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Friday, August 28, 2009
  Study claims cyclists at fault in only 10 percent of crashes
By Ed W 
I was hoping to put this off until tomorrow, but it's breaking news right now on the NYT, Freakonomics, and the LCI list.

A few days ago, the University of Toronto released an interview on it's website with Dr. Chris Cavacuiti. Here's an excerpt:

Dr. Chris Cavacuiti of the department of family and community medicine is a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and an experienced cyclist who commutes on his bicycle and races competitively. He was recovering from a serious cycling accident when he began his research on cycling health and safety.

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

The available evidence suggests that collisions have far more to do with aggressive driving than aggressive cycling.

On Wednesday, the university added this correction:

Dr. Chris Cavacuiti has informed us that his interview contains a factual error.

In the interview, Dr. Cavacuiti is quoted as saying “The [Toronto Collision] study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents”. Dr. Cavacuiti has asked us to make readers aware that the Toronto Collision study was actually designed to look at the cause of bicycle/motorist collisions but not culpability.

It is actually several studies conducted by the Charles Komanoff and member of the Right of Way organization in New York that concluded that concluded that cyclists were strictly culpable for less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents.

Dr. Cavacuiti would like to apologize for any confusion this error may have caused.

Komanoff's study - if that's the right word for it - is available on the Cars Suck website. A reasonable person would be hard pressed to expect unbiased, objective information from an organization with such a name, and in fact, Komanoff's study is little more than an anti-motoring diatribe laced with emotionally loaded phrases. For that matter, the study itself is called Killed by Automobile. If you really want to read it, follow this link to Cars Suck, then click on Research/Killed by Automobile. Please wash your hands afterward. This is a raw exercise in fear mongering, as in riding-a-bike-is-a-horribly-dangerous-experience, and as any rational, experienced cyclist knows, it's totally wrong.

• Right of Way systematically analyzed a full year’s fatalities (1997) for cause and culpability (neither city nor state authorities do so). Our criteria for culpability are largely based on New York State traffic law, and are detailed below, beginning on p. 17. Driver culpability could not be ascertained in 22 percent of cases; drivers were clearly not culpable in only 7 percent, they were strictly or largely culpable in 58 percent, and partly culpable in an additional 13 percent; combining the two latter categories, drivers were at least partly culpable in at least 71 percent of all New York City pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.

• If we exclude the 22 percent of cases in which culpability could not be determined (because police accident reports were missing, incomplete, illegible, or contradictory), the proportions are: driver strictly or largely culpable, 74 percent; driver partly culpable, 16 percent; driver not culpable, 10 percent.

Right Of Way frames crash culpability primarily in terms of driver action rather than that of the pedestrian or cyclist, though the pedestrian’s actions may be relevant to the collision and should be considered in any case.

Let's reiterate that last - Right Of Way frames crash culpability primarily in terms of driver action - it's telling us that Right of Way draws conclusions, then looks for data to support those conclusions. That's not advocating for better conditions for cyclists. It's political gamesmanship and nakedly partisan. This does nothing to improve conditions on our roads. It merely serves to increase conflicts.

Please don't fall for this.


Thursday, June 18, 2009
  Civil disobedience at Colorado bicycle tour
By Ed W 
Fritz asked if I could write on this topic. I'm happy to oblige.

On July 25th, bicycle riders at Colorado's Sunrise Century may encounter some protesters. An unsigned flier urges area motorists to engage in "civil disobedience" by blocking area roadways with their vehicles as a means of protesting the state's new three feet passing law. Like similar laws in other states, the Colorado version requires that motorists pass bicyclists no closer than three feet. Some drivers object, saying that the new law puts them in jeopardy while they attempt to pass on narrow mountain roads with limited sight lines.

Yes, it's the motorists claiming they're at risk around bicyclists. They could collide with another motor vehicle when they blindly pass without being able to see if the roadway is clear. As we all know, a ton-and-a-half of steel and glass offers dubious safety around those pesky bicyclists, heavily armored in their Styrofoam hats and Lycra.

We have a word for motorists like this - whiners. Here's an excerpt from the news story:

Threats made to disrupt bicycle tour
posted by: Jeffrey Wolf written by: Dave Delozier

BOULDER - Alex Hearn has one word to describe the Sunrise Century: fun. It is not competitive and its primary purpose is to give people the chance to ride a bicycle through some of the prettiest canyons you will find anywhere.

So imagine his surprise when he learned this year's Sunrise Century was being targeted for civil disobedience. Hearn started to learn about it when fliers started showing up in mailboxes in the area of Left Hand Canyon north of Boulder. The flier carries a title of: "Civil Disobedience, July 25th Block Dangerous Cyclist Day, Boulder, CO."

...The flier goes on to say, "On July 25th in celebration of drivers' rights many cars will use the Left Hand Canyon Road, drive slowly and many may break down unexpectedly, blocking areas to the cyclists on the return leg of the 'Sunrise Century.' Please use judgment during this civil disobedience."

The Sunrise Century had already contacted the Colorado State Patrol and the Boulder County Sheriff's Office to provide traffic control and support for the ride. In light of the threat to disrupt the event, law enforcement officers may have an addition role to fill.


The news site had a photo of the note. Here's what I could read:

On August 5th new regulations limiting drivers rights regarding dangerous bicyclists will be STATE LAW.


Yadda, yadda, yadda. Where to begin? Give the author credit for getting the spelling right, at least.

Naturally, I have much more to write on this topic. The rest of the post is over on the Examiner site. As usual, I couldn't resist a snarky response. It's a character failing.



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