Saturday, December 09, 2017

Riding a bike can never be safe

Cycling can be made safer but never safe enough for me and most people. 

Yes, the most serious threat for cyclists are accidents with motor vehicles, which can mean death and serious injury.

But experts on cycling tell us that most cycling accidents are "solo falls" that don't involve motor vehicles. Bike messenger/author Robert Hurst:

Realistically, it is not the prospect of dying in an accident, but that of being sent to the hospital with a serious injury, that hangs over the vulnerable heads of cyclists. The cyclist’s primary goal should be, first and foremost, to avoid serious injury. This is the cyclist’s bottom line. We must do whatever it takes to achieve this goal, short of staying at home (page 70, The Art of Cycling).

Hurst and many reality-based cyclists think the risk is worth it. The rest of us think that if what you're doing includes the risk of serious injury you should stop doing it. Do something else to get around when you leave home.

These thoughts are prompted by still another horror story by a cyclist (Is Road Riding Worth the Risk?):

The impact was as sudden and unexpected as lightning on a cloudless afternoon. One moment I was pedaling on a side road to my house after wrapping up a trail ride. The next I was 20 feet off the road on my back, tangled beneath my mountain bike in a stand of chamisa. People talk about their lives flashing before them in such moments, but for me there was only the sound of breaking glass and a searing pain in my left side as the car hit me from behind.

The writer on the increasing threat of distracted driving:

It seems like I hear a story of a cyclist getting hit by a car almost daily. Between 2010 and 2016, fatalities of cyclists struck by vehicles rose by 35 percent, up to 840, in 2016. People for Bikes says that increase doesn’t indicate a growing risk, but rather the overall growth of cycling. Yet, cyclists notwithstanding, fatal automobile accidents due to distracted driving have also ballooned during that same period. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that on any given day during daylight hours, some 660,000 people are using cell phones while they drive. In the past few years, I’ve told my wife, Jen, that as many people as I see texting while driving, it seems almost inevitable that I’d eventually get hit...

Yes, take up mountain biking or bike where there's no or little traffic. Best of all, don't ride a bike at all.

In that widely ignored UC study on cycling accidents in San Francisco, solo falls--called "cyclist-only" accidents in the study---were often just as serious as accidents with motor vehicles:

In our comparison of AVB[auto-versus-bicycle] and CO[cyclist-only] injuries, we found that CO injuries four times more likely to be admitted to the hospital after presentation in the emergency department. Despite this increased likelihood of admission, our data indicated that length of hospital stay, hospital disposition, and the Mean Injury Severity Scores were not different among AVB injury patients and CO injury patients.

Even so City Hall urges the city's children to ride bikes to school!

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Drawing the line

From today's NY Times:

To the Editor:

Every woman alive — although some of us are more fragile and sensitive than others — knows the difference between an advance from a man that threatens our career and livelihood unless we comply, and a sloppy, silly come-on that is just stupid bad judgment on the part of the guy. We also understand when the advance goes from sloppy and stupid to the use of physical force. Many of us have experienced rape, an entirely different order of violation.

There are degrees and degrees of male sexual malfeasance. The continuum is radically different from one end to the other. This has to be acknowledged, or we are on a path to moral chaos in the area of relationships between the sexes.

I don’t know exactly where the line is, but I know that there is a line. I suspect that the lines most women draw are very similar one to another. Is it possible to define them?

Anne Breckenridge Dorsey
Sausalito, Calif.

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