Category Archives: safety

Media Bias

Stories in the media tend to exaggerate the dangerousness of cycling. There is also a general undertone that motorists who hurt/kill cyclists tend to “get away with it”. Both these concepts have a certain element of truth, of course, but ignore the context of traffic generally. Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States — regardless of cyclist fatalities. By far the largest number of fatalities are motor-vehicle drivers and occupants. There is far more motor-vehicle traffic so this is to be expected. With regard to “getting away with it”: most negligent motorists (excepting DUI) get away with it, without regard to what it is they killed; be it a another driver, another occupant, motorcyclist, pedestrian or cyclist. Continue reading Media Bias

The Risk of (Bus) Riding

I suppose I should have expected this story, after the tragedy at Mexican Hat, Utah last week. A bus returning to Phoenix, Arizona from a ski trip crashed, killing nine and injuring dozens.

Anyone glancing at page 1 of today’s Arizona Republic would have to be forgiven if they got the impression that travel by bus was incredibly dangerous. The headline blares: “THE RISK OF RIDING” (I”m not shouting, it was in all caps!); the graphic with large font colored type: “146 fatalities” (in very small print above, “1996-2005”. That’s 10 years!)

The story by Robert Anglen was entitled “Bus-safety shortcomings have drawn attention but little action“, but that was published in subtitle-sized type, subordinate to THE RISK OF RIDING.

Inside, there were four enormous pictures “In the first six days of 2008, four buses crashed in the U.S.”. Of course, in those same six days there were thousands of (other) grisly crashes, and hundreds of (other) traffic fatalities but none of them were pictured, or even mentioned — it’s all about the buses, and their obvious huge risks.

So, does traveling in a bus have risk? Of course. The story did make some attempt to compare the risks to general traffic, e.g. “There are 20 to 25 motor-coach deaths per year compared with 41,000 auto deaths”. Thats a good start. But then “The American Bus Association, a trade organization representing 1,000 motor-coach companies, estimates that there are 0.05 bus fatalities for every 100 million passenger miles traveled” was left hanging. To put this last number into context, the official overall US fatality rate is 1.46 per 100 million VMT (Vehicle miles traveled. NHTSA data here, and also note that Arizona rates are significantly worse). Since the number of occupants per vehicle overall hovers not much above 1, that makes traveling by bus about 30 TIMES SAFER than riding around in a car. (It probably implies that the motor-coach fatality rate is similar when compared on a per VMT basis, since they would tend to have large passenger loads)

In short, the story follows the perennial bias of ignoring or downplaying general traffic problems (largely automobile). While causing needless anxiety and leading to worsen the very problem resulting in more fatalities — “why doesn’t my child’s bus have seat belts? I better drive them myself instead”

Cleapor Fatality — Mesa police stonewall

The stonewall has broken, and a flood of details that implicate the cyclist as being at fault in the collision have been released in an AZ Republic article published October 13, 2007. Why it took until now, weeks after Mesa police declared there would be no citations issued is baffling. Mesa police spokesman Detective Chris Arvayo could have (and in my opinion, should have) either released these explanations sooner, or simply stated the investigation was ongoing. He either said, or left the impression that the case was closed without saying why. Continue reading Cleapor Fatality — Mesa police stonewall

Pecos Death Trap?

UPDATE SEP 22,2010: AFN reports that that there was an injury wreck at 32nd and Pecos resulting from a “bad left”. The 17 y.o. EB driver turned left into the path of the WB driver, who was injured “seriously but not life threatening”. Bad lefts were the cause of both a 2003 fatality and a 2007 very serious injuries; both of those were at 40th and Pecos. Continue reading Pecos Death Trap?