Confusing German Paper on Bicycle Safety

The other day, I got this paper, and I did not comment on it because it was in German and I only have five minutes a day to write rebuttals to the various VC morons.

I will say that it is sad combination of desperate and abusive to post an article to (mainly) English speakers in German, with no translation or analysis, instead of explaining the paper (including translating relevant details) in detail and why there’s no study in English.

It’s also bad to use a single source. When I was doing my crash analysis, I found it hard to find good data, but I did manage to have data from four sources. I find it troubling that VCers seem to google around until they find a single paper that roughly says what they want then post it without reading. Often when I did deeper, I find that the author intends the opposite of the VC conclusion. This practice of misrepresenting research extends back to the original VCer himself, thus it seems like it’s a tribal custom or religious sacrament.

I scrounged up some more break time and I used google translate:

This seems like a German vehicular cyclist. Yes, the disease is spreading, I wonder if it’s because Germans can often speak English well?

Let’s get started:

“The opinion “bike paths are safe!” Is common, so common that it has almost no longer questioned, but tacitly assumed. There are a number of studies have refuted this dogma.”

Nice! Just like other vehicular cyclists, they assume that anyone who wants separated infrastructure is an idiot who has done no research.

I guess this is as bad as my feelings that those who fight hard for “rights to the road” are idiots who have taken a class which tells them to ride their bike in traffic because it’s “counter-intuitive”.

And as usual, usually I’m right and they are wrong.

Let’s continue:

“Nevertheless, the results presented here are clear: the risk of accidents at intersections is multiplied by cycle tracks, such as at intersections without traffic signals (traffic lights), roughly five times.”

This conclusion is based upon two more papers which are not in English and one of them is behind a paywall.

Usually I do the same tactic and either charge people for the a profit the data in which I argue with people or send people to buy their way into paywalls in order to read how brilliant I am.

Just kidding because I’m not that kind of asshole. I don’t tell people to waste time and money, but rather I link to both pro and con papers to every topic and if I will also personally email people pdfs as well. I urge all my readers to read all of my original data which is all in English.

“Also there are cycle paths not prove as reducing accidents on average.It can best be determined a tie and a shift to other types of accidents.”

I’m not sure if this is a translation glitch or I’m reading this wrong, but above they said that collisions in intersections is increased by five. Now they are admitting that cycle tracks cause no more collisions than riding on the road. If this is true, then cycle tracks are still a win because most would-be-cyclists prefer them. They increase mode share as well as increasing comfort greatly as well as efficiency by getting out of the way of traffic.

But there’s more:

“In particular, dominate when driving on the road accidents between cyclists and stagnant traffic, which could be significantly reduced by appropriate security clearance to parked vehicles. The simple measure to recommend cyclists to keep a distance to the right would make driving much safer on the road again.”

So this paper, which the VCer endorsed said that cyclists should stick to the right. This is similar to what Ken Cross said. But their recommendations, “take the lane” (sic), say the opposite. As usual, I don’t know what to make of this. Certainly the poster did not read this paper in depth as he didn’t feel it was necessary to explain this obvious contradiction.

Did he think that we wouldn’t read the paper and that he could just say that he “did research” by posting a single paper? As I said before, if there’s a body of literature which says the opposite of what you propose, you should at least post that data if not explain why you came to an opposite conclusion. Also, if there’s a range of numbers, you should put the whole range rather than cherry picking a single number from a single paper which bests suits your case.

Also, I noted that the VCers are up to their old tricks again where they blindly count collisions with no regard to whether the collisions are harmless, serious (require hospitalization), or fatal. We have often found that fatalities and serious injuries fall as minor collisions rise. But VCers are either unwilling or unable to make this critical distinction.

I’d also like to note that this paper quotes studies that are mainly in 1992 and 1997. This is before the major bicycle boom in the United States. We have more relevant data from these programs of building cycling infrastructure and the results are promising: building infrastructure increases both mode share and reduces serious collisions and fatalities. Why these big bodies of data were ignored by the original poster and instead we got crusty data from an old German VCer, I may never know.

I can speculate. When a VCer sees data that contradicts his beliefs, his whole nervous system seizes up and the tape loop of his brain rewinds to the time before they saw the data and the ERASE button is pressed. This is why after having shown data to VCers over and over again, they continue to blather nonsense with no recollection of our prior conversation.

“Then there are the findings of the Berlin police in 1986, after the streets with bike lanes took place almost half of cyclist accidents there. But the share of these roads was only 18%. Also, the severity was higher on the streets with bike lanes…

…From 1981 to 1985, the number of accidents on the bike path routes there by 114%, while in the other streets they fell by 9%. The length of the routes has increased in this period, but by only 20%, the number of cyclists barely.”

I’ll let this stand for now as I don’t have any other raw data, other than to say that a long time ago, a German researcher put together some data that said that cycle paths (or cycle tracks, hard to say what is lost in translation) are more dangerous than road riding.

There is plenty of contrary data in the United States, and cycling will continue to be safer due to incremental infrastructure improvements despite the misleading blather by our very minor but very loud Vehicular Cyclists.


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