Increased deaths of road maggots apparently a surprise…it shouldn’t be

There is consternation about the quadrupling of deaths of road maggots.

It’s been a killer year on the roads for cyclists with the number of fatalities more than triple that of 2016.

The 18 cyclists killed so far this year stands with close to three weeks left in the year. The total number of cyclists killed on our roads last year was five – slightly fewer than the 6 cyclists who died in 2015.

To date, 352 people have been killed on New Zealand’s roads, compared to 304 this time last year.

Road policing Superintendent Steve Greally said the numbers relating to cyclist deaths were very concerning.

“They’ve tripled. Over tripled, almost quadrupled.”

Greally also noted that the number of pedestrian deaths was up from the year before.

“They’re all vulnerable road users, they’re the users of our roads that don’t have the protection of a car, a truck or a van.”

This is apparently a surprise. It shouldn’t be.

On the rationale that the car makes cycling on city streets dangerous, cities have been spending big-time on bike lanes and other bicycle programs. The results from Europe, where cycling has been most heavily promoted, are now coming in. Prior to putting bicycle planning into high gear ? in recent years London?s mayor launched what he called a ?cycling revolution? and Paris?s vowed to create ?the cycling capital of the world? ? cycling deaths had been plummeting for decades. That dramatic trend stopped in 2010, according to EU statistics. Cycling deaths across the EU are now on the rise.

Cyclists in the EU now account for eight per cent of all traffic fatalities, up one-third in the last decade. In the urban areas, cyclists account for 12 per cent of all road fatalities. In the Netherlands, a great cycling nation that politicians often hold up as a model, cyclists account for 30 per cent of fatalities. The bicycle, where it is most in vogue, is a killing machine: fatalities are five to 10 times that of automobiles per kilometre travelled.

Julie Ann Genter loves quoting statistics, I wonder what she says about those ones?

Until a decade ago, motor vehicle deaths in the EU were falling dramatically, as were bicycle deaths. Now progress in auto deaths, too, has stalled. The push to make cycling safer by giving the bike a bigger share of the road has backfired on vehicles of all kinds.

Cyclists now account for 63 per cent of all those seriously injured in road accidents in the Netherlands, up from 51 per cent a decade ago. This rise cannot be attributed to motorists: in 80 per cent of these injuries no motor vehicle is involved. The great majority of cycling accidents are either caused by poor road conditions or negligence on the part of the cyclist ? checking smartphones, cycling intoxicated, racing, using the handlebars for baggage, or having poor brakes or tires. When a bicycle collides, it?s likelier to be with another bicycle than a car. Even when a motor vehicle is involved in a crash, the fault is often the cyclist?s for having run a red light, swerved into the motorist?s path, or being intoxicated: evening surveys in two Dutch city centres found 42 per cent of cyclists had blood alcohol levels that exceeded the legal limit; that rose to 68 per cent by 1:00 am.

North America, where cycling represents two per cent of road deaths, has a paucity of cycling statistics, but the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that cycling accidents have risen six per cent over the last decade, and intoxication is frequently a factor: 19 per cent of cyclists who were killed had blood-alcohol concentrations consistent with binge drinking. In the U.S., as in Europe, the car?s culpability is mostly a myth: just 29 per cent of bicycle fatalities involved autos. Cycling deaths in the remaining 71 per cent of cases involved falls, collisions with other bicycles or stationary objects, potholes and distracted riding.

So, cars aren’t to blame. Road maggots are killing themselves by surrounding themselves with a lycra force-field and expect it to be impervious to stupidty.

It shouldn’t be a surprise though, because this was all predicted by John Forester in 2001:

  1. Bikeways of practical, street-level design have not been shown to either reduce the accident rate at the same travel speed or to allow increased speed at the same accident rate, in comparison with cycling on the roadway with the rights and duties of drivers of vehicles.
  2. The arguments of bikeway advocates have been shown to be without scientific basis.
  3. Acquiring competence in cycling on the roadway with the rights and duties of drivers of vehicles has been shown to be by far the most effective means of reducing accidents to cyclists.
  4. Most people, from early ages, can learn in reasonable time to ride competently and lawfully on the roadway with the rights and duties of drivers of vehicles.

The preceeding four conclusions lead inevitably to the grand conclusion that society should adopt the vehicular-cycling principle, that “Cyclists Fare Best When They Act and Are Treated as Drivers of Vehicles,” and design its bicycle transportation programs to implement that principle.

and again, decades ago:

The most basic criticism of the bike-planning operation is that it is completely fraudulent. For three decades it has said that it is based on making cycling safe, using much talk about bike safety while, nowadays, carefully avoiding any explicit claims. The implicit claims are two:

1: Bikeways make cycling much safer for all users.

2: Bikeways make cycling much safer for those users who are presumed to lack the ability to obey the traffic laws, such as children and the aged.

The general claim of making cycling much safer has a very limited meaning. It means only protection against some aspects of motor traffic, when, in fact, it does nothing at all about reducing accidents to cyclists. Car-bike collisions are only about 12% of accidents to cyclists; the remaining 88% are ignored. PBT shows the most frequent types of car-bike collisions, facts that have been known since 1977, and none of these is caused by a straight-through motorist hitting a straight-through cyclist. Yet that type is the only type of car-bike collision that bike-planning considers. It is the only type that bikeways might prevent. All the propaganda about the danger of cycling is laid around the intensity of same-direction motor traffic, which is a very minor cause of accidents to cyclists in the urban areas in which bike-planning operates. (Cross 1976. Forester 1993, 1994)

Bike planning advocates have tried for thirty years to demonstrate that bikeways significantly reduce the car-bike collision rate, but have failed to do so. Collision statistics demonstrate that very few car-bike collisions are of the type that might be prevented by bikeways, while standard traffic-engineering methods demonstrate that bikeways make the most frequent car-bike collisions more difficult to avoid,and therefore more likely to occur. Development of this knowledge has forced bike planners to avoid making the explicit claim of accident reduction.

The claim of making cycling safe for those who are presumed to be incapable of obeying the traffic laws has an equally long history. It was formally stated as the planning division of cyclists into two groups, the 5% of cyclists in the Advanced group who know how to obey the traffic laws while cycling, and the 95% of cyclists in the Beginning and Child groups who don’t, and for whom bikeways are presumed to be necessary. (FHWA 1992) This distinction is specifically stated by PBT 2.5, Need for Action: Pedestrians and Bicyclists at Risk, Age Groups Affected. “Children have not yet acquired the skills needed for traffic safety.” The aged “move around more slowly than they used to, have poor eyesight, hearing loss, and a range of other disabilities.”

For three decades, bike planners have been challenged to show which traffic skills are required on a plain street that are no longer needed if a bike-lane stripe is painted. They have never even tried to answer that challenge, because they cannot. Analysis of the skills required shows that bike-lane stripes increase the level of skill required because they make traffic movements more complicated. (Forester 1982, 1994)

The claim that bike-lane stripes enable the partially blind and the partially deaf to cycle safely is newer, but is equally absurd. It is absurd to believe that painting a bike-lane stripe enables a cyclist to better see the motor vehicles with whose drivers he must negotiate his way. Equally, safe cycling does not require hearing, any more than motoring does, for which license there is no hearing requirement.

The fact that bike planners, as evidenced by this FHWA PBT text, continue to base their public support on the known false superstition that bikeways make cycling much safer, particularly for children and the aged, demonstrates the completely fraudulent nature of their activity. It is reasonable to say that today’s bike planning is the business of stirring up the fears of the general public regarding cycling in traffic for the purpose of condemning motoring. And, like any other business, it does whatever it can get away with to increase its revenues.

And it has all come to pass. There is blood on cycling advocates? hands.

Expect even more cycling deaths as people think they are safer by using cycle lanes and think their lycra forcefield will protect them.


-John Forester, Financial Post, NZ Herald