Thursday, February 17

Done with SIN - Looking Forward to NEW Myths

Khal, at Los Alamos Bikes has posted a REALLY EXCELLENT expansion on the "Safety in Numbers" (my commenters catchingly called it SIN) discussion with some elements I really have never considered before - namely that MOTORCYCLES face some of the same problems with motorists looking out for them that cyclists face and that has GREAT relevance to the topic of SIN.

I did run more math numbers on what might happen to cyclists due to greatly enhanced motorist "looking out" in the case of those collisions in which "looking out" is likely to help. I was a bit conflicted about what to do with the 38% of collisions that involve alcohol - in my experience, drunks aren't the best at avoiding cyclists and having them be more watchful might actually make things worse. Regardless, once you rule out collisions where motorists watching won't make much difference, the SIN effect isn't reasonably explained by changes in motorist behavior. I'm not saying motorists DON'T watch more carefully, but I think Jacobsen's dismissal of the possibility of changes in CYCLIST behavior or the effects of facilities in even the short run, without any evidence, is inconsistent with the observed crash data as discussed HERE. Do your own calculations. It is also inconsistent with the claim in the Minneapolis news article touting reduced sidewalk riding. More cyclists means more peer pressure on cyclists to stop doing the really IDIOTIC maneuvers like riding the wrong way on sidewalks and blithely shooting across intersections while doing so.

In the meantime, go read Khal's good stuff. Much of it was new to me. Smeed's Law, eh?

BY THE WAY, in the original Myth, I did not claim there was nothing to SIN, merely that it couldn't be explained by changes in motorist behavior. Smeed's Law says there IS something to SIN, but it's a deeper, psychological effect.

If you wish to comment further on SIN, I suggest giving Khal a workout or else go to the original "Myth" post. One thing I found profoundly disturbing in one of the links in Khal's post - a quote; namely:

"We’ve looked at the various pieces of the motorcycle safety puzzle and found that they all—without exception—have failed to bring the death toll down but as more riders practice them the death and injury toll goes up."

The ramifications of that trend for cyclists are chilling, and certainly death rates have soared for adult cyclists in recent years even as they dropped for children. I certainly HOPE that quote is a myth...