Avoiding accidents: seek professional advice

Avoiding accidents: seek professional advice

Have a look at this advice from professionals:

Now, there is a bunch of good stuff here. Plenty of good advice for both cyclists and drivers, no question. Nothing that I haven’t heard before, but still, good advice.

But – I’ve always got a but – there are three thoughts that came to mind in response to it.

1. Even professionals – those with the most skill when it comes to using a bike and navigating it through dangerous situations –  take a defensive view of their position on the streets. To me that points to a need for better infrastructure. If they don’t feel comfortable, it’s no wonder that the general public doesn’t cycle more on open roads for transportation purposes and that cycling’s mode share is as dismal as it is.

2. This line from the video:

“There’s a lot in our control that we can do to prevent it (risk, danger) and stay safe. It usually takes two to cause an accident, so…”

First, the second part of that statement.

Nope. No it doesn’t. Sometimes, sure. But usually? I doubt it.

The causes of “accidents” are usually avoidable if you are driving or cycling not only within the law, but in a manner best suited to the conditions. Rear end collisions? You were too close, plain and simple. Sun was in your eyes or it was foggy? It is your responsibility to proceed at a speed that you can still react to unforeseen circumstances. The speed limit is a maximum, not a target. Hit while riding at night with no lights? Come on, you were asking for it.

I tried to find some statistics regarding the percentage of accidents where fault was found, and of those where it was clear that it was totally or primarily with one party. I couldn’t find that, but what I did find was that although accidents are complicated, fault can usually be pinned on someone.

From my experiences (which I am fully aware are at least slightly subjective), although some of the near misses I have had with motorists have been from me not thinking clearly and a small number of those being totally my fault, most have been me just riding along, in a straight line in the bike lane, or entering a roundabout, or any other normal traffic situation, and a car, truck, or bus does something stupid or doesn’t do something it should, like look. I know people cause accidents, because I know people are stupid.

3. In looking for the statistics I didn’t find, I found something else. Every second “study” found the opposite result from the next. Go ahead and do a search for “statistics for fault in accidents” and see what you find. What I found was that most of the results looked at fault in accidents between motorists and cyclists (which is likely to do with my search history and all that freaky meta-data that the “man” has on me), and that over the last 5-8 years, people have been finding that motorists are at fault in the majority of bike-car accidents. Or cyclists. Or was it motorists? Uh, wait, cyclists. Definitely cyclists.

Screw it. We’re both at fault.

What I’m find most interesting, right this minute as the thought pops into my head, is this possibility: that in car-on-car action (so hot), I am going to suggest (based on no evidence at all) that there is a rather high percentage of “accidents” where fault actually lies with one party.

If you were to look at the “accidents” between cars and cyclists and actually had all the facts, I suspect that absolute fault would be rather difficult to pin on just one party more often than we might want to admit. Some suggest that we can’t rely on the statistics because the fuzz is biased, and there might actually some credence to this, but I think the situation is a little complicated because many people genuinely aren’t clear on what to do around cyclists in some situations, and too many cyclists aren’t clear on what they should be doing around cars in some situations.

Seriously. Every now and again I find myself wondering if what I’m doing or not doing is actually in accordance with the road rules, or best practice, or if that motorist that appears to be operating their vehicle like mentally deficient turkey in need of corrective lenses is simply not sure how to navigate the murky waters of a cyclist (not me) trying to pass on the inside when the motorist has clearly had their indicator on for some time?

It can be complicated, but fortunately there is a rather simple solution to things that are complicated, and it is this. Are you ready? Ok, here it comes:

Slow down.

This isn’t Speed and you are not Keanu – your car or bike will not explode if it drops below a certain speed.

One thing that can be said with certainty, and this is that cyclists cause more accidents than we care to admit. Even if we do get the short end of the stick, and feel like we’ve got a target on our backs, and that the whole world is against us… there is a lot in our control, and we would do well to remember that. Even if you’re perfect and don’t cause accidents, you might be able to avoid being the victim of one by riding smarter.

Let me know what you think.


Header image: source