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  1. #1
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    2006 NYC Study of Cycling Crashes Leaves Something to be Desired

    Parturiunt montes:
    The mountains have labored, and given birth to a mouse


    by Charles Komanoff and Michael Smith

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    New York City just released its first-ever study of bicycle crashes. There's good news and bad news. The good news is that four City agencies -- health, transportation, parks and police -- admitted, finally, that bicycling is good for New York City, and pledged to expand the City's cycling infrastructure. The study also didn't indulge in the NYPD's habitual victim-blaming in cycling fatalities -- a significant though unacknowledged shift.

    But here's the bad news: The study has many methodological flaws and misleading "findings," leading it to over-emphasize helmets and bike lanes and neglect the need for universal street safety. And the study completely neglects the fact that most fatal crashes are caused by aggressive, self-entitled drivers, and laissez-faire policing that allows motorists to literally get away with murder.

    The study attributes 42% of all fatal bike-vehicle crashes to "bicycle factors," 20% to "vehicle factors" (i.e., drivers), and 36% jointly to both cyclists and drivers (another 2-3% of cases couldn't be coded). That's an improvement from the NYPD's made-up "statistic" that 75-80% of biking fatalities are solely the cyclists' fault. But it's still deeply misleading.

    One of us (Komanoff) had the opportunity to review the NYPD's cause-coding for three of the years studied (1996-98), and found them rife with errors. In one case, a driver ran a red light and struck and killed a cyclist proceeding lawfully through an intersection; NYPD gave the cause as "Bike Thru Red Traffic Signal Light And Struck By Vehicle" and actually assigned a Bike Factor of "Traffic Control Disregarded." In another case, a cyclist was crushed when a Mack truck made a right turn, from the cyclist's left, directly into his path. NYPD said, "Unsafe Bike Operator Turned Into Vehicle And Was Struck By Turning Vehicle" and assigned a Bike Factor of "Unsafe Lane Changing."

    In all, Komanoff found that only 20% of the fatal bike-vehicle crashes could be attributed to "bicycle factors" (vs. the City's 42%), while 44% were the exclusive result of "vehicle factors" (vs. the City's 20%). The remaining 36% were the fault of both cyclists and drivers (the same as the City's tally). In effect, the City's "cause" factors invert reality.

    Komanoff's results are available for download in the form of an .xls spreadsheet.

    Diagnosis dictates treatment. More than anything else, it is driver aggression and inattention that's killing cyclists. The right treatment is to change that behavior. To say the very least, the study missed a priceless opportunity to tell it like it is, and we suspect the depressing truth is that the City still can't tell it like it is.
    ______________________________

    Sorry, but the ROW website is in frames and I can't figure out how to directly link to this article or the spreadsheet, but they are on the site under the heading 'New to the site' in the sidebar, at: http://www.rightofway.org/

  2. #2
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    In another case, a cyclist was crushed when a Mack truck made a right turn, from the cyclist's left, directly into his path. NYPD said, "Unsafe Bike Operator Turned Into Vehicle And Was Struck By Turning Vehicle" and assigned a Bike Factor of "Unsafe Lane Changing."
    Obviously, that's not the correct classification. But they probably did not have, "Unsafe Bike Operator Went Straight Into Right Turning Vehicle From Right Side of Road And Was Struck By Turning Vehicle"

    However you classify it, going straight from a position that is to the right of right turning vehicles is arguably the cyclist's fault.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Obviously, that's not the correct classification. But they probably did not have, "Unsafe Bike Operator Went Straight Into Right Turning Vehicle From Right Side of Road And Was Struck By Turning Vehicle"

    However you classify it, going straight from a position that is to the right of right turning vehicles is arguably the cyclist's fault.
    From what was posted it's not cleary whether the truck was trying to turn right from the left lane (vs. the right lane). If it was indeed from the left lane while the cyclist was in the right lane the cyclist was not at fault.

  4. #4
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    Diagnosis dictates treatment. More than anything else, it is driver aggression and inattention that's killing cyclists. The right treatment is to change that behavior. To say the very least, the study missed a priceless opportunity to tell it like it is, and we suspect the depressing truth is that the City still can't tell it like it is.
    I agree.

    This study has been discussed in a couple of other threads recently and in one

    Interesting Stat on Helmets

    I said it's clear the problems wouldn't be solved by bike lanes and bike helmets. The clear diagnosis is death by motor vehicle in intersections caused by inattention.

    In another thread

    NY Times Commuting Article

    someone asked,
    There was a video of the 6th Ave. bike lane posted somewhere on BF showing all the double parked cars, trucks and cabs in it as well as clueless peds, left hookers, and taxis swerving into the lane to for pick ups and drop offs. The lane was basically useless for riding.
    I'd like to see that video again because it shows how bike lanes don't really work in areas NYC and in the former thread I linked info that shows bike helmets are not made to withstand an impact with motor vehicles so even if these riders hit in intersections by trucks had helmets on, there wouldn't be a difference in the death toll.

  5. #5
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Yeah, I read the NYC study. It sounded like they started with the conclusions they wanted and then tailored the research to meet those conclusions.

    The desired conclusions:
    * The problem is cyclist behavior
    * The solution is bike lanes (which are mandatory in NY)
    * Bike lanes in the door zone are not a significant problem

    Put together, it leads me to believe that they are laying the groundwork for a push to force bicycles out of traffic through striping more streets with bike lanes. The third conclusion makes me think that a lot of these bike lanes are going to be put on streets that were previously judged to be too narrow.

    What's sad is that this report is being pretty widely quoted in the media and is generally accepted as gospel. Anyone who studies bicycling issues knows that the safety benefits of both bike lanes and helmets are subtle enough to be subject to vigorous debate. If the effects were as dramatic as this study suggests we'd have nothing to argue about on bike forums!
    The United States of America is the only democratic nation in the world to deny citizens living in the nation's capital representation in the national legislature. District residents have no vote in either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. www.dcvote.org

  6. #6
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker
    I'd like to see that video again because it shows how bike lanes don't really work in areas NYC.
    http://www.transalt.org/e-bulletin/2...ebikelane.html

    FWIW I would phrase that as skimpy over minimalist bike lanes donít work anywhere!
    Cycling Advocate
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  7. #7
    Senior Member fenester's Avatar
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    Also, of the 200 miles of routes (more signs on posts), lanes (more paint), and paths, there will only be 5 miles of paths added.
    I have to admit I am coming around to the belief that bike lanes are not just unhelpful but help to strip cyclists of their rights on the road.

    FYI, here's a link to the NYC DOT spin/summary press release
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/pdf/pr06_50.pdf]

    and to the report

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/pdf/bicyclefatalities.pdf

  8. #8
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    Sorry, but the ROW website is in frames and I can't figure out how to directly link to this article or the spreadsheet, but they are on the site under the heading 'New to the site' in the sidebar, at: http://www.rightofway.org/
    FWIW Right click and select copy shortcut and then paste: http://www.rightofway.org/littera-sc...bikestudy.html
    Cycling Advocate
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    . . /L
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  9. #9
    Senior Member cooperwx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker
    I'd like to see that video again because it shows how bike lanes don't really work in areas NYC.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car
    Wow, that's bad. Can we unanimously agree that bike lanes are worthless/dangerous on streets that have parallel parking? One of the three roads in my town with bike lanes has angled on-street parking, where cars can just duck head-in and back right out. Insane to have a bike lane in a situation like that, IMO. Add to it that the speed limit on the street is 20-mph, and the bike lane is a true waste of paint, just like this 6th Ave video.
    06 Trek 7.5 FX

  10. #10
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    The trouble with a meta study like that is that they comb through police records with the assumption that the police records are completely accurate. It's apparent that they are not. And people I have known who have been in accidents tell me that it is very hard to get the police to put accurate things about bike/car crashes into the report.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  11. #11
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooperwx
    Wow, that's bad. Can we unanimously agree that bike lanes are worthless/dangerous on streets that have parallel parking? One of the three roads in my town with bike lanes has angled on-street parking, where cars can just duck head-in and back right out. Insane to have a bike lane in a situation like that, IMO. Add to it that the speed limit on the street is 20-mph, and the bike lane is a true waste of paint, just like this 6th Ave video.
    Your really have to be careful how you phrase that not that I am disagreeing that 6th Ave is bad. But I have seen a 12 foot wide parallel parking lane next to a 6 foot wide bike lane and it was nice and totally outside the door zone. I think that is what AASHTO recommends, it’s when you get into variants or allowances then serious issues arise. We have a bike lane designed a lot like the Sixth Ave one and on the weekends it’s nice as there are about 5 cars parked along the one mile stretch, that is proper application of a variant (on the weekend anyway.) AASHTO gives allowances for cases of low volume parking it’s when a DOT makes a claim that they are following AASHTO standards by using a AASHTO width variant without meeting the conditions on why that variant is allowed is criminal in my book.

    As to the case of a waste of paint, I’m not in total disagreement but you should also consider that paint is relatively cheep, it does help push the cars over to left and act as a traffic calming measure (more likelihood of cars staying closer to the speed limit.) And from what I have observed here in Baltimore, a waste of paint type application does seem to help connect routes and destinations, that is to say follow these lines and you will get to the inner harbor and a lot of people seem to like following the lines to see where the end up, so they are not necessarily evil.
    Cycling Advocate
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