A few weeks ago commuting on my way to work I stopped at a apartment complex called Fortes and bumped into so nice people that lived in Arusha 15 years ago. They now live in Holland. They commented that they would commute and ride bikes but it is too dangerous.
Being who I am I agreed, said i survive by being defensive rider and using the tactic of not trusting drivers. I basically supported their idea that bike riding is too dangerous.
As I rode to work I wondered if that is true. Is bike commuting dangerous? I have been commuting for like ten years in Arusha. Sometimes every day in a week, a few weeks never. Lets take the low figure and say i have commuted 50% of the time in the past ten years. So like more that 1500 trips through Arusha Town. Sometimes like two days ago I cruised through town at lunch time and back to the office.
Anyway I had one accident. I was about 6 years ago and a pedestrian crossed the road far ahead of me and I braked on wet oily pavement and the bike slipped from under me. I had a sprain to my wrist and a bruised pride.
Make a note here that most of my mileage is on a racing bike and riding rough roads on the weekend. I fall almost weekly on the mtn bike rides, not serious. I once fell on the road bike ride on a wet greasy cornor.
So is it dangerous or am I lucky or skilled. I thought about that on the way to work. I often ride just to the side of the vehicle lane, so i figure people in their cars see some bikes there and it looks dangerous. But if i want i can move off the road, take different routes, with little traffic. I prefer the shortest smoothest road. That happens to have alot of traffic.
Non commuters should also realize that on alot of road traffic is going so slow that vehicle traffic is not a problem.
To those who dont commute i would say it is not nearly as dangerous as you think. But be smart, start with low traffic roads, trails. Dont trust drivers to do what they should. Wear a helmet and clothing and reflective gear so you are visible.
I have to refrain for tendencies to race with other commuters (both bike and car) and trying to ride like a NYCity bike messenger.