Monday, December 02, 2013

Local media ignore cycling accident study

What elephant?

An important way the local media---including the so-called alternative media---enforces GroupThink on important city issues is by ignoring information that contradicts City Hall policy.

The latest example: the recent UC study on cycling accidents in San Francisco. The New York Times found it newsworthy, but there's been nothing about it in the Chronicle, the Examiner, the city's two weeklies, and local blogs, even though the story is about public safety and the city. 

The Times gets credit for at least covering it, but both the Times story itself and the head on the story---How Safe Is Cycling? It’s Hard to Say---misrepresent the study that shows that riding a bike in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition have been telling people. 

The study discovered a significant disparity between cycling injuries reported by the police and those recorded at SF General Hospital, the city's primary trauma center. Of the 3,717 bicycle injury accidents reported by the SFPD between 2000 and 2009, only 1,137 were also found in SFGH records, a discrepancy of 2,580[I was wrong on this number; it should be 1,377 accidents recorded at SFGH but not reported in the police report numbers.] accidents not accounted for in city documents, like the city's annual Collisions Reports, which rely on police reports on traffic accidents to calculate the safety or lack thereof on city streets.

This has serious policy implications, and the big one is this: It's irresponsible of City Hall to aggressively encourage people to ride bikes in the city---including even children.

To get a copy of the study, contact Dr. Rochelle Dicker at UCSF (, and she will send you a link to the study.

See also the City Family concept, a "metaphor for conformity."

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At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems odd to need to bother Dr. Dicker for simply a link to the study. If the study is available at a web-accessible link, why not just post the URL on your blog?

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

There is no web link, just the link to the abstract.

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly why we need more bike infrastructure in San Francisco. Rob, will you help push for better facilities for bicycling in San Francisco? The number of trips by bike is growing but so are injuries. Thanks.

At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go get 'em Mr. Anderson!!

At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Justin said...

Wow Rob you just love to ignore logic when it suits your narrative. Nothing you've said points to cycling being somehow "more dangerous."

How about backing up your conjecture with some facts like - a summary of the details and causes the accident? How serious were the injuries? How many accidents were there per bicycle trip? How many accidents involved children? Based on what you've posted here the other accidents could have just been caused by drunken stupidity? We just don't know.

If you have a copy of the report why don't you post it on your website?

And I think you re-read what you wrote. You say of 3717 bicycle injury accidents reported by the SFPD, only 1137 were in SFGH records. So what? Maybe the injuries didn't merit going to the hospital. And you're saying this discrepancy means they're 'not accounted for'? Huh? You said they're in the police reports!!

At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thx for highlighting this problem. It's a massive challenge that can be solved with better infra for bicycles. thx.

At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No response from her. Guess I'll just to take your word for it, Rob.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

The only folks ignoring logic are those who blindly support mild conveniences to the tiny portion of the population that rides a bicycle against massive quality of life hits to those who operate a motor vehicle. Eastbound Oak St. is completely FUBAR around Divisadero because the new bike green lights have disrupted the timed lights of the street to the point where you have massive backups and idling traffic around Divisadero and Baker. Yet this timing change was not promoted to anyone when the SFBC ramrodded the bike lane change through the planning process. Because if the 95% of us who use motor vehicles got told that a major artery was going to be intentionally disrupted they would have sensibly rejected the supes and lobbyists pushing for the change!

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, and the Fell/Oak bike project was only done to make cyclists "comfortable" riding on the Panhandle, not because there was any safety data showing it was dangerous.

The Bicycle Coalition and its enablers in City Hall just because they could, and, while they were at it, fuck with everyone that has to drive in San Francisco.

And there was already a sensible alternative to that traffic-snarling project readily available.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"If you have a copy of the report why don't you post it on your website?"

Done! See this above.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ask the author for permission to reprint?


At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Justin said...

Thanks for posting the report. My comment above still stands. Nothing in the report supports your conclusion that "that riding a bike in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition have been telling people."

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Did you ask the author for permission to reprint? Unlikely."

These people work at a public hospital and the study was paid for with a Centers for Disease Control grant, another public agency. This is a serious public health and safety issue for the people of San Francisco. The idea that they should have to pay to read this report is ridiculous.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"My comment above still stands. Nothing in the report supports your conclusion that 'that riding a bike in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition have been telling people.'"

If learning that the city is systematically failing to report thousands of cycling accidents fails to convince you that riding a bike is more dangerous than you thought, nothing could.

You are evidently an adherent of BikeThink, which means that nothing could possibly convince you of the dangers of riding a bike.

At 1:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bike think! I like it. Reminds me of terrorism.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, you bike crackpots and the Islamic crackpots. Maybe you should get together.


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