New York

City: 1/5 of Killed Cyclists Were Drinking; Few Helmeted Riders Die


Having pedaled home after a few ourselves, we find it easy to believe the finding by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that among city cyclists injured badly enough in bike accidents to die within three hours, a fifth had alcohol in their bodies. This is not to say they were drunk or impaired, but the Department of Health says, “ee want to get that information out there”; the kind interpretation of her statement is that the city wants to discourage drinking and cycling, but we wonder if maybe they’re trying to make the 14 bicycle-in-traffic fatalities last year seem like the victims’ fault — particularly since the victims’ families are increasingly inclined to speak up about the poor treatment bikers get in New York.

Shady too is the talking point that 94 percent of fatal bike accidents “involved poor driving or bicycle riding practices.” That’s like saying that 94 percent of stabbings involved some sort of aggression on the part of one or more parties — particularly when you read the Examiner‘s follow-up that “Policies that discourage distracted driving — regulating cell phone and blackberry use, for example — are important.” How often do you see a cyclist talking on the phone while he rides?

More significant to us is the finding that only three percent of cyclists involved in fatal accidents were wearing helmets. Those awkward, easily-eschewed suckers really do their jobs, it seems. It’s also interesting to learn that only six percent of city traffic fatalities between 1996 and 2005 involved bikers, that New York is only a hair above the national bike-death rate, and that females have a much lower bike death rate than males (4.5 vs. 0.3) — which makes sense when you see the spandex guys roaring “RIGHT! YOUR RIGHT!” on the West Side bike path. Photo (cc)


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