Tuesday, May 05, 2015

"When was the last time a cyclist was killed in Amsterdam?"

Amsterdam: six cyclists die every year

The answer to that question is probably recently, since more cyclists die in Amsterdam every year than in San Francisco.

The question is from a comment by an anonymous reader: "When is the last time a cyclist was killed in Amsterdam? You are a liar Rob and you know you lie. The only question is, why do you do it?"

After I read this comment, I Googled "cycling fatalities in amsterdam" and quickly found this:

Between 2000 and 2013, there were 274 road fatality victims in Amsterdam, of which cyclists made up 28 per cent, whereas cyclists only accounted for 21 per cent of victims in The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam.

Do the arithmetic on those numbers and you come up with this: in 14 years there were 76 cyclist deaths, an average of five a year, which is more deaths to cyclists per year than in San Francisco.

Amsterdam has about the same population as San Francisco, though of course they famously have more cyclists. 

It would be helpful if Amsterdam provided an analysis of those fatal cycling accidents like Commander Ali did of the three cycling deaths in San Francisco last year. 

I suspect that cyclists in Amsterdam themselves caused many of their own deaths by negligent behavior and/or in "solo falls" that have nothing to do with motor vehicles or cycling "infrastructure." It's simple logic: In Amsterdam and San Francisco, more people riding bikes means more accidents and more fatalities, as the MTA's last---and apparently, final---Collisions Report noted on page 21:

Bicycle-involved collisions have been steadily increasing since 2002 (Figure 12). While the exact reasons for this increase are not known, it has coincided with a statistically significant increase in the number of bicyclists riding on various city streets, as measured by annual counts taken by the SFMTA. Table 8 suggests there may be some relationship between the increases in recorded bicycle activity and resulting bicycle-involved collisions. The “safety in numbers” effect of decreasing collisions as bicycle riding becomes more prevalent does not appear to be the case so far in San Francisco.

This is true even though we now know that the city has had a radically flawed method of counting cycling accidentswhich means that there were actually more injuries to cyclists on the streets of San Francisco than that Collisions Report says.

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At 12:09 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Don't let the facts get in the way of a good jab at Rob.

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you actually fact-check it or blindly follow the teachings of the great & infallible Rob Anderson?

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I linked the evidence to support this post. Did you check it out?

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Do you think the person who called Rob a liar fact checked 1) that Rob was a liar or 2) the implication that no one has ever died from a bicycle accident in Amsterdam? I'm fine with people calling into question others sources, but at least subject yourself and those whom you identify with to the same scrutiny.

As Rob said, if you click his link you get a blog, and that blog links to Dutch government data. I didn't call into question that document as been lies because we all must judge what we find to be credible and what we don't. E.g. I find blogs to be suspect, but published government documents to be less so.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I try to link sources that back up the main points being made. When in college writing papers, we're instructed to use footnotes or parenthetical citation. Hyperlinks are the equivalent for online sites and blogs.

The implication of the comment---to a post about Noah Budnick---that calls me a liar is that improving city infrastructure will prevent cycling accidents. That's a half-truth at best. Of course filling potholes---dangerous for cyclists---engineering streets and intersections properly, installing traffic lights---and red-light cameras---on city streets can be important in making our streets safer.

I cited Budnick as saying something different---that all injury traffic accidents and fatalities can be prevented!

That's pure hyperbole typical of those pushing the Vision Zero idea, as if negligent human behavior while driving a car, riding a bike, or walking on city streets won't always be the most important factor causing traffic accidents.

I recommend Malcolm Gladwell's essay on car safety in the May 4 New Yorker. After much discussion of the Pinto and other famous auto safety cases, Gladwell says this:

"The other obvious fact is that the variables that really matter have to do with the driver, not the car. The public approach to auto safety is preoccupied with what might go wrong mechanically with the vehicles we drive. But the chief factor is not what we drive; it is how we drive."

And also how we ride bicycles and conduct ourselves as pedestrians on our streets.

I'm accused of opposing making our streets safer, which is untrue. So much of what the Bicycle Coalition and the MTA are doing to our streets only make it harder and more expensive to drive on city streets without making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians, whose behavior is the most important cause of so many accidents.

Instead of making city streets safer, the Vision Zero movement is just another cover for the Bicycle Coalition and Walk SF to push their anti-car agenda.

And, yes, of course the reckless behavior of motorists is in fact the cause of many accidents. I can make that admission, but it's rare to hear lobbyists for those two special interest organizations to make the same admission about the behavior of cyclists or pedestrians.

At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These statistics confuse me. How can you compare the absolute number of killed cyclists between SF and Amsterdam??

You would expect to compare the percentage of cyclists killed, per trip, per km cycled or per hour cycled?

In Amsterdam, estimates of the modal share of cyclists for all trips are between 40 and 50%. In SF, I guess it's about 4 to 5%? Did you correct for that?

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Of course there are a lot more cyclists in Amsterdam than in SF, which I concede in the post. But the commenter I'm responding to seems to think that cyclists never die in Amsterdam. A quick web search finds that to be untrue. Cyclists everywhere will always have injury accidents, and a small percentage of those will be fatalities due to the inherent dangers of cycling.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Jan said...

To assume that cyclists would 'never' die in Amsterdam is indeed a bit optimistic. But if cyclists in Amsterdam have a 90% lower chance of dying in traffic (per km cycled),
that's a very serious difference. Stating that in both cases, people still die is only technically correct.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Okay, but people on bikes still die in Amsterdam like they do everywhere else. Why take the chance? I've been driving and riding in motor vehicles for more than 70 years and have never had an accident.


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