Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Ped/bike safety enforcement stories, part 1: Alice Swanson

Many people who had been hit while walking or bicycling, or the families of those killed while walking or bicycling, testified at Friday's hearing on pedestrian and bicycle safety enforcement.

Here is the testimony of Ruth Rowan, Alice Swanson's mother. Alice was killed when a garbage truck driver turned right across the bike lane at Connecticut and R, NW in July 2008. According to Ms. Rowan, the police investigator was intent on blaming Alice and suppressed pertinent information from the police report.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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The more you hear about this case, the more of a fucking travesty it is. Thank God MPD is finally getting serious about mandatory legal training on bike/pedestrian issues for officers. The detective who worked the Swanson case should be reassigned to bike detail until the day she retires.

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 10:33 am • linkreport

Also--and I say this as a DC taxpayer--I hope Swanson's family sues the unholy shit out of the DC government and MPD over this.

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport

The vivid description of how Alicia died almost brought me to tears in the hearing room. I seriously hope justice prevails for the Swanson family.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 7, 2011 10:55 am • linkreport

Breaks my heart to hear about the Swanson family's unnecessary additional suffering at the hands of MPD. I hope her suggestion about a special bike (&ped) unit is heard.

by dc-er on Feb 7, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

This testimony shows just how biased the police can be on these issues. I had a very similar encounter with a DC police officer while biking downtown. A taxicab was turning right and cut me off. I was the one who was pulled over and admonished because I should have given the taxi the right of way because he was turning, even though I was keeping straight.

by Chris on Feb 7, 2011 11:31 am • linkreport

I think all cyclist, driver, and pedestrian deaths on the highway are tragedies ... particularly since so many could be avoided with a little patience and some common courtesy, IMO. But I fail to see the Ms. Swanson collision as a huge travesty of justice relative to so many other incidents.

I don't think we need to re-hash the arguments already covered here (http://tinyurl.com/4k63upg). But I believe that there is legal language that lets trucks turn wide -- some wording with the term "practicable" in it which should be familiar to cyclists -- and whether Swanson actually had right of way or acted with "due care" is clearly debatable. As a layperson looking at the police report, charging the driver with a serious crime is likely a losing case. That written, I would have prefered the driver be cited and let a judge handle the nuances of the law. But given all of the attention and resources to the case, it would be surprising if the decision to let the driver go uncited was done without some sort of review.

I'm no lawyer but if there is someone with prosecution or defense lawyer experience familiar with the case, I would be an interested in those opinions.

I would think that the Pettigrew collision is something that we should illicit much more outrage. A woman is riding in a perfectly legal position in an environment with excellent visibility and is simply run over from behind. The driver leaves the scene with the hard to fathom excuse of a human + bicycle sounding like a deer.

Just for clarity, my understanding is that a bike lane does not extend through the intersection. Is that wrong? Anyway, I'm unsure whether Ms. Swanson was killed in a bike lane.

by Geof Gee on Feb 7, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

This is really sad. Makes you realize what a mistake DDOT has made in letting cyclists think just because there's a little line painted in the pavement that they're safe from many ton vehicles. We need separate facilities for cyclists. And we need to quit painting stripes that give a false sense of protection. This is a tragedy which never would have occured had there not been a painted bike lane there.

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 12:29 pm • linkreport

Lance, you're not serious are you?

by Rayful Edmond on Feb 7, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

Makes you realize what a mistake DDOT has made in letting cyclists think just because there's a little line painted in the pavement that they're safe from many ton vehicles.

I think the truck driver deserves most of the blame--at least if the only eyewitness is to be believed. But the suggestion of "separate facilities" is just hot air. As we had to explain to 'w' every single day for years, people ride bikes in order to go places. Separate facilities will never be comprehensive. So cyclists will always ride in the road (as is right and proper). This is why I take the lane in most situations where there's any doubt.

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

Let's be clear about something, Geof - "whether Swanson actually had right of way" is not "debatable." I know that term gets used a lot where people want to make a tangential point while appearing not to disagree with anyone. But just because a handful of people make unsupported claims that she did not (e.g. the truck driver who killed Swanson, her lawyer, or the MPD officers who handled this case) does not make this an actual "debate." When one side has both the facts and the law on its side, and the other side just makes up some excuses to rationalize an illegal killing (and subsequent neglect and incompetence), it's not debate, and charaterizing it as one is a disservice to the very idea of honest debate.

by Paula Product on Feb 7, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

Thank you very very very much for posting this David. Here we have one of the clearest cases made against reckless driving but even more than that, a clear case of police incompetence and/or coverup. Ms Rowan is a very brave woman to do this, and as a long-time resident too familiar with lackadaisical police work, I thank her.

I also like her suggestion about an investigative unit.

by Jazzy on Feb 7, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

@Paula ... As far as I know from local blogs and being involved with local advocacy, I've read/watched everything available to the public. With regards to it being debateable, I am simply trying to be kind to others who have a different opinion on something quite relevant when it comes to pressing charges. My conclusion should be pretty clear given who has the burden of proof in a criminal trial.

by Geof Gee on Feb 7, 2011 1:38 pm • linkreport

Back home, the law says that car drivers are always at fault in accidents with bikers and pedestrians. The burden of proof is on them to prove themselves innocent. The reason for this law is two-fault. First, pedestrians and bikers were going broke while insurance companies played the blame game in court. Not anymore. Second, car drivers are supposed to be aware that they are surrounded by a bunch of steel while bikers and pedestrians are not. Hence, the burden is on car drivers to make sure they don't hit anybody - regardless of whether that person is breaking the law.

Car driver hits drunk in bar area? Car driver's fault, he should have expected drunks to show up somewhere.
Kid gets hit because it ran from between cars in a suburb? Car driver's fault. He should have been aware of the children's presence and have anticipated that kids do stupid stuff.
Car hits a biker without lights in the dark on a clear night on a rural road? Driver may get away with it, if he was not speeding. If it's raining or visibility is impaired in any way, the driver should have slowed down due to the poor visibility.

The assumption is that bikers and pedestrians have life and limb to loose and therefore have every incentive to not get hurt. In short: despite the fact that pedestrians and bikers have poor judgment, car driver's have a higher duty to pay attention because they can actually kill bikers and pedestrians.

I should add here that the Dutch legal system does not award damages after accidents, so you can't run in the street, get yourself hurt and be rich for the rest of your life.

by Jasper on Feb 7, 2011 1:42 pm • linkreport

I have said it before and was disgustingly vilified on this very blog- but I will say it again-until the people and planners in our country wake up to the FACT that you CANNOT safely mix bicycles and auto traffic these tragedies will continue unabated. The truth is that in countries like Germany,Holland, and Denmark cyclists are not forced to mix with cars and they have CYCLE TRACKS on SIDEWALKS or BUMPED OUT SIDEWALKS and they have a FRACTION of the accidents and have FAR MORE CYCLISTS than the USA and the Anglo countries which are wedded to the bike helmet and the racer configuration have fewer cyclists, and way more deaths.
We seriously need to
GET THE RACING & ATHLETIC CYCLING PEOPLE OUT OF BICYCLE PLANNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by w on Feb 7, 2011 2:04 pm • linkreport

My conclusion should be pretty clear given who has the burden of proof in a criminal trial.

Regardless of whether criminal charges should or should not have been filed, the police report should--at a bare minimum--reflect the reality of the eyewitness accounts, and what is physically possible. It's clear that the investigating officer came to the scene with an agenda, and merely wrote up the report to support her prejudices.

The idea that Swanson was travelling so fast as to strike the truck, throwing herself under the front wheels is a physical impossibility. The fact that that was allowed to be the "official" report is a travesty.

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 2:08 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

I should add here that the Dutch legal system does not award damages after accidents, so you can't run in the street, get yourself hurt and be rich for the rest of your life.

This is a function of our country's unique social safety-net. In most European countries, life-long support for the disabled is a given. In the US, no such support is forthcoming. But when someone is disabled for life, for whatever reason, the money's got to come from somewhere. So we let the civil courts sort it out.

(This is why every US doctor that whines about malpractice premiums should be fighting tooth-and-nail for universal health care and more generous disability support.)

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 2:11 pm • linkreport

As we had to explain to 'w' every single day for years, people ride bikes in order to go places.

This is like one of those horror movies where the monster, who has lay dormant for eight centuries, is awakened by the plucky teen who repeats his name three times in front of a mirror.

Anyway, welcome back, 'w'!

:)

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 2:15 pm • linkreport

@Jasper Back home, the law says that car drivers are always at fault in accidents with bikers and pedestrians. The burden of proof is on them to prove themselves innocent.

That was one of the wrongs which got righted when the US broke away from Great Britain. 'Innocent until proven guilty' became the law of the land ... and last I looked, it still is.

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 2:17 pm • linkreport

@w, You make some excellent points. Another way to look at it is, what if someone decided to use their skateboard in traffic. They could make all the same claims that a cyclist can, and yet we'd obviously laugh them out of the room. The problem here is that the bicycle came about at roughly the same time as the automobile. So, for the same reasons that it used to be okay for pedestrians to walk in the roadway or people on horseback to ride in that same walkway, it was okay for bicyclists to be in it. But that was then and this is now. As your rightfully point out, cars and bikes don't mix well. And as oboe rightfully points out, separate will never be equal. We can't expect to have enough cycle tracks to allow it to be equal with the facilities provided for cars. So, we have to choose. Which do we build for? The 95% of people who can and do drive cars for everyday transportation? or the 5% who use bikes? For the 95% which includes many people who couldn't ride a bike daily even if they wanted to (including the avid cyclists who stop pedelling when the temperature gets below freezing) or for the few hardy individuals who want to combine their excercise with their daily commute when they could easily take the bus or the train instead?

I think the answer is simple. It's a question we faced back in the early part of the 20th century and already answered then. Short memories and, as you put it w, 'racing and athletic' cycling people are unfortunately causing us to revisit this.

My grandfather was a real cyclist racer (with professional awards and the like), who actually grew up when this question got asked and anwered the first time around ... And when he taught me to ride many many decades after this all played out, I still remember him telling me how while bicycling was a great sport and something to be enjoyed, one should never go with their bike where there was a lot of traffic. Now maybe having had a relative on a bike killed by a truck in similar circumstances to Alice may have affected his judgement, but even all these years later I think he was right. Let's build more bike paths in the woods, and more cycle tracks in the city, but let's not let bikes mix with heavy traffic. And let's be rational and realize that someone out in the middle of traffic on a 20 lb frame called a bike in no more reasonable than someone out on a 10 lb skate board in that same traffic.

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 2:33 pm • linkreport

Oh dear, here comes Lance the curmudgeon again...Jasper referenced the Netherlands, not Great Britain, and he said that the Anglo countries (of which the Netherlands is not) do things the way we, the Americans, do. That being said, aren't you going to tell us to get off your lawn you dang-nabbit kids! Oh, and please use that "95% of people" line again, we miss it.

by dc denizen on Feb 7, 2011 2:47 pm • linkreport

Lance is right though.
Call him what you want- he is speaking the truth.
And I actually have a lot for respect for REAL bicycle racers- not the play acting racer wanna bees out there who pack all of the planning meetings and make their wishes known over everyone else's.
Another Lance- the Armstrong guy- is a racer who is actually all for separated auto protected bikeways and sit up bikes. He has come out in public saying this kind of thing. Yet when I say the same thing - I am attacked viciously.
I will say one thing to "our" Lance-
that 5 % can easily go up- and I bet that it already has gone up in many parts of DC. Every year there are more and more cyclists on the streets -and sidewalks.
15th street is the right way to go with cycling infrastructure. The rest of these bike lanes are "please door me" travesties and should be redesigned or done away with entirely. Let's see cycling become safe for women and children -and smart men- most of whom are reluctant to die in traffic. This can be done. But we have to get the idiotic male oriented bicycling culture to become more inclusive here in the USA & DC first...

by w on Feb 7, 2011 3:10 pm • linkreport

And when he taught me to ride many many decades after this all played out, I still remember him telling me how while bicycling was a great sport and something to be enjoyed, one should never go with their bike where there was a lot of traffic.

I told the my kids the same thing when I taught them to ride. Because they were 4 years old.

by jcm on Feb 7, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

I agree that there should be more separated bikeways, but most of the time, calls for separated bikeways instead of bicycle lanes are a way to prevent bicycle lanes and then claim that we "can't" make separate bikeways. So they prevent an alternative in order to head off making bike lanes and then do nothing once bike lanes have been successfully prevented.

by JustMe on Feb 7, 2011 3:16 pm • linkreport

@dc denizen

Can you read. I didn't say what you say I said. Jasper said the Netherlands applies 'Guilty until proven innocent' in the case of cyclists. I reminded/informed her that one of the items the Americans fought a revolution over with the British was a rejection of this very fundamental principle in jurisprudence. (I.e., We're not going to do like the Netherlands and apply 'Guilty until proven innocent as that in repulsive to our laws.)

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 3:17 pm • linkreport

Here in Paris they have just adopted new legislation that reinforces the rights of pedestrians and cyclists. Essentially the larger means of conveyance is responsible for watching out for the less protected means, so drivers must watch out for cyclists who must watch out for pedestrians. While they have some protected lanes for cyclists, they are pushing the idea that all means of conveyance should be able to share the road, and they use design to slower speeds at intersections by narrowing the roads, raising crossings, and other such measures. The number of cyclists is increasing, and they mix freely with cars in many streets and intersections. Drivers are generally careful and watch out for the cyclists, though there is some grumbling and resentment over the mayor's efforts to make Paris less welcoming to private vehicles. Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths are down, while cyclist deaths, after dropping sharply, have ticked up slightly, perhaps because the number of cyclists is increasing substantially. I like riding here as I feel much less threatened than I did riding in Arlington and DC. I wish the DC area could move in this direction. We need to see the roads as accessible to all, not just to moving vehicles.

by Kathy on Feb 7, 2011 3:22 pm • linkreport

@Geof - Reading back over my comment, perhaps it sounds too harsh toward you, rather than merely critical of the use of the word "debatable" in this context, and similar cases. I think I do understand from the rest of your post(s) where you're coming from and how you view this incident. And I understand the tendency to use "debatable" as a marker to set aside some area of disagreement with an audience so as to make a different point without priming that audience to disagree. All the same, I think it's something to be avoided here, because it let's those who are making pretty ridiculous claims off too easily, and suggests a level of credibility to their arguments that just isn't there. (I really did mean "Let's" in the hortatory sense of "Let all of us try to do this." Ironic that in my nitpicking of your usage that I would be unclear in mine as well.)

This is not to say that the proper rights and responsibilities of drivers and cyclists and pedestrian are not subject to debate. Certainly they are (even if I/we have very strong views on those). But that's different from the issue of what happened here (where the facts are largely not in dispute, and the law is also quite clear). I think Swanson's killer, certain elements of MPD, and a few others would prefer to make the investigation of Swanson's death into a debate about how drivers would like cyclists to behave, rather than an inquiry into what the particular driver and the MPD did or did not do.

by Paula Product on Feb 7, 2011 3:25 pm • linkreport

The "innocent until proven guilty" is also the standard in England and all of the Common law countries, including the USA. Civil law countries are more likely to have an "inquiry into guilt" which is a very different beast. The presumption of innocence in a criminal matter cannot be changed in the USA without serious constitutional amendment, but you COULD change (for example) the burden of proof with respect to the right to drive.

by SJE on Feb 7, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

two big problems here and in the USA in general;

the tendency to blame the cyclist after an accident- and after an especially horrible one like this poor Swanson girl- to try to "crack down" on cyclist behavior- which is EXACTLY the wrong thing to do. The authorities need to make it EASIER and MORE PERMISSIVE and SAFER for cyclists not more legalistic and more complicated. That will only result in a drop in the number of cyclists- like it has in Australia where they mandated helmets- in other words- more rules-instead of more auto protected bikeways.

France is in "catch up" mode with Germany,Holland,Eastern France and the Nordic countries- they never had as many regular cyclists in France as in those countries-despite the fact that France is a racer paradise.. Glad to hear about change in Paris- but Paris is simply not as easy to bike in as in Munich ,Berlin,Freiburg, Speyer, Amsterdam or in Copenhagen. They have a long way to go and I sort of lump France & Italy in with the Anglo countries .

The other problem in the USA is that people only see cycling as a "sport" and not as a way to get around or a serious transport option. When folks in the USA & in DC start seeing bikes as a serious way of getting around and stop ridiculing people who live car free and use cargo bikes- we will be on the right track. As long as people see cycling as a competition thing w/o the benefits of the car free lifestyle things will stay the same.

by w on Feb 7, 2011 3:42 pm • linkreport

This "innocent til proven guilty" is just standard Lance obfuscation. It conflates the idea of "guilt" in a criminal sense, with the obligation a larger more powerful vehicle has to exercise due care in yielding to smaller more vulnerable users.

For instance, we don't hear many arguments against the requirement of drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks because "they're innocent until proven guilty." We just say you have an obligation to yield ROW. Same thing here: unless there are extenuating circumstances, a driver who hits a pedestrian or cyclist should be considered to have been neglectful in their duty to avoid other road users. If you find yourself incapable of doing so, you should slow down.

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 3:50 pm • linkreport

@w: The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and a whole bunch of other countries prove you wrong. It is possible. End of debate.

@ oboe: This is a function of our country's unique social safety-net.

Correct. I just put it there to pre-empt comments that would argue that people could abuse the system.

@ Lance: That was one of the wrongs which got righted when the US broke away from Great Britain. 'Innocent until proven guilty' became the law of the land ... and last I looked, it still is.

Sigh. You should really learn something about the US dude. In the Netherlands (and the UK), one is also innocent until proven guilty. There are a few exceptions, as there are in the US. For instance, when filing your taxes, the burden is on you to show that your filings are correct. That's why auditors don't have to show that you're wrong. And don't get me started on the content of the Patriot Act, Gitmo, and burden of proof. BTW: It is that other country of yours where Napoleon invented the guilty until proven innocent.

@ Kathy: +1

by Jasper on Feb 7, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

This is an unfortunate incident for sure, but I agree with Lance. Cyclists really have very few laws pertaining to them and the general public is not even aware of those.

I think those posting here and in the other bike thread should remember that the roads were built for MOTOR vehicles. As for what goes in the Netherlands or wherever, thats certainly nice, but it has little to do with America.

by Nik on Feb 7, 2011 4:38 pm • linkreport

@ Nik: Cyclists really have very few laws pertaining to them and the general public is not even aware of those.

Incorrect. All laws of the road apply to bikers, just as they do to car drivers. You are correct that many people are not aware of that.

roads were built for MOTOR vehicles.

Also incorrect. When L'Enfant designed DC, there were no cars.

by Jasper on Feb 7, 2011 4:43 pm • linkreport

You're telling me those roads with tar on them and white lines marking lanes were built for bikes? Thats funny.

I guess thats what we get for asking a Frenchman to design our capital city!

by Nik on Feb 7, 2011 5:09 pm • linkreport

@ Nik: You're telling me those roads with tar on them and white lines marking lanes were built for bikes? Thats funny.

Yep. For cars, bikes, motorbikes, trucks, horse carriages. Pretty much anything on wheels. I am not sure what the law says about little wheels as on skate boards and roller skates.

I guess thats what we get for asking a Frenchman to design our capital city!,

Nah. Nobody in his time would have designed for anything else than carriages, pedestrians and an occasional bike. Cars were not very developed in the late 1700s.

by Jasper on Feb 7, 2011 5:48 pm • linkreport

For 20 plus years, I have ridden my bicycle to get from point A to point B. I know lots of people who do the same. The times I can remember seeing cyclists decked out in gear with brand names, I can count on two hands. I have no idea where w is seeing would-be Lance Armstrongs, but it's nowhere near me. Now, the suburbs - where I've been for a few months now - THAT is the place to see men who think they're in the Tour de France. Not the city.

by Jazzy on Feb 7, 2011 5:52 pm • linkreport

"I guess thats what we get for asking a Frenchman to design our capital city!"

Please use that line when debating against the C100.

by Rayful Edmond on Feb 7, 2011 5:54 pm • linkreport

I don't think anyone disagrees with Lance or W for the fact that DC (and US cities in general) could greatly benefit from more separated bike/auto facilities. Unfortunately your arguments sound like since we can't have it 100% percent then we shouldn't have it at all. Regardless of what happened to Ms. Swanson I would think that DC's painted bike lanes have increased bike safety on the whole for DC's cyclist and we can hopefully keep building on this until cycling becomes so normal that more and more people wonder why they would bother with the hassle of a car.

by Canaan on Feb 7, 2011 9:43 pm • linkreport

As bad as the Alice Swanson case was, it isn't even the worst in the area. Eliminating the half dozen hit-and-run cyclist deaths, a few of the worst involve:

1. Codi Alexander - hit in a crosswalk by a driver who claimed he never saw her even though the sidewalk she was on beforehand was visible from 200 feet away. This was 12 years after another cyclist had been killed in the exact same place. In both cases the cyclist was officially blamed.

2. Dr. Yoram Kaufmann - a coworker of mine. He was hit from behind, but the driver claimed he swerved in front of her unexpectedly as she tried to pass. No charges were filed. No ticket.

3. David Marsden - hit by a truck in a crash very similar to Alice's except he was on a sidewalk and the driver came from behind him. No charges.

by David C on Feb 7, 2011 10:38 pm • linkreport

@nik: Actually, roads were originally paved in order to accommodate bicyclists, not automobiles:

http://www.greentechhistory.com/2009/05/how-bicyclists-built-the-roads-that-carried-the-cars-that-pushed-them-off-the-roads/

by Casey Anderson on Feb 8, 2011 12:25 am • linkreport

For @w:

This article pretty much sums up my feelings towards the "waiting for manna from Heaven" attitude of the cycling segregationists.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 9:12 am • linkreport

Sorry, link: http://quickrelease.tv/?p=1351

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 9:12 am • linkreport

Short video on Dutch "strict liability" laws Jasper touched on:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_Bq1vxCUvo&feature=player_embedded

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

Putting skimpy bike lanes down along the right side of a traffic lane is asking for a "right hook" collision. Personally (and I've been a DC bicyclist for 37 years), I think bicyclists should be extremely cautious about passing cars on the right. In the case of Mount Pleasant neighbor Alice Swanson's tragedy, she should have seen the danger in passing a truck on the right while crossing a side street. It doesn't matter who is in the legal right or wrong, if you're dead.

by Jack on Feb 8, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

It doesn't matter who is in the legal right or wrong, if you're dead.

Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who!

Anyway, you'll probably want to talk to Swanson's mom about her nitpicking and obsession with such trivialities.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

@ oboe: Let me place that image here for w's and Lance's entertainment:

Lance's and w's dream world

And here's the clip form that post. It is actually a really good description of the design policy of the last 20 years.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJhGSxDb5wQ">




type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent"
width="425" height="350">

[I am not sure if this will work, I have never embedded a clip here.]

BTW: The white and red poles you see took some time to be accepted, as you can see from the fact that not all of them are standing straight up. The red-white ones can be removed by emergency personnel, and initially many cars try to just run over them. Does not work. There are plenty of funny clips about that as well. Some poles open up only for residents.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

Sorry, that didn't work

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJhGSxDb5wQ

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2011 10:48 am • linkreport

It's safer for cyclists to merge in line with traffic when approaching intersections than to stay near the curb, where they can be right hooked. A curbside striped bike lane encourages cyclists to ride curbside straight through the intersection from a position to the right of right turning motor vehicles.

Turning drivers are error-prone when checking their blind spot while turning. The driver here was legally at fault, but a road design that encouraged through bicycle traffic to be positioned inside the turn, where drivers often fail to look, likely contributed to the problem. Such bike lanes dupe many cyclists who see themselves as law-abiding into riding too far right, instead of a more defensive position in the center of the lane or to the left of the right-turning vehicle. One possible reason why this type of collision happens more often to women is that they are more likely than men to trust the letter of the law and the stripes on the ground to protect them than some more assertive male cyclists who aren't as afraid of motorists beeping their horns at them for riding outside the bike lane where it's safer.

by Steve G on Feb 8, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

I have ridden a bicycle for years in DC, as well as a motorcycle. Amongst motorcyclists, it's common knowledge that you have to look out for all the idiots on the road, even if you have the right of way. Because in the end, it doesn't matter if you had the right of way if you're dead.

Bicyclists could learn a lesson from motorcycles and ride more defensively. You have to be ready to react at all times and always assume the worst of other drivers. This is the only way you can survive.

And bicycles need to follow all the laws of the road, including stopping at lights and stop signs. Otherwise they risk death or injury.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

Ward 5 Rez, "Bicyclists could learn a lesson from motorcycles and ride more defensively." Would you care to compare death rates for motorcyclists to bicyclists? [Hint: Motorcyclists die much more often per mile traveled]. Bicyclists already ride very defensively. That's why they're in fewer crashes than motorcyclists and drivers.

When I stop having motorcyclists blow past me at 120 mph on the beltway, then you can preach to me about how cyclists need to follow the law.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

@ David C: When I stop having motorcyclists blow past me at 120 mph on the beltway, then you can preach to me about how cyclists need to follow the law.

How about we just stop bitching at others breaking the law and using that as an excuse for breaking the law ourselves. You have control over your actions. Behave the way you'd like others to behave. Lead by example, instead of bitching about examples.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

"When I stop having motorcyclists blow past me at 120 mph on the beltway, then you can preach to me about how cyclists need to follow the law."

I'm not preaching to anyone. I ride both and follow the laws. If you feel like a motorcyclist going 120 on the beltway justifies you running lights and stop signs in the city on your bicycle, then I advocate that you continue to do that. Hopefully you learn your lesson before you end up dead.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 11:23 am • linkreport

" [Hint: Motorcyclists die much more often per mile traveled]. Bicyclists already ride very defensively. That's why they're in fewer crashes than motorcyclists and drivers."

Sources?

There are approx 6,567,197 registered motorcycles on the road, of which typically between 4-5k are involved in fatal accidents annually. That means on average my chance of being killed on my motorcycle is like .07%. And that assumes I'm the average rider, which unfortunately includes a lot of knuckleheads. If one rides defensively then the chances are greatly reduced from even .07%.

http://www.ridetowork.org/files/docs/rtw_transportation_fact_sheet.pdf

Anecdottaly, most people that I've heard about being seriously injured or killed were doing something stupid (popping wheelies on the beltway, going 100mph+ on city roads, etc.)

Myself, not being a stupid rider, I feel safer on my motorcycle than my bicycle. I can out accelerate, out brake, out maneuver anything else on the road. Plus I have bright lights and a loud horn. I don't need a seperate lane because I can keep up with the flow of traffic.

Having done both, I would guess that more motorcyclists are indeed killed, but more bicycles are involved in collisions. A bicycle collision is less likely to kill you though, because there is almost always less speed involved. Afterall, they aren't really capable of that much speed.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 11:53 am • linkreport

If you feel like a motorcyclist going 120 on the beltway justifies you running lights and stop signs in the city on your bicycle, then I advocate that you continue to do that. Hopefully you learn your lesson before you end up dead.

I think David C's point was that cyclists are *already* much safer than motorcyclists. Actually, motorcylists tend to kill themselves in single-vehicle accidents. The majority are young men who are driving too fast for conditions, and wrap themselves around telephone poles. Meanwhile, most cyclists who are killed *aren't* killed while engaging in "scofflaw" behavior (which actually tends to increase cyclist safety). They're killed while obeying traffic laws to the letter, and generally trying not to make a nuisance of themselves by hugging the right-most side of the road, etc...

Seems pretty fair to point out that motorcyclists don't really have much to teach cyclists on the subject of safety.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 12:05 pm • linkreport

"They're killed while obeying traffic laws to the letter, and generally trying not to make a nuisance of themselves by hugging the right-most side of the road, etc..."

You can't be serious? Unless following the traffic laws to the letter doesn't include stopping at lights or stop signs. And I've seen many accidents involving cyclists while engaging in this "scofflaw" behavior. Scofflaw behavior is more than just going fast, which bicycles can't do.

"The majority are young men who are driving too fast for conditions, and wrap themselves around telephone poles."

False. "75% of accidents were found to involve a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle, while the remaining 25% of accidents were single motorcycle accidents."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

I go back to my original post. If you are going to ride either, you have to obey the laws and ride super defensively and not engage in "scofflaw" behavior of going too fast for the conditions, running red lights and stop signs, wear proper gear, etc. Like Jasper said, going back and forth bitching about others' lack of responsibility is counter productive. I choose to be responsible for myself and don't worry about anyone else. And I am alive after 20+ years of riding bicycles and motorcycles.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 12:19 pm • linkreport

You can't be serious? Unless following the traffic laws to the letter doesn't include stopping at lights or stop signs. And I've seen many accidents involving cyclists while engaging in this "scofflaw" behavior. Scofflaw behavior is more than just going fast, which bicycles can't do.

Sorry, what part of this do you disagree with? I didn't claim cyclists don't engage in "scofflaw" behavior. Just that such behavior doesn't make them any less safe. Cyclists treat stop signs as yields, and stop lights as stop signs. They do this almost universally. Cyclist are almost never injured while doing this. They're generally either doored, or run over by a right- or left-turning vehicle, etc...

Congratulations on your staying alive lo these 20 years. I've been riding a bike in the streets of Washington for 20+ years now, and had maybe one close call. Obviously, the ultimate responsibility for our own safety is ours. But strict 100% adherence to the letter of the law doesn't add appreciably to road safety on a bike, any more than it does while on foot.

A good example of this: there are parts of town where you're safer jay-walking mid block than crossing with the light on the corner, thanks to right-turn-on-red drivers who can't be bothered to yield.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 12:43 pm • linkreport

@Jasper, hey, thanks for the inflammatory language. I love to be accused of bitching. Since we're trhowing out such accusations, why don't you stop raping puppies?

I wasn't "bitching" or using it as an excuse for lawbreaking, I was saying that I don't think motorcyclists have a lot of room to hold themselves up as an example for anyone. I don't like to be talked down to, especially by a group that isn't exactly the paragon of safety.

@Ward 5 Rez, Again, I never claimed that bad motorcyclist behavior justified running lights and stop signs. What I was saying was heal yourself first. How is "Bicyclists could learn a lesson from motorcycles and ride more defensively...And bicycles need to follow all the laws of the road, including stopping at lights and stop signs." not preaching? Also your logic is wrong, but I'll use your numbers. There are 150,000,000 people who will ride a bike this year and ~700 of them will die. So your chances of dying on a bike are far lower than .07%, something like 0.00000005%. I'd calculate it all differently of course. I'd measure fatalities per million hours traveled, but I don't think you'll find that any more satisfactory.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 1:05 pm • linkreport

Oboe,

I disagree that cyclists follow the law to the letter. They don't. I don't care if it's "universal" behavior for bicyclists to run stop signs. It's still against the law and does impair safety. It's "universal" behavior for cars to speed. But it still impairs safety. I can't count the number of times where I've been nearly run over as a pedestrian at a crosswalk with a green light by a bicyclist universally running a stop light.

I disagree, following the laws DOES add appreciably to safety. Sure, a lot of drivers/bicyclists/motorcyclists break laws, but to try and advocate that this does not impair safety is pure denial.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

No, but you can count the number of times a pedestrian has been hit by a cyclist at a crosswalk with a green light. I believe NYC did that for 2009, and I believe the count was zero. But I don't have time to find that right now.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

" There are 150,000,000 people who will ride a bike this year"

It's about 57,000,000 people
http://www.bikeleague.org/media/facts/#how_many

I don't disagree that you're less likely to be killed on a bicycle than a motorcycle. According to these stats, it's .07% for a motorcycle or .001% for a bicycle. Either one is small enough for me to be comfortable.

I'm not trying to preach, just sharing the measures I've taken to stay alive.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

@ David C: I don't like to be talked down to, especially by a group that isn't exactly the paragon of safety.

And which group's behavior are you now holding me responsible for exactly? And how reasonable do you think that is?

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2011 1:26 pm • linkreport

I have to laugh at oboe's comment that cyclists "almost universally" comply with traffic laws regarding red lights and stop signs, given the many previous comments on this site by cyclists who freely acknowledge ignoring various laws b/c they were either written in a car-centric manner or they're simply inconvenient.

The cops need to enforce traffic laws against ALL users of the road. Which means they need to ignore the whinings of whatever group is complaining when they're hit with tickets (Pedestrians: Why are the cops focusing on jaywalking when there's all these speeding cars and dangerous cyclists? Cyclists: Why are the cops focusing on dangerous cycling when there's all these speeding cars and jaywalkers? Drivers: Why are the cops focusing on speeding when there's all these dangerous cyclists and jaywalkers?)

Just enforce the laws equally and watch people's behavior change.

by Fritz on Feb 8, 2011 1:26 pm • linkreport

"No, but you can count the number of times a pedestrian has been hit by a cyclist at a crosswalk with a green light. I believe NYC did that for 2009."

You quote all your numbers without sources, I've seen bicycles get hit universally running lights, and I've seen pedestrians knock bicycles over as they ran through.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 1:29 pm • linkreport

@Ward5 Rez, that was just for the summer of 2002. The bicycle retailers association did a survey that showed that half of Americans will ride a bike, that's where my number came from, but I'm fine to go with 1 in 6 for the purpose of this argument. So while I stand corrected, I'm still right about which is safer.

@Jasper, I'm not holding you responsible for anyone. That comment was about Ward5rez's statement that cyclists should behave more like motorcyclists.

@Fritz, I too often laugh at stuff I just make up out of thin air. Like when you quoted oboe as saying that cyclists "almost universally" comply with traffic laws regarding red lights and stop signs, something he actually never said. Or how about this quote from you "I like to eat my own underpants". I laughed when I pretended that I heard you say that.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 1:34 pm • linkreport

You quote all your numbers without sources Normally, I don't. But I'm busy today. So take my unsourced stats for what they're worth. You could look for the data I suppose, but I hate telling people to "look it up."

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 1:36 pm • linkreport

Ok, just one last time, because I'm running out of ways to phrase this, but no, cyclists don't follow the law to the letter. Of course they don't. The odd thing is, you seem to get this, too, since you immediately follow this by acknowleding my point that it's "universal."

But since it is universal (i.e. nearly every cyclist does this), and since the number of cyclists who are injured doing so is trivial

As far as your claim that you've been nearly run down by scofflaw cyclists innumerable times, you must be both the luckiest--and unluckiest--man who ever lived. Luckiest because you managed to come out of this unending ordeal in one piece. Unluckiest because your experience seems to be constrained to folks who want to make a point on GGW. I guess it depends on your personal comfort zone, but generally when a cyclist passes me by 3-5 feet going 10 mph, it barely registers.

Actually, it reminds me of Charlie's anecdote from a few days ago that cyclists are always spitting at him. Really?

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 1:38 pm • linkreport

Ruth Rowan's courage and composure are awe inspiring.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 1:59 pm • linkreport

@David C: Thanks, but oboe can defend himself and his own statement better than you can. And since he's now backtracking from what he wrote, your attempt at a point is moot.

Perhaps more people would pay serious attention to what you wrote if you didn't engage in juvenile behavior.

Not a sermon, just a thought.

by Fritz on Feb 8, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

Alice Swanson was following the law, obeying the rules. She proceeded in her lane across the intersection. The truck driver is the one who disobeyed the law. He made a right turn from a left lane crossing a lane to his right and killed someone in that righthand lane. Alice. Yet he didn't even get a traffic ticket.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 2:17 pm • linkreport

@Fritz, where did he backtrack? Perhaps more people would pay serious attention to what you wrote if you didn't lie.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 2:26 pm • linkreport

Here, let me rephrase this one mor... aw, nevermind...

:)

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

@David C:

Oboe's statement that I took issue with: "Cyclists treat stop signs as yields, and stop lights as stop signs. They do this almost universally."

My statement: "have to laugh at oboe's comment that cyclists "almost universally" comply with traffic laws regarding red lights and stop signs..."

Your statement: "I too often laugh at stuff I just make up out of thin air. Like when you quoted oboe as saying that cyclists 'almost universally' comply with traffic laws regarding red lights and stop signs, something he actually never said."

Oboe's backtrack: "...I'm running out of ways to phrase this, but no, cyclists don't follow the law to the letter. Of course they don't."

Have a nice day!

by Fritz on Feb 8, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

Fritz: If you reread the oboe comment you are quoting, you will notice that it doesn't say cyclists comply with traffic laws to the letter. In fact, it's saying the opposite.

Note he said "treat stop signs as yields," not "treat stop signs as stop signs," and "stop lights as stop signs," not "stop lights as stop lights."

by David Alpert on Feb 8, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

What David Alpert said....

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 2:49 pm • linkreport

@ David C: That comment was about Ward5rez's statement that cyclists should behave more like motorcyclists.

In that case you need to work on the lay-out of your responses. My quote was from the text after @jasper, and before @Ward5rez.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2011 3:45 pm • linkreport

"So while I stand corrected, I'm still right about which is safer."

Also, my numbers are based on the sheer number of bicycles and motorcycles and deaths. It's important to note that motorcycles ride many times the number of miles on average than bicycles. So taking that into account, the number of deaths on motorcycles is actually quite low.

Now, the inherent risks of motorcycles are definitely greater, but much of that risk is mitigated by responsible riding (yes, the majority of motorcycles follow the laws, despite what a few knuckleheads that stand out might lead you to believe).

Entire books have been written on motorcycle safety, and motorcyclists take safety much more seriously, from what I've seen. And I've known lots of bicyclists and motorcyclists over the years. When was the last time you saw a motorcyclist without a helmet? I see bicycles without helmets all the time. That is what I meant when I said that bicyclist could stand to learn a little about safe riding from motorcyclists.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 3:48 pm • linkreport

Also, what I meant was that I have learned a lot about reading other drivers on the road and anticipating their actions from motorcycling. This is something that I never though much about when bicycling.

I don't know all the circumstances of the incident in this story, but perhaps the bicycle rider that was killed could have been looking ahead more or been more skilled in reading the traffic flow and perhaps would not have been killed.

But then again, the bicyclists on here seem to think they already know everything, and no one can teach them anything, surely not a wreckless group like motorcyclists. Whatever.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 3:59 pm • linkreport

@jasper, no I don't need to work on my phrasing. I was still describing my previous response to Ward5rez. In sentence one I was restating what I said in another way. In sentence two I was explaining why I said it. I was still responding to you, but I was responding about Ward5rez.

@Ward5Rez: Cyclist deaths per 1 million miles biked: 0.2. Motorcyclist deaths per 1 million miles ridden: 24.7.

If motorcyclists want to take safety seriously, perhaps they should learn a lesson from bicycles and ride more defensively. Or perhaps they should just ride a bicycle.

Helmets: Many states require adults to wear helmets when motorcycling. Almost no one does while bicycling. Also, bike helmets aren't shown to be that useful, and not for the kind of crashes that adults get into.

Cyclists are in fewer crashes, are injured less often and die less often than motorcyclists. So if cyclists were to model their behavior on motorcyclists how would that be good?

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

@Ward5rez, motorcyclists are anything but "wreckless". I don't think blaming Alice Swanson for riding in a bike lane, with a helmet and going forward on a green light is making a strong point about the safety of lawful, safe cycling.

Like I said, motorcyclists die 120+ times more often per mile traveled than cyclists. Perhaps they aren't the group to emulate.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 4:13 pm • linkreport

... if cyclists were to model their behavior on motorcyclists how would that be good?...
They'd have more facial hair? (if thats "good")

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 4:14 pm • linkreport

This is the point: ... riding in a bike lane, with a helmet and going forward on a green light..

She did everything correctly and a guy turning right, from the lane left of her hit her and was not charged with any moving violation.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

"Ward5Rez: Cyclist deaths per 1 million miles biked: 0.2. Motorcyclist deaths per 1 million miles ridden: 24.7."

Those numbers for motorcycles at least are false. According to the NHTSA, the number of motorcycle deaths are 39.89 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-Safety/motorcycle-accident-statistics.htm

So assuming your source is correct on the bicycle data at least, multiply 0.2 x 100 and you get 20 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled as opposed to 39.89 on motorcycles. This supports what I stated. Yes motorcycles are inherently more dangerous, I would say more than double dangerous, but a lot of this risk is better managed because motorcyclists ride safer.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 4:20 pm • linkreport

"@Ward5rez, motorcyclists are anything but "wreckless". I don't think blaming Alice Swanson for riding in a bike lane, with a helmet and going forward on a green light is making a strong point about the safety of lawful, safe cycling."

That's the point. Even when you follow all the laws, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. If Alice had learned the riding skills I'm talking about, she would have probably been able to read the situation and reacted instead of being killed.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 4:24 pm • linkreport

"She did everything correctly and a guy turning right, from the lane left of her hit her and was not charged with any moving violation."

And that is wrong. Her family should sue the bastards. That won't bring her back unfortunately.

Seriously, everybody pay attention to traffic, look far ahead, and ride defensively. It doesn't matter if you have the right of way or not, it's not worth risking your life.

Ride safe everyone, whatever you ride.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

@Ward 5 Rez:

Here's the problem people have with what you're saying:
I go back to my original post. If you are going to ride either, you have to obey the laws and ride super defensively and not engage in "scofflaw" behavior of going too fast for the conditions, running red lights and stop signs, wear proper gear, etc. Like Jasper said, going back and forth bitching about others' lack of responsibility is counter productive. I choose to be responsible for myself and don't worry about anyone else. And I am alive after 20+ years of riding bicycles and motorcycles.

People do things like go through stop signs and red lights in order to ride defensively and stay out of the way of traffic.

You however seem to be one of those people who only see the one moron out of every 100 bicyclists who rides the wrong way down a street, cuts in front of cars dangerously, etc. You seem to see bicyclists as all hot-dogging messenger-wannabes with no concern for their safety or the safety of anyone else. If you took ten seconds to look at the people you see riding bikes every day you would see that's not true.

Understand the following: #1, riding within the frame of the law isn't always the safest thing to do; #2, riding through a stop sign or crossing against a red light isn't always dangerous - since I guess you've never jaywalked in your entire life.

by MLD on Feb 8, 2011 4:35 pm • linkreport

@ward5rez, it's probably a typo that should be 100 million miles instead of 1 million miles. Here's another source that shows cyclists have .039 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. So the ratio is the same.

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm

You've done absolutely nothing to prove that "motorcyclists ride safer." If they die more often, and are injured more often and crash more often, how is that safer?

If Alice had learned the riding skills I'm talking about, she would have probably been able to read the situation and reacted instead of being killed.

You don't know much about the crash, but you think she would have "probably been able" to avoid being killed? If she exhibited the uber-safe skills that motorcyclists who get themselves killed like 120 times more often per mile do? It's false to believe that every cyclist (or motorcyclist) can safe their own life if they just ride more safely and learn more skills. At some point, you have to rely on other people to not plow their car into you.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 4:35 pm • linkreport

... At some point, you have to rely on other people to not plow their car into you. Yes, and when we can't rely on that we want justice. We want a law that will hold someone accountable for breaking the law by turning right across a righthand lane and killing someone in the process. We want the police to recognize and enforce the law. That did not happen for Alice Swanson.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 4:40 pm • linkreport

There've been whole books written on cycling safety as well, right? But, look, we can go back and forth all day on this. Let's say we go ahead and grant you that motorcyclists are more keenly skilled than cyclists as a whole... whatever.

But to get back to the point, we've got a bunch of folks who live in an urban environment. Increasingly, they're both walking and riding bicycles to get around. You seem to think that it's perfectly normal to require folks who do this to undergo hours and hours of specialized training in order to safely navigate their neighborhoods. That's one way of looking at it. If they don't, their deaths are a sad but inescapable part of life.

But given the fact that it's the operators of motor vehicles who are killing 99.999% of these folks who are sharing public space with them, frankly that seems like a lunatic mis-prioritization of values. If it's really the case that motor vehicles cannot be operated safely in an urban environment, we need to severely restrict which ones can be operated in our city.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 4:59 pm • linkreport

@David C: "But I'm busy today."

Ten posts in 5.5 hours - what does a slow day look like for you?

by dcd on Feb 8, 2011 5:16 pm • linkreport

@w and @lance

I think I agree with both of you. Shudder.

@the bike gang
I'm carless here in DC and still young enough to ride a bike, but I would never, never consider it. Sure I'll take my bike to Rock Creek Park when it gets warm (thank you Tina) but ride on the streets? No way. It isn't safe.

by Mike D on Feb 8, 2011 6:00 pm • linkreport

@Mike D, are crediting me for providing warm weather?

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 6:02 pm • linkreport

@Tina

Ha, no, but rather for convincing me to drag my bike to RCP, I will once it's warmer. Sorry way off topic.

also

--We want the police to recognize and enforce the law.

100% agree. I hope for justice for Alice, but even if she gets it.... We are a LONG way from changing attitudes sufficiently for me to ride on the streets.

by Mike D on Feb 8, 2011 6:06 pm • linkreport

I would never, never consider [riding a bike in DC]

That's too bad. It's a lot of fun, a great way to see the city and the fastest way around in a lot of cases. You should try a free Confident City Cycling course from WABA. Maybe you'll feel differently afterward. If not, I have a friend who met his wife in one of the classes, so y'know, you might get lucky.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 6:08 pm • linkreport

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm

Ironically, the guy that wrote that site died shortly afterward on his bicycle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Kifer

by DC_Biker on Feb 8, 2011 6:17 pm • linkreport

"@ward5rez, it's probably a typo that should be 100 million miles instead of 1 million miles. Here's another source that shows cyclists have .039 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. So the ratio is the same.
http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm

You've done absolutely nothing to prove that "motorcyclists ride safer." If they die more often, and are injured more often and crash more often, how is that safer?"

Your source says for death it's 1 in 26 versus 1 in 71 for motorcycles. Your source also says total injuries were 58,000 for bicycles versus 54,000 for motorcycles.

More motorcyclists die overall because there is more speed involved, and more miles ridden. That alone increases the odds.

Death and injury should be much higher compared to bicycles given the inherent risks. They're not because motorcyclists generally ride more defensively, wear proper gear, and follow the laws (except maybe speeding).

There should be practically no deaths or injuries involving bicycles. You have dedicated lanes, can't go faster than 20-30 mph unless going downhill, and don't get ridden that many miles in a year. The fact that the stats are as high as they are is because bicyclists don't take safety and traffic laws seriously and the gang of bicyclists posting today here prove that.

by MotoDC on Feb 8, 2011 6:34 pm • linkreport

"But given the fact that it's the operators of motor vehicles who are killing 99.999% of these folks who are sharing public space with them, frankly that seems like a lunatic mis-prioritization of values. If it's really the case that motor vehicles cannot be operated safely in an urban environment, we need to severely restrict which ones can be operated in our city."

I think there should be driving tests depending on what you plan to drive. They do this with motorcycles in Europe. You must start with 250cc until you can prove you can handle it enough to move up.

For cars, you should only be authorized to drive a subcompact, until you demonstrate you know how to handle it. I see people driving SUVs all the time that shouldn't be able to drive a golf cart.

The other problem I see is distracted driving. They have no cell phone and texting laws, but these are hard to enforce. But it's really more than that. People are distracted with all kinds of things these days, from GPS to radios, DVDs, ipods, and more. And automakers are constantly putting more and more stuff into the cars. Something needs to be done, but I don't know what.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 6:40 pm • linkreport

"You seem to see bicyclists as all hot-dogging messenger-wannabes with no concern for their safety or the safety of anyone else. If you took ten seconds to look at the people you see riding bikes every day you would see that's not true."

Mostly I see two types. I see "hot-dogging messenger-wannabes", and fat old men in yellow spandex (no offense to anyone). Having ridden bicycles here for years, I know many of the first type. I have a lot of friends and friends of friends that ride bicycles. I also have a lot of friends that ride motorcycles. My views on both groups and how safely ride are not based on statistics from a dead guy's website. They're based on my years of experience riding with both groups. Have you done both? If not, no offense, but I don't see how you can relate.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 6:48 pm • linkreport

@MotoDC, you got your numbers flipped (it's 1 in 71 for bicyclists) but nonetheless, that is a measure of survivability. If your point is that motorcyclists die more because their crashes are less survivable, I'll agree that that is surely part of the reason. Motorcycle crashes are 3 times less survivable. It still doesn't explain why there are 120 times as many fatalities per mile.

Death and injury should be much higher compared to bicycles given the inherent risks. They're not because...

What are you talking about? Death and injury rates are 120 times higher for motorcyclists.

motorcyclists generally...wear proper gear

Really?

"Helmet use nationally has declined from 71 percent in 2000 to 63 percent in 2008. In 2007, 63% of fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet in states without all-rider helmet laws"

motorcyclists generally ride more defensively,...and follow the laws (except maybe speeding).

I like the way you brush away the really dangerous thing they do by making it a paranthetical. Unfortunately speeding is a major reason why motorcyclists die at such an alarming rate - and is not consistent with your claim about defensive driving.

"In 2006, 37% of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding"

There should be practically no deaths or injuries involving bicycles.

I agree. Unfortunately drunk drivers - like the one that killed Ken Kifer, distracted drivers, speeders and other careless drivers and cyclists keep messing that up.

[bikes] don't get ridden that many miles in a year

In 1997 there was 21 billion miles of biking in the US. If motorcyclists drive about 0.4% of all miles traveled (NHTSA, 2009) and there were about 3 trillion total miles travelled (NHTSA, 2006) than motorcyclists travel about 12 billion miles per year. So there are nearly twice as many miles bicycled per year.

The fact that the stats are as high as they are is because bicyclists don't take safety and traffic laws seriously and the gang of bicyclists posting today here prove that.

How so? I take bike safety very seriously. That's my point. Despite the popular perception, bicyclists not only take bike safety seriously, we're a bit obsessed. And the numbers bear that out.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 9:31 pm • linkreport

I see "hot-dogging messenger-wannabes", and fat old men in yellow spandex (no offense to anyone)

So I'm either a wannabe or a fat old man, how is that not offensive.

Every motorcyclist I see rapes puppies. No offense.

My views on both groups and how safely ride are not based on statistics from a dead guy's website. They're based on my years of experience riding with both groups.

How Ken Kifer being dead is relevant, I'm unsure, but I will stick with statistics, science and fact. You can have your opinion which is clearly free of bias) based on experience. Just remember, there are 120 dead motorcyclists out there for every Ken Kifer.

by David C on Feb 8, 2011 9:36 pm • linkreport

It's NOT 120 times. You keep going back to that but that was shown above to be false.

Your "source" says that motorcycles have 27.6 deaths per million miles traveled.

NHTSA says that the death rate is 39.89 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

While the death rate for bicycles is .2 per million or 20 per 100 million.

Even your "source" meant 100 million, his number is still totally off base.

I will believe NHTSA, as your source is completely unreliable.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 8, 2011 11:33 pm • linkreport

I'm carless here in DC and still young enough to ride a bike, but I would never, never consider it. Sure I'll take my bike to Rock Creek Park when it gets warm (thank you Tina) but ride on the streets? No way. It isn't safe...

A lot of inexperienced folks feel this way. Meanwhile, the statistics show it's one of the safer activities you can engage in.

My mother is terrified of taking the Metro train. After all, they had a crash a year or two ago. Not safe! Meanwhile she thinks nothing of getting on the Beltway and tooling along at 65 mph with the local NASCAR wannabees.

The human capacity for risk assessment is a strange and interesting thing.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 9:04 am • linkreport

I like the way you brush away the really dangerous thing they do by making it a paranthetical. Unfortunately speeding is a major reason why motorcyclists die at such an alarming rate - and is not consistent with your claim about defensive driving.

I used to ride with a rather large group of motorcyclists when I lived in a large city (decades ago). We all rode 25+ year old BMWs. I can't remember anyone getting in a major wreck. Meanwhile folks with the same demographic profile--on different equipment--were dropping like flies.

Are there safety-conscious law-abiding motorcyclists? Of course, and they're probably in the majority. But if motorcycles were bicycles, something like 40% of the motorcycling community would be made up of "outlaw couriers."

Despite the popular perception, bicyclists not only take bike safety seriously, we're a bit obsessed. And the numbers bear that out.

I'd argue the only group who takes safety more seriously than committed commuter cyclists is private airplane pilots. I think some of our motorcycle-riding guests here are confusing their inaccurate picture of what makes for safe urban bicycle riding with best practices that actually do make for safe urban bicycle riding. It's a bit like power-boaters giving safety advice to windsurfers. There's some overlap, but not much.

One effective safety technique on a motorcycle is accelerating out of danger. Why don't cyclists do this?

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

I think there should be driving tests depending on what you plan to drive. They do this with motorcycles in Europe. You must start with 250cc until you can prove you can handle it enough to move up.

125cc in the UK. Some of the available bikes demonstrate the "Walter Mitty" aspect of the young men who take up motorcycling: http://bike-exchange.co.uk/display_picture.php?ref=00029037&adtype=n

(And to think, your average DC cyclist gets stick for being a "Lance Wannabee". Heh.)

For cars, you should only be authorized to drive a subcompact, until you demonstrate you know how to handle it. I see people driving SUVs all the time that shouldn't be able to drive a golf cart.

I have long advocated (tongue-in-cheek) that anyone operating a vehicle larger than a minivan should be required to get a CDL. That should put an end to the "soccer mom in an Escalade" phenomenon.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

not very good but here is the best safety data I came up with

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/transportation.html

by Mike D on Feb 9, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

@Ward5Rez, Well, you can't really throw out one of Ken Kifer's numbers and keep the other one - not without seeing where it comes from so let's go to the Source material.

According to a 1991 FHWA estimate (page 21), cyclists biked about 21 billion miles in 1991. And there were 843 "pedalcyclist" deaths that year. Which comes out to 3.96 deaths per 100 million miles. In the same year, motorcyclists had 30.85 deaths per 100 million miles.

So, you're correct it isn't 120 times. It's 7.8 times. But, while the number I used was wrong, the point remains the same. The evidence is contradictory to the claim that motorcyclists ride safer than cyclists, since they die nearly 8 times as often as cyclists.

[the number of cyclist deaths has gone down since 1991 - to 773 in 2006 - and the number of miles traveled has likely gone up. So the cyclist ratio has surely gone down. The motorcyclist ratio, on the other hand, has risen to 39.80 as of 2006. The pedalcyclist number is further inflated by the inclusion of child cyclists. So the true, current number is surely larger than 8, but probably not 120]

by David C on Feb 9, 2011 9:58 am • linkreport

@Mike D - I'm honored and humbled. What did I say (write) to help you decide to take a ride in RCP?

by Tina on Feb 9, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

"I used to ride with a rather large group of motorcyclists when I lived in a large city (decades ago). We all rode 25+ year old BMWs. I can't remember anyone getting in a major wreck. Meanwhile folks with the same demographic profile--on different equipment--were dropping like flies."

And to think that a modern motorcycle is vastly safer than anything 25+ years old. Modern bikes are very powerful. The average 600cc bike can accelerate 0-60 in under 4 secs, and average 1000cc bikes can accelerate 0-60 between about 2 to 2.5 secs.

The problem is when inexperienced young people get on them and don't manage them properly. If you respect the bike and don't abuse the power, and ride defensively, the odds of dying decrease substantially. Plus if you add in the fact that a lot of inexperienced riders don't wear proper gear, that compounds the problem. We call them squids. Squirrely kids riding 1000cc bikes in shorts and sneakers, with only a helmet.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

The pedalcyclist number is further inflated by the inclusion of child cyclists.

Excellent point. A sizable number of cycling fatalities are children. Wonder what the motorcyclist death rate would look like if a similar percentage of motorcyclists were 7 year olds.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 10:06 am • linkreport

Right. Then there's the guy on a 1000cc crotch-rocket wearing full Kevlar--while his willowy 17-year-old girlfriend sits perched up on the rear fender wearing cut-offs and a bikini top. Sigh.

[Reason #1,382,332 I'm glad I'm raising my daughter in the city.]

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

"So the true, current number is surely larger than 8, but probably not 120]"

That's probably right. But my point is that motorcycle wrecks are less survivable due to the speed involved. Yes, motorcycles are inherently more dangerous. I'm not arguing that.

If ALL bicyclists wore helmets and rode more defensively, the difference in the death rate between bicycles and motorcycles would be even greater. Yes, some states don't have motorcycle helmet laws, but I would guess that nationally, more people wear helmets with motorcycles than with bicycles. Plus, most motorcyclists wear protective jackets, boots, and other gear, which has been proven to vastly improve safety.

Studies say that wearing helmets when bicycling substantially reduces injuries. Head injuries accounted for 62.6% of fatalities on bicycles. When bicyclists come on and insist that helmets don't matter, it makes me think that they don't take safety very seriously. And following traffic laws. If you're going to run the light or stop sign, at least make sure no one else has the right of way.

http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm

I do think most bicyclists ride safe. It's the unhelmeted ones, swerving through traffic, cutting cars and pedestrians off and generally acting like douchebags that give a bad name. But I realize that they're not everyone.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 10:23 am • linkreport

"Excellent point. A sizable number of cycling fatalities are children. Wonder what the motorcyclist death rate would look like if a similar percentage of motorcyclists were 7 year olds."

A 7 year old on a bicycle is about like an 18 year old on a 1000cc sportbike. It takes a lot more skill and maturity to ride a 1000cc sportbike correctly than it does a 16" kids bicycle with barbie decals.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

One interesting thing I found is that being a pedestrian is actually one of the most dangerous things you can do. Overall deaths are higher than motorcycles and deaths per 100 million miles traveled is higher.

Granted, most people don't walk on average the number of miles one rides on a motorcycle, but for that time you are walking as a pedestrian, you are more at risk.

The worst states for pedestrian and motorcycle fatalities are in the sunbelt, car-centric places, like FL, AZ, TX. No real surprise to me.

DC had just 4 motorcycle deaths in 2009, making it one of the safer places. Again, it's the speed. You don't generally go very fast in DC. Speed definitely does kill. That's the major reason why motorcycles have a higher death rate than bicycles.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 10:34 am • linkreport

I feel like this thread has been hijacked.

The post is the eloquent brave testimony from a parent who lost a child pointing out the lack of justice for that child in the system. The truck driver broke a traffic law by turning right from a lane left of the right-most lane. The police ignored it and tried to make Alice responsible for the illegal action of someone else.

This is about justice for Alice and all the Alice's.

by Tina on Feb 9, 2011 10:41 am • linkreport

Ward5Rez,

As we established before, survivability might account for a trippling of deaths. Motorcyclists die at 8 times the rate. So, survivability isn't the whole reason.

If ALL bicyclists wore helmets and rode more defensively, the difference in the death rate between bicycles and motorcycles would be even greater

OK. But that's wasn't your point. If all motorcyclists wore helmets and rode more defensively the difference in the death rate between bicycles and motorcycles would be even smaller.

I would guess that nationally, more people wear helmets with motorcycles than with bicycles.

Right, because motorcycling is more dangerous than cycling. We generally wear helmets when we do things that are dangerous like motorcycling, spelunking and white water rafting, but not when gardening, eating dinner or using a calculator. Cycling falls somewhere in between.

Studies say that wearing helmets when bicycling substantially reduces injuries.

True, but only head injuries, and most of those injuries are cuts and bruises, not head trauma and death. They don't substantially reduce all injuries.

Head injuries accounted for 62.6% of fatalities on bicycles.

Even if 62.6% of fatalities involve head injuries, many of those cyclists were wearing helmets. In most local cases I know of, the cyclist was wearing a helmet - and where they weren't I doubt it would make a difference. If you get hit from behind by a car going 50 mph and thrown 70 feet in the air, a piece of plastic molded styrofoam is not going to save your life.

When bicyclists come on and insist that helmets don't matter, it makes me think that they don't take safety very seriously.

Well, that's your choice, but the science about the efficacy of bicycle helmets is very much in the air. So when a cyclists insists that helmets don't matter, it's because no one has been able to prove that they do. Want to do a little experiment. Look up the number of deaths in pro cycling before and after helmets were mandated. You'll see little change. And racing is one place where crashes are common.

When non-bicyclists come on and insist on helmets, it makes me think they don't know what the hell they're talking about, because using front and rear lights, having a bike in good repair and taking a safe cycling course are all significantly more important than wearing a helmet. Insisting on the use of helmet for a cyclist is like insisting that motorcyclist wear gloves. Yeah, it's good, but it's hardly the most important thing.

If you really want to make cycling safer, complain about cyclist who don't use lights. They make up something like half of all cyclist-at-fault fatalities.

If you're going to run the light or stop sign, at least make sure no one else has the right of way.

Which is what the overwhelming majority of cyclists do.

by David C on Feb 9, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport

"As we established before, survivability might account for a trippling of deaths. Motorcyclists die at 8 times the rate. So, survivability isn't the whole reason."

Survivability is the main reason, period. More than tripling (not sure where you got that tripling number).

On your other points, I will agree to disagree with you on the helmets. According to the bicycle helmet site, bicyclists on average wear helmets between 35%-50% of the time. So, a fairly large number of fatalities involve an unhelmeted head. Would a helmet have made a difference? Who knows, they're dead. Comparing your anecdotal evidence is nice, but hardly helpful.

Yes, I agree lights are required equipment too. I don't see the big deal. Even if you're not sure if a helmet makes a difference, why not put it on just to be safe? Afterall, you only have one head. It doesn't but just a tap to fuck you up. A helmet might not prevent all head trauma, but it certainly helps.

And I'm not a non-bicyclist either. I've been riding bicycles since my dad taught me at age 5 in 1981. I currently have a Trek 4500 mountain bike. Have I always worn helmets? Not when I was a kid, but I've seen too many accidents in my time to not wear one. If I think it might make a difference, then I will do it. But that's just my opinion. Do what you wish.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport

@Ward5Rez, we discussed survivability here.

If survivability is the main reason - period - perhaps you can prove that?

Even if you're not sure if a helmet makes a difference, why not put it on just to be safe? Afterall, you only have one head. It doesn't but just a tap to fuck you up. A helmet might not prevent all head trauma, but it certainly helps.

Excellent point. I guess this means you wear a helmet when you ride in or drive a car. Surely you wear a helmet when walking since "being a pedestrian is actually one of the most dangerous things you can do." No? Huh. You should learn to follow the example of motorcyclists.

BTW, if your criticism of cyclists is that they don't wear helmets that belongs on a different post. Alice Swanson had a helmet on.

by David C on Feb 9, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

If pedestrian helmet use was mandatory, the pedestrian death rate from falls would be greatly reduced. That there's an almost zero percent adoption rate of helmets by pedestrians makes me think pedestrians don't care about their safety.

We won't even begin to touch on the complete failure of car drivers to adopt widespread helmet use, which belies a near-universal self-destructive tendency I find incomprehensible.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

Even if you're not sure if a helmet makes a difference, why not put it on just to be safe?

Sometimes I don't have it with me, and I'm grabbing a CaBi bike. Sometimes it's cold out, and it won't fit over my hat. Sometimes it's really, really hot, and I want to wear a cycling cap to serve as a sweat gutter (and the helmet pushes the brim down, reducing visibility). Sometimes I forgot it, and get to the trailhead, and realize I'm in more danger driving the extra 45 min back home, then 45 min back again than I would be if I just mountain biked without the helmet. Sometimes I'm lending it to someone I'm riding with because they're without helmet, and are more risk-averse. Sometimes...well, you get the point.

If I'm riding in a pack on the road, I wear a helmet 100% of the time. If not, maybe 80%? I'm always puzzled by how the first thing various detractors offer when arguing that cyclists are scofflaws and careless is "that guy isn't even wearing a helmet!"

I'd argue that, in hot weather, *gloves* are more important as a safety gear, but you never hear folks yelling at perfect strangers, "Hey!!! Where are your gloves!!!"

Helmet hectoring is just one of the few socially-sanctioned outlets for folks to indulge in their appetite for getting in other people's business. And people loove to do that.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 12:11 pm • linkreport

In MPD's defense, they probably aren't the worst police department in the nation.

by Vakil on Feb 9, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

"Excellent point. I guess this means you wear a helmet when you ride in or drive a car. Surely you wear a helmet when walking since "being a pedestrian is actually one of the most dangerous things you can do." No? Huh. You should learn to follow the example of motorcyclists."

If you can show a study that demonstrates helmets make pedestrians safer, you might have a case. There are studies for bicycles that suggest that.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 2:06 pm • linkreport

"If survivability is the main reason - period - perhaps you can prove that?"

I don't think there's stats on that. And there's no stats saying it's 3 times. But other than speed, there's not much difference between a motorcycle and a bicycle, except better lights and horn which actually makes the motorcycle safer.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 2:12 pm • linkreport

If you can show a study that demonstrates helmets make pedestrians safer, you might have a case. There are studies for bicycles that suggest that.

The figures, such as they are, pertaining to bicycle helmet use are completely applicable to pedestrian use.

And there have been no randomized, controlled studies about bicycle helmet use. As the CTC, the UK's national cyclists organization says, "the evidence currently available is complex and full of contradictions, providing at least as much support for those who are skeptical as for those who swear by them."

Meanwhile, we may have figures soon:
http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/scandinavian-walking-helmets

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 2:15 pm • linkreport

@ward5rez-what is your point here? Alice Swanson wore a helmet. The crash and fatality was caused by the illegal actions of the driver who hit her.

by Tina on Feb 9, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

@Tina,

It's the same dynamic at work that led to the accident report having a section on Swanson's footwear. As a society, we look to find any possible explanation we can to blame the victim. After all, so long as we can assign blame to the victim, we don't need to change our collective behavior.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 2:19 pm • linkreport

If you can show a study that demonstrates helmets make pedestrians safer, you might have a case.

I don't have to. As you said, "Even if you're not sure if a helmet makes a difference, why not put it on just to be safe?" Yes, why not?

I don't think there's stats on that.

Usually when people say "period" they mean it is beyond debate. But I think the relative survivability of motorcycles and bikes is a matter that is far from settled. You seem convinced that crashing on a bike is more than 8 times safer than on a motorcycle, but have nothing to back that up. So let me fix this quote for you "Survivability is the main reason, question mark." There, that's better.

But other than speed, there's not much difference between a motorcycle and a bicycle, except better lights and horn which actually makes the motorcycle safer.

Speed is the main thing we're talking about. Speeding is not defensive driving. I used to teach defensive driving, I know. Other than the fact that one shoots bullets and the other doesn't, there's not much difference between a real gun and a fake one.

Also, when has a horn ever saved anyone's life? Has anyone ever said "thank God for my horn."

Look, I'm going to allow you to bow out of this gracefully. Would you not agree that there are things that all road users can do to make themselves and others safer, and that really no one group has demonstrated such a commitment to safety and lawfulness that it can hold itself up as the model by which the others should live? That is all I'm trying to get at.

by David C on Feb 9, 2011 2:32 pm • linkreport

"Speed is the main thing we're talking about. Speeding is not defensive driving. I used to teach defensive driving, I know. Other than the fact that one shoots bullets and the other doesn't, there's not much difference between a real gun and a fake one.

Also, when has a horn ever saved anyone's life? Has anyone ever said "thank God for my horn.""

I didn't say speeding. I said speed, as in motorcycles are capable of going 65 on the highway, which is much higher speed than a bicycle but is not speeding.

And yes my horn has saved me from accidents. It's as loud as a freight train.

Bicyclists like yourself continue to argue with a brick wall. Evidence shows helmets reduce fatalities, following traffic signals, yielding right of way, horns. All that improves safety. Any reasonable adult can see that.

Ignoring the obvious, riding wrecklessly cutting people off, all with no helmet, does not make others on the road respect you. You can deny it all day long, but you're still in the wrong.

Look, I'm going to allow you to bow out of this gracefully. I agree you can do what you want to feel like you're safe. If you feel safe riding through lights, cutting off cars, all with no helmet, and feel like your friends that ride like you are all in the right, go right ahead and keep doing it. As more of you get hit and die, Darwin's theory takes over and the road is freed of poor riders. That is all I'm trying to get at.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 3:38 pm • linkreport

"@ward5rez-what is your point here? Alice Swanson wore a helmet. The crash and fatality was caused by the illegal actions of the driver who hit her."

My point was that Alice Swanson was indeed in the right. Just that sometimes you have to be alert and ready to react even if you do have the right of way. I don't know specifically if Alice could have done anything. Maybe not.

I was just pointing out that in my 20+ years of experience riding various bikes that this is something that I've learned. Take it or leave it.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 3:47 pm • linkreport

Evidence shows helmets reduce fatalities, following traffic signals, yielding right of way, horns.

I have a general idea what you're trying to say, but you're simply wrong. You can keep repeating it, but there's little evidence that helmets reduce fatalities among cyclists. At least no more than there is evidence that pedestrian fatalities would be reduced by helmet use. It's a red herring. As evidence of bicyclists not caring about safety, it's just silly.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 3:48 pm • linkreport

@ward5rez As more of you get hit and die, Darwin's theory takes over and the road is freed of poor riders. this comment is unbelieveably in poor taste, callous and nonfactual with regards to Alice Swanson and the crash that led to her death, the subject of this post.

It also shows a poor understanding of the Theory of Evolution

by Tina on Feb 9, 2011 3:52 pm • linkreport

"@ward5rez As more of you get hit and die, Darwin's theory takes over and the road is freed of poor riders. this comment is unbelieveably in poor taste, callous and nonfactual with regards to Alice Swanson and the crash that led to her death, the subject of this post."

I didn't mean it in regards to Alice Swanson. I already said she was in the right. I was referring to oboe and David C and their lack of regard for safety.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

"I have a general idea what you're trying to say, but you're simply wrong. You can keep repeating it, but there's little evidence that helmets reduce fatalities among cyclists. At least no more than there is evidence that pedestrian fatalities would be reduced by helmet use. It's a red herring. As evidence of bicyclists not caring about safety, it's just silly."

Ok, you win, you're right.

Please, if you have a helmet, throw it away. Get rid of your little flashing lights. While you're at it, break off the little reflectors too. They're all useless. And that little ching a ling bell? Useless too.

Now go ride down Suitland Parkway at 6pm today, in the left lane, and please, when a car comes up on your ass, give him the finger and weave around from lane to lane. Spit on them too, drivers love that.

All this will earn you a lot of respect from all the evil drivers. After all, there's no evidence to suggest that any of this increases your chances of injury or death. Show it to them. You have the right to road just as much as they do. If Suitland Parkway can't be made safe for bicyclists, then those damn cars shouldn't be there. You go.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 4:12 pm • linkreport

@ Ward 5 Resident:

I understand your "as more of you get hit and die" crack is born out of frustration, but the bottom line is 1) biking is pretty damned safe; and 2) it's no less safe (I would argue even safer) if done as David C and I advocate.

Of course, some folks just can't accept that evildoers aren't punished for their evildoing, and that virtuous law-abiding folks aren't given their just rewards. The people commenting here who have the most experience riding in traffic learned long ago that law-abiding cycling is not safe cycling, and that scofflaw cycling is not unsafe cycling.

The outrage here is that everything Swanson did was 100% legal and still no repercussions for the driver that killed her whatsoever. Given that there's no safety benefit *and* that in the aftermath of an accident, you're not even given the protections of the court, what's the point of riding "lawfully".

Again, there is "driving in 100% compliance with the law" and there is "driving as safely as possible". These two things overlap; they are not the same. I think this is the source of your frustration.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 4:17 pm • linkreport

Then we're all agreed. Alice Swanson was the recipient of injustice by MPD in regards to how they handled the report and investigation of the crash, completely ignoring the illegal act of the driver who crossed from left-to-right into her lane to make a right turn and instead focused on the equivalent of 'she didn't know how many bubbles there were on a bar of soap' as the cause of the crash.

That the same MPD was much more attentive to drivers' causal actions in the death of Mr. Schwartz and the injury of Ms. Czemjah's(sp?) daughter and were dilligent in the investigation of the death of Mr. Schwartz is encouraging.

The testimony of these women has really highlighted the holes in the laws and the systemic bias against justice for non-motorized-victims of crashes even when law enforcement gets it right.

by Tina on Feb 9, 2011 4:20 pm • linkreport

Bicyclists like yourself continue to argue with a brick wall.

Arguing with you, it does feel that way.

riding wrecklessly cutting people off, all with no helmet, does not make others on the road respect you. You can deny it all day long, but you're still in the wrong.

Where did this come from? When did I deny that riding wrecklessly and cutting people off would not make others on ther road respect me? I think you may be projecting a bit. [Aside: I'm not sure motorcyclists are that respected either]

If you feel safe riding through lights, cutting off cars, all with no helmet, and feel like your friends that ride like you are all in the right, go right ahead and keep doing it.

When did I ever say that cyclists should cut off cars? You seem to think you know how I ride, but clearly you don't. I wear a helmet. I don't cut off cars. I don't ride through lights without looking. You seem to have this idea in your mind of what every single cyclist is like - and they're all dangers to themselves and others, except of course for you. And you're wrong. The vast majority of cyclists ride safely. Just because I disagree with you that the primary blame for bike crashes should lie with cyclists (because they didn't learn good defensive driving techniques like the oh-so-safe motorcyclists did) doesn't mean that I think cyclists should ride blindfolded against traffic while drunk. It just means that I think cyclists do a pretty good job of looking out for themselves, and don't really need you to blame them.

As more of you get hit and die, Darwin's theory takes over and the road is freed of poor riders.

That's classy. That's the kind of dead-end argument people get to when they realize their position is completely bankrupt. Some people just don't like to hear that their deeply-held personal beliefs (motorcyclists are safer than cyclists) are completely false, and they certainly don't like to be shown the facts that make it clear. So yeah, if you need to lash out because you're having a crisis of confidence, then have at it. I have a newborn at home so I'm used to temper tantrums now.

You don't have to be nice to me and you certainly don't have to agree with me. If you want to continue to assert that cyclists are reckless scofflaws with no concern for their own safety, I can't stop you. If you want to continue to claim that if cyclists behaved more like motorcyclists, I can't stop you from doing that either. But the facts aren't on your side. Maybe that bothers you, maybe that doesn't. Frankly I don't care. I feel confident I've made my point, and backed it up with something more than "my personal experience" or whatever hogwash it is you're selling.

by David C on Feb 9, 2011 4:26 pm • linkreport

@Tina

Agree, good summary. With luck the Mayor gives some strong top down guidance to the MPD who clearly need it.

by Mike D on Feb 9, 2011 4:27 pm • linkreport

@Ward 5 Rez:

No need to work yourself up...

I already said I do have a helmet, and often wear it. I also have a pair of knee-pads I wear when I go in-line skating. If I forget the knee-pads, I don't expect absolute strangers to go apoplectic about my not wearing them...or make assumptions about how I must not care about my life. It's just as much melodrama when people do this in re: cycling and helmets.

I haven't ridden on the Suitland Parkway, but I have ridden Pennsylvania Ave from the city out to Upper Marlboro. It's not the most pleasant ride ever, but it's safe enough so long as you take the right-most lane. And why would I be giving driver the finger? Most of them are reasonable and courteous.

As far as lights go, of course I don't usually ride with lights during the day, but I do at night. Where'd you get the impression anyone's against lights?

It's almost as though you just took a collection of uncontroversial safety tips, glommed "always wear your helmet" onto them, and accused your opponents of rejecting the whole of them.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 4:31 pm • linkreport

@Ward 5 Rez:

You might find non-motorcyclists would respect you more if you stopped throwing empty beer cans at senior citizens and stabbing people at rock concerts. Just because you wear a helmet doesn't give you a free pass.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 4:33 pm • linkreport

@David C - I have a newborn at home Congratulations!

by Tina on Feb 9, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

Congrats, David C!

Get that kid out on the Suitland Parkway in the Burley, STAT!

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 4:39 pm • linkreport

@@oboe,

Not until he learns how to give the finger. Safety first!

by David C on Feb 9, 2011 4:41 pm • linkreport

"Frankly I don't care. I feel confident I've made my point, and backed it up with something more than "my personal experience" or whatever hogwash it is you're selling."

Sure, whatever. You know everything. Congratulations.

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 4:42 pm • linkreport

After reading all these posts, I think I'm beginning to see why the police (in general) blame rather than defend bicycle victims. So I guess thanks ?

@David C.
So with a baby in tow now, you'll be moving to Loudin County ASAP ? lol

by Mike D on Feb 9, 2011 4:44 pm • linkreport

Sure, whatever. You know everything.

Not everything, Ward 5 Rez. I don't know how to win your heart.

by David C on Feb 9, 2011 4:55 pm • linkreport

"Not everything, Ward 5 Rez. I don't know how to win your heart."

Touching...

by Ward 5 Rez on Feb 9, 2011 5:14 pm • linkreport

Ok, so I've read all the above posts and have summarised the following:

1. Alice Swanson was doing everything right, wearing a helmet, following the laws, but was killed. MPD mishandled the case. Tragic.

2. Motorcycles are 8x more dangerous than bicycles. But in DC there were 4 motorcycle deaths last year and 2 bicycles deaths.

3. Bicycles don't need to follow traffic laws nor wear helmets. And this has no impact on safety.

4. The bicycle posters on here apparently know everything about safety, and don't need no stinkin' advice from no one.

I do think the majority of bicycles follow the laws, and I see a lot with helmets. Good. I think it's the minority that causes the MPD and other road users to lose respect for the entire group. Tragic.

Perhaps the DMV needs to start regulating bicycles, make sure they have proper lights, brakes (no more fixies), helmets, etc. And a study should be done to see if breaking traffic laws increases or decreases safety. The result of this should either be that bicycles follow the traffic laws everyone else does, or they have laws put on the books for them. There needs to be established laws and standards for bicycles though. That way everyone on the road will have the same expectations of bicyclists.

by Will R. on Feb 10, 2011 9:00 am • linkreport

@ Ward 5 Resident:

I understand your "as more of you get hit and die" crack is born out of frustration, but the bottom line is 1) biking is pretty damned safe; and 2) it's no less safe (I would argue even safer) if done as David C and I advocate.

Of course, some folks just can't accept that evildoers aren't punished for their evildoing, and that virtuous law-abiding folks aren't given their just rewards. The people commenting here who have the most experience riding in traffic learned long ago that law-abiding cycling is not safe cycling, and that scofflaw cycling is not unsafe cycling.

The outrage here is that everything Swanson did was 100% legal and still no repercussions for the driver that killed her whatsoever. Given that there's no safety benefit *and* that in the aftermath of an accident, you're not even given the protections of the court, what's the point of riding "lawfully".

Again, there is "driving in 100% compliance with the law" and there is "driving as safely as possible". These two things overlap; they are not the same. I think this is the source of your frustration.

by oboe on Feb 9, 2011 4:17 pm

Well put.

by Jazzy on Feb 10, 2011 9:42 am • linkreport

@Will R:

I'm curious, and I've never had this sufficiently explained to me: what is it with the helmet fetish? If you want to wear one, wear it. But you always here these two things linked "Cyclists will never get respect until they wear helmets 100% of the time!!!" If you ever needed evidence that most non-cyclists are just looking for a justification for their existing prejudices, look no further.

Bicycles don't need to follow traffic laws nor wear helmets. And this has no impact on safety.

I think you dropped the thread here. Cyclists should follow traffic laws--when they increase safety. They should ignore them when they have a neutral (or negative) impact on safety. Now obviously helmets are a fetish and article of faith for some, and that's great. Wear one. I do usually. Good for you. What puzzles me is why, on the days I *don't* happen to wear one, some irrational folks feel it's okay to "lose all respect" for me. Whaa?

4. The bicycle posters on here apparently know everything about safety, and don't need no stinkin' advice from no one.

Bicyclists love a good debate about technique, and are always open to suggestions as long as they're supported by an argument. Not sure why you think it's remarkable that cyclists tend to discount safety advice from those who have no experience cycling. Why don't you visit a white-water kayaking forum and dispense advice there? Or, if you have any kayaking experience, perhaps you should find a group of hang-gliding enthusiasts and share your thoughts...

And a study should be done to see if breaking traffic laws increases or decreases safety. The result of this should either be that bicycles follow the traffic laws everyone else does, or they have laws put on the books for them. There needs to be established laws and standards for bicycles though. That way everyone on the road will have the same expectations of bicyclists.

Completely uncontroversial--depending on how this panel of "DMV experts" is composed. Till that day happens, though, I'm going to continue riding in a manner that keeps me safest while not increasing risk of any other road users. (i.e. the way I already do). I'm certainly not going to change behavior that's proven to be safe for decades in order to satisfy someone's else's arbitrary sense of personal aesthetics.

by oboe on Feb 10, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

@Will R. Motorcycles are 8x more dangerous than bicycles. But in DC there were 4 motorcycle deaths last year and 2 bicycles deaths.

I'm not sure we can draw conclusions from the small dataset that you've presented. In 2009 there were 0 cyclist deaths in DC, if there were even 1 motorcyclist death that would make motorcycling infinitely more dangerous than biking - but that isn't the case. Also, an argument can be made that Constance Holden should be counted as a pedestrian. As I understand it, she was standing beside her bike, holding it as she was hit. Was she a cyclist at that moment? I don't really know (see, I don't know EVERYTHING). I think reasonable people could differ on that.

by David C on Feb 10, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

Everyone's comments were very interesting. Thank you for the posts. What we should be doing is making something happen, not talking about it. The bicycle lanes do help somewhat. Sure, they aren't perfect but it is a start. Also, unfortunately pedestrians ARE hit by garbage trucks. I know this because I am one. I was crossing the street (looked both ways and everything) and a truck was turning too fast and not paying attention. I almost died. This is not a joke. Something has to be done. No one deserves to die like Alice had to. I didn't deserve the half a year recovering in a hospital. I am facing the rest of my life having to live with permanent medical problems because of this. I am not sure how to make this craziness stop. But arguing about it won't help.

by NWDC on Feb 27, 2011 12:29 am • linkreport

The saddest thing about this is that this isn't even an aberration. The vast majority of police investigations where a cyclist is injured or killed seem to take the position that the cyclist is guilty. Not just guilty until proven innocent, but guilty. End of story. Such systemic corruption should be a scandal.

by Ian Brett Cooper on Dec 20, 2011 11:04 pm • linkreport

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