Earlier in the week, I became a statistic. On Tuesday night, my bike was stolen from it’s locked position at a light pole in front of 620 South Third Street in Louisville, KY. Dutifully, I filed a police report, but I know how it works. The bike was probably parceled into parts moments after being stolen and is now probably fitted onto several different bikes. What’s aggravating about the situation is not that it was stolen, because after all it’s just stuff. At least I wasn’t on the bike when they were stealing it. No, what’s aggravating is that I did everything I could do to make sure that bike was not stolen, but in the end…there’s no way to prevent that really, short of not riding it, which defeats the purpose. Even more painful is the fact that as I was locking it up, I had this nasty hunch crawling around in my head that told me the bike would be stolen.
In other statistics, I’d like to point to the NYC Report on Cycling which covers all manner of bike statistics for 1996-2005. Recently, it has come to my attention that members of my family (the female contingent) have expressed concern over my riding at night. I maintain that it’s just as safe, if not safer, to ride at night than it is during the day. However, let me also say that none of this makes any difference because currently, due to previous statistical analysis, i.e. my bike was STOLEN, I’m not riding anywhere. Still, to prove my point:
- Over the last 30 days, 88% of my bike riding was in the daytime, or before 8 p.m.
- 38% of cycling deaths (according to the report) occured during the hours of 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. which arguably, at this latitude, is still within the daytime.
- The percentage of crashes between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the percentage between 8 p.m. and midnight were 19% and 20%, respectively, which, for my purposes, is statistically even
- “Among the fatalities with documented helmet use, 97% were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.” Being the safe, conscientious rider that I am, I wear a helmet 100% of the time. This is due, in no small part, to previous discussions with the female family contingent.
- 38% of bicycle-related crash factors involved disregarding traffic controls. I always have obeyed every traffic device even sometimes to the detriment of my own cause. You see, bikes don’t trigger traffic lights (at least not at any lights I’ve been stopped at in Louisville), so unless there’s a car in the lane with you, you can sit there forever on your bike and watch traffic. There are times I’d love to ignore the traffic signals, but that would be unsafe and improper.
- Cyclist injuries have dropped 35% between the late 90s and the early part of this century. This is most likely due to increased awareness of cyclists (if we don’t ride, how will you know to look for us?) and better equipment. As well, cyclist injuries only accounted for 8% of non-fatal transportation injuries which is the lowest total other than…gasp…motorcyclists at 2%.
- The vast majority of cycling deaths occurred outside bicycle lanes. So, if you’d like to worry less, contact your metro councilperson and ask them to consider (for the safety of your loved ones) putting more money into bike lanes and less money into bridges that will never get built.
- 53% of fatal crashes occurred on arterial highways (four-lane roads). Most of my riding occurred on back streets and local roads. As a matter of fact, save for the stretch of Eastern Parkway between Crittenden Drive and Goss Avenue, a mere 1.45 miles of road, all of my riding was done on roads of less than four lanes.
Now, New York City is unique for a variety of reasons, particularly when it comes to cyclists. That city has four times the national average of people who commute to work via bicycle. Still, I would maintain that these statistics, which I believe you’ll find overwhelmingly support my desire to cycle when and where I would like, are directly transferable to our fair city.
See you in the funny papers!
UPDATE: Apparently, the discussion among my female family members was regarding my personal safety by being downtown on my bike, and not about bike safety. My mother claims that I shouldn’t be riding downtown at night because people get shot. To which I replied, I’m just as likely to get shot in my own neighborhood as I am downtown at 3rd and Chestnut. Her response is that things are different these days; that it was safer when I was younger. Well, some statistical digging (Damn, I’m glad I finished college! I’ll win a lot more arguments this way.) has shown that actually the murder rate in our fair state has decreased since I was younger, while the theft rate has increased. I also want to point to SpotCrime which details crime in our fair city. Look up any address/crime you like.