Feedback on the Article Not by John Allen on the Behavrior Article

Jake was nice enough to leave some comments and I thought it would make a good post. And, yes, there are about 100 typos in my last article where I attribute to John what are really some quotes by some stranger who’s apparently now ghost writing John’s blog for him.

Let’s just realize I suck at names. It shouldn’t invalidate all my opinions for ever amen, but as the VCers code dictates: “any non-sequitor will be used as evidence we win.” My bad.

Quotes are from Jake.

“First, the study was a survey of opinions about whether people liked or felt safe in the sort of facilities installed. That didn’t show much more than earlier studies–uninformed people often prefer that which looks good on paper but isn’t really safer.”

Actually as you said the study didn’t address the actual safety. Thus, the notion that this is less safe is merely your opinion and is outside the scope of this study.

I find it odd that people are less safe in places where they are safe and visa versa. Since we are evolved to fit our environment, I consider it a design fail to make something really safe then create a feeling that normal humans find it unsafe. This poor design means that when humans act normally they will be in danger.

What a stupid setup. Why not design things so their natural inclinations are safer? This has been done in many places and is a cornerstone on my own preferences in design.

“My brother was one of those “I’d rather be thrown from the car in a wreck than be trapped by the seatbelt” people even though he’s mostly a reasonable sort of person. Education about the causes of injuries is the missing key to bicycle safety.”

No. There has been cycling education for years. It has failed.

“The second part was a very short period of observation showing no collisions and a few “minor conflicts.” That doesn’t tell us much more than we already knew.”

Again, the claim was that infrastructure creates “conflict points” which lead to collisions which lead to death. If you aren’t aware of this, you are new to the debate. This notion has been debunked by this study. It’s also the point of this study.

“Since collisions are rare (yes, rare, not because of low exposure, but because of how many collisions per mile traveled occur–just as rare if you double the exposure), seeing a collision in that short period of observation would have been quite surprising.”

Again, I don’t know if you agree with infrastructure or not but most of the VCers actually do think that collisions will be common in infrastructure and that it’s “impossible” or “impractical” to build safe infrastructure. If you think that infrastructure could be made safely, you’re welcome to the club.

“Therefore, NOT seeing a collision is hardly news.”

Again, not according to our local “take the lane” nuts. This goes completely in the face of what they have been saying for years.

“Contraflow sidewalk riding is far more dangerous than normal street riding, but in that short an observation period, you’d be unlikely to see a collision even on a sidewalk where contraflow riding is prevalent.”

I don’t agree with this. It’s too general of a statement. There are places where contraflow sidewalk riding is far safer than street riding. It depends on the context.

“Do you have another “point” of the study to examine for us? I hope you have a more coherent statement than “Deaths are also high as they are teh #1 killer of people.””

No. My point was to debunk the blog post on the study not to make any waves myself.

“Examining conflicts in the real world helps us to understand what makes or does not make a facility safer or less safe than normal vehicular operation in the absence of the facilities.”

I disagree. I think that conflicts are a scam.

1. There is no solid definition of a “conflict”. I feel that there are infinite potential “conflict points” that occur when you “take the lane” but only one when you edge ride. Vehicular cyclists disagree with this. Who’s right? Unless we have a clear understanding of what this word means, we don’t know.

2. Potential conflicts do not necessarily lead to collisions. In fact when we greatly increase the number of edge cyclists on facilities, we greatly expand potential conflicts and yet per capita serious injury and death decrease. Thus, there’s not a one to one correspondence between conflict and collision. Nor is there a one to one between collision and injuries.

Thus conflicts for predicting injury are meaningless. The prediction was that there would be many conflicts with this infrastructure, and that they would lead to collisions and injury. I know that you think that conflicts are rare, even in infrastructure, but you’re a rare breed.

“The study, as Dr. Kary notes, the study could be viewed as a preliminary step in gathering data necessary to have a better understanding of that. However, the study shows us very, very, little. Experts at People for Bikes should be well aware of that, but they are too busy with the push for facilities to concern themselves with finding out whether the facilities they push really are to the benefit of their intended users.”

How would you measure this? How many years of facilities do you need before you know they are safe?

I have read enough studies to determine that well designed facilities are several magnitude times safer than vehicular cycling on a high speed road. Hell, riding a bike in well designed facilities is safer than driving a car on a high speed road. Imagine millions of cyclists getting hit by cars without the protection of a steel cage. Such is the fate if we were really dumb enough to “take the lane” on high speed roads.

Look back to when we had 100% mixing it up with low speed traffic. There were more deaths back then even though the motorists were expecting and respecting cyclists, they were driving slower, and there were less people.

It’s funny because the argument against the misreading of this study is my same argument against the experience of a single cyclist. I don’t expect all cyclists who vehicular cycle to die, but if they did in mass numbers we’d see lots of preventable tragedies where people died for their foolish ideology.


3 Responses to “Feedback on the Article Not by John Allen on the Behavrior Article”

  1. Jack Hughes Says:

    “No. There has been cycling education for years. It has failed.”

    Absurd. Cycling education has been repeatedly and robustly determined to be effective in increasing cyclists’ safety. The Dutch, for instance wouldn’t be training children in the schools so extensively at great expense if there wasn’t reason to believe it works. Further, what do the Dutch teach? Essentially, vehicular cycling. This is a British survey of studies.
    And what cycling education has there “been” “for years”? Not much and those who want it in the US have to go out and seek it.

    • Fred Says:

      There have been cycling advocates who have preached that education will solve our problems to the point where we need zero infrastructure. If there is no funding for that, I would suggest that these statements were inaccurate. However, I didn’t make the claims that education would solve all our problems so I suggest you ask the people who made the claim what education there was.

  2. Jack Hughes Says:

    Your note: ” the claim was that infrastructure creates “conflict points” which lead to collisions which lead to death. If you aren’t aware of this, you are new to the debate. This notion has been debunked by this study. It’s also the point of this study.”

    Debunked? Absurd. The point of the criticism of the “study” is that there has not been a sufficient sampling to learn anything about the infrastructure’s creation of ‘conflict points’–that is, conflicts were observed, with no information about whether the points of conflict were more or less likely with the installed infrastructure than without.

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