Paul Andrews

Ride and Prejudice: Causalities and casualties in cycling accidents

In Rider Down on August 28, 2009 at 2:37 am

Not a good week for two–wheelers on the road. First off, we all know Ozzies are nuts, but running down a fellow cyclist and leaving the scene? If cyclists become just like other drivers once they get behind the wheel — and let’s face it, there is a certain psychology involved in being encased in two tons of steel — we really have lost hope in the traffic wars.

Another Seattle rider hit by car; life-threatening injuries. This has been a well-above-average year for cycling fatalities in the Seattle area.

In North Dakota, a semi trailer turning left ran over a woman on a bike. “Possible criminal charges” in the incident.

In Portland, man on a bike is killed by hit-and-run.

Bike building legend Dave Moulton blogs some intriguing statistics on bike v. pedestrian deaths over recent decades and concludes… well, nothing really specific. The problem is that although deaths can be statistically quantified, their context cannot. There’s no way to determine if the fault was the cyclist or the driver (at least, not tied to Moulton’s charts), or even a fatality-per-mile-ridden ratio that would lend some perspective. So we’re left guessing — and Dave’s guesses are as good as if not better than anyone else’s.

On a less global, but still pertinent, scale, a Toronto study found that, contrary to police prejudice and public perception, cyclists are seldom at fault in bike-care accidents:

While there is a public perception that cyclists are usually the cause of accidents between cars and bikes, an analysis of Toronto police collision reports shows otherwise: The most common type of crash in this study involved a motorist entering an intersection and either failing to stop properly or proceeding before it was safe to do so. The second most common crash type involved a motorist overtaking unsafely. The third involved a motorist opening a door onto an oncoming cyclist. The study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents in this study. The available evidence suggests that collisions have far more to do with aggressive driving than aggressive cycling
.

Note a correction on the post that it is actually “several studies conducted by the Charles Komanoff and member of the Right of Way organization in New York that concluded that concluded that cyclists were strictly culpable for less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents.” But the point is still clear.

We leave you with an inspirational story you have to like: In small town Cle Elum, Washington, a rider who got hit by a pickup’s side mirror chased down the motorist, who’s been jailed for hit-and-run.

As they say Down Under, Good on ya!

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  1. [...] New York study (click on “Research” and “Killed By Automobile”). My initial mention. The Freakonomics reference picked up by The New York Times. Cyclelicio.us gut-check. Dangerous [...]

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