More on Cycling Triage

I don’t know much about the political process, but I do think that we are practicing reverse triage when it comes to cycling.

Recently, I posted about how we can use the medical term, triage, and apply it to infrastructure, but what does this really mean?

“Triage (play /ˈtriːɑːʒ/ (UK English) or /triːˈɑːʒ/ (US English)) is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triage

Everyone is going to have different standards, but here’s what I see from the past.

Places like the beaches have a boardwalk which is wonderful infrastructure for cycling. Since they are not commuting from one place to another, this is an excellent example of “build it and they will ride.”

On the other hand, to actually _get_ to the beach from most neighborhoods in San Diego, it’s a nightmare.

Why?

I think that it’s because our current notion of triage is to build infrastructure where people are all ready cycling aka demand. Also, to build infrastructure to where the neighborhood demands it.

Sounds reasonable that they are only responding to demand, right?

No.

This morning, I have decided the top three criteria for cycling infrastructure.

1. Where the speeds are greater than 50 MPH and there are pre-existing cyclists. This is because these roads are the most dangerous. In a hospital, the nurse treats those most likely to die without treatment first. Here we should treat roads that are most likely to kill first.

2. Once #1 is taken care of, we should work on all the arterials and either make a better connection than what they have all ready by mixing with traffic or at least make the ride safer and more pleasant. One way that this can be accomplished is by connecting cul-de-sacs and so on. We can use eminent domain to do this if we need to.

We should do this because people are dying. Not of car accidents, though there are a few of those, but worse, of disease which could be prevented if only people got outside and exercised a little.

So let’s set aside, for a second the measly six or seven hundred dead cyclists and think about the 599,413 deaths of people who died of heart disease A YEAR. [http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm]

Does that make a more compelling case for cycling infrastructure? I know we can’t save them all, but if we could prevent only 10% of those, we’d have 10 billion more dollars for infrastructure. [http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/dhdsp.htm]

Note that these numbers are highly inaccurate. We’d probably save way more money due to the nature of sedentary diseases being spread over many categories such as “Adult” Diabetes which we have build our environment into becoming a kids disease, too.

Seeing as we spent a trillion dollars after losing 3000 people to 9/11, you’d think a couple of billion to save HALF A MILLION AMERICANS would be something that we’d put on the table.

Bzzt. Wrong. Instead we hear about electric cars and drilling in Alaska. Wow, innovative ideas.

3. Finally, and I’ll put this in all caps, we should build infrastructure WHERE PEOPLE DO NOT ALL READY RIDE. I’ll say it again. Building infrastructure where people ride is like feeding people who all ready had dinner. It does not make sense. Sure, we should improve all areas of the US. Fine. But since we have a limited budget where we’re spending our money on helmets and beta-blockers instead of sweet cycle tracks, we need to triage.

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