Friday, June 17, 2016

Boston and SF: Same problem counting bike accidents

The Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street intersection might benefit from eliminating a lane, cycling advocates say.
Boston Globe

I’ve finally completed a report analyzing almost 1,800 bicyclist crash incidents reported by Boston Police between 2009 and 2012. The City of Boston produced a report in May 2013 summarizing this information (and also EMS data), but this new analysis uses the raw data (released by the Boston Area Research Initiative) to code the incidents by crash type, using the PBCAT system. Some highlights:

Based on data from the Mass Department of Public Health, the Boston police reports almost entirely miss 76% of bicyclist emergency department visits and 60% of bicyclist hospital admissions–--the ones that do not involve a motor vehicle. Only 9% of the incidents in the BPD data did not involve a motor vehicle...

Rob's comment:

Boston's problem counting cycling accidents is remarkably like San Francisco's, which that UC study found way back in 2012. Like Boston SF also relied too much on police reports and between 2000 and 2009 neglected to count more than 1,300 serious cycling accidents treated at SF General Hospital, the primary trauma center in the city.

I wonder if like San Francisco the Boston media also refuses to report on this counting issue? Still waiting for even a mention of the UC study in the Chronicle, the Examiner, or the SF Weekly. 

Why the blackout? Because the study shows that riding a bike in San Francisco---or anywhere, for that matter---is more dangerous than City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition have been telling us for more than ten years, undermining City Hall's important anti-car, pro-bike policies---and the local media's monolithic editorial support for those policies.

For the same reason, the Chronicle still hasn't done a story on the latest bicycle count report, since it showed a 7% decrease in cyclists counted compared to the previous count.

San Francisco: The City That Knows How---to Bury Unwelcome News.

Thanks to Mark Kaepplein for the Boston link.

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At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if I am reading that article correctly....if cyclists would obey stop signs, one way street signs, and other traffic laws they could reduce their injuries by over 50%! Why doesn't the bike coalition put their energy into promoting following basic traffic laws as an effective way to create safer streets?

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Rob, thanks for the report, and some background on the crash miscounting in Boston. Boston police has a history of underreporting pedestrian injuries to the state Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), using their own accident forms and not transcribing and submitting all on the standard RMV form. BPD is reforming their ways after all the attention the problem got in recent years.

Massachusetts law requires reporting of motor vehicle crashes with injuries or non-trivial property damage. Cyclists are required to report crashes with injuries or over $100 damage, but the fine for not reporting is only $20, and like all bicycle violations in MA, there are no consequences for not paying, hence no enforcement of laws on cyclists.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Reporting traffic accidents shouldn't be voluntary or left to the cops. If injured cyclists and pedestrians show up in emergency rooms, the accident should be reported and recorded there. What's odd about the city's failure in counting cycling accidents is that the city presumably knew about the problem in 2004. It was even mentioned in the version of the Bicycle Plan we litigated over in 2005. One has to wonder if this was deliberate. After all, if you're pushing the Bicycle Plan through the system, why emphasize the dangers by worrying about accidents?

Besides, the official line is that bike accidents are essentially all about "infrastructure," that once all those bike lanes are in place the injuries will dwindle radically. The reality: cycling has intrinsic dangers that can't be eliminated by bike lanes. That's what the city is in denial about and what a realistic accident count shows.

At 11:38 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Rob, that's right. To promote bicycling, advocates deliberately want to minimize the visibility of solo bike, bike-bike, and bike-ped crashes so cycling appears less dangerous. Some even want to downplay helmet use because that too sends the (wrong) message that cycling is dangerous. With such political opposition to accurate data, you won't see it being collected by any government authority. Reports with inconvenient truths get delayed or discontinued by agencies who see it as their mission to promote cycling.

To get more funding for bike infrastructure, proponents tell cyclists to report every crash they have involving a car in order to maximize those numbers to better justify bike lanes, bike paths, bike boxes etc. They will never be satisfied with enough bike infrastructure. Failure to result in more safety won't be achieved until motor vehicles are gone from roads, so they get to keep pushing for more and more.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So if I am reading that article correctly....if cyclists would obey stop signs, one way street signs, and other traffic laws they could reduce their injuries by over 50%!"

that means that any given cyclist can reduce this by 50%, regardless of what any other cyclist does. But that means, that cyclist who is perfect, still is endangered by crappy drivers and poor infrastructure. That great cyclist should not have to deal with that bullshit.


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