Frank Krygowski 
Member since Jul 12, 2017

Recent Comments

Re: “Bicycles as a necessity

There are at least two hidden assumption behind the article and the attitudes above. The first is that riding a bike on an ordinary street is excessively dangerous. The second is that a segregated bike facility will make riding safe. And perhaps there's a third assumption, hidden more deeply: that nothing can make cycling safe _except_ segregation, lights and helmets.

But ordinary cycling is not unsafe. At least five research studies have evaluated the benefits vs. risks of cycling, and all have concluded that cycling's benefits (regarding health, longevity, medical costs, etc.) outweigh its tiny risks by large margins - a _minimum_ of seven to one. Other data shows cyclists riding over ten million miles between fatalities. And cycling with or without a helmet has always been a very minor source of brain injury, far lower than motoring or even pedestrian travel.

So do segregated facilities improve safety? The evidence is very unclear. Some studies have claimed so, but have been savaged for deception and accuracy. Other before-after studies have found actual reductions in safety, especially caused by the weirdly fashionable "cycle tracks" (barrier separated bike lanes on roadways) that pop complacent cyclists into intersections at unexpected locations, causing "surprise!" crashes.

Those who feel their life's mission is to make cycling safer should consider an alternative to segregation. Consider cyclist education. The American Bicyclist Education Association and the League of American Bicyclists both offer classes teaching simple techniques for riding safely on almost any road. Unlike bike paths, education enables a bicyclist to safely ride wherever she may need to go right now. There's no need to wait for some future fantasyland of bike paths serving every destination.

Cyclists trained in these courses learn to use their legal rights to the road, learn to influence motorists to cooperate, learn simple techniques to prevent the real cause of most bike injuries (which is NOT car-bike crashes, but simple falls), learn proper techniques for riding at all hours (including using legally required lights at night) and much more.

Finally, consider a campaign to educate the bigger source of the problem, i.e. motorists who mistakenly think cyclists have no right to the roads, or who pass too closely, fail to yield or fail to watch for cyclists and pedestrians. It's time for our legal system to recognize "I didn't see him" as an admission of guilt, and a reason to permanently revoke permission to operate a hazardous vehicle.

Posted by Frank Krygowski on 07/12/2017 at 11:41 AM

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