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!
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.