Dr. Chris Cavacuiti was hit by a turning truck on Unwin a few years ago while cycling. Since then he's done a lot of research on bike safety, has become a cycling advocate and written a regular column in Dandyhorse. He's interviewed in the Toronto Star.
Things we learn: males are the most dangerous drivers.
The study showed that drivers were largely culpable in 74 per cent of all of accidents and partially culpable in another 16 per cent. Interestingly, one of the big findings was ... that 97 per cent of the drivers in cases of fatal accidents involving cyclists were male. It is highly unlikely to get that kind of statistic by random chance. One of the things we know about young men is that they tend to be the most aggressive drivers on the road.
The Netherlands has the lowest cycling fatality rate and really low helmet use.
...helmets are quite a small part of the picture when it comes to preventing major cycling injuries. Particularly for adult cyclists, most deaths occur from massive body trauma that occurs as a result of being hit in the torso by the grille of a car. The helmet does not help you with that.
Education not licensing, idiots!
Sometime around Grade 6, when kids usually want to start being more independent, start wanting to be going off on their own and meeting their friends, that would be an excellent point at which to have some kind of mandatory training.
"Education not licensing,Thu, 05/28/2009 - 03:00
"Education not licensing, idiots!"
Quoted for truth.
Star is making up for their recent anti-biking sentiment. Atleast this article seems uncontrived and based in statistics (and not line after line of BS like the anti-cycling editorials).
Good stuff as always herb.
Quoting real statisticsThu, 05/28/2009 - 12:07
The study he refers to counts both cycling and pedestrian fatalities in New York over a period of a few years. The number he quoted of 74%/16% full/partial driver culpability includes BOTH cyclists and pedestrians. Which considering the article was specifically about cycling, was a bit of a misrepresentation.
For cycling fatalities - total number around 70 - about half were "unknown" culpability. Where they could establish culpability- the actual finding was 60% full and 10% partial driver culpability. (so cyclists are more often responsible than pedestrians). This is very different number than the one he presented. But still heavily skewed towards driver fault.
Do I think the guy has a good message - yes. He talks a lot of sense. Helmets are not a cure all, education and awareness is. But he makes himself seem less credible by going for the higher impact numbers at the expense of accuracy. And the accurate numbers are still pretty telling.
Hmmm. Well put sunnyside. TheThu, 05/28/2009 - 12:55
Hmmm. Well put sunnyside.
The 97% of drivers being male in cyclist fatalies is still accurate right?
andrew d (not verified)
that 97% figure is SHOCKING.Thu, 05/28/2009 - 13:48
that 97% figure is SHOCKING. I mean, I'd expect it to be male-skewed for any number of reasons, but that's insane.
And counting.....Thu, 05/28/2009 - 14:33
I haven't read the study in depth, just fished for the tables containing the relevant data. (a bit of a cheat, but I'm supposed to be working right now :)
I think the 97% number looks right BUT aggressiveness in not the only contributor, and may be a minor one. The study refers to the fact that 75% of the drivers in the area of the study are male, so its already skewed there. Add in that over 1/3 of the vehicles involved were trucks/buses which are overwhelmingly driven by males and that could explain some more of the skew without invoking aggressiveness. But probably not all of it.
Just as a note, in my experience women give me more space when passing than male drivers do. Is passing closely aggressiveness or having better spatial awareness and assuming everything will be OK? The male drivers passing more closely might simply be being more efficient in their overtaking practices, but it also means that if I need to swerve suddenly there's a car there. I'm not convinced I'd call that aggressive. Stupid - yes. Bad planning and forethought - yes. Aggressive? Not so sure.
I also found it interesting that over the four years of the study five (count 'em 5) pedestrians were killed on sidewalks by cyclists. Unfortunately in the breakdown of type of vehicle involved they don't include bicycles as a vehicle type (just a victim!), so I cant find anything indicating whether there were any additional pedestrians killed by cyclists on the roads- so 5 is probably the low number there. Which is a little scary. I am rather too fond of thinking of the big bad cars as the lethal weapons, not my little sturmy-archer so much :)
Random cyclist (not verified)
There wasn't anger orThu, 05/28/2009 - 15:08
There wasn't anger or testosterone or even speeding involved in the cycling deaths last year in Toronto, just stupidity and a lack of judgment.
Nobody was deliberately doored or forced into traffic causing death.
The fellow who was deliberately rammed by a cabbie and lost his leg, now that I'd say would fit the bill. Luckily he survived.
Overall, I agree with the doc's opinions though.
Random cyclist (not verified)
Huh??Sun, 05/31/2009 - 10:10
So with the 97%...does that include all fatalities?? I mean, even the ones where the cyclist was at fault...oh, wait - I forgot cyclists are never at fault. Numbers are dangersous to start throwing around with out context. How long was the study? How many collisions...I mean, 97% could represent 100 fatalities where three drivers were females or old men. Last year in Toronto there were 2 fatalities with 2 male drivers...OMG 100% were male drivers. That's it, no more licences for men until they are what 50 - 60? I can't believe how much money is thrown at bicycles issues when they account for such a small percentage of the people who use streets.
The merits of reading thoroughly...Sun, 05/31/2009 - 12:57
So I'm going to ignore the illogical arguments and poor grammar and reiterate information I gave in my two previous posts (see how reasonable this cyclist can be?):
The study was completed over a four year period.
In total there were approximately 70 cyclist deaths and approximately 900 pedestrian deaths. So I would think that numbers produced from it could be considered statistically significant.
The 97% figure is specific to CYCLING fatalities. All cycling fatalities. Even the ones where the cyclist was a dumb-a**.
Nobody in this forum indicated that cyclists are never at fault, just that cars more often are, and I even pointed out that cyclists killed a few pedestrians in that period.
The study is called "Killed by Automobile" and is available online for your perusal - if you can take the time out of your busy ranting schedule that is.
As for the money currently being "thrown" at cyclists (I'm bathing in it right now and using some of the rest for kindling in my fireplace) its an "if you build it, they will come" scenario at the moment. You put in the infrastructure, people feel safe on bikes, see it as a viable form of transport and they will cycle. Its a good, fast, inexpensive mode of transport. And really doesn't inconvenience anyone except for (perhaps) the oil/automotive industry.
I'm not in favour of educationMon, 06/01/2009 - 05:33
I vastly prefer engineering and infrastructure to protect cyclists no matter what irresponsible and aggressive behaviour is perpetrated by caraholics.
Simply put, any reliance on human behaviour changing has got a major flaw in it. Car drivers are NOT going to stop being irresponsible and aggressive.
What I advocate are physical barriers to protect cyclists in bike lanes and protection through intersections. Residential neighbourhoods should be denetworked for cars with intersections being closed to cars so that there is only one way to drive a car through a neighbourhood - straight out to the nearest arterial road.
Cities like Copenhagen and Groningen provide excellent examples of how to protect cyclists. In these cities, car drivers are physically prevented from harming cyclists by barriers, intersection protections and neighbourhood car denetworking.
See, for example,
Head in the SandMon, 06/01/2009 - 10:46
How can you be against education?
Are you also opposed to the cycling elements that make up driver training in some European countries?
What about the behaviour of some cyclists in Toronto, who ride on the side walk and ignore traffic signals?
I think the friction between drivers and cyclists has more to do with the perceptions that feed off of this lack of information.
Separated roadways are ideal, and provide cleaner air and safer paths for cyclists, but education has been proven effective closing the gap between cyclists and drivers.
Re: Head in the sandMon, 06/01/2009 - 11:03
I agree with both of you, actually. Of course I want to see infrastructure installed, physically separated would be great (Forget taking down the Gardiner, leave it up as an east/west cycling corridor! ;-) ).
That said, I think there also needs to be education on both cyclists' part, and drivers' parts regarding cycling. The "Scofflaw cyclists" that commentors on the various news articles love to bring up, are a perception issue. It's a straw man, IMO, as I think everyone is so desensitized to scofflaw drivers that they just take it for granted. And there's also the perception that cyclists breaking the law are representative of the culture while drivers who break the law are just bad apples.
The two need to be coupled together, though. If you want to get bikes off the sidewalk, simply telling folks that it isn't allowed is not enough. They have to feel safe on the road. You also have to have to educate drivers who are not ignorant of the law. How many folks have been yelled at by a driver to "Get on the sidewalk!"?
While the problems are different, I am not sure infrastructure without education is any better than education without infrastructure.
I don't expect education toMon, 06/01/2009 - 11:34
I don't expect education to improve attitudes or help people to decide how to ride or drive. Safety campaigns preach to the choir, they are only listened to by those who are already aware.
Just build the infrastructure so it's safer and more people ride, they'll learn from watching and from the peer pressure of other cyclists.
Dark HelmetMon, 06/01/2009 - 10:08
My helmet has saved my cranium in two wipeouts over the past five years, so I think it's a damn good idea to wear one.
When I go on short trips to the store I don't wear a helmet, when I ride a cruiser I don't wear a helmet. But when I am commuting through the city, with traffic, in summer & snow, I always wear a helmet.
Helmets may get a bad rap from some advocates, that leaves me feeling a bit miffed.
There are very real contrasts between the conditions that serve the average Northern European cyclist compared to those in North America. Although a lot of this gets played off of the behaviour of the cyclist, other factors like: the type of bike, the cycling conditions, and the behaviour or other road users can not be overlooked.
Same hereMon, 06/01/2009 - 10:54
I always wear a helmet regardless of the conditions and where I am. That said, do I believe that it is likely to save me in the event of a collision? Probably not. But I will have the solace of knowing I won't lose sympathy from readers of The Star because the article will say "The cyclist was wearing a helmet."
OK, that's not the real reason. The real reason is that It's unlikely to put me at more risk (or at least not much more - I do know about that one study in the UK) and there is a chance it will help me. Looking dorky or having helmet hair is a small price to pay for a little extra insurance.
I'm not against education per se...Mon, 06/01/2009 - 16:53
... I just don't think that irresponsible and aggressive behaviour is curable by education. I suspect that car drivers who engage in this behaviour already know that it is wrong. Their problems are moral and/or psychiatric, not a lack of knowledge.
So what works? I believe in effective law enforcement for lethally dangerous behaviour. The laws are in place, they just need to be enforced. In other words, car offenders who commit behaviour that could result in death or serious injury to cyclists, pedestrians or other vulnerable road users should be charged by the police with Careless Driving. And sentenced by the courts to six months in prison. I predict that a few six-month sentences would provide effective deterrence.
I also believe in engineering out the possibility of committing the aggressive and dangerous behaviour in the first place.
AgreedMon, 06/01/2009 - 21:16
I would agree that we need an approach that is built on three fronts: education, infrastructure & enforcement - hopefully the end result would be a practice sustained by example.
And I am on your side with following the models already in place in other countries; it is painful for me to watch Toronto 'baby step' the implementation of cycling infrastructure when so many other cities have taken a decisive course of action.
Is it cultural?Mon, 06/01/2009 - 21:48
I have to wonder how much of the attitudes towards cyclists is cultural. In other words, is there a climate in Toronto that creates or supports aggression?
I ask this because I've cycled a few other places now and have not seen such hostility. i spent six months in Quebec City, cycling 30 km/day to work most days. I am not exaggerating when I say I did not meet one angry driver. Sure, the percentage of inattentive or careless drivers seemed to be the same but as for aggression or anger? None.
I just returned also from 3 weeks in the outskirts of Vancouver (Delta). Traffic was pretty light but what I noticed was there was much more patience. I was almost always given a full lane no matter what. Nobody sped up or squeezed me to get past before an oncoming car came - they simply waited and passed me when they could. The day I went back to work in Toronto I was greeted with an "F- you!" when I shouted at someone to get their attention before they ran me over as they changed lanes.
Sure, we're a big city and there's lots of traffic but is there more to it than this? Are people here more uptight? Do drivers have more of a sense of entitlement? Are there more cyclists behind the wheel driving and thus more aware of how to drive courteously? It's puzzling...
Anti Cycle BreakdownMon, 06/01/2009 - 23:33
If you asked for a study on this I am quite sure you could compile hundreds of pages documenting cause and effect.
I think there are a few things that make Toronto drivers a little more frustrated:
- You said it, Toronto is a big city, but it is also a city of long distance commuters who drive in excess of an hour in each direction.
- Drivers don't understand the value of cycling, nor do they understand the rights of cyclists
- I think there is a growing perception among drivers that they will have to start sharing more of the road with cyclist, and that equates to more time on the road.
- The number of new cyclists in Toronto is on the rise, and so is the number of freaky cycling maneuvers - and drivers are crying foul, can you blame them?
I sincerely hope you're wrong....Mon, 06/01/2009 - 18:11
See, I'm of two minds about the whole "off road trails" thing. Certainly I feel much safer as a cyclist when I'm separated from traffic. But realistically, we can't expect 100% coverage for every place we want to go. So if there are these dedicated off road cycling paths, then drivers will have to deal with cyclists (and vice versa) less frequently, and a) not be expecting cyclists on the roads and b) feel even more than they do now that cyclists do not 'belong' on the roads.
I;m pushing the education card, because I believe its achievable (and yes, enforcing laws, in my mind, counts as a form of education). Awareness is built through exposure, not preaching. More cyclists on the roads generally equals better driver awareness(or perhaps resignation).
You're right in that some people are idiots and theres no cure for that. So we educate the salvageable drivers , fine and prosecute the morons and everybody learns to get along. Whether they want to or not.
Ed (not verified)
Damn, a new accident data pointTue, 06/02/2009 - 13:30
My last bicycle accident involving someone/something else on the road was back around 1989.
Rolling down a quiet bicycle lane on a quiet street (Royal York a few blocks north of Lake Shore) a car pulled onto Royal York from the left....and then proceeded to try to turn right, right across the bike lane, right in front of me. (The cross-street, Hillside Ave., jogs at Royal York so it's left-right for anyone proceeding east to west across Royal York.)
I didn't quite get by in front of the car. The next thing I remember clearly is lying on my back, facing back the way I came, with my airborne bike (heavy old steel MTB with rack and panniers) about to land on top of me.
Ambulance came, police came. In the end, pending a visit to my doctor this afternoon, the damage amounts to a bruised left shin (maybe that's where the car hit?) and a back wheel that I can't quite adjust to be true.
The driver was a slow and unagressive woman, probably in her thirties. It's just as well that she was slow, because that kept the injury/damage down.
She kept saying "I'm a slow, careful driver!" which I agree with. She also kept saying "I don't know where he came from, I never saw him" which I also agree with. (I was coming home from downtown, taking Royal York south from the Queensway. Wearing an MEC flourescent green cycling jacket.)
The partner of the investigating officer said that she'd be charged with either careless or fail-to-yield. Sucks for us both, I guess.
I don't know if it's worth going after insurance if the rear wheel needs work. The cop said that "under $500 you're on your own".
robb (not verified)
You're not on your ownTue, 06/02/2009 - 15:47
I recently had an accident that resulted in about 125 damage to my bike. The driver's insurance interviewed me (took an hour or so), took a photo of the quote I got from a bike shop, and had a cheque to me within a week. You should definitely pursue damages. Also, if the driver asks you to settle, make sure it happens within a few days - insurance companies treat claims that happen more than a week after a collision as suspicious, and many drivers will try to stall you in order to weaken their case.
Bottom line is you are entitled to repairs, and I would argue that it is our responsibility to hold drivers accountable - this is the only way that driver habits will change, in my opinion.
I'm going to second thatTue, 06/02/2009 - 20:52
I'd be inclined to pursue the driver's insurance provider simply on principle. I'm a big believer in hitting people in the pocketbook to make them pay more attention. I'm pleased the police are planning to lay charges, but whether anything will come of that, who knows?
You were not at fault for the accident. She was. If she'd done a proper shoulder check it wouldn't have happened. The police agree. Its up to her to cover the damages. If you had been driving a car you would have had less damage to your person and wouldn't even be questioning the wisdom of making her pay for the repairs to your vehicle. Don't devalue your your bike or your right to a safe ride. Whether the repair is expensive is so completely not the point in a case like this.