Women More Likely To Be Killed In Bicycle Crashes Than Men, Officials Say

CHICAGO — Half of the people killed while riding their bicycles in Chicago in 2016 had four things in common, according data released by city officials Wednesday.

• They were not male — even though 70 percent of Chicago's regular bicyclists are men.

• They were younger than 30.

• They were struck by the driver of a large commercial vehicle making a turn or merging into traffic.

• And they died during the morning rush hour, according to according to data presented to the mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council.

For the full article go here: https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20170309/humboldt-park/bicycle-cras...

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My gut reaction is that we need to include more information in driver's ed and driver's license testing regarding how to share the road with bicycles. Further, we really need commercial vehicle permit holders to go through more extensive training about sharing the road with small vehicles (like bikes, but also scooters) in an urban situation if they want to retain their permits. And lastly, we need to comprehensively educate cyclists, many of whom inadvertently ride in blind spots.  So it boils down to education, education, education, IMHO.  I've mentioned that we should be advocating for mandatory "share the road" training for all commercial vehicle licenses but I don't know a lot about the issue - it could be worth advocating our State Reps about.  

Obviously morning rush hour is a huge problem, as is the lack of bike lanes, but perhaps the strongest indicator of a specific cause is the role of commercial vehicles which have big blind spots and which cyclists tend to shadow in anticipation of jumping ahead because we can sprint faster from a cold stop than a big truck can accelarate. Shadowing is never a good idea, although I want to be clear I'm not blaming the victims since I don't know the specifics of these incidents...but I see a lot of dangerous shadowing out there. And commercial vehicles are especially dangerous because of their blindspots, height and momentum.    

The gender and age of the cyclists could be more correlative to other issues (size? do we know the average height of the riders? Are smaller riders more likely to disappear into blind spots? type of bike? do upright bikes result in fewer fatalities because they are slower and more visible?).  Without knowing a lot of other data the gender correlation might be a correlation to something else that is actually causal. Or it might not.

Those are my thoughts.   

size was my guess too.  though there were 6 deaths and it's difficult to draw any worthwhile conclusions from such a small amount of data.   plus one of the women appears to have been born a man so not sure which way she should be counted as far as bicycling.

Is this all based on 2016 data? 

With regards to the reason women are less-safe on bikes, the London study points to women following the laws more carefully than men, making us more vulnerable. 

"The report pointed to a 2007 London study that found that female cyclists were much more likely to be killed by trucks than men. The study suggested that female cyclists are more vulnerable because they are more likely to obey red traffic lights. By going through a red light, men were less likely to be caught in truck drivers' blind spots, the London study found."

Here's the thread:


The DNAInfo story is based on a report of the 6 cyclist fatalities in 2016.

The source of the London study cited in the DePaul research paper is actually a Guardian article about the London study and is here: 


I was not able to find the actual study.

This is based on a larger, but still small sample size compared to the Chicago study.

The DePaul study cited in the trib article is interesting.  


The implications of the London Study are fascinating. It still points to a correlation between accidents and commercial vehicles. If it is not safe to obey the traffic laws within range of a commercial vehicle, this would suggest that a) the laws need to change and bicyclists need training on how to obey them and be safe, b) something needs to change about commercial vehicles to reduce their blind spots (better mirrors to cover the blind spots) or c) something needs to change about commercial vehicle driver behavior (better training). Most drastically, we could d) remove commercial vehicles and bicycles from the same pathways, but that would be a massive infrastructural and economic burden.   

But everyone's point is well taken that the sample size is small. 

I don't think the London study really points to that.  It's suggestive but unless there's an analysis of the likelihood that the result occurred due to random chance.  Maybe generate a Poisson distribution of the deaths and see the likelihood of different outcomes based on the underlying parameters.  

Better training for commercial drivers, including info on locations of heavily traveled bike lanes, and side guards on large trucks, would also help significantly.

Some states or municipalities are now requiring side guards to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from being knocked underneath large vehicles.


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