Sunday, January 15

Bias Comparison

Who Present the Greater Threat to Maim or Kill Other Road Users. These Guys?
In news articles, such as one in Austin 360 that was published just a week ago, in which cyclists were castigated for running traffic signals, it was stated:

"The difference, though, is in the consequences. A motorist can run a stop sign, collide with another vehicle and roll away with nothing more than a dented fender. If a car, which weighs about 3,000 or 4,000 pounds, collides with a bike, it can do grave damage to the rider. There is no room for error on the bicyclist's part."

NOW, in my opinion this represents a "windshield-centric" bias that Austin 360 didn't get called on, any more than troll commenters about bike-car crashes do. To illustrate it, instead let us change a few words and instead frame the issue from a pedestrian or cyclist viewpoint. The paragraph now reads:

"The difference, though, is in the consequences. A motorist can run a stop sign, collide with a large crowd of school children, and kill or maim a dozen or more. If a car, which weighs about 3,000 or 4,000 pounds, collides with a non-motorized user(s), it can do grave damage compared to a cyclist(s), pedestrian(s), or even an equestrian(s). There is no room for error or complacency on the motorist's part."

Fundamentally, THAT is why motorists are required to obtain licenses and registration. And we should never forget that. Those that read this blog frequently probably know that cyclist scofflawry infuriates me, but the potential and likely consequences of such actions are NOT the same as for a motorist driving a 4000 pound vehicle that is capable of high speeds. In contrast to the motorist, the cyclist is the most likely one to bear the consequences of his or her own inattention or BAD practice. I hear the mantra "same road, same rules,..." and that is something I pretty well subscribe to, but that doesn't mean that cars and bikes are the same. Bikes never have been and never will have the potential to be WMD*.

The DIFFERENCE is who suffers the consequences, the perpetrator or the innocent victim. AND the bias of the writer...

*Weapons of Mass Destruction
Or THIS Gentleman and His Charges?


Keri said...

I totally agree with your change of frame.

Though it should be noted that scofflaw cyclists have severely injured and killed pedestrians. They can injure bus passengers, too.

Khal said...

Said perfectly. Thanks.

Steve A said...

As Keri notes, cyclists can and do hurt other road users. However, their capability to do so is minuscule compared to the WMD potential of even a Toyota Prius in "limp home" mode. Mostly, cyclists that kill, wind up killing themselves. Mostly, by doing stuff that is dumb by almost anyone's standard.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I don't condone running stops either. But another problem with the comparison is that cyclists have MORE margin for error, since we are smaller, lighter, and more agile than cars. The last car I saw attempt a quick turn to avoid a collision after running a light rolled over.

veesee said...


Bike Snob NYC is one of my favorite bike blogs, in large part for the reaction to the New York DOT bike-safety campaign "Don't Be A Jerk". As the blog stated:

"If we're going to have insult-based PSAs, they should cover everybody, and the invective should be commensurate with the amount of damage the vehicle is likely to cause."

And concluded that the appropriate PSA for motorists would therefore be "Don't Be A Fucking Cocksucker."

I was hit by a drunk cyclist (yeah, I know) and walked away without a scratch. I bike in terror of being hit by a drunk driver.

Chuck Davis said...

The mantra "same road, same rules, is pretty much a non starter if ya think about it, who's the intended audience?

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