Out of the Feet of Babes

A while back, I did a piece on how women were safer cyclists and that I could learn more from them.

Ever since then I have been asking myself, how would a woman make this safer, when I ride.

I have found that my rides are a little bit longer, but a lot more relaxing, and enjoyable.

However, there’s always someone who’s willing to shit on my parade.

In this case, I was given a Watchel study which showed that actually women were equal to men in accidents.

Oops, that was the three card monte. Here’s the study:


The first thing you will know is the strange green and blue theme that this site has. Reminds me of the Commodore 64 days for some reason.

I had forgotten that I had read the study until I saw the greenish hue. Then I realized I was going to get a bowl of BS.

However, there was one thing I didn’t notice about this paper before. Read it, and see if you can find it.

OK, you are back.

Note that I have seen this paper cited serveral times. Like I said, it refuted my notion of learning from women through the power of statistics.

However, did you ever stop to think that stats can give you more than knowledge and even more than boredom?

Yes, that’s right, stats can make you laugh.

Realize that the purpose of this paper is to prove that sidewalk cycling is dangerous.

It sort of does that. I mean there’s no thick line between “dangerous” and “not dangerous”. Street riding has risk as does sidewalk riding.

But I have seen this paper cited to show me not to ride on the sidewalk.

Guess what else this paper proves?

It shows that being really young protects you the most.

That’s right, being younger is one of the biggest things you can do to keep yourself safe from accidents.

From the study:

“The table shows that older bicyclists incur a risk of colliding with a motor vehicle 1.8 times as great as younger ones, and the difference is statistically significant (p<0.01). The older bicy­clists have a higher risk in all six major sub­groups; in four the difference is significant."

That 1.8 number is important. Alan Wachtel is quoted, all over the internet, and other places, saying that sidewalk riding is more dangerous than street riding. He even has used this as evidence against things such as cycle tracks.

How come he didn't talk about the second finding? The risk of sidewalk riding vs. street riding is also 1.8!

Older people are more likely to be experienced and educated. How come they never talked about the dangers (1.8!!) of being old and cycling?

Oh, we can "explain" aka dismiss without any new data, the findings. But the sidewalk findings stand and fall along with the age findings. You can't arbitrarily toss out data just because it doesn't "make sense" to you.

If you did that, you'd never learn anything new.

You can toss out data, but it has to match certain criteria set AHEAD OF TIME.

I wasn't there when they wrote this paper, but I am guessing that the initial data set showed that sidewalk cycling was safer than street riding.

In my experience, there are far less conflict points on the sidewalk. The only problem is intersections. All kids are taught to stop and watch at each intersection. Perhaps the adults forgot this important lesson? I see many adults walk right in front of my bike without looking. I always stop far in advance of them because I am riding slow enough to be safe, and it's no big deal. But still, I care about people, and I hope they are OK when that Prius or other batter car comes down their street. 😦

My guess for the strange anomaly is due to Table 1.

If you look at Table 1, it clearly states that the percent accidents for sidewalks is 35 while roadway is 65. So there are about two times more accidents in the road.

However, since Wachtel "knew" aka was indoctrinated with VC nonsense, he wanted to prove the opposite. So he further "examined" the data. I noticed that these people only look more closely at data that proves their point.

It's been several months, and the fake data which is off by 10x is still on door zone on wikipedia even though the link with correct data is there. So much for fact checking. 🙂

I feel that Watchel decided to break down the data into two groups so he could make the street look safer.

He succeeded just like the guy above took everyone's money.

Just like the House, Watchel and Co win every time.

After all, they make the rules.

If it were up to me, I’d just publish Table 1.

I have no animosity for Wachtel et al. They remind me of the Clash song, “The Card Cheat”:

“There’s a solitary man crying, “Hold me.”
It’s only because he’s a-lonely
If the keeper of time runs slowly
He won’t be alive for long!

If he only had time to tell of all of the things he planned
With a card up his sleeve, what would he achieve?
It means nothing!”


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