Comment 26382

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2008 at 01:14:47

Linda,

I have never claimed that "bicyclists are blameless and motorists are demons". That's a straightforward straw man attack.

I've explicitly stated that cyclists don't always obey the law - in fact, I've written extensively and repeatedly on how and why cyclists should follow the law.

However, it is clear that many motorists also routinely disobey the law. In every study I've conducted or seen, the overwhelming majority of motorists fail to stop at stop signs. Numerous studies have also found that most motorists routinely exceed the speed limit, that some motorists change lanes or turn without signaling, and so on. This really shouldn't be a controversial statement.

It is also clear that a cyclist's capacity to cause harm to others is far more limited than a motorist's capacity to cause harm to others. The difference in mass between a bicycle and a medium sized car is a factor of 15, and cars are capable of much higher speeds than bicycles.

In a very well-known British study, pedestrians hit by cars going 32 km/h have a 5% chance of dying; pedestrians hit by cars going 48 km/h have a 50% chance of dying; and pedestrians hit by cars going 64 km/h have a 95% chance of dying.

As vehicle speed increases, the risk of death increases exponentially. The vast majority of cyclists simply cannot exceed around 30 km/h and certainly cannot reach or maintain speeds of 48 km/h or 64 km/h. Even if a bicycle had the same mass as a car, it would not have the same potential to kill others; since bicycles have a mass only 1/10 to 1/20 of an automobile, their potential to kill others is that much lower.

I'm really just astonished and flabbergasted that this argument is controversial to anyone. It strongly suggests that people are willing to twist logic inside-out to justify maintaining a road system that encourages driving and discourages cycling.

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