Friday, June 09, 2017

First female USF NCAA champ

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More people on bikes means more people injured

Ghost bike

A recent study in Injury Prevention is described last week in an article on the UCSF website:

“The costs of bicycle injuries have risen steadily since 1997, with a significant increase in emergency department visits and hospital admissions, especially with older men,” said first author Thomas W. Gaither, a UCSF medical student. “In the past, many bicycle accidents stemmed from non-street incidents. But now, street crashes with motor vehicles represent a greater proportion of the total costs. These crashes, which primarily occur with motor vehicles, increase the velocity of the crash impact and, as a result, the severity of the injury.” (emphasis added)

Cycling has many well-documented health benefits, including improved cardiovascular function and decreased all-cause mortality. But along with the positive effects of riding, there are risks due to serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries, many involving accidents to riders 45 and older. Previous research by the investigative team has shown that over the last 15 years in the U.S., the incidence of hospital admissions due to bike crashes increased by 120 percent (Soaring Medical Costs from Bicycle Accidents, emphasis added).

More from the UCSF article:

Annual costs over the study period increased by 137 percent for non-fatal injuries and 23 percent for fatal injuries. There were approximately 6,500 more adult cycling injuries annually. Medical costs increased by 137 percent for non-fatal bike crashes. Bicycling deaths increased by an average of 19 cases a year.

Okay, it's not surprising that when more people, including "older men," ride bikes there will be more people injured in cycling accidents. 

But surely the rise in medical costs isn't the most important consideration but the damage to the people injured themselves

What's questionable is this: “In the past, many bicycle accidents stemmed from non-street incidents.How can someone have a bicycle accident without being on a street? 

Gaither may be referring opaquely to what are generally called "solo falls" by cyclists that don't involve motor vehicles, which experts say is what most cycling accidents are. (I sent him an email asking for clarification with no response). Later, June 11, Gaither responds: "Street incidents refer to accidents that occur specifically on a road where cars have access (i.e. there are both cyclists and motor vehicles). Non-street incidents are crashes that occur where cyclists have access but cars do not. Some examples would be bike paths or trails. "

In fact a study by Gaither's own colleagues at UCSF found that solo falls by cyclists are both routinely under-reported and often just as serious as cycling accidents that involve motor vehicles.

Cyclists in SF seem to think that City Hall can/should make their transportation "mode" safe, which is clearly impossible. To that end they play the victim card, as if every cyclist injured or killed in an accident on the streets of the city could have been prevented by improved "infrastructure."

For its part, City Hall is irresponsible to encourage people to take up cycling without any caveats about the risks involved. The city is even encouraging children to ride bikes on city streets.

Long time bike messenger and author Robert Hurst:

Is cycling dangerous? Yes. Yes, it is. Deadly, no, but definitely dangerous. This is actually a controversial thing to say. There are those who bristle at any suggestion that cycling is dangerous, because they fear it will scare noncyclists away from ever ditching their cars and trying a more healthy form of transport. This is a good point, but it doesn’t change the fact that cycling is dangerous. This is not some urban legend that needs to be debunked. It is reality, and we need to embrace it (The Art of Cycling, page 69).

Well put, except that cycling can also be "deadly."

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Kevin Drum on Mother Jones

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Mike Arnold, economist and lecturer at Berkeley and Dominican College, analyzes the coming train wreck, the Sonoma Marin Train (SMART). Years of failed promises, technical challenges and cover-ups have created a groundswell of opposition to the SMART train. Filmed on June 7, 2017 at the Marin Coalition lunch.

Thanks to Richard Hall at Planning for Reality.

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