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DC area: Cyclists, drivers wary of each other as bikes and crashes multiply

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DC area: Cyclists, drivers wary of each other as bikes and crashes multiply

Old 09-13-12, 06:08 PM
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DC area: Cyclists, drivers wary of each other as bikes and crashes multiply

https://washingtonexaminer.com/articl...6#.UFJzeEIea18

The headline on the front page of the print edition of the Examiner reads, "Motorists fuming as bicyclists pack roads. Everyone angry at clueless Bikeshare riders."

The increasing popularity of biking is giving drivers and cyclists a crash course in the rules -- fueling road rage and leaving both sides scared, annoyed and angry.

Cycling has soared in the Washington region --with bike commuting up more than 86 percent from 2000 to 2009, according to Census Data, and 9,300 D.C. residents biking to work in 2010, according to the District Department of Transportation. That growth has accelerated thanks to the Capital Bikeshare program, which riders used to take more than 200,000 trips in July.
Here's the site for Capital Bikeshare: https://capitalbikeshare.com

What the article doesn't note is how many of the CB riders are residents and how many might be tourists. Tourists are clueless enough just walking, driving, or Metro-ing around town, and the ones who hop on CB bikes for noodling around aren't any different.

Capital Bikeshare users cause the most problems, both groups [drivers and experienced cyclists] say.

"I'm walking down the sidewalk in Eastern Market, and I have immature cyclists on big red bikes pummeling down the sidewalks," said Jennifer Rosen, a Capitol Hill resident who thinks the city needs to step up cyclist education.
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Old 09-13-12, 08:39 PM
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Reading the article, it appears that reported accidents in DC went from 314 in 2000 to 229 in 2003 to 435 in 2010. So the accidents in 2010 are 39% and 90% higher than in 2000 and 2003, respectively. However, the number of bicycle commuters increased by 86% from 2000 to 2009 and the Bikeshare program added 200,000 bicycle trips just in one month.

Seems like this is much ado about nothing -- ridership has significantly increased and the number of accidents has also gone up. My question is whether the accident rate has stayed the same or if there is starting to be a "safety in numbers" effect.
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Old 09-13-12, 09:03 PM
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I suspect that if the safety isn't showing up with the numbers but comes later, it may be due to other factors that are confounded with the numbers. Most of the places I've heard about with "safety in numbers" have had large numbers of bicyclists for a while, so it's not just numbers, it's also experience, law abiding bicyclists, and motorists that face legal penalties if they cause collisions. In the US, I find large numbers of bicyclists that were taught to ride facing traffic as children - I don't see adding large numbers of bicyclists that don't follow traffic laws as adding safety.

Even with these caveats, I find most newspapers are looking for sensational headlines rather than nuanced articles.

I'd also agree with the tourist issue rather than with the bicyclist issue - as a tourist I mistakenly attempted an illegal turn in Washington a few years ago. (I stopped when I saw oncoming motorists). The problem was not that I didn't think I had to obey traffic patterns, but that as a tourist I didn't know them as soon as the local drivers.
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Old 09-14-12, 07:44 AM
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It is so hard to ride (or drive) in unfamiliar places for me. The rhythms are a little different, I'm often distracted looking for streets I'm not familiar with, I don't know where the trouble spots are and I'm unfamiliar with local customs. I've been riding bikes for a pretty long time and have commuted by bike, at least part time, ever since I was 9...and I still feel disoriented and afraid in new areas. I'm not so sure those bike shares are a good idea...at least not for me. Some of this might be me, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and I don't think directional sense is a skill in my repertoire. I like riding where I know the landscape.

Everyone should be glad that I rarely drive! The fact that the state would give me a license should be troubling to everyone here
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Old 09-14-12, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here
Reading the article, it appears that reported accidents in DC went from 314 in 2000 to 229 in 2003 to 435 in 2010. So the accidents in 2010 are 39% and 90% higher than in 2000 and 2003, respectively. However, the number of bicycle commuters increased by 86% from 2000 to 2009 and the Bikeshare program added 200,000 bicycle trips just in one month.

Seems like this is much ado about nothing -- ridership has significantly increased and the number of accidents has also gone up. My question is whether the accident rate has stayed the same or if there is starting to be a "safety in numbers" effect.
I think the "safety in numbers" accounts for a lot, and it's why the number of accidents hasn't at least tripled since 2000.

What I think I'm noticing is that the number of newbie riders has gone up a lot, too. The smarter, more-experienced riders haven't become that much more numerous. But in 2008, not coincidentally when gas hit $4/gal the first time, the biking population seemed to double nearly overnight. That's when you saw people bringing their dusty, neglected bikes from the basement or the garage to get an overhaul at the bike shops (for a while, those were almost all the "repairs" that I saw). Then, they'd go right out there, riding on narrow sidewalks, or on the wrong side of the street, or taking utterly baffling paths through multi-way intersections that made them worse, etc.

The article isn't so much about the cyclist body count as it is about the increasing number of buffoons on two wheels. IMO.
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Old 09-16-12, 03:06 AM
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said Jennifer Rosen, a Capitol Hill resident who thinks the city needs to step up cyclist education.
I agree but with one addition:

The city needs to step up cyclist and motorist education. It isn't a one-sided problem.
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Old 09-16-12, 08:26 AM
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The lack of motorist education isn't anything new, so it's not news-worthy.

I've only been here a bit over ten years, but I never took an exam for my license.
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Old 09-16-12, 08:28 AM
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This was the last paragraph in the article:
"There aren't very many resources for drivers to find out how to drive around [bike] infrastructure [such as bike lanes]," Farthing said -- not even the D.C. driver's manual. "There does need to be a significant increase in education of motorists."
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Old 09-16-12, 08:50 AM
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Even in a high cycling density area, bikes are usually well under 10% of traffic. I believe that in the highest denisty cycling areas it's around 5%. No - the 95% of auto users aren't going to bend over backwards to co-exist with us. Being realistic, we have to learn to exist with them.

The best things for us to pursue are common sense initiatives that also benefit drivers and peds. Cell phone texting bans. More enforcement of things like tail gating and aggressive driving. Shoulders.
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