The great obstacle to progress is not ignorance,
but the illusion of knowledge.|
--- Daniel Boorstin, historian, Librarian of Congress
|Bike damaged in crash|
This illustrated article discusses common blunders (ignorant
mistakes) related to bicycle use, education, advocacy, engineering, and traffic
law. We show how the blunders make cycling more difficult and dangerous
and they jeopardize our right to use the roads. We conclude with Smarter
Solutions to avoid these blunders. The individual sections of this article are updated occasionally.
The author appreciates suggestions,
new photos and links to relevant information.
Bicycle Blunders cause serious harm. Cycling expert John Forester estimates that thirty percent of car-bike collisions are caused by cyclists following defective "bike safety" teaching . Many other crashes are caused by segregated (separate) bicycle facilities that make people think they can be safe without following the rules of the road. Some of these facilities are downright dangerous on their own, even without rules violations.
You can read this article in different ways: (1) By following "Next" links to the various sections; or (2) You can go directly to any section via the links below.
The individual sections of this article are updated occasionally. The author appreciates suggestions, new photos and links to relevant information.
 Forester's estimate is based on his analysis of Cross, Kenneth D., and Fisher, Gary, A Study of Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Accidents: Identification of Problem Types and Countermeasure Approaches, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1977.
The "bike safety" errors that lead to crashes include (1) making a left turn from the right side of the road after signaling but not looking for traffic, (2) weaving between parked cars in order to ride as close as possible to the curb, and (3) stopping for stop signs but not looking or yielding to traffic that has the right of way.
Traditional bike safety often emphasizes less important requirements (like
signaling and stopping) but ignores essential skills that actually prevent
crashes (like yielding to traffic that has right of way.) Traditional bike
safety teaches that the greatest duty is "staying out of the way," even though
this often compromises safety.
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© Copyright 2004-2017 Fred Oswald. May be copied with attribution.
Some materials have been reproduced under fair use guidelines or with permission of the original author.
The author is a Professional Engineer certified in Ohio and a certified bicycling safety instructor.
Minor revision Apr. 2017