads. Risks should not deter people from engaging in healthy transportation activities like walking or cycling. Instead, the risks should move drivers and government agencies to increase safety for these parties on the road.

Is There a Difference in Safety Between Urban And Rural Roads?

Is There a Difference in Safety Between Urban And Rural Roads?Studies have found that urban roads can be much more dangerous than rural roads. This statistic isn’t surprising as urban roads have more people and cars, increasing the risk of accidents for bicyclists. In a recent year, for example, 78 percent of bicycle accidents occurred on urban roads and only 22 percent on rural roads.

Even though rural roads tend to have lower speed limits, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t take a very high speed to cause severe injuries in a bicycle accident. At just 25 miles per hour, a fatal crash can happen. Either way, congested streets and cities are more prone to dangerous accidents because the more people, the higher the chance of an accident because not every driver is responsible and abides by all rules.


What Risks Does a Bicyclist Face?

Ultimately, driving a car isn’t inherently safer than riding a bike since they both face the same dangers while on the road; however, bicyclists are more prone to injuries because of their lack of protection. Aside from the most common causes of bicycle-car accidents, there are other risk factors while on the road.

Unfavorable weather conditions can quickly turn an innocent-seeming, pleasant, sunny shower into a slippery disaster, no matter the terrain. Cars can slip easier on the road, especially if the driver has yet to take the time to check the traction of their tires. If their tires are weak, old, and already way past due for changing, a slippery road can cause their brakes to fail, and they can crash right into a bicyclist.

Some roads might have deplorable infrastructure. There can be uneven pavements, making the bicyclist lose balance and fall off. Potholes can be hazardous as bicyclists must quickly swerve to avoid them if they’re right in their path, potentially leading to an accident because it might force them to move right into a car’s way. Potholes can also make drivers swerve swiftly to avoid them, and if a bicyclist is riding by, they can get hit.

If in an overpopulated area with a lot of street parking, bicyclists risk getting hit by car doors as they pass by. A driver may not think twice about checking for bicyclists, so they swing their door wide open. The bicyclists have so little time to stop or swerve that they crash into the door. These accidents may not be fatal, but they can cause serious injuries.

What Are Some Common Bicycle Accident Injuries?

Many types of injuries can come from bicycle-car accidents. Traumatic brain injuries are perhaps the most concerning and are the leading cause of death for bicyclists. These occur when they suffer a hard blow to the head. Often, you will see no visible damage.

This injury can lead to memory loss, interrupted bodily functions, mood swings, and possibly permanent changes to the individual’s mind and emotions. In the end, it can be fatal. Other head injuries include skull fractures, superficial scrapes, and scalp wounds.

There can be facial injuries, like a fractured jaw. Some teeth can be broken or completely lost, resulting in expensive dental bills and many weeks to get them fixed or replaced. Vision can suffer impairment if the eyes sustain damage. Their nose can break, and road rash can cause permanent disfigurement.

Back injuries can occur if the bicyclist lands very hard on the road or car. Severe trauma to the neck or back can lead to paralysis. There can also be bodily trauma, like whiplash and shoulder fractures. Broken ribs and severe internal bleeding can also arise. Finally, death can take place.

What if I Get Into a Bicycle Accident?

After a bicycle accident, the most important thing is to ensure that you get treatment immediately. Bicycle accident injuries are no joke and can become complicated if not treated promptly. Keep your bills and records as proof of your medical expenses, including physical therapy and psychology consultations.

Contact a bicycle accident lawyer concentrating their practice on bicycle accidents immediately, and they will fight for compensation for your damages. They will obtain any missing proof and consult any necessary professionals to help you win your case and obtain the most possible. You can obtain compensation to help pay for medical care, pain and suffering, damage to your vehicle or bicycle, lost wages, and more.

Call a bicycle accident attorney today to discuss your injuries and potential compensation.

Lauren Varner, Personal Injury Attorney

Lauren is a Personal Injury Attorney. She is Colorado native who became involved with the field of personal injury long before she became an attorney. Lauren’s professional philosophy centers around good old fashioned hard work, producing quality work product, and treating others professionally, with dignity and respect at all times.

Awards and as featured on

National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 Included in TOP 40 Under 40 by The National TRIAL Lawyers in Centennial CO Varner Faddis Top Lawyers Denver Badge – 5280 Magazine American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorney Top 40 Under 40 5280 Denver Top Lawyers