One of the biggest barriers to cycling is the perception that it’s dangerous. But is it dangerous? Public perception of risk is often quite different to real risk but it’s also difficult to change. I’m speaking from personal experience here too: I know that flying is one of the safest modes of transport but knowing this doesn’t make me any less terrified of it.
According to the CTC (The National Cycling Charity), the “risk of injury from cycling in Great Britain is just 0.048 injuries per 1,000 hours of cycling”. You’re actually more likely to be injured in your backyard than out cycling. But perhaps more importantly, the benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks and life-years gained through physical activity account for more than those lost through injuries.
To put things further into perspective, the biggest risk to health today is actually physical inactivity. That’s right, sitting in front of a computer screen is far more likely to kill you than a bicycle ride is. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle now accounts for more deaths than does smoking. It’s actually better to be fat and fit than thin and unfit. Physical inactivity is a risk factor in cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and certain cancers. So perhaps rather than worrying about a minuscule risk of injury when cycling, we should think about the real risk of our sedentary lifestyle and get out on our bikes more often.