Comment 34068

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 23, 2009 at 13:33:16

The media (if we insist on treating them as some monolithic beast) will continue to do what they've always done, and concern themselves with selling their product. It'd be nice if they provided a public service component, but I don't think it's much use expecting that they will do it in the absence of some external requirement. That why good governance is important, in my opinion.

Ryan, since you keep referring to these "proven" facts, I'm gonna have to ask you to cite some sources I can review, because the best I can find is a British Medical Journal article from 2003 (which mentions a study of traffic interaction in Hamilton, believe it or not) indicating that while collisions between motorists and cyclists/peds decreases with larger amounts of non-motor traffic (i.e. there is safety in numbers), this is largely the result in change of motorist behavior, and it says nothing of external contextual changes that accompany increased cycling/cycling promotion.

So basically, considering the nature of the study (using time-series data in a variety of national contexts), I think it's a bit of a stretch to state simplistically that building infrastructure = more cyclists = safer cycling. There are likely to be significant effects of roadway design and other interventions. Which is to say that I think the reductionist approach to cycling promotion that you have taken is misleading, and that cycling proponents will likely have to do more than just nag municipalities to build bike lanes.

From my reading, all this article "proves" is that policies to promote cycling and walking (since every jurisdiction will promote cycling differently) result in relatively safer interactions between motorists and cyclists/peds. But as it often is, these polices come as part of a larger packages (i.e. connecting road networks + awareness + changes to law, whatever else, etc.).

So what I'm getting at is: you cannot so easily discount licensing as a potential option to increase cycling/safety. In fact, a 2000 Swedish study (cited in the BMJ study) found that perception of safety was an important determinant in INCREASING bicycle flow, which is to say, getting more cyclists out there is not just a simple issue of building infrastructure, or changing laws, etc.--also required is some cultural component that builds social trust in cycling as a safe alternative to driving, and how you affect this cultural shift will depend on local context.

Permalink | Context

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