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After 3 years 11 months I ended my bicycle commuting career last Friday morning. In the neutral zone between north and southbound lanes on 13th street a van suddenly turned left into that space and I collided with it.

This made my third collision with a vehicle (plus two 1' close-passes where I thought I was a goner and where, even with GoPro footage, MPDC refused to act). I didn't even bother calling the cops this time.

I've decided my riding style of pacing/passing cars is incompatible with survival. So I've quit and will stick to mountain biking. What's my point? Not all car-bike incidents are reported. Good on the rest of you that keep on keeping on.

"Before anyone cautions automobile drivers about bicycle safety, they should examine the habits of bicycle riders."

Oddly, this logic never seems to keep car drivers, who nearly universally speed and fail to come to complete stops at stop signs, from penning ridiculous screeds on the topic of scofflaw cyclists.

Imagine being so self-centered that you take personal offense to someone's description of how they were hurt by others.

Anyway, none of the things she describes cyclists as doing may be illegal. And the rules of finding fault are pretty clear cut. It's just that relevant authorities tend to ignore it when they aren't ignorant themselves of bikes and the law.

Though this tends to fit in with my personal pattern of having bad interactions with motorists only when I'm actually doing the legal thing.

Also I'd say that right turn on red should be banned anywhere there's a painted crosswalk and pedestrian signal but I fear that would just lead to fewer crosswalks overall.

I understand that "crashes per VMT" is often the only statistic that is available. But the crashes per VMT statistic is logically absurd and inappropriate for policy decisions. Why? Because it doesn't account for speed. Bicyclists usually travel slower than cars, so their crash rate will look significantly safer when measured by crashes per hour of travel instead of crashes per mile traveled. Statistical methods matter a lot! There's more about this topic at Functional Classification and Safety Statistics.

thats a 9 to 1 difference. What do you think the average speeds are? Cars averaging 63MPH, and bike averaging 7MPH?

never mind i was looking at the ped crash rate. Still its double, and while car speed MAY be more than double bike speed, I doubt its enough to justify the claim that bike crashes are routine, relative to auto crashes. Also you mention policyh discussion - what policy exactly is it that we are discussing?

A very weak argument, but it plays to strong a cognitive bias. Welcome to the post-truth era.

Oh, and if I may, does it ever occur to anyone that cyclists and drivers are drawn from essentially the same population and it is the the intrinsic demands of the task that change their behavior? When I drive I speed (moderately) and when I ride, I ooze through the occasional red.

Having been both a driver and a cyclist in 1975 I can say that at least in the DC area any statistics on bicycle crashes would have been heavily weighted toward child riders. Adult ridership was very unusual. One tidbit of data I came across recently might be beneficial for the cycling community to spread more widely. A cyclist would have to be traveling at 115 mph to bring to a crash with a pedestrian the same energy that a car would traveling at 30 mph. Thats the sort of easy to remember / relate to propaganda poster message that could make an impression.


I was surprised when reading "Copenhagenize" by Mikael Colville-Andersen to learn that free rights at red lights are not allowed in Denmark (or the Netherlands) largely because they are so unsafe overall for pedestrians and cyclists compared to the benefits for motorists.

The above URL is for an article about how they have implemented Idaho stops recently for cyclists at designated locations. Even then, it is not at all intersections.

Even bike lawyer Bruce Deming in his book posits that the reason law enforcement faults cyclists instead of motorists despite or without evidence is that they see cyclists breaking the law all the time. I find this odd; as a law enforcement officer, surely what you see all the time is motorists breaking the law.

I feel we have an intractable case of confirmation bias that is never going to go anywhere. Maybe when all the oil is gone, I dunno, but we'll be gone by then too.

The thing is that police don't actually see car driver that speed, or roll through stop signs, or roll through right turns on reds, as actually breaking the law. The sheer quantity of these law violations has made DC cops just ignore these things. It is not worth their trouble to pull folks overs and, to my knowledge, unless the officer is detailed to traffic enforcement, ticketing these folks does not get you brownie points or a promotion.

Now, when there is an accident between car drivers, the cop will need to sift through the testimony and figure out who was wrong, with the easy part for them being to blame the car whose front end hits the other car. When it is car/bike, I think the cops' perspective is that the car was doing what every other car does, and that the cyclist was likely doing something bats--t crazy, like every other cyclist does.

That, and the cops themselves are likely drivers that do all those non-law abiding car driver things, so how can they blame the driver?

I have no doubt that police being drivers and not cyclists is part of the reason for the confirmation bias there. All the more reason to get more and more and more people cycling. I've noted that when police are on bicycles, they always do Idaho stops, as just about every cyclist on the planet--except Crikey, of course. :)

Every spring when the weather warms up more cyclists hit the road, and every spring the Post runs idiotic letters-to-the-editor complaining about them.

I remember back when the Post used to have an ombudsman, and complaining to her that these letters didn't meet any sort of journalistic standards. The response I got was along the lines of "well, a lot of people feel that way."

" Statistical methods matter a lot!"

True, but it's actually more complicated than just using VHT or VMT. If two people leave a home for the same destination, one on bike and one in a car, and both kill one person on the way, I don't think it would be logical to say that the one on the bike was safer because it took them longer to kill that person.

It's very difficult to compare the relative safety of driving and biking for this reason and that we don't bike in the same places we drive. We don't bike on interstates or as often on highways. We do bike on trails and on sidewalks. It's apples and PCs.

I'm not sure which metric is the right one for making a comparison, but so far all the ones I've heard need a list of asterisks next to them.

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