Friday, April 18, 2014

The SF Chronicle: More journalism by press release

Children on a protected lane, not in city traffic

It's a cost-effective way to put out a newspaper---rely increasingly on press releases from special interest groups, especially if they support your editorial positions and flatter an influential special interest group. That's what the Chronicle gets by publishing a press release yesterday from the Bicycle Coalition in support of Bike to School Day---oh, wait, it's now Bike to School Week! (Other recent examples here and here.)

The Coalition is schizophrenic on bike safety: They insist riding a bike is a safe way to travel in the city, while admitting that our streets aren't really safe at all (AS PEOPLE DIE, MAYOR TALKS UP CAMPAIGN TO “BE NICE”).

Ed Reiskin, the head of the MTA, is a bike guy who told the Bicycle Coalition that he takes his child on his bike while riding on city streets (The link to the interview Reiskin did with the Bicycle Coalition four years ago is now gone from their new website, down the old memory hole. I bet Reiskin isn't sorry about that, since it makes him seem like a crackpot.)

Leah Shahum wants to jam up city traffic so badly that children can safely ride their bikes on city streets: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride on them." While you're at it, imagine gridlock on the streets of San Francisco. Shahum, by the way, doesn't have any children.

I say encouraging children to ride bikes is irresponsible.

Riding a bike in general is an inherently risky way to get around. From the Centers for Disease Control:

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.

The CDC on children and bikes:

Children (5-14 years), adolescents, and young adults (15-24 years) have the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries, accounting for almost 60% of all bicycle-related injuries seen in U.S. emergency departments.

And the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

From the Safe Kids website:

Every two minutes, a child is treated in an emergency room for an unintentional cycle-related incident. More children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency rooms for biking related-injuries than any other sport.


Children between the ages of 5 and 14 are particularly prone to bicycle-related injuries and account for the majority of those treated for cycling injuries in hospital emergency rooms...Behavior is another major contributor to bike injuries. Boys under 14 are more likely to be killed or injured than girls, and most fatal crashes are in some way associated with the bicyclist's behavior. Disobeying stop signs, swerving into traffic, and riding against traffic flow are some of the behaviors that have been connected to cycling fatalities.

And cycling and safety is really not about infrastructure---bike lanes, traffic "calming," etc.---since most cycling accidents are "solo falls," what that UC study everyone is strenuously ignoring here in Progressive Land calls "cyclist-only" accidents---that is, those accidents that have nothing to do with other vehicles. In fact the study found that "cyclist-only" accidents were not only the most under-reported injury accidents to cyclists but they were also just as serious as being hit by a car.

Thanks to Streetsblog for the link to the Chronicle story.

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Swallows back to Capistrano and gas prices go up

Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

Kevin Drum blogs for Mother Jones and is of course a liberal---or a "progressive," if that's the term you prefer---but he's genuinely independent intellectually and isn't a party line ideologue. He understands, for example, how dumb the state's high-speed rail project is. Today Drum reminds us that it's the time of year when the state's oil refineries always report some problems:

I used to keep a file of clippings of this exact same story running each spring and summer. I mean, literally the exact same story. Every year, right at the point where the winter/summer switch squeezes supplies from out of state, there would suddenly be a bunch of "glitches" that took some local refinery capacity offline and prices would spike.

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