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Author Topic: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?  (Read 6136 times)

Offline thedoc

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What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« on: 01/10/2012 21:30:01 »
"GAMEL,JOHN"  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
A dear friend of mine has been riding horses all her adult life, resulting in numerous falls. At one point she broke her leg falling off those beasts, and now she's having a hip replacement because of all her accumulated traumas. Since we're both approaching 70, I urged her to quit that nonsense and get her exercise in a safer way like riding a bike, which I've been doing for decades.
 
Her response was quite logical: is biking really safer than riding a horse? I read decades ago that a horse rider burns up more calories per mile than a biker, but I don't know the stats on injuries.  
 
Surely one of your experts could give us some insight into this question.
 
Thanks again for your fabulous show. Wouldn't miss for all the tea in China.
 
John Gamel
Louisville, Kentucky, USA  

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 01/10/2012 21:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #1 on: 02/10/2012 02:17:21 »
Uhh Ohh!
My Mother is pushing 70. 
Her bicycle has been hanging in the garage for at least 10 years.
I certainly won't try to take away her horse  [B)]

Somebody probably has some statistics on it, but it would certainly depend on how one is riding the horse, and how one is riding the bicycle.

It has been years since I've been in a serious bike wreck, but I've had some very close near misses, usually a car pulling out right in front of me.  And, I've heard of other people that had bad accidents with cars pulling from side streets.  But, it may also depend a bit on the speed, say 15 MPH on the level, and 25 MPH or more heading downhill.  A 70 yr old lady may not be going so fast, but may in fact have other risk factors.

With horseback riding, one has to respect the horses.  Many of the accidents are likely with amateurs doing stupid things.  But, even with the experienced riders, horses can always do the unexpected.  Or, unexpected situations can crop up.

And, a broken leg can be a serious issue in the elderly.  Or, perhaps a fractured vertebrae.

Many trail riders have migrated to non-trotting horses such as Tennessee Walkers, or Paso Finos, just for additional comfort with riding.  And, it may be less stressful on one's body.  Like any outdoor sport, it is good to go with companions who can help if anything should go wrong.

Many people would rather die in the woods having fun, than to die rotting in a bed.  With that in mind, I have no problem with any activity that will keep the person active, happy, and fit.  And, I would encourage your friend to continue doing what she enjoys doing as long as she is able to do it.
 

Offline RD

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #2 on: 02/10/2012 08:57:37 »
According to UK Professor Nutt ...

Quote from: Professor David Nutt
Taking the drug ecstasy is no more dangerous than riding a horse ...

The professor said horse-riding accounted for about 10 deaths a year and was associated with more than 100 road accidents ...

Ecstasy use is linked to around 30 deaths a year, up from 10 a year in the early 1990s. Fatalities are caused by massive organ failure from overheating or the effects of drinking too much water.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7876425.stm

But those statistics are not expressed in the context of how many people engage in those activities,
e.g. horse riders have a 1:X chance of it killing them, MDMA users have a 1:Y chance of it being the cause of their demise.

Quote from: thetimes.co.uk
Eighty-eight cyclists killed so far [September] in 2012 [in UK]
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3313260.ece

Again not expressed in the context of how many people engage in that activity, without which a comparison is impossible with other activities.


Quote from: GAMEL,JOHN
I read decades ago that a horse rider burns up more calories per mile than a biker

I doubt the rider burns more calories per hour than a cyclist travelling at the same speed.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2012 09:26:11 by RD »
 

Offline Mazurka

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #3 on: 02/10/2012 11:53:27 »
I'd agree, it's difficult to compare.

In addition to standardising the population, so for example working out  X injuries per 10,000 riding/ cycling miles (or whatever metric you wish to use) , there is also a question of severity.

Falling from height - being thrown by a spooked horse - I would guess is more serious than falling from a bike. 

However, I suspect that most cyclists (except perhaps hardcore mountain bikers) are injured in collisions with other vehicles. 

That said, I would also guess in a case of severe injury that a cyclist (on the road) is more likely to be seen by paramedics and removed to hospital quicker than someone riding trails or hacking across countryside.   

Finally, I suspect it depends on where you are.  In areas where there have been cycle safety campaigns or motorists are generally more aware of cyclists, the figures will be different to other areas...
« Last Edit: 02/10/2012 11:55:18 by Mazurka »
 

Offline damocles

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #4 on: 02/10/2012 11:55:44 »
I believe that if you really want to be safe, the best ruse is to ride a donkey, and to stay off the highways.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #5 on: 03/10/2012 19:32:30 »
The statistics (if you could find them) would tell you which was safer for the average rider.
I'm willing to be that the lady concerned is anything but average.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #6 on: 03/10/2012 20:25:00 »
I agree that each person is different.

My mother who is 70+ is doing just fine with the horses, although she is not as strong as she once was. 

She has a next door neighbor who is also 70, and I wouldn't trust him on either a horse, or a bicycle, although I'm trying to get a recumbent trike fixed up for him.

One of the things that happens in the elderly is that it is easy to get in a cycle where one gets very little exercise or activity, and as they get weaker, they get less and less exercise and activity.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #7 on: 06/10/2012 05:59:57 »
Quote
One of the things that happens in the elderly is that it is easy to get in a cycle where one gets very little exercise or activity, and as they get weaker, they get less and less exercise and activity.

One can definitely recommend against riding that cycle!
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #8 on: 16/10/2012 12:34:22 »
I don't think a bike is liable to rear up at the sight of a snake or something to that effect, but then again, you can't do 'wheelies' on a horse.

According to the British Horse Society, there are no hard statistics for horse related accidents and there is no law requiring the notification of horse related road accidents unless there is injury to a human.

ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) report that in 2011, 107 cyclist were killed, 3085 were seriously injured and 16023 slightly injured. These figures are only for incidents reported to the police.

Even if there were hard facts and figures, I don't think it would be possible to compare horse to cycle riding. Far and away, the vast majority of horse riders act with their own and the horse's safety in mind, while some bike riders have little or no respect for other road users. Similarly, the vast majority of drivers will act with the best of intention when horse riders are encountered, but may not give a s**t when encountering a cyclist.

A little anecdote:
While parked in a one way street in London's West End, I saw a car turning out of the street, into another one way street. The manoeuvre was carried out quite properly, but the car struck a glancing blow to a cyclist coming up to the junction the wrong way on the one way street. The car stopped and the driver got out and approached the cyclist, who was lying in the road. It was obvious that the car driver was asking the cyclist if he was OK. The cyclist got to his feet, dusted himself off and said he was OK. The driver landed a right hook on him, sending him back down and returned to his car. That'll teach him not to ride the wrong way up a one way street.
 

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Re: What is safer - riding a bike, or a horse?
« Reply #8 on: 16/10/2012 12:34:22 »

 

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