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Old 10-23-12, 09:20 AM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment: Findings



Here are the results of a 2 year study involving 690 cyclists in Vancouver and Toronto, who were injured while cycling and wound up at an emergency room because of it. The study aimed to find which infrastructure features contribute to safety, and which ones cyclists prefer. The results were published in the American Journal of Public Health and elsewhere.
Of the 690 injured cyclists in the study, 59% were male. The injury trips were mainly on weekdays (77%), less than 5 km long (68%), and for utilitarian purposes (74%). Of the injury events, 72% were collisions (with motor vehicles, route features, people, or animals) and 28% were falls.

We found that route infrastructure does affect the risk of cycling injuries. The most commonly observed route type was major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. It had the highest risk. In comparison, the following route types had lower risks (starting with the safest route type):
  • cycle tracks (bike lanes physically separated from motor vehicle traffic) alongside major streets (about 1/10 the risk)
  • residential street bike routes (about 1/2 the risk)
  • major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars (about 1/2 the risk)
  • off-street bike paths (about 6/10 the risk)
The following infrastructure features had increased risk:
  • streetcar or train tracks (about 3 times higher than no tracks)
  • downhill grades (about 2 times higher than flat routes)
  • construction (about 2 times higher than no construction)
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Old 10-23-12, 10:10 AM   #2
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Interesting. I take a major street on my commute to work, with bike lanes. The only general hazards I see on a daily basis are:
1) Right hooks (common, almost daily risk).
2) Passing too close (usually city buses!)
3) Occasional red light runners (not much of a risk for me, since I'm not exactly jumping through lights on my bike, more indirect if through traffic gets hit, they might come into the bike lane).
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Old 10-23-12, 10:51 AM   #3
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This study may be fine if the goal is counting up number totals of "accidents" but is worthless if the intent is to evaluate the effect of various safety equipment or facility infrastructure on cycling risk. Risk cannot be properly evaluated without measuring, or at least considering, the severity level of the accident events.

Any and all conclusions about cycling risk from this study are fatally flawed by the absence of any data about the severity of the injuries incurred by the study subjects. The term "risk" should not be associated with this study. Trips to the emergency does not filter out minor injuries, nor does it distinguish them from catastrophic injury. An accident resulting in a scratched knee or broken finger from a "fall' is tallied the same as catastrophic injuries suffered from a collision with a high speed automobile.
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Old 10-23-12, 11:09 AM   #4
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Any and all conclusions about cycling risk from this study are fatally flawed by the absence of any data about the severity of the injuries incurred by the study subjects.
It must be lonely being the smartest being in a universe full of idiots. How do you cope?
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Old 10-23-12, 11:13 AM   #5
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We found that route infrastructure does affect the risk of cycling injuries. The most commonly observed route type was major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. It had the highest risk. In comparison, the following route types had lower risks (starting with the safest route type):
  • cycle tracks (bike lanes physically separated from motor vehicle traffic) alongside major streets (about 1/10 the risk)
  • residential street bike routes (about 1/2 the risk)
  • major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars (about 1/2 the risk)
This is really interesting, given that the common wisdom among cycling cognoscenti is that separated bike lanes are a bad idea. Also that major streets with bike lanes have accident rates similar to residential streets (I would expect the major street accident rates to be higher, bike lanes or no.)
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Old 10-23-12, 11:13 AM   #6
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It must be lonely being the smartest being in a universe full of idiots. How do you cope?
+1
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Old 10-23-12, 11:24 AM   #7
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It must be lonely being the smartest being in a universe full of idiots. How do you cope?
If you are happy being ignorant about evaluating risk, join the crowd who spout BS conclusions about risk from BS studies. You have plenty of company.
Your confusion about a bogus term such as "accident rates" which considers all accidents as equal, being relevant to risk comparisons/evaluation is typical. Enjoy being blissfully ignorant about risk evaluation.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 10-23-12 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 10-23-12, 11:36 AM   #8
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From a scientific standpoint, you would indeed require more information to properly assess risk. Practically speaking, accident rates give you a pretty good handle on risk.
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Old 10-23-12, 11:39 AM   #9
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If you are happy being ignorant about evaluating risk, join the crowd who spout BS conclusions about risk from BS studies. You have plenty of company.
Your confusion about a bogus term such as "accident rates" being relevant to risk comparisons/evaluation is typical.
How about doing your own study, as you seem to be the resident expert on what is risky or not. You have denied reports/stories/opinions here on BF on everything from Styrofoam hats to cell phone distracted drivers to cycling facilities, to headphone use, and even Forester's "opinions."

We have come to see that whatever it is, ILTB will show up on here and tell us why something is invalid due to "safety nannies over reach."

But you have become like the boy that cried wolf... no one values your opinion as all it is, is negative, and all it does is blast the studies and opinions of others... while offering nothing constructive, nor do you point out specifics.

You just cry WOOF... (yeah a pun.)

Perhaps we should change P&R to "Why ILTB thinks you are wrong."

Certainly the studies discussed here may be flawed... but they are the best data available. Now perhaps you should contact all these organizations and tell them how they should do their studies. Apparently no one ever taught them... according to ILTB.
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Old 10-23-12, 11:42 AM   #10
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Oh and it is only a matter of time before Forester shows up, and does his own brand of "the study is flawed."

Meanwhile cyclists here are hoping to learn something from what ever data may be available, and is relatively current.
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Old 10-23-12, 12:03 PM   #11
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From a scientific standpoint, you would indeed require more information to properly assess risk. Practically speaking, accident rates give you a pretty good handle on risk.
Hardly. One can conclude that riding a bicycle in the park is riskier than riding in high speed traffic if more accidents occur. "Works for risk evaluation" only if you ignore the severity of the resulting accidents.
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Old 10-23-12, 12:11 PM   #12
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Certainly the studies discussed here may be flawed... but they are the best data available. Now perhaps you should contact all these organizations and tell them how they should do their studies. Apparently no one ever taught them... according to ILTB.
"Certainly the studies discussed here may be flawed..." Exactly what I said and causes your bowels to get in uproar.

"best data available" is no excuse for drawing conclusions based on ignorance of the necessary data. You sound exactly like Forester now.

The problem is that all the studies quoted on BF about bicycling risk are substituting bastard terminology such as "crash rates" and "accident rates" without any of the necessary severity data essential for evaluation of risk. And it isn't worth a dang. No matter how much you wish it were so. It ain't smart to be proud of being ignorant.
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Old 10-23-12, 12:16 PM   #13
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From a scientific standpoint, you would indeed require more information to properly assess risk. Practically speaking, accident rates give you a pretty good handle on risk.
Practically speaking, lots of BF posters have what they consider "a pretty good handle on risk" without any information or data, but their own opinion, conjecture and/or guesswork. And it may be just as useful as half-assed "studies" that neglect to gather or consider essential data measurements.
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Old 10-23-12, 12:19 PM   #14
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Hardly. One can conclude that riding a bicycle in the park is riskier than riding in high speed traffic if more accidents occur. "Works for risk evaluation" only if you ignore the severity of the resulting accidents.
Severity sure matters if I'm the one wrecking.

I want to know where all of the riders who don't get injured are riding. I guess it's harder to get data from them.
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Old 10-23-12, 12:24 PM   #15
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From a scientific standpoint, you would indeed require more information to properly assess risk. Practically speaking, accident rates give you a pretty good handle on risk.
Not really. I-like-to-bike is right. However, if we pair this study with a Dutch study (which I can't find at the moment) showing that the fatality risk is much higher between intersections when biking in car lanes than IN intersections when biking on bike paths I think it gets interesting.
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Old 10-23-12, 12:28 PM   #16
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How about doing your own study, as you seem to be the resident expert on what is risky or not. You have denied reports/stories/opinions here on BF on everything from Styrofoam hats to cell phone distracted drivers to cycling facilities, to headphone use, and even Forester's "opinions."

We have come to see that whatever it is, ILTB will show up on here and tell us why something is invalid due to "safety nannies over reach."

But you have become like the boy that cried wolf... no one values your opinion as all it is, is negative, and all it does is blast the studies and opinions of others... while offering nothing constructive, nor do you point out specifics.

You just cry WOOF... (yeah a pun.)

Perhaps we should change P&R to "Why ILTB thinks you are wrong."

Certainly the studies discussed here may be flawed... but they are the best data available. Now perhaps you should contact all these organizations and tell them how they should do their studies. Apparently no one ever taught them... according to ILTB.
Actually, it's just a matter of time before someone settles the discussion by telling us that all those on-street accidents are the result of not taking the lane and/or being competent.
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Old 10-23-12, 12:50 PM   #17
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"Certainly the studies discussed here may be flawed..." Exactly what I said and causes your bowels to get in uproar.

"best data available" is no excuse for drawing conclusions based on ignorance of the necessary data. You sound exactly like Forester now.

The problem is that all the studies quoted on BF about bicycling risk are substituting bastard terminology such as "crash rates" and "accident rates" without any of the necessary severity data essential for evaluation of risk. And it isn't worth a dang. No matter how much you wish it were so. It ain't smart to be proud of being ignorant.
But the problem is you are complaining to the folks drinking the kool-aid that the kool-aid is not made properly... you should be talking to the kool-aid makers.

We are just the consumers. Of course no doubt you will tell us to just back away from the kool-aid... but how, when it is the only thing available?
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Old 10-23-12, 12:56 PM   #18
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Hey Seattle Forest -- thanks for posting this.

BTW, the second "elsewhere" link you provided links to "Personal and trip characteristics associated with safety equipment use by injured adult bicyclists: a cross-sectional study" and I couldn't find the route-specific information. It seemed to be more focused on helmet and light usage.

Putting aside the question of severity, do you know what the authors mean by "risk"? Is it the probability that a cyclist using a particular route will have an accident? Or that an accident on a particular route is more likely to result in an emergency room injury?

I don't understand why they are comparing to "control" sites or concerned about "observer bias" if they are measuring rates (which is why I'm asking about how they define risk). Seems like this would be an empirical discussion and that they would be measuring traffic volume on the various routes.
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Old 10-23-12, 01:15 PM   #19
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Another methodology link

http://cyclingincities.spph.ubc.ca/f...sTRBposter.pdf
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Old 10-23-12, 02:38 PM   #20
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Exactly what I was looking for, and addresses the concern I had but was unable to articulate well: Accurately characterizing the denominator of persons at risk at each site (e.g. number of people riding past the location). So it seems that the study probably assessed the likelihood of an injury accident occuring on particular types of routes. And my question regarding "observer bias" is answered -- it has to do with how routes are classified. It seems they have also addressed the issue of confounding, which had not occurred to me.

ILTB, you raise the issue of failing to account for injury severity. I had two thoughts on that -- (1) given that all the cases involve an ER visit, the range of severity is somewhat narrowed (acknowledging that there still remains a wide gap between road rash and paralysis), and (2) I would presume that the raw interview data is still be available, from which severity could be discerned. It also occurs to me that the interview scenarios could be further analysed to identify outliers (e.g., he was lucky he only had a skinned elbow, because he could have died, etc.).
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Old 10-23-12, 02:57 PM   #21
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I would presume that the raw interview data is still be available, from which severity could be discerned.
Probably so, but the the people who put this report together chose not to use any such data. Which means they are ignorant of how to measure/evaluate risk (unlikely) or their agenda/conclusion could be "confirmed" without.
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Old 10-23-12, 03:04 PM   #22
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given that all the cases involve an ER visit, the range of severity is somewhat narrowed (acknowledging that there still remains a wide gap between road rash and paralysis)
Given the advice often given to accident victims, especially if there is any possibility the head had any impact, to get themselves "checked out", the range of "injuries" seen at an ER can range from none at all to fatal. But for this study, there is no distinction , all accidents are the same.

With this study's methodology, if the "accident rate" in the park is an identical number to the "accident rate" on the road, both scenarios are equally "risky" and it would be immaterial if the worse accidents occurring in the park were minor boo-boos from simple falls and all the accidents on the road were high speed collisions resulting in permanent paralyzing injuries.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 10-23-12 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 10-23-12, 03:19 PM   #23
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Actually, it's just a matter of time before someone settles the discussion by telling us that all those on-street accidents are the result of not taking the lane and/or being competent.
Unless they are struck while in the lane, then they were not "competent cyclists." They obviously failed at some other tenet of competent cycling.

By the power of circular reasoning, Vehicular Cycling™ Brand "competent cyclists" are never involved in traffic mishaps because they never make mistakes and are never in the "wrong" place at the "wrong" time. If a cyclist has an accident or collision he/she obviously was not a competent cyclist.
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Old 10-23-12, 03:40 PM   #24
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In addition to the weaknesses outlined by ILTB, this study has several other significant problems. Among those are; self reporting by the accident victim of all of the questions and lack of an external control group. The former leads to the datum, that only about 11% of the accident victims had any alcohol in the six hours prior to the accident. I wonder how similar the result would be if one were to ask folks involved in a DUI accident if they had any alcohol in the six hours prior to the accident... And the problem with the latter is illustrated by the self-selection bias, ie, only those involved in an accident are included in the control group...

I am also concerned by the removal of nearly 40% of the potential bike accident victims as 'ineligable' for a number of reasons. One of which seems inexplicable; not being a resident. The other is also somewhat concerning; not being injured in the city... Both factors would seem to introduce unnecessary biases.
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Old 10-23-12, 04:25 PM   #25
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In addition to the weaknesses outlined by ILTB, this study has several other significant problems.
The significant problems that you outlined compound the lack of validity of the conclusions about risk from this so-called study. But none of the weaknesses or errors mean a thing to self described "cycling cognoscenti" who pride themselves on being know-nothing morons about evaluating or measuring cycling risk. They have the answer they were looking for - mission accomplished.
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