Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bike Crash vs. Car Crash Reactions

A week and a half ago, my wife crashed her bike and was strapped to a stretcher and taken away by an ambulance.

When I shared this story with friends, many responses included "That's why I don't ride a bike. It's too dangerous."

Earlier this morning, I drove past a Marine who crashed his car and was strapped to a stretcher and being loaded onto an ambulance.

When I share stories like this with friends, many responses typically include "Were you late for work?"

It seems that in most cases, people in general talk about the safety of bicyclists in bike crashes, but the inconveniences imposed on other drivers in car crashes. Even though there could be injuries in each situation, it seems that "bicycles are dangerous," but car crashes are just everyday normal occurrences to be tolerated.

Maybe it's because my friends know my wife and felt a more personal connection to the pain she experienced. I'm not sure. Maybe I'm bending my perception of reality based on the amount of bicycling-related articles I read and am starting to think there really is a large percentage of the general population that thinks bike riding on actual roads is super-dangerous and must be avoided.

I think it's appropriate to point out that maybe my friends have seen few bicycle crashes in relation to the number of car crashes, and they've become so de-sensitized to the car crashes that the bicycle crashes seem hideous and dangerous in comparison.

My awesome brother made a brilliant observation about this apparent discrepancy. He said that if people quit driving every time they saw or were in a car crash, the traffic problems would all disappear.

All of life involves some degree of danger. I have crashed on my bike before. My wife has crashed on her bike, too. I get back on and keep riding. I hope she will, too. She's been to the gym as she recovers and waits for her scrapes and bruises to heal up, and has ridden a stationary bike. She said it was pretty good.

I rarely arrive home from a car ride and say "boy, that was lots of fun!" But I say that after about every bike ride. I ride a bike because it's fun.


  1. That sucks - I hope she is ok. It is an interesting bit of logic you point to as well...I both drive and bike on a regular basis (in fact, in succession as I keep a folding bike in my trunk), and I have seen a fair number of crashes in both kinds of vehicles...I think the bike crashes look worse though, or more scary, at least, because you can see the person being hit. Even in a car, the actual impact is usually obscured by some metal. Not that it makes it better or ok, but it is a difference. Let's all just stay safe out there, how about?

  2. This observation is analogous to the Air Travel vs. Road Travel conundrum. More people are afraid to fly, tho there are way fewer accidents/fatalities per mile flying than driving, because plane crashes are so damn large and SCARY compared to the ubiquitous car crashes.