Creative Loafing, a free entertainment magazine available in the Charlotte, NC area, published an article recently by staff writer Tara Servatius called “The Cycling Epidemic.” It has to be one of the most ridiculous pieces of garbage I’ve ever read…even for Citizen Servatius. Here’s the link:
Go read it. No, seriously. Go read it. I’ll wait.
Really? Comparing the risks of riding a bike to the risks of smoking? Are you a fucking idiot?
There’s so much wrong with this article it’s hard to decide where exactly to begin. I guess the most logical starting point is to address the very question that Citizen Servatius poses: “So, where are the public service announcements against bicycling on public roads?” (Ms. Tara clearly believes she has provided sufficient evidence to demand such a thing.)
The answer to that is pretty easy – because no matter how craftily you skew the numbers for your cute little magazine, no logical human being is going to believe that cycling is as likely to kill you as smoking. Your numbers are about as solid as the diarrhea that you’re trying to sell as gold. So instead of using Freakonomic’s to prove your case, let’s simply look at the numbers of death per year in America for each:
Number of deaths per year related to smoking according to the Center for Disease Control: 443,000
Number of bicycle deaths per year according to 2008 NHTSA Traffic Safety Stats, the latest available: 716
Yes, clearly cycling is to be feared as much as smoking.
Moving on –we’re 12 times more likely to die biking to work says a study done by Rutgers. Um, Tara, did you also happen to notice that same study found those "shocking" numbers could easily be reduced if American communities could follow the lead of biking policies put in place by countries like the Netherlands and Germany? In fact, the study says all kinds of glorious things about biking. Maybe you should read it again (or for the first time). Here's the link: http://policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher/AJPHfromJacobsen.pdf
Go read it. No, seriously. Go read it. I'll wait.
Tara, you may also be surprised to find that Rutgers has done numerous studies on the benefits of active communities that encourage walking and biking. Here's one as an example: http://policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher/JPAH08.pdf
Go read it. I'm good at waiting.
Back to Upstanding Citizen Servatius. Forget the fake stats in your article – they are deliberately misleading. Interestingly you mention that walking is even riskier (23 times riskier!) than driving, but make no suggestion to outlaw that.
But, according to you, because cyclists can get hit and killed by motorists (which, according to the NHTSA, is the motorists fault 90% of the time), we should punish the cyclists by outlawing cycling? By your own reasoning then, and using the example you mention in your article, we should be punishing children because they can die of SIDs and we should also be punishing pregnant women because they can die from H1N1.
You may hold many awards for your writing, but this article alone negates all of them.
Forget the re-working of East Blvd – I haven’t been held up there since the change was made, so it’s a moot point anyway.
Forget the so-called lawsuits against drivers that will “wreck you financially for the rest of your life” none of which did you cite because they simply don’t exist. They don’t exist. Sorry, but motorists are rarely cited for hitting cyclists…or pedestrians or even other cars for that matter.
Forget that same old “poor you” argument because you had to cross a double yellow line to get around a biker – I’ve done it. It’s just not that hard; at least not for me. If it’s that’s hard for you, then maybe the State of North Carolina needs to re-think allowing you to hold a drivers license.
Forget the dogging of Mayor Anthony Foxx for supporting bicycling advocacy – most community leaders do because it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the benefits of cycling far exceed the drawbacks. It’s been documented and proven time after time after time after time.
Forget your suggestion that cyclists don’t accept some of the blame – that’s simply not true. They do. There’s a huge initiative within the cycling community to accept the same responsibilities as motorists when it comes to the Share the Road Campaign. If you’d spent a little time in the community before publishing your article, it would have been the first thing you’d have noticed. Too bad you didn’t bother.
Forget this statement: “It’s politically incorrect to point out the risks of cycling because cyclists have become yet another protected class.” Being a protected class has nothing to do with political correctness or the risks of cycling. It has to do with being an American, North Carolina, Char-Meck Taxpayer. All taxpayers are a protected class in this country. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The funny thing is you present all this stuff like you’ve discovered the proverbial nail in the coffin to end cyclist’s rights to the roadways, but the reality is none of it makes any sense. In fact, I’d argue that you’re the one being righteous to the point of coming unglued.
I will agree with your final statement, though – if they died another way, it would be called an epidemic. But you should complete the sentence:
If they died another way, it would be called an epidemic by an irresponsible media report that would invoke unnecessary fear in a mostly over-reactive society. Kinda like the article you just wrote, Citizen Tara.