The most dangerous activity

December 2, 2019 § 10 Comments

It’s a bummer that so much is written about the dangers of cycling and how to avoid getting killed on a bike.


Because riding a bike is one of the healthiest things you can possibly do.

Check out the top ten causes of death in the USA last year:

  1. Heart disease. Yep, cycling helps cure that.
  2. Cancer. No study has ever shown that cycling causes cancer. However, intense physical exertion in polluted environments is probably bad for you, at least until you tote up the cost of being inactive.
  3. Unintentional injuries. This includes cycling-related deaths, but guess what? The risk of dying on a bike is dwarfed the risk of dying in a car. This analysis sums it up nicely.
  4. Chronic lower respiratory disease. Cycling improves lung function.
  5. Stroke and cerebrovascular diseases. Cycling improves vascular health.
  6. Alzheimer’s disease. There are a couple of studies underway to see if cycling has a positive effect on Alzheimer’s, but so far there’s no evidence that cycling delays it or speeds it up.
  7. Diabetes. Cycling definitely ameliorates this.
  8. Influenza and pneumonia. Fit cyclists get sick less often, so maybe.
  9. Kidney disease. Exercise provides clear benefits to slowing the decline of kidney function.
  10. Suicide. Unsure, but a lot of people say they ride because it is mental/emotional therapy for them.

So why is all the focus on cycling deaths and injuries? One reason is that it seems gruesome, getting mashed up by a dump truck. Diabetes seems really genteel in comparison, as do all diseases where you simply waste away and die over a period of years.

Of course people who are doing the wasting will tell you that these chronic illnesses are horrible, but that’s beside the point when people are presented with the dump truck scenario.

Another reason it’s popular to talk about the dangers of cyclin is that talking about the dangers of cycling discourages people from cycling. American society doesn’t want YOU on a bike. If YOU start riding, you will drive less. If you drive less, you’ll contribute less to the structure we live in, which is built around driving.

That structure is financial, and it’s social, too. It’s a structure that separates white from black, rich from poor, healthy from sick, and it’s built on the individual separation that begins when you cram yourself into a little steel box. The structure is designed to keep you emotionally and financially enslaved to your car and to your position in society, i.e. running on a treadmill.

Anyway, at least for me, bicycling is safe and fun and exhilarating and economical. I think I’ll go ride mine now.


§ 10 Responses to The most dangerous activity

  • dangerstu says:

    Vive la bicyclette révolution

  • Anonymous says:

    The revolution will not be motorized

    • fsethd says:

      The revolution will be sitting at home posting about it on the ‘Gram. Unless Baby Seal starts his newsletter again. Then the revolution will be people with pitchforks.

      • Margaret Smiddy says:

        Hi, oops I didn’t mean for that to be anonymous as I’m not into anonymity online or anywhere really. Just posted that way.

  • flehnerz says:

    I propose a few other answers or doors to open relating to this questions.

    “So why is all the focus on cycling deaths and injuries?“

    Human minds are primed to automatically see the negative in things, especially if it’s perceived as dangerous. It’s called the “negativity bias”

    The news media loves this crap too, especially in the age of tRump.

    In general we are NOT good at analyzing risk without some sort of training.

    Somewhat related was the large spike in traffic collision fatalities after 9/11. Despite terrorist attacks still being an extremely rare, almost “Black Swan” event, people were afraid to fly and instead used motor vehicles. The amount of traffic fatalities increased shortly after 9/11 for some time:

    • fsethd says:

      For some reason your posts get hung up in spam and I have to manually un-cage them. I think it’s because you are posting live URL’s. I don’t mind, but there’s a delay because I don’t check the trash/spam box here often enough.

    • So true. Am in the UK at the moment where the entire election has been overtaken by two knife deaths at the hands of a previously convicted terrorist – this would be known as a quiet Friday in the USA

  • Bob says:

    Having been crushed by an SUV that ran a stop, and then 6 months later an inch away from being plowed down by a mom racing her infant to daycare via a roundabout, I think there’s some legit concern behind the fear. I still ride. But I may not be all that smart. 😂

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