If you want to save money on gasoline, get in better shape and protect the environment all at the same time, you may decide to start cycling as your main means of transportation, rather than riding in the car. But is this a safe decision?

When you hear that around 35,000-40,000 people lose their lives in car accidents every year, you may start thinking that driving is too dangerous. However, studies have found that cycling is actually seven times as risky. Yes, far fewer cyclists die every year than those in cars and trucks, but the reason — much as it is with motorcycles — is just that fewer people ride bikes. When you look at the rates, you’ll find that being in a car is much safer. 

Why is this true? You just have more protection. Say you’re riding your bike when someone runs a stop sign and hits you at 30 miles per hour. That could very easily be a fatal accident. Even with a helmet and all other safety gear you can buy, that’s plenty of speed for the wreck to be deadly. 

Now imagine the same incident in the car. Yes, it could technically be deadly, but the lower speed means it is far more likely not to be. The airbags will go off, cushioning the blow, and you may even walk away without permanent injuries. On your end, absolutely nothing — other than your mode of transportation — was different in either crash. And yet getting hit on your bike could be vastly more serious. 

Cyclists who do get injured by negligent drivers need to know how to seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and injuries following a wreck.