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bentarm comments on How to avoid dying in a car crash - Less Wrong

76 Post author: michaelcurzi 17 March 2012 07:44PM

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Comment author: bentarm 18 March 2012 11:12:25PM 5 points [-]

Do you have any pointers on where to look for information on becoming a safer cyclist?

Drive a car instead. Seriously, cycling is incredibly dangerous. At least 10 times more dangerous per mile than driving a car - it's barely better than walking, and the only thing more dangerous is driving a motorbike. If this isn't an option, then standard bike safety procedures do at least seem to help.

see, e.g.


Comment author: Antisuji 20 March 2012 10:40:03PM 2 points [-]

I am surprised to learn that walking is less safe than biking, per mile!

I (somewhat generously) estimate that I ride about 40 miles a week: 16 for commuting, 9 for errands and transportation to social events and the like, and 15 for longer rides, amortized. From your link, that translates into 2 micromorts a week, or about 0.3 micromorts a day. To me this feels like an acceptable risk, especially when I consider the alternatives.

One possible alternative is reducing mobility altogether by working from home or finding an apartment closer to work and replacing my long bike trips with other activities like board games or going to the gym. I suspect, though, that my overall exercise levels would drop and that my mental and physical health would suffer past the point of 0.3 micromorts per day. So this is a non-starter.

Another, owning a car, in addition to being expensive ($5000 a year is a conservative estimate — see e.g. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/cost-car-ownership.asp), would lead to dangerous activities like 200-mile weekend road trips and walking to and from parking spots. This does seem like it would translate into some amount of safety savings, but again, it's an expensive option. Another thing to notice is that my chances of causing a fatal accident go way up even if my own safety is relatively unaffected, which makes this option feel like defecting.

This analysis is of course extremely simplistic, and I admit that a large part of why I transport myself the way I do is wrapped up in complex considerations of identity and affect. Cycling is convenient, time- and resource-efficient, and I like it.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 01 March 2014 08:39:24PM 1 point [-]

The Dutch figures [are closer to yours than I expected|https://www.swov.nl/ibmcognos/cgi-bin/cognos.cgi?b_action=powerPlayService&m_encoding=UTF-8&BZ=1AAAB7pUZHH542oVOXW~CIBT9M1C3F3Oh1o_HPtBSo8ummzXZM7PXhrUFQxuX7NePWhNjlmU3cM7J4cAhyLfjfL~dZWsZt511uJYPlHM9S6eMQyKFWLIJiGweZnKazMVSzESSJNJnHoP_biZ26epV7Fcx5cuDNR2azqujrQt0NEroBIxqkIZytEFv1coU7YhG8o~QTrf6YK_BkzpUqsT7xDu6Cmv9WSHloJTpVO1FYQs0ngdwpu106dW5D6NrS~yyZkicfCWHpi48OtTfuvTnla5tg51XfXUg83ScbjebLN2vPYmXLL6rtc1ZmfL~x4LkLT4CEAYAjAEhBMg0isLoikB67xm7FuvLpyksnpRyngjlc8pDoBwZ5R_ULwaD3Qzya9hl9WIovezb~ACpc4us] (link in Dutch); I'd expect us to do quite a bit better than that, since people here are very used to bicyclists. Unfortunately, cyclists still die at 12 per 10^9 km traveled, pedestrians at 14 per 10^9 km, but drivers at 2 per 10^9 km (i.e. 1 to 6 instead of 1 to 10+, but still not very good.)

I do wonder how much of this effect can be explained by the fact that travelling (by car or otherwise) in a city or on a country road is much harder than highway driving. Or by the fact that people standing still die at a rate of infinity per km traveled. (And standing still near traffic is indeed measurably dangerous!)