OK here’s your rant, and some other things

First things first. I need some full finger water and wind proof glove shells to fit over a military size 9 glove liner. My fingers still haven’t warmed up from last night’s ride home from the Full Moon at church, what with the rain, low 40s temperatures and the wind and the gloves I was wearing not being waterproof.

Now the rant.{rant}

In Philadelphia they are losing their minds about “dangerous” bicycles after 2 pedestrians were killed in one month when it had been more than a year since the last bicycle-caused pedestrian fatality. Folks this is a statistical blip, a coming up boxcars two rolls in a row, heads 10 times in a row, that kind of thing. It’s notable because bicycle/pedestrian wrecks are so rare to begin with and fatalities are rarer still. Seriously, the last pedestrian fatality caused by a bicycle in Philadelphia was sometime in the middle of 2007. Now you have 2, and because of that you lose your minds?

Or maybe you just see a potential cash flow that hasn’t been tapped until now. Well keep looking, bicycle registration has never paid for itself, much less been an income source. Bicycles go for as much as $10,000 and as little as $1. How much do you think you can get from someone who paid less than $10 for their bike? I noticed that the registration (bike tax) would hit cyclists as young as 12. Since federal laws prohibit people younger than 16 from working a steady job, and from using the tools that are required to mow lawns and the like, and paper routes have been adults-only for decades, where do you propose that Johnny and Suzie 12YO get the money to pay your bicycle tax? Or don’t kids deserve independent transportation alternatives?

So, why are you acting so crazy? Motor vehicles kill more than 100 people a day in the US, and almost that many in Philadelphia in a year, but 2 people get killed by bicycles in a month after nearly 18 months of death-free existence and you lose your mind? I forgot the technical term but there is a condition where people ignore the obvious danger they live with every day, and focus on some less dangerous thing because it is novel. This is what is happening here. You ignore the constant threat caused by motor vehicles that kill someone 3 or 4 times a week, and focus on bicycles that have killed an average of less than one person a year, because they suddenly killed 2 in a month. Ask your friends and neighbors if they know someone that was killed by a motor vehicle, and I’ll bet you that every single one of them knows someone or is related to someone that died because they were in a motor vehicle wreck. Then ask them if they know personally anyone that was killed or injured by someone riding a bike, and most have no personal knowledge or experience of that happening.

Let’s look at the relative risk of a 200 pound or so person moving at maybe 20 MPH, versus the motor vehicle that 2009 averages 4000 pounds and in the city moves about 40 MPH (30 MPH limit plus the 10 MPH that cops “give” before writing a ticket). The cyclist hits as hard as a HS linebacker except without pads, so yes that will hurt a bit, you might get a sprain or a broken bone, and in very rare cases the person falls and hits his or her head and dies (pedestrians don’t wear helmets). Now the motor vehicle on the other hand will cause death at 40 MPH more than 85% of the time and send someone to the hospital the other 15% with some permanent injury more than half the time when they survive, and that you’re good with, but the bicycle you get all kerflemt about how dangerous it is. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that motor vehicles kill more people on the sidewalks, where motor vehicles are prohibited, than bicycles do. I know this is a fact in NYC where motor vehicles kill an average of 100 people a year on the sidewalk, roughly 2 a week, where bicycles kill an average of 1 pedestrian a year in the entire city.

So, Philadelphia, stop focusing on something that is inherently non-dangerous, and do something about the things that are killing people daily, like cars. You had 300 murders last year, and 2 killed by bicycles last month. If the murders went according to averages, there were 25 people killed deliberately with something other than a bicycle with another 2 killed with a bicycle. How’s that for perspective?



One response to “OK here’s your rant, and some other things

  1. Pingback: St. Anne’s Toy Ride, Festival of Lights Bike Night and other bike-related news « BikingInLA

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