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Cycling Makes Us Safer

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 18

You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than you do of dying in a terrorist attack.  The same can not be said about other dangers we face every day:

Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:

– You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

(Keep in mind when reading this entire piece that we are consistently and substantially understating the risk of other causes of death as compared to terrorism, because we are comparing deaths from various causes within the United States against deaths from terrorism worldwide.)

Wikipedia notes that obesity is a a contributing factor in 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year. That makes obesity 5,882 to times 23,528 more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

The annual number of deaths in the U.S. due to avoidable medical errors is as high as 100,000. Indeed, one of the world’s leading medical journals – Lancet – reported in 2011:

The CDC says that some 80,000 deaths each year are attributable to excessive alcohol use. So you’re4,706 times more likely to drink yourself to death than die from terrorism.

Wikipedia notes that there were 32,367 automobile accidents in 2011, which means that you are 1,904times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack.

(via)

And yet “safety” seems to be all that anyone can think of when say, people want to go for a ride at midnight the night before a big running event.  We are willing to spend many more millions of dollars per victim to protect us against the very unlikely event of terrorism,  than we are to protect us from fatty foods, sedentary car based lifestyles, or global warming.  All of which kill hundreds of thousands of more people a year.

Many tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year, and yet we are spending relatively little effort to prevent those tragic deaths.  We clearly do not react to other threats to our safety the way we react to terrorism.  If we did our daily lives would be pretty hectic.  When was the last time you had to get a full body pat down before getting behind the wheel of a car?  Or had to take your shoes off and walk through a metal detector before buying a pack of cigarettes?  Perhaps we need TSA agents at every McDonalds,  NSA spying on big tobacco companies, Drone strikes on car dealerships…

Contrary to what you might think, having a more people out riding and walking actually DECREASES your risk of getting run over by a careless driver.

In the hysteria that predated the launch of New York’s bike-sharing system last year, many critics cried that the bikes would make the city’s streets less safe. All those cyclists wouldn’t be wearing helmets! They’d have no insurance! Accidents would skyrocket, and with them lawsuits against the city. Fatalities would triple!

The system’s safety record quickly turned out to be less sensational. But this was as bike advocates expected. Biking — as with walking — offers a prime example of the power of crowds. As more people bike and walk, cycling and pedestrian fatalities actually decline. That’s because the more people bike and walk, the more drivers become attuned to their presence (either on sidewalks or road shoulders), and the more cities are likely to invest in the kind of infrastructure explicitly meant to protect them (all of which further encourages more cyclists and pedestrians).

This pattern is confirmed in a large biannual benchmarking report released this week by the Alliance for Biking & Walking in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, based on data from census travel surveys, the American Community Survey, and local data tracking cyclists and pedestrians, offers some crucial national perspective outside of cities like New York and Washington.(via)

 

commuter-share bike-fatalities ped-fatalities

Click for larger pictures.

 

While a statistical analysis might not be as emotionally charged as our responses to the suffering of victims of violent crime, the math doesn’t lie.  Your risk of dying from terrorist related activities is basically zero.  Other dangers such and being hit by a car, or having a heart attack are much higher. Cycling and walking reduce the risk of dying in traffic, or having a heart attack.

So as our city contemplates how to react on the first anniversary of a horrific and cowardly crime, we are faced with a tough choice.  What do we do?  How do we react?

I propose a radical solution…I propose we do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Don’t change a thing, keep on acting like we did before.  Ride your bike, go for a walk.  Do all the normal things you did before the attacks.  Why should we relinquish our freedoms because a couple madmen tried to kill us?  Why should we live in a Orwellian police state because some insane cowards tried to use bombs instead of political discourse?

If you really need to make a change, eat more vegetables  go for a bike ride, leave your car at home, and stop smoking.  All of these things will increase your safety much more than refusing to set aside a private train to a bunch of people riding their bikes on a public road.

Real people have been the real victims of  terrorist attacks.  We must never forget the vibrancy of the lives that have been lost.  But we can not allow the emotionally charged events of last years marathon bombing to obscure reality.   Far more good people are taken from us every day by less obvious, but just as real dangers.  Be it car crashes, obesity, getting cancer from pollution or climate change.  These are systematic dangers that sneak up on us slowly, but that can be dealt with in real and concrete ways.

This marathon Monday my best wishes go out to the families of everyone lost at last years attack, and everyone still struggling with recovering from injuries both mental and physical.  I urge everyone to behave the way they would have any other Marathon Monday, live your lives just as free and as proud as you did before the attacks.  No act of violence can take away what makes us great, our freedom.


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Site Update

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 18

If you have a site with us, you will notice some new fun features.  For everyone else, shouldn’t notice a thing.  Let me know if  anything is broken.

 


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Open Letter from Midnight Marathon Originator

Written by greg on Apr 18

stay a kid thumbGreg Hum plays drums on his bike, gets people together for really big midnight and monthly bike rides, and smiles too much. He shares stories and more on his personal blog, The Humble Cyclist.
Connect with Greg on  Twitter | YouTube 

____________________________________________________________________

Dear Midnight Marathon Riders,

Now is a good time to fill you in on what’s going on with the Midnight Marathon bike ride this year (it’s still happening, but after months of questions and back and forth). But first, a few words about last year, the most successful Midnight Marathon bike ride to date…

I woke up the morning of the last year’s 2013 Boston Marathon monday dehydrated and sore, in a state of extreme euphoria. Just a few hours earlier, the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride had gone off without a hitch. Over a thousand of you showed up to ride bikes in the middle of the night, even though the temperature dropped to freezing and many of us couldn’t feel our toes by the end.

700 tickets sold out in under 12 hours for a special Midnight Marathon train the MBCR & MBTA chartered for riders.

Grassroots efforts to charter buses brought another 120 people out for the ride, and countless others carpooled or biked all the way to the starting like from Boston. Local businesses and groups sponsored water, snacks, and bike lights for the ride.

On the ride, volunteers helped warn other riders across dimly lit train tracks along the route to cross at a safe angle, and I finished 26.2 miles on my bike surrounded by not only people on bicycles, but longboarders, rollerbladers, and a new friend I met at the starting line who completed 26.2 miles on a unicycle. A group bike ride I had instigated with just a few friends five years ago had grown into a true community event. Feelings of awe, excitement, and hope swirled in my head from how far the ride had come in just five years and what unprecedented community involvement, especially with the MBTA, could mean for all kinds of community events like this in the future. As I was downing my first glass of water and sustenance that morning, I just could not stop smiling.

But then news of the bombings sent me into an emotional downwards spiral.

The sudden transition of emotions from extreme high to extreme low hit me like a ton of bricks. The last story to air on WBUR before sudden coverage of the bombing was a story of Midnight Marathon by a reporter who was on the ride just hours earlier.

I knew it would be even more important to the community for the ride to continue after the attack, and that any security forces would find a way to work with us to continue to make the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride a meaningful experience for everyone. Unfortunately, this thought may have been a little too optimistic.

This year, the MBTA didn’t return our e-mails.

Five months ago we tried to get in touch with the MBTA to talk about a train for this year, but never received a reply back. Then we learned it was because the MBCR (who managed the commuter rail lines) lost their contract to Keolis, another commuter rail management company, and many of the MBCR staff who had helped us organize a dedicated train last year no longer worked for the commuter rail. Our e-mails weren’t just being ignored – there was nobody on the other end receiving them.

And the B.A.A asked us to put a “pause” to the ride this year

The Boston Athletic Association, the private organization that puts on the annual Boston Marathon, called us into their office to talk about the Midnight Marathon ride this year. They laid out their concerns to us about this year’s challenges organizing the first Boston marathon after last year’s bombing tragedies, and how this year’s marathon with have tightest Marathon security to date. We sympathized with their concerns, and asked how we could help.

They asked us not to have a midnight bike ride this year.

We told the B.A.A. that the Midnight Marathon ride has grown virally into a community tradition that exists outside our control, as evidenced by the many chartered busses, car pools, and independent group rides that had zero involvement from us. Not to mention the countless social media posts from people promising to ride whether or not we would. Pausing Midnight Marathon this year would not only be impractical, but impossible.

Since the ride has grown over the years and depends on public roads that are open during the time of the ride, people would still ride on the route, and discouraging a ride that happened on public roads would not only crush community spirit of a wonderful public event in a time when Boston needs it most, but be counter-productive. Even if we asked people not to ride this year, hundreds would anyway, but without our ability to communicate the safest means of doing so, nor our ability to organize volunteers to help those whose bikes break, nor with phone & SMS support for riders who get off track.

The MBTA said they weren’t providing a Midnight Marathon train this year.

The statement from an MBTA representative quoted in the Boston Globe was the first news we had heard about their decision to not provide a special train this year as requested by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). MEMA first cited security concerns in Boston Magazine as the reasons for wanting to discourage the ride from happening this year, but when asked by the Globe, instead cited safety and noise concerns and called the ride “an accident waiting to happen”

So we reached out to MEMA to talk it out.

MEMA representatives assured us that their concerns were not related to security of the marathon this year, but rather about the general safety of lots of bicyclists riding on roads in the middle of the night – for bicyclists and drivers alike. We assured them we’d follow the rules of the road (such as using reflectors and lights) and always have. After a number of helpful discussions, MEMA informed us that they will not be doing anything physically to stop people riding prior to the Marathon road closures.

While neither MEMA nor the MBTA are changing their stance this year, we have come to an understanding of each other’s concerns; that MEMA has a responsibility to think about public safety, and that Midnight Marathon will continue regardless of what we say. We came to the conclusion that statements discouraging the ride would do more harm than good. We also came to an agreement that it would be a great idea if riders stayed away from the marathon start and finish line installations. The entire Copley Sq. area including the finish line will likely be closed off the night before the Marathon anyway.

We agree with the Boston Globe editorial and the public’s response: Midnight Marathon Bike Ride should continue this year.

A few weeks ago, the Boston Globe editorial board released an editorial calling Midnight Marathon Bike Ride a “civic asset,” and that “IF ANYTHING, the popularity of a midnight bike ride along the course of the Boston Marathon is a reason to keep doing the event, not to discontinue it.”

We couldn’t agree more. Boston’s unique community energy keeps us together. As Shawn Musgrave, who recapped the 2013 ride for the Dig put it

There is a very real risk that city authorities and residents alike might target the unfamiliar, unwieldy and unorthodox as threats to security. This would be a dire mistake. Grassroots-led, impromptu, and seemingly chaotic projects like the Midnight Marathon Ride distill the very best of Boston, those aspects of our city that ought to be magnified in wake of tragedy.

As the city wrestles with grief and self-assessment between now and next Patriots’ Day, the security conversation must not obscure what we ought to protect: the unique (and often unpredictable) community energy that runs through Boston.

So this Sunday Night, together, WE RIDE!

In the past few months I’ve had more strangers than I can count approach me at work, at the gym, and at red lights on bikes tell me that they intend to participate in the Midnight Marathon this year regardless of whether I encouraged it or not. They were not just committed to a tradition, they were committed to participating in riding bikes in the spirit of riding as a community, and not letting terrorism win.

Show the strength of community.

On the night the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers came to an end, I followed friends to Davis Square to grab a beer of relief. Even though people were celebrating, I still felt emotionally exhausted and crushed. Then a few strangers approached me to tell me how much they enjoyed the Midnight Marathon and its ability to bring together friends and strangers alike. That was the first time I smiled since the bombing.

Click here to find out everything need to know about Midnight Marathon bike ride 2014

And be sure to invite your friends to the event page on Facebook

See you there,
Greg Hum


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Bikes Not Bombs’ 27th Annual Bike-A-Thon

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 16

It’s that time of year again!

Event Name:
Bike-A-Thon (https://bikesnotbombs.org/bike-a-thon)

Time/Date/Location:
Sunday June 8th (June 22nd Raindate)
Rides leave in AM; Festival goes 12 – 5:30

@ Park across from Stony Brook MBTA Station
100 Boylston Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Event Details:
On June 8th, hundreds of cyclists will join together on a bike ride for
social justice. We have four BRAND NEW scenic routes through greater Boston
(10, 30, 50, or 80 miles). We make it easy to raise $150 with our online
fundraising system! Celebrate your success with free food and music after
the ride! Fun prizes will be awarded for riders and teams that go above and
beyond! Hang out with your friends and meet other riders! The rider
after-party will be at the Stony Brook Park from noon – 5:30pm.

The event is June 8th (rain date is June 22nd)!  After registering, riders
fundraise at least $150 (less for youth) to support Bikes Not Bombs’
(https://bikesnotbombs.org/about) Youth and International Programs.

Contact:
Erica Rotman ([email protected]), Director of Fundraising and Events,
Bikes Not Bombs


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Ghost Bike Installed For Owen McGrory

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 15

ssghostbike (photo via U-Hub)

On this blustery rainy day lets all take a moment to think about Owen McGrory. Who lost his life when he was struck by a sanitation truck.  One person dying on a bicycle is one person too many.

Unknown

THE heartbroken wife of Northern Ireland man Eoin McGrory killed in a hit and run incident in the US last week, has said she wants justice for her husband.

Eoin died when he was hit by a garbage truck in the Charlestown area of Boston on Thursday afternoon last.

The truck driver, Ricky Prezisoso, a father of three, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death.

He is denying the charge, claiming he thought he had hit a pothole.

The 41-year-old is on $5,000 bail and is due back in court again 19 May next.

However, Eoin’s wife of almost four months, Shanique, is refusing to accept Prezisoso’s account and says she wants “justice to be served.”

Speaking on Boston television, she said: “I loved my husband. He did not deserve to die this way.

“That’s not a good enough answer for me. I’m not agreeing with that.”

Rubbish truck driver Ricky Prezisoso denies charges over Mr McGrory’s death
She added: “All I need is justice to be served. For my whole entire family, we are all mourning and I just need justice to be done.” she said.

Members of Eoin’s family are travelling to Boston from Shantallow in Derry to help with the funeral arrangements.

The youngest child of six (three boys and three girls) of John and Theresa, of Earhart Park (originally of Carrabane Walk, Shantallow), Eoin had been living and working in the construction industry in the US for the past 16 years and married Shanique only two days before last Christmas.

A keen cyclist, the former Steelstown Primary School and Carnhill High School pupil had won several prestigious competitions in Boston and was on a training run when the incident occurred.(via)

Galen sent this in and I thought it was valuable.

 

I definitely think a post is worthy. Some food for thought, what we’re fighting for at the Statehouse and City Hall level:

 “we can push for the Vulnerable User Bill to be passed in MA. This bill is currently in the MA Statehouse being debated (although it has been there for years). This bill makes it the duty of the driver not to injure those less vulnerable on the roads, and the responsibility lies more heavily on the cars/trucks out there. Details on the bill can be found here: http://walkboston.tumblr.com/post/81604079354/handout-vulnerable-road-users-senate-1639-bike-lane
We can also push for mandatory truck guards in Boston and MA, which have proven effective in London, DC, and Canada in preventing deaths in cycling/truck crashes by 61%. Considering something like 7 of the last 8 deaths have involved trucks and buses. Details here:http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/safety-compliance/news/story/2014/04/side-underride-guards-among-ntsb-tractor-trailer-safety-recommendations.aspx

and: http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2014/H-14-001-007.pdf

These can be action items that can make a real difference and actually save lives!

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Oh The Irony

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 15

I was almost run over by a casket supply truck this morning…nice big box truck with “Mathews casket international” on the side.  I know this because I got a close look at it when it screamed by me with only inches to spare.  If you see one of these trucks driving around, watch out, one of them is piloted by an asshole.

ASSHOLES!

I pulled up to him at the next red light (because lets be honest you never make it more than a block during the morning rush hour with hitting a red light, unless you’re on a bike) and knocked on his window. He declined to roll it down, so I screamed “ARE YOU TRYING TO DRUM UP BUSINESS!  YOU PASSED ME WAY TO CLOSE!” He stared at me with dead, dull eyes, I knew it was a lost cause and drove off.

It amazes me the kind of casual violence people will display towards each other when they are in cars/trucks.  This asshole nearly killed me so he could move forward 100 yards and then stop at a red light.  I see this kind of behavior all the time.  Its like the hours and hours of mind numbing stop and go traffic has decreased their mental acuity to the point that they no longer have any empathy for their fellow human beings.  Its not just cyclists, motorists seem to display the same lack of caring towards pedestrians and other folks in cars.

Makes me more and more convinced we need to do everything in our power to make cars and trucks a thing of the past. Be careful out there folks.


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May The Road Rise Up To Meet You, And The Wind Be Always At Your Back

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 12

tumblr_n3xmukHEMj1qz6f9yo1_1280

 

It was very nice outside today, I hope you all got out and rode till the sun went down.


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One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 11

IMG_20140407_163222

IMG_20140407_163206

 

Seems cyclists are not the only ones enjoying the increase in sunshine.  This thing looks amazing.  I was pretty impressed with the relatively simple nature of this beast.  Get solar panel, get electric scooter, combine.


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Cycling Makes Us Safer April 18, 2014
      TweetYou have a better chance of being struck by lightening than you do of dying in a terrorist attack.  The same can not be said about other dangers we face every day: Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means: … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Site Update April 18, 2014
      TweetIf you have a site with us, you will notice some new fun features.  For everyone else, shouldn’t notice a thing.  Let me know if  anything is broken.  
      Boston Biker
    • Open Letter from Midnight Marathon Originator April 18, 2014
      Dear Midnight Marathon Riders, Now is a good time to fill you in on what's going on with the Midnight Marathon bike ride this year (it's still happening, but after months of questions and back and forth). But first, a few words about last year, the most successful Midnight Marathon bike ride to date... Continue reading →
      greg
    • Open Letter from Midnight Marathon Originator April 18, 2014
      Dear Midnight Marathon Riders, Now is a good time to fill you in on what's going on with the Midnight Marathon bike ride this year (it's still happening, but after months of questions and back and forth). But first, a few words about last year, the most successful Midnight Marathon bike ride to date... Continue reading →
      greg
    • The Rise Of Bicycling In Suburban America April 17, 2014
      TweetIn America, cars have always been associated with affluence. Early in the days of the automobile, only the wealthy could own cars, since they were prohibitively expensive. It wasn’t until mass production began, which lowered prices significantly, that cars were … Continue reading →
      IsolateCyclist
    • Bikes Not Bombs’ 27th Annual Bike-A-Thon April 16, 2014
      TweetIt’s that time of year again! Event Name: Bike-A-Thon (https://bikesnotbombs.org/bike-a-thon) Time/Date/Location: Sunday June 8th (June 22nd Raindate) Rides leave in AM; Festival goes 12 – 5:30 @ Park across from Stony Brook MBTA Station 100 Boylston Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 Event Details: … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Is This Street Wide Enough? April 16, 2014
      TweetI have posted a video of a group of avid recreational cyclists riding on Hampshire Street in Cambridge, in the middle of the day. Ah, once again, bostonbiker.org won’t let me embed a video, but you may view it in … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Is This Street Wide Enough? April 16, 2014
      TweetI have posted a video of a group of avid recreational cyclists riding on Hampshire Street in Cambridge, in the middle of the day. Ah, once again, bostonbiker.org won’t let me embed a video, but you may view it in … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Is This Street Wide Enough? April 16, 2014
      TweetI have posted a video of a group of avid recreational cyclists riding on Hampshire Street in Cambridge, in the middle of the day. Ah, once again, bostonbiker.org won’t let me embed a video, but you may view it in … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Is This Street Wide Enough? April 16, 2014
      TweetI have posted a video of a group of avid recreational cyclists riding on Hampshire Street in Cambridge, in the middle of the day. Ah, once again, bostonbiker.org won’t let me embed a video, but you may view it in … Continue reading →
      jsallen