A US study that looked at fatalities per million hours of exposure to different activities concluded that cycling (0.27) was almost twice as safe as motoring (0.47), and five and a half times safer than living (1.53)*. Cycling was also a whopping 32 times safer than riding a motorbike.
The study is actually 10 years old and was carried out by Exponent (then called the Failure Associates Inc… wonder why they wanted to change that name?) a major US Scientific and Engineering Consultancy whose business is risk analysis. Sadly their methodology is secret, so we don't know how they came up with the figures, and they were looking at cycling in the United States.
On the other hand, since that study there has been a big resurgence in the numbers of cyclists on both sides of the Atlantic and studies into that phenomenon conclude that more cyclists equals safer cycling. So riding your bike for a million hours has probably got even safer! If you really put your mind to it (8 hours a day, 7 days a week) it should only take you 342 years.
* "Living" covered all causes of death. Here is the full list. As someone who's just had to fit smoke alarms in every room it's a little galling to note that your chances of dying in a house fire (in the United States in 1998) were an infinitesimally small 0.03 - you're more likely to be killed by exposure to cosmic radiation on a flight. I feel a rant coming on!
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.