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

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 12

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


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Still Better Than The Bus: Open Thread

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 13

Good lord the roads are proper shit today.  Layers of ice and slush and lots and  lots of rump braille snow.  I went slow, and steady, and rode straight upright and didn’t have any problems with slipping, but damn it was a bit nerve wracking on the hills.  It was grade A gross.  But you know what, even crawling at half speed, even though my toes were a little wet, and even though it was super putrid out, it WAS STILL BETTER THAN TAKING THE BUS!

It wasn’t that cold, it wasn’t that nasty, and I got home only 10 minutes slower than normal.

I saw other cyclists, and I saw evidence of their trails, so I know I wasn’t the only yahoo out there today,  share your adventures below.


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Our Inner Fire Burns

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 16

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On crisp winter days one can understand the truth of our inner fire. We, in a very real sense, are burning. The oxygen we breath combines with the food we eat in a process very much like combustion. We are human shaped fires.

When its just above freezing, with no wind, one can see clear evidence of this inner conflagration. Riding in this weather can be slightly cold to start but resist the temptation to over dress. After a mile or so your inner fire turns on and the warmth will spread to your extremities. You can ride like this indefinitely. When you do stop a cloud of steam rises from your mouth, showing you the evidence of your burning.

Harness that flame, use it to propel yourself, slice through the chill air moving with a speed that is at once satisfying and human scaled. Don’t waste your inner inferno sitting in a metal box. Tap it, harness its power and move under your own power. Get your bike and turn that fire into motion!


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Lovely Ride To Work: Open Thread

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 02

I had an absolute lovely time riding in today.  Roads were empty and not too bad, no traffic, and it wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be.  We will see how going home is.

 

EDIT: Ride home was also pretty good.  I slipped and slid all over the Longfellow, but other than that wasn’t too bad.  Been hibernating every since.  I am becoming more and more convinced that a bicycle will do just fine in most weather conditions.  But then again you don’t need to ride in the snow if you don’t want to.

For those of you that asked, I ride a fixed gear aluminum bicycle, with 25mm slick gator-skin hard shells on them year round rain/snow/shine.  I am sure snow tires, or something else would be better, but this is what I am used to so this is what I go with.

 

Anyone else ride?  Share you stories.  Open thread below.


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Happy New Year!

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 31

 

I am not big on the “traditional” holidays, but do find new years to be a good time to look back and look forward.  This has been an awesome year for cycling in this town, thanks to everyone who checked out this little website and thanks to everyone who contributed to make it and cycling better in this town.

Happy new year’s everyone.  May your 2014 be full of good roads, tail winds, and smooth cycling.


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That Rain Was Real Pointy Today…

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 09

48-GEAR_Rain-EssPeaPhotography

 

And there was a fair amount of wind as well.  But you know what, I rode my bike, and so did hundreds of other people.  Because there is no such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing choices.

I had my rain pants on, my rain jacket, some water proof gloves, and I was happy, warm and dry.  And as an added bonus everyone at work got to say (for the 1000th time), “You rode your bike to work today!?!”

When I went outside and the rain bounced off my arm and hits me in the face with a little sting I briefly questioned my “year round biking lifestyle,”  but when I got to the Longfellow and saw the poor poor people packed like fish into the red line, I knew I had made the right choice.

99 out of 100 days riding your bike to work is like enjoying a fine piece of chocolate, or a spring day, or a kiss from a loved one, but once in a while its total shit.  Today was that day, as will be roughly 3.65 days this year (if it really is 99 out of 100) when riding your bike to work is not that fun.  You can make it more fun with proper clothing, but sometimes it just a little bit of an uphill struggle.  I see the very few bad days as my payment for the hundreds of amazing ones.  A small price to pay.


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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