A sensationalist hit piece disguised as investigative journalism from ABC7 News in San Francisco highlights the “dangers” of cycling.
Token mention is given for the scofflaw drivers who illegally make the right turn onto the Freeway from Market at Octavia, but the piece gives the most camera and editorial time to cyclists who run stop signs and red lights, weave through traffic (gasp!) and even ride without helmets (double gasp!) They even catch a guy inflicting U lock justice against a road raging motorist.
ABC7 also created an interactive bicycle crash map for the Bay Area showing the locations of the 11,000 reported bike crashes from 2007 to 2010, similar to the Bay Crash map published by the Bay Area Citizen earlier this year. This maps is likely more a proxy for popular cycling routes than it is an objective indicator of actual danger. If I used ABC7 as my guide, it looks like the safest place I can cycle in the Bay Area is on Mission Boulevard where it connects I-880 with I-680 in Fremont.
To be fair, high traffic volume, intersection design, and the freeway onramp increase the hazard for cyclists at Octavia and Market. Cyclists do increase dangers for themselves through risky behavior. But if you sit and watch Market and Octavia for a while, most of the cyclists ride at least as predictably as the motorists drive. Cyclists hardly have a lock on stupid behavior in San Francisco or the rest of the Bay Area. This ‘investigative’ journalism merely reinforces the prejudices some cyclist-hating people have while providing little beneficial information to the public at large.
ABC7 promises more of the same tonight for other parts of the Bay Area. In the South Bay, some of the most “dangerous” intersections are on the Stanford University campus. Imagine that! There’s no telling how many students regularly bike around campus, but many of the 12,000 bike racks on campus are frequently full. 13% of Stanford employees bike to their Palo Alto jobs, while another 20% take Caltrain.
I’m waiting for ABC7 to next tell us which highways to avoid as the most dangerous. I’m going to guess the most fatalities occur on I-880, I-680, I-280, SR 101, I-580, and I-80. Over 3,500 people are injured or killed every year in traffic collisions just in San Francisco.