Who’s at Risk From Drunk Cyclists?

This morning City Room wrote up a study published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention that examines the factors behind cyclist fatalities in New York City. Nearly all the data derives from a groundbreaking 2006 report on bike injuries and deaths [PDF], the joint effort of several city agencies that preceded a major expansion of New York’s bike network.

The journal article includes this new piece of information: Alcohol was detected in 18 of 84 autopsies performed on the deceased cyclists. Writes City Room:

Potentially, this could lead to an awareness campaign about drunken biking, akin to the now-familiar (and successful) anti-drunk driving campaigns that began in the 1980s
that featured slogans like “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” and
“Don’t drink and drive, call for a ride,” as well as the idea of
“designated drivers.”

It’s always helpful to learn more about what causes traffic fatalities (although, as several City Room commenters point out, the methodology leaves something to be desired in this case). But does equating drinking and biking with drinking and driving properly portray the public safety issues at work here?

Drinking and biking puts cyclists at risk because impairment makes them more likely to be killed by a motorist. Drinking and driving puts everyone in the vehicle’s path at risk of being killed by that motorist. In 2007, nearly 13,000 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers on American roads. More than 4,300 of those killed were people other than the impaired perpetrator behind the wheel [PDF]. Meanwhile, how many people died at the hands of a drunk cyclist?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Miami DWI Death Galvanizes Cyclists in South Florida

|
Cyclists rally in memory of Christophe Le Canne. Photo: rydel/Picasa via Miami Bike Scene The horrific death of a 44-year-old resident of South Miami has enraged cyclists across South Florida, igniting a debate over street safety in a region historically dominated by devil-may-care drivers. On January 17, Christophe Le Canne was out for a Sunday […]
This concept for a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside emphasizes safety for cyclists and pedestrians at intersections. Image: Max Sholl

Yes, There’s Room for a Protected Bike Lane on 43rd Avenue

|
In April, a drunk driver killed Gelacio Reyes, 32, on 43rd Avenue at 39th Street as he biked home in the early morning from work in Midtown Manhattan. Now advocates are renewing their call for DOT to install a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue and its westbound counterpart, Skillman Avenue, which connect the Queensboro Bridge to the protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard.
STREETSBLOG USA

Harvard Researcher Calls for Better Police Reporting of Bike Crashes

|
Police departments need to improve the way they investigate, document, and convey information about crashes involving cyclists, according to a new study by Harvard public health researcher Anne Luskin in the Journal of Injury Prevention. While police reports are standardized to record relatively detailed information about car collisions, the same is not true of collisions involving bikes. Better police […]