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Saved by a Bicycle! – Bicycle and Automobile Safety Comparison

bike trail through wooded area

Gregory Paul Johnson > Journal

This morning, I decided to ride my bicycle to work. As fate would have it, that decision saved me from serious injury. I was riding at faster than usual speed down the West Benton hill, but still within the speed limit and keeping up with the flow of traffic. I glanced down for what seemed like a moment, and when I looked up, the cars in front of me had completely stopped half-way down the hill. I couldn’t imagine what they would have completely stopped for. Apparently there was a car wanting to turn off onto a driveway that doesn’t usually get much use. Had I been driving a car, stopping a 3,000 pound vehicle in such a short time would have been unlikely. A bicycle has a shorter stopping distance, better maneuverability, and the benefit of smaller size. I was able to slow down and avoid a collision.

People often ask me if I’m nervous about the safety of riding a bicycle. I actually feel safer on a bicycle because of incidents like the one above. If a person has a lot on their mind, it’s easy to take your eyes off the road for a longer period of time than you realize. In a car, this could mean serious injury, damages, and even fatality. Of course, there have been serious and even fatal bicycle collisions. Yet, through wearing proper head gear, and riding at 5 to 10 miles per hour most of the time, it’s more difficult to get injured seriously on a bike than driving a car. On a bicycle, there is a wider field of vision and greater visibility, so you are generally more aware of your surroundings. You also have the benefit of hearing all that is around you. In a car, that isn’t the case.

I enjoy riding my bike in the winter time because driving a car in the winter is such a hassle. Clearing the windshield of ice takes time. Parking is harder to find, and the likelihood of accidents increases. This past winter, I scheduled an appointment for body work to be done on my car. Because of the hazardous winter driving conditions, they had a waiting list of several weeks due to so many collisions.

Today I was thankful to be on a nimble and safe bicycle.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com