Recent items of interest with respect to cycling and risk

2009/10/11

Benoît Gratton at Montréalités urbaines links to a map provided by the Montréal Gazette showing the location of traffic incidents involving cyclists.  Like most such maps, it’s really a proxy for population density, as it’s merely a collection of points, rather than a rate.  It would be fascinating if the Direction de la santé publique – who are very involved in discussions on the impacts of transport policy on public health – would publish this data as a rate of cyclists injured per total cyclists on a given street segment or intersection.  As it stands, this map gives the impression that riding in the inner boroughs (Rosemont, Plateau, Outremont, Ville-Marie, Sud-Ouest, etc…) is super dangerous – after all, this is where all of the injured cyclists are; yet isn’t it likely that the higher number of injuries is simply due to there being more cyclists to be injured?  While the map is an eloquent argument in favour of improving road conditions for cyclists, to truly identify the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ places, it would be useful to see those locations where many cyclists ride but few are injured and, on the flip side, where few cyclists ride, but many are injured.

Also on cycling, and on rates, are two more pieces; Tom Vanderbilt on the risks of estimating risk of injury for drunk pedestrians (context is of key importance), and Spacing’s take on the perpetual myth that all cyclists are homeless, unemployed, and don’t own cars and therefore don’t contribute to infrastructure funding through property taxes (as owners or tenants),  income tax, and don’t ever pay any gas taxes, either.  Spacing raises the interesting question that we often don’t know very much (other than anecdote and appearance) about who cyclists are, and does a quick analysis of census data on the occupations/incomes for people who reported cycling to work.

Transit City has an interesting take on the concept of ‘highways’ for cyclists.  I remember having a conversation with a friend who frequently used the bike path along the CP tracks separating Rosemont from the Plateau/Mile End, who referred to it as a highway.  My reaction was to think that surely we need to get past the automotive metaphors, but on further reflection, my friend was pretty convincing in arguing that because of its limited-access, relatively high speeds, and degree of removal from the rest of the orthogonal grid, it really does offer a highway-like experience.

Meanwhile, Richard Layman offers a series of links to news stories on cycling in Philadelphia, where the car-cyclist negotiation over road space is pretty familiar.  Layman notes that Philadelphia’s Temple University appears to be doing a pretty good job when it comes to encouraging and supporting cycling as a means for getting to campus.

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