Disappointing Tribune Editorial About This Summer's Cyclist Deaths

Some important numbers:

Bicycle fatalities increased by 12.2 percent in 2015, according to a report released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's the highest level since 1995. The NHTSA also reports a modestly more hopeful figure: Some 45,000 people were injured in biking accidents during 2015, down from about 50,000 the year before.

In Chicago, there were 1,663 crashes between bikes and vehicles reported in 2014. That's 27 percent higher than in 2005. There were six fatalities in 2014, double the previous year's toll. That wasn't Chicago's most deadly year: Eight bicyclists died in 2012.

Yeah, I'm not pulling a punches. I read this and found the focus of the "solution" to be on the cyclists i.e. victim blaming. Forgetting that every single one of these deaths involved a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles determined from eyewitness accounts, cameras, and analysis there is a lot of responsibility involving the commercial drivers:

  • Blaine was struck by a bus that reportedly went through a red.
  • Virginia was struck by a flatbed truck reportedly failed to signal and failed to account for cyclists.
  • Lisa was struck by a flatbed truck that drove into her lane and hit her.
  • Fernando was the victim of a hit-and-run driver that is still at-large even though it was captured on camera.

"Motorists don't own the road, we know that. But cars do outweigh the average bicycle by a couple of thousand pounds at least. So bicyclists have to be particularly cautious on heavily traveled city streets where bike lanes may not exist, or may be buffered or shared, not protected by curbs. Defensive biking is always a good idea. And motorists with the obvious advantage need to be extra watchful."

The majority of cyclists are particularly cautious because we are fully aware we are well outsized by motorized vehicles. I think the focus needs to be on commercial vehicles - training, following laws, etc. I also think enforcement of all of these bike lanes is critical to our safety. Driving, parking, and obstructing bikes lanes is also part of the issue - why aren't police enforcing the lanes? Why are they driving in the bike lanes? Parking in the bike lanes? 

I wish this article hit on the real issues rather than telling all of us to keep a level head and be safe out there. Oh, and Chicago Tribune, it is CRASH not accident. UGH.

Full article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-chicago-bi...

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Ugh. This paragraph really made my blood boil:

"Yes, we know that the streets are crowded and that motorists and bicyclists often feel like they are in a struggle for road supremacy. Some may think they shouldn't have to obey the same rules of the road as motorists. Some don't appear to be obeying any rules except survival of the fastest." (Emphasis mine)

Way to go from a broad, inclusive statement right to victim blaming. Sigh.

The whole tenor of the article seems to put the greater burden on cyclists, who, I agree, are already in large number cautious and defensive in their riding habits. Frankly, that is only going to protect us so far, as this summer's deaths demonstrate. I absolutely agree that until there is enforcement of bike lane violations, traffic violations, and greater educational efforts, not much is going to change.

Yup, that's the worst paragraph. They really phoned in the editorial on this one, borrowing from the old cyclist-blaming arguments rather than doing the work and coming up with a real analysis of what's truly going on. Lazy editorializing/reporting. Looks like all of their research was done in the comments sections of their articles about cyclists.

well it's true that the main rule i adhere to is "survival" because none of these fuckers are watching where they're going 

If I still had a subscription, I'd cancel it. You think my wife doesn't ask me to ride carefully every single day? This article is willfully ignorant of nearly every issue that puts my life in danger. More patronizing bullshit from the Chicago Tribune that borderline presents justifications for vehicular homicide. Disgusting.

Ugh, remember: never read the comments.

Agreed. And add lack of enforcement and cheap gas (more driving).

Anyone volunteering an editorial reply?

The Chainlink responded via Twitter but I am sure a more formal one by Active Trans and/or Chicago Streetsblog would be awesome.

We're on it, thanks.

in which the entire editorial board of the tribune pools their talents and admits that not a single fuckin person is responsible enough to operate a motor vehicle: 

The proliferation of bike lanes — and bikes — means that there's always going to be the potential for confusion and accidents.

Bike lanes are too confusing for motorists. If a bike lane is too confusing for you, you are unfit to operate a motor vehicle. 

Puhlease, for many of the drivers I see on my commute, any lane is too confusing! Those funny green ones with weird drawings in them are incomprehensible.

And by the way, it's not just cyclists getting run over, it's pedestrians too. And Chicago does not have any sort of 290 mile "bikeway network." A network would be connected.


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