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Irrational Fear

Posted Oct 13 2011 3:00am

If I do a search on the web for cycling related stories, as I often do, it is most times depressing; many of the stories are related to cycling deaths.

If one is not careful this can give a person a totally distorted view of cycling and the risks cyclists take. It is probably the reason many people who would ride a bicycle, are afraid to do so.

If you are a cyclist you cannot allow fear to take over your thoughts, and one has to constantly push negative thoughts from your head. Most people believe in the power of positive thinking, and that success and good things happen to those who constantly think good thoughts.

By the same rule, if every time you ride your bike you think, “Is today the day a car will hit me,” chances are at some point a car will hit you.

It is not so much thinking those thoughts; one has a hard time not to sometimes with all the stories of cyclist killed on a daily basis. The important thing is to be aware of those thoughts and constantly push them from your mind.

One has to get the whole picture in perspective. 32,788 people died in automobile accidents in 2010, the lowest figure since 1950. That is still almost 90 people a day who got out of bed in the morning climbed in their car without a second thought, and by the end of the day were dead.

In that same 24 hour period less than two cyclists were killed. The difference is most of the 90 people who died in their cars did not get a mention in their local newspapers, but the two cyclists did.

For the last decade the number of cyclists who die on US roads each year has fluctuated around 650 and 700. (Less than 2 per day.) That is about the same as the number of people die in the US every year from accidental gun discharges.

Is there any gun owner who wakes in the morning to wonder, “Is today the day I will accidentally shoot myself?” Does anyone consider any one of us could be accidentally shot by someone else; of course not.

Also close to the cyclist death rate is the number of people who choke of a piece of food and die. Over 500 people drown each year in swimming pools. Over a 1,000 die from falling down stairs or steps.

So the next time you prepare for a bike ride and a nagging little thought that you might get hit enters your head; ask yourself, would I have these same thoughts of death and doom, as I walk down a flight of steps, or that I might choke while I am tucking into a nice juicy steak in a restaurant?

I refuse to let irrational fear stop me from doing what I love, that is to ride my bike on the road. I don’t take chances, and I choose the safest routes. I also look at statistics and I like my odds of survival.  

If I consider the odds of getting hit by a car today is about the same as being accidentally shot; maybe I should wear a bullet-proof vest along with my helmet.   



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