Saturday, December 07, 2013

New York Times and cycling safety

CBS 5 photo

Though the New York Times is probably the best newspaper in the country, its stories can be biased. A good example is its recent story on the UC study finding that cycling accidents in San Francisco are under-reported. From that story:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps statistics on deaths and emergency room visits resulting from bicycle accidents. The yearly death rate has ranged from 0.26 to 0.35 per 100,000 population, with no particular pattern; in 2010, the agency says, there were 800 bicycle fatalities, about one-fortieth of all road deaths. “There is no trend,” said Linda Degutis, the director of the agency’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, who added that bicycling seemed no more dangerous than other sports.

"No trend"? Click on the CDC link provided in the paragraph above, and you find this:

While only 1% of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do. In 2010 in the U.S., almost 800 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 515,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries. Data from 2005 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $5 billion.

After trying to match the cycling accidents between 2000 and 2009 reported by the SF Police Department with those recorded at San Francisco General Hospital, the city's primary trauma center, the study found that 2,583 cycling accidents were not reported by the SFPD[Later: Wrong! The study actually found that 55% of these accidents weren't matched by a police report, which is a total of 1,377 accidents not reported].

It's fair to say that riding a bike in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than the city has been reporting.

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