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It's open season on cyclists in Austin, TX it would seem ...

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It's open season on cyclists in Austin, TX it would seem ...

Old 11-05-12, 12:14 PM
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It's open season on cyclists in Austin, TX it would seem ...

Typically Austin averages one or two cyclist deaths within city limits each year.

But this has been a banner year ...

1/23 Justin Patrick Murphy -- hit and run, as far as I know, the driver was never found.
3/1 Ricky Darnell Perkins -- driver was sober and stopped, not charged.
9/23 Robert "Chops" Anthony Ramirez -- hit and run, driver was caught soon after, still drunk
11/3 Cody Johnson -- drunk driver, but didn't run.

And while he hasn't died (yet?), Brian Lindquist is in really bad shape. (And that was a hit and run too, and I don't think they've caught the driver.)

I hope I haven't forgotten anybody. There's been more deaths than this, such as Verter Ginestra who was killed just outside of city limits 4/28, but since I'm giving the 1-2 figure for city limits, to be fair I need to compare to that figure.

It's not just the cyclists either. Here's a list of all traffic fatalities in town and some details about them based on the APD press releases. The pedestrians are getting hit even harder.

Last edited by dougmc; 11-05-12 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 11-05-12, 06:32 PM
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The pedestrians are a mixed bag. Some were jaywalking across the interstate and similar.

I don't think any of the cyclists contributed to their deaths through their own negligence.

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Old 11-05-12, 06:43 PM
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It seems to becoming more of an issue and it's hard to tell if it's due more to increased number of bikes on the road or drivers becoming distracted, frustrated or just plain neglegent.

This weekend I came close to getting hit head on TWO freakin' times. Both time drivers headed the opposite way swung wide to go around a vehicle parked at the curb directly into my path, the first acted startled when she saw me and swerved back into her side of the street when she saw me.

The second time was a dude that I swear was laughing when he saw me swerve to the curb to avoid getting hit, he failed to pull back into his lane and took his own sweet time to after passing me. I just seem to be a frickin' magnet for "stupid".
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Old 11-05-12, 07:19 PM
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america needs to stop its obession and love afair with alcohol. until that time comes, enjoy the carnage !!
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Old 11-05-12, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
The pedestrians are a mixed bag. Some were jaywalking across the interstate and similar.
Well, they're *all* a mixed bag.

I don't think any of the cyclists contributed to their deaths through their own negligence.
Debatable.

Justin Patrick Murphy didn't have lights at night if the police press release is to be trusted. (Though they didn't explicitly mention a front light or rear reflector, so it's not clear.)
Ricky Darnell Perkins was off his bike and kneeling down in the middle of the road for some reason according to the report.

I'm not saying the cyclists were to blame, but if these things are true, these two at least contributed somewhat to their deaths.

Note: I fixed the URL for the list of all deaths. It's a sobering list, especially when having the names right there reminds you that all these people aren't just statistics -- they're people, with families, friends, etc. Nobody I knew personally, but some were friends of friends.
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Old 11-06-12, 10:01 AM
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Now the real question is: are there substantially more deaths of cyclists and peds than there are of motorists, and are cyclists and ped deaths treated any differently by law enforcement... are there more or less conviction/ticketing/civil suits of motorists who kill motorists compared to motorists who kill non-motorists?
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Old 11-06-12, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Now the real question is: are there substantially more deaths of cyclists and peds than there are of motorists, and are cyclists and ped deaths treated any differently by law enforcement... are there more or less conviction/ticketing/civil suits of motorists who kill motorists compared to motorists who kill non-motorists?
Actually rather than more deaths, the more relevant statistic would be incidents... and that should be adjusted to some form of per capita / per mile. The reason is very simple and easy to understand. Incidents between cars are far less likely to be lethal because of all of that steel and other safety features that are unavailable to cyclists... A collision between cars must be far more severe/high speed to have deaths result when compared to collisions between a car and a bicycle...
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Old 11-06-12, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
Actually rather than more deaths, the more relevant statistic would be incidents... and that should be adjusted to some form of per capita / per mile. The reason is very simple and easy to understand. Incidents between cars are far less likely to be lethal because of all of that steel and other safety features that are unavailable to cyclists... A collision between cars must be far more severe/high speed to have deaths result when compared to collisions between a car and a bicycle...
Actually I tend to agree... As I feel that "deaths" as a stat does not tell the whole picture.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Now the real question is: are there substantially more deaths of cyclists and peds than there are of motorists
Well, the rest of your questions are harder to quantify, but this one is pretty easy.

Going to FARS, for 2010 (most recent data available), there were 32,885 total fatalities. Of this, 16,824 were drivers of cars, 6,414 were passengers of cars, 4,502 were on motorcycles and 65 were "unknown" motorists. Also, 4,280 were pedestrians and 618 were cyclists, with 182 "unknown" non-motorists.

Now, the question then becomes ... how much more do people drive than bike/walk? I don't know about walking, but the ratio of motorists to cyclists dying is around 45:1. Given that the last I heard of the national average was that about 0.55% of trips were made by bicycle, that makes it sound like a trip on a bicycle is 3x as likely to kill you as taking the trip in a car.

(Note that the most recent data for Austin is now that 2.0% of trips are made by bicycle. That's huge -- it doubled in just a few years!)

And of course this ignores injuries -- that sort of data is harder to come by.

As I see it, bicycling is considerably more likely to kill you than driving -- but the difference is small enough that you can't just say that "driving is safe and bicycling is dangerous".

Can't begin to answer the rest of the questions nationwide. As for Austin, APD seems to take all traffic deaths seriously, but often fails to file charges against the responsible party no matter what sort of vehicle the victim was in. And of course cyclists and pedestrians are much more likely to be the victims of hit and runs simply because the cars that hit them are usually still drivable, unlike those that kill somebody in another car.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:57 AM
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America needs to stop its obsession and love affair with petroleum. Until that time comes, enjoy the carnage!!

And the combination of petroleum and overindulgence in alcohol is especially dangerous.
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Old 11-06-12, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
Well, the rest of your questions are harder to quantify, but this one is pretty easy.

Going to FARS, for 2010 (most recent data available), there were 32,885 total fatalities. Of this, 16,824 were drivers of cars, 6,414 were passengers of cars, 4,502 were on motorcycles and 65 were "unknown" motorists. Also, 4,280 were pedestrians and 618 were cyclists, with 182 "unknown" non-motorists.

Now, the question then becomes ... how much more do people drive than bike/walk? I don't know about walking, but the ratio of motorists to cyclists dying is around 45:1. Given that the last I heard of the national average was that about 0.55% of trips were made by bicycle, that makes it sound like a trip on a bicycle is 3x as likely to kill you as taking the trip in a car.

(Note that the most recent data for Austin is now that 2.0% of trips are made by bicycle. That's huge -- it doubled in just a few years!)

And of course this ignores injuries -- that sort of data is harder to come by.

As I see it, bicycling is considerably more likely to kill you than driving -- but the difference is small enough that you can't just say that "driving is safe and bicycling is dangerous".

Can't begin to answer the rest of the questions nationwide. As for Austin, APD seems to take all traffic deaths seriously, but often fails to file charges against the responsible party no matter what sort of vehicle the victim was in. And of course cyclists and pedestrians are much more likely to be the victims of hit and runs simply because the cars that hit them are usually still drivable, unlike those that kill somebody in another car.
Your statistics are national, which is not really relevant to the question for Austin. Further, the adjustment shouldn't be made based upon relative number of trips alone, but should include distance traveled. It is a question of risk per mile traveled. And under that scenario (which is the only really fair one) the national statistics would indicate that a cyclist is far less likely than a motorist to die in an accident. Those 0.55% of trips will be much shorter than the median of the trip lengths being driven...
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Old 11-06-12, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
And under that scenario [including distance traveled] (which is the only really fair one) the national statistics would indicate that a cyclist is far less likely than a motorist to die in an accident. Those 0.55% of trips will be much shorter than the median of the trip lengths being driven...
Don't you have the conclusion reversed? Considering the shorter median distance lengths of bicycling trips into the equation, those 0.55% of trips that are bicycling related are resulting in an even higher higher rate of cyclist fatality per mile.
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Old 11-06-12, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Don't you have the conclusion reversed? Considering the shorter median distance lengths of bicycling trips into the equation, those 0.55% of trips that are bicycling related are resulting in an even higher higher rate of cyclist fatality per mile.
That is certainly possible. In fact if the risk rate for a collision is about the same on a per mile basis, one would expect the fatality rate for cyclists to be higher than motorists since cyclists have far less protection than a motorist. Unfortunately the data doesn't exist to actually address this issue. My guess is that driving is more dangerous on a per mile basis, since many of those car miles are at far higher speeds, after all few drivers would be killed in collisions that occurred at the speeds cyclists routinely travel.
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Old 11-06-12, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
That is certainly possible. In fact if the risk rate for a collision is about the same on a per mile basis
The figures I've seen make the per hour fatality rate somewhat lower on a bike, and the per mile rate somewhat higher on a bike.

That said, if you're going somewhere specific, you do that on a "per mile" basis.
If you're riding or driving for fun, then that you might do on a "per hour" basis.
And to further muddy the waters, often people estimate "trips" -- but the trips are likely shorter on the bike than the car.

So, none of these values is "the one correct way to look at it".

In any event, the figures I'm thinking of are somewhat dated now and may have changed.

one would expect the fatality rate for cyclists to be higher than motorists since cyclists have far less protection than a motorist.
There's at least three factors in play --

-- people in cars are far better protected. (plus for cars being safer)
-- cars travel at higher speeds (plus for bikes being safer)
-- cars tend to be driven longer distances than bikes (plus for bikes being safer "per trip", but a tossup for the other estimates.)

The problems with trying to determine which is "safer" --

-- while miles driven in cars can be guessed at from fuel usage, and hours driven can be guessed at from that, it's much harder to come up with corresponding values for cycling accurately
-- data for fatalities is easily available, but injuries are much harder to get consistent data for, and safety is more than simply "not dying".

And while I don't have any citations to confirm this, I strongly suspect that the ratio of injuries to fatalities is much higher on a bicycle than a car. In a car, even relatively high speed collisions that total both cars are often leave all involved without a scratch thanks to seatbelts and airbags. In a bike, even something as innocuous as hitting a curb can lead to a fairly serious injury.

In a car -- the line between "unhurt" and "dead" seems to be much finer than on a bicycle.

Assuming that my suspicion is correct, you can't just extrapolate fatality rates into injury rates -- you'd need to look at both individually to determine "safety".

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Old 11-06-12, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
My guess is that driving is more dangerous on a per mile basis, since many of those car miles are at far higher speeds, after all few drivers would be killed in collisions that occurred at the speeds cyclists routinely travel.
Don't think that works out that way since in most cases, cycling is not an alternative at all to most high speed driving trips, especially long distance (inter-city) travel. Almost no routine cycling is done for long distance trips. Bicycle club rides, tours and centuries are an insignificant, infinitesimal slice of miles traveled in the U.S.

I suspect that total cycling mileage is far, far less than 0.55% of total mileage traveled in U.S by vehicles. Especially when vehicle passengers are included in the calculations.

The source of dougmc's stat of 0.55% trips by bicyclists is unclear, I suspect it only relates to short distance commuting trips, and includes no long distance or intercity trips at all.
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Old 11-06-12, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Don't think that works out that way since in most cases, cycling is not an alternative at all to most high speed driving trips, especially long distance (inter-city) travel. Almost no routine cycling is done for long distance trips. Bicycle club rides, tours and centuries are an insignificant, infinitesimal slice of miles traveled in the U.S.

I suspect that total cycling mileage is far, far less than 0.55% of total mileage traveled in U.S by vehicles. Especially when vehicle passengers are included in the calculations.

The source of dougmc's stat of 0.55% trips by bicyclists is unclear, I suspect it only relates to short distance commuting trips, and includes no long distance or intercity trips at all.
The average (as opposed to the median) car trip is only a couple of miles (say 2 <= x <= 10) and while I know of no statistic for bicycles I would be surprised if the average bicycle trip was all that different. Dougs 0.55% is consistent with household travel surveys I am familiar with, most recently the 2009 National Household travel survey.

My guess is based upon my belief that most car passenger deaths are caused by higher speed trips that occur on rides that are longer than the average. If that is the case and one only compared the death rate of cars making short slow trips (which is by definition what cycling trips are) then the death rate of cyclists are far higher than comparable driving. Which is somewhat logical since even a low frequency of collision would result in higher frequency of deaths for those without physical protection (steel, air bags, etc..).

And I will freely admit that this is unfounded supposition, since there is no concrete data to either prove or disprove the guess; however, I do believe the theory logically sound given what data we do have.
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Old 11-06-12, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
The figures I've seen make the per hour fatality rate somewhat lower on a bike, and the per mile rate somewhat higher on a bike.
I would love to know what figures exist concerning the mileage estimates for cyclists in this country and how they were arrived at. The system is in place to obtain fairly reasonable estimates for automobile trips, but no such system is available for bikes that I am aware of.
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Old 11-06-12, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
I would love to know what figures exist concerning the mileage estimates for cyclists in this country and how they were arrived at. The system is in place to obtain fairly reasonable estimates for automobile trips, but no such system is available for bikes that I am aware of.
And even if it was in place it could never be accurate. An automobile driver is an automobile driver - but a cyclist could be anyone from a serious roadie to a child riding in his neighborhood. There are so many different cycling variants and such a wider age range, any distance estimate or incident/death per mile estimate is just a guess.
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Old 11-06-12, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc The figures I've seen make the per hour fatality rate somewhat lower on a bike, and the per mile rate somewhat higher on a bike.



Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
I would love to know what figures exist concerning the mileage estimates for cyclists in this country and how they were arrived at. The system is in place to obtain fairly reasonable estimates for automobile trips, but no such system is available for bikes that I am aware of.
Or how figures concerning time/hours spent cycling were determined.
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Old 11-06-12, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
I would love to know what figures exist concerning the mileage estimates for cyclists in this country and how they were arrived at. The system is in place to obtain fairly reasonable estimates for automobile trips, but no such system is available for bikes that I am aware of.
I did explicitly mention that -- "while miles driven in cars can be guessed at from fuel usage, and hours driven can be guessed at from that, it's much harder to come up with corresponding values for cycling accurately".

That said, the last time I'm aware of that somebody really tried to nail down how much cyclists ride is here. And yes, it's old, and it's trying to measure something that's very difficult to measure. There's probably some more recent attempts to measure this out there -- but they probably still have the same problems regarding how hard it is to measure.

As for the source of the 0.55% figure, it looks like that figure came from the 2008 US Census Bureau's American Community Survey, where it was the percentage of Americans who primarily went to work by their bicycle -- so not quite as I remembered. This page estimates that bicycling makes up about 1% of trips in this country. (And yes, these trips would be, on average, smaller than the corresponding trips in cars.)

There's lots of data out there, and people are often quite clever as they try to measure what really can't be measured. How accurate is it? Hard to say.
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Old 11-07-12, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
This page estimates that bicycling makes up about 1% of trips in this country.
This link is somewhat suspect, I wonder how they arrived at those numbers, The actual data available from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey yields an estimate of about (0.6%-0.7%) of all trips are conducted via bicycle. I guess it is possible that they simply 'rounded' up...
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