[*BCM*] The movement that divides us
turtle at zworg.com
Mon Jun 5 18:53:27 EDT 2006
Boston Critical Mass <list at bostoncriticalmass.org> wrote:
> Paul Schimek wrote:
> > If you look at the crash statistics, you will see that *at least* half
> > of all car-bike collisions among adult bicyclists occur when the
> > bicyclist is clearly not following the rules of the road (e.g., going
> > the wrong way or failing to yield when required). The conclusion is that
> > following the rules will make you safer.
> Another valid conclusion is that half of all bicyclists don't follow the
> rules; and that not following the rules doesn't make you any less safe.
Well, except that I would argue that half of cyclists don't violate the
laws ALL of the time. Most of the time, they are probably following
the laws, and most of the time they don't get into crashes.
> Your conclusion requires the unstated premise that bicyclists who don't
> follow the rules are a minority of bicyclists, and thus they are
> disproportionately represented in crashes.
I don't see that conclusion from Paul's statement. Why do the violators
need to be a minority? They can be a majority and still be
For the most part, crashes happen when people are confused about who
gets to go. And most people expect others to follow the traffic rules
for right of way. When someone doesn't follow these rules, then a
crash is likely to happen. The universe works because of rules. We
can bike because there are laws of gravity and friction. Similarly, we
can flow smoothly in traffic because there are traffic rules. When you
try to violate the law of gravity, you often get hurt. And when you
try to violate a law of traffic, you often crash. Fortunately, laws of
traffic are negotiable. So we can do studies and have brainstorming
sessions to discover what the best rules might be for healthy traffic
By the way, there is evidence that the more knowledgable you are about
biking, the fewer crashes you are likely to be involved in (Maybe Paul
can point us toward this study, I'm sure it's linked somewhere on John
Allen's site...). Now, this evidence is also not entirely conclusive -
it could indicate that smartypants bicyclists simply know how to do
evasive manoeuvers more effectively than less proficient cyclists, but
it's still evidence that points to being more educated about biking in
general, and I would argue that knowing the laws and being aware of
everyone's right of way is part of that education.
Also the rates of crashes for people who live in countries that educate
the public on bicycle and motor vehicle traffic laws (Holland, for
instance) are lower than they are for places that don't educate people
on bike traffic laws.
And some crashes can be definitely attributed to a violation. It
doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that running a red light,
riding at night without a headlight, or biking the wrong way can easily
lead to a crash.
All the times I've been involved in a crash with someone else, someone
was doing something illegal. All of them. Sometimes it was me (yes,
gasp, I have committed illegal acts in my past!), and other times it
was the other person.
And, of course, people who act respectfully are far less likely to
incite road rage in others, and thus are less likely to be not crashed
It would be great if someone would do a study on people who obey the
law, versus people who flaunt the law and see who gets into more
crashes (factoring out talent at escape manoeuvers, of course).
Who wants to fund that study?
who would rather fund a comprehensive study to find out what the best
type of road markings and lane width are for various road designs.
"One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we
seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must
pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means." - Martin Luther King Jr.
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