Tag: bike crashes

Eight dead cyclists, but red light cameras are the worst

Streetsblog Chicago reader David Altenburg left a salient comment this morning in response to the final tally of cyclists killed in Chicago last year after being hit by cars.

David's comment about cyclist fatalities and red light cameras

David’s comment about cyclist fatalities and red light cameras.

He wrote, “Is there any evidence that those cyclists who were killed were also issued improper tickets from red light cameras? Because if there is, then maybe we can get the current crop of ‘progressive’ mayoral candidates to give a shit about them.”

In 2013, three bicyclists died in car crashes, a fluke, because if you look at RedEye’s chart the annual average of bicyclist fatalities is 6 people. (There was a fourth cyclist death in 2013, but that was a train crash with the Brown Line.)

Terminology debate: crash versus collision

The following is an email conversation between myself and Travis Wittwer, a cool guy in Portland, Oregon, whom I stayed with in April 2010. We’ve had similar conversations before about the language writers (mainly newspaper article authors) use when speaking about and describing situations where “people and their bicycles make contact with people and their cars” (yes, there’s an easier way to say that, read on).

Travis: Continue reading

Which is safer: Bike without helmet, or drive without seatbelt?

Cycling on Milwaukee Avenue at Grand Avenue and Halsted Street, one of the most crash-likely intersections on Milwaukee Avenue.

Someone asked me on Twitter: “What’s more dangerous, biking with no helmet or driving with no seatbelt?” It’s an odd comparison, but I decided to try to crack the question.

Here’s my answer:

If your definition of “dangerous” is “the likelihood that you’ll receive an injury while traveling in/on the vehicle”, assuming that the likelihood of being in a crash is the same*, then you are more likely to sustain an injury while cycling while wearing a helmet than while driving or being a passenger in a car while wearing a seatbelt.

Here’s the data, for crashes in Chicago in 2007-2010:

Table 1: Yes, recorded to be wearing a helmet while bicycling

Injury Type Frequency (each number is a person) Percent of total
No injury 3 7.32%
Possible injury 6 14.63
Non-incapacitating injury 26 63.41
Incapacitating injury 6 14.36
Fatality* 0 0
Total 41 100%

A value of 0 fatalities in four years for people wearing a helmet absolutely DOES NOT mean that a helmet prevented a fatality. The “contrary” data for “Recorded to not be wearing a helmet or having safety equipment” shows that there was 1 fatality in four years – the data do not suggest that the fatality would be prevented if the person was wearing a helmet. The sample size is so small that this data is meaningless.

Table 2: Yes, recorded to be wearing a seatbelt as driver or passenger

Injury Type Frequency (each number is a person) Percent of total
No injury 423,096 89.42%
Possible injury 21,667 4.58
Non-incapacitating injury 23,956 5.06
Incapacitating injury 4,338 0.92
Fatality 93 0.02
Total 473,150 100%

*I don’t think we can determine the likelihood of being in a crash when riding a bicycle because we don’t know the “device miles traveled” of Chicago cyclists. It’s probably possible to approximate the number of vehicle miles traveled by drivers in Chicago, though; I’m not sure about passengers.

Download the data for this article, which includes these additional tables:

  • Bicycling: All injuries
  • Bicycling: No safety equipment or helmet wearing
  • Bicycling: Unknown usage of safety equipment
  • Auto: All injuries
  • Auto: No safety equipment or helmet wearing
  • Auto: Unknown usage of safety equipment

Last minute vote on bicycle data visualization project

The United States Department of Transportation is holding a data visualization competition and Chicago bike crash locations are one of the topics.

From Michael Carney:

I started this project because, basically, I thought it would be interesting to make a map of bike crash locations around Chicago and present it to my GIS class at UIC. Sebastian Lew and I collaborated for several months and it evolved into something more. Using ArcGIS, we were able to symbolize streets by level of overall crash intensity, calculate crashes per mile on streets, perform hot spot analysis to identify areas with high numbers of crashes, compare ridership levels with crash levels, examine temporal trends in crash activity, and perhaps most importantly, assess the effectiveness (at least at a basic level) of current bicycle infrastructure. At the very least I hope our project can help you plan a safe route to work, at the most I hope it can be used by policymakers and planners when considering how and where to expand Chicago’s bike infrastructure.

Vote today onlyView the project.