Today’s Nuclear Summit ignores a more urgent holocaust

When I open the administrative page for this blog, one of the first things I see is a list of the top 10 search terms people have used to find it.

Yesterday, eight of those terms represented people looking for information about Jorge Alvardo, the Bahati team pro cyclist killed by an 18 year old street racer in Highland, CA last week. So far today, nine of the top 10 search terms were about the same subject.

And that same pattern was reflected throughout the past weekend, ever since I wrote about his death on Friday.

Of course, that’s nothing new.

I see the same thing every time I write about a high profile incident, whether it involves someone well known, or a local physician testing his brakes in a Brentwood canyon.

I just wish I saw the same level of interest when I write about ordinary cyclists who lose their lives in less inflammatory incidents.

And that’s the problem.

We’ve reached a point in this country when the death of a cyclist or a pedestrian or even a family killed in a collision with a motor vehicle barely makes the news. We may pause for a moment to consider the tragedy, whisper a small prayer if we’re so inclined, then we go on with our lives, barely aware of the continuing holocaust that takes place on our streets every day.

In 2008, the last year statistics are available, 716 cyclists were killed on America’s roadways. Along with 4,378 pedestrians, 5,290 motorcyclists and 26,689 drivers and passengers. And another 188 people killed on the roads who couldn’t be classified for one reason or another.

Don’t bother doing the math, I’ll do it for you.

That’s 37,261 people killed on the streets and highways of the U.S. alone — let alone the hundreds of thousands killed around the world each and every year.

The real tragedy is that’s good news, because that number represents a drop of almost 10% from the 41,259 people killed in 2007.

Yes, over 37,000 people — not just statistics, but real human beings with hopes and dreams, families and friends — killed by motor vehicles in a single year is an improvement.

And I only hope it turns your stomach as much to read that sentence as it did mine to write it.

Now consider this.

The total number of people killed in nuclear attacks since the end of World War II 65 years ago is zero.

That’s right. Zero.

Which is not to say that the nuclear summit taking place in Washington, DC today isn’t important. Nuclear weapons, whether in the hands of nations or terrorists, have the potential to kill tens of thousands, if not millions, in just seconds. And reducing or eliminating that threat should be one of the highest priorities of every government around the world.

But yesterday, Constance Holden, a 68-year old woman riding her bike, was struck and killed by a 5-ton National Guard truck providing security for one of the summit’s many motorcades just five blocks from the White House.

A conference intended to prevent one holocaust ended up contributing to another. Yet like almost every other death on our streets, it barely made a blip in the news outside Washington.

We’ve gotten used to it. And accept it as part of our daily lives, just another risk we take when we leave our homes every day.


That’s good news. Right?

Thanks to Noah Salamon for the heads-up on the death of Constance Holden in Washington DC yesterday.


Condolences to the men and women of the LAPD, who buried one of their own today, and the family and loved ones of Officer Robert J. Cottle, killed while on duty with his Marine Reserve unit in Afghanistan last month.


The LACBC is looking for volunteers to conduct a survey of pre-sharrow cyclist behavior. Bike corrals come up for a vote at Wednesday’s TranspoComm meeting. Hoover Street goes on a road diet as LADOT celebrates 1.64 miles of new bikes lanes — only 48.36 to go to match what NYC will do this year; on the other hand, L.A. Eco-Village reported it first and better. Big changes could be underway at L.A.’s Department of Planning; how that will affect bike planning is TBD. Long Beach’s bike-friendly mayor — at least judging by results — is up for re-election Tuesday. Photos from last weekend’s San Diego Custom Bicycle Show. The bigger, better newly transplanted U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame opens in Davis later this month. An Arizona driver gets four years for the death of a popular cyclist and soccer coach. An Anchorage woman commits to not driving for a month by freezing her car keys in a bucket of water; I hope she took the alarm remote off first. Most cyclists fit into more than one box. Advice from Chicago for beginning bike commuters. Evidently, biking with a Burley in tow is a rare thing around Beantown. Two South Carolina teenagers face felony assault charges after they push a cyclist off his bike from a passing car; read the comments only if you have a strong stomach and need to feel superior to someone. A Georgia State University cyclist says roads are made for cars, and Critical Mass should get a permit. Last weekend marked the Blessing of the Bicycles in New York and Toronto; ours is coming up next month. A Toronto cyclist dies a week after falling from his bike. Montreal may finally get bike racks on its buses. Photos from Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix classic. Britain has spent £2.4 million to build an online bike route planner, despite the fact there’s already a better one. What Brit cyclists should ask for from their politicians. From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like London’s bike scene is thriving, while Dr. Who has nothing on the city’s tweed-clad cyclists. Dublin’s bike share program may be the world’s most successful; only two bikes have been stolen and both were recovered. Adelaide cyclists plan a memorial ride for the third South Australian cyclist killed this year. Turns out low-fat milk is the ideal post-ride recovery drink — and chocolate milk is even better.

Finally, it turns out there’s an equivalent site to all those hot girls on bikes websites for you hot man lovers out there; oddly, my photo isn’t on there.

Go figure.


  1. Chewie says:

    The more people see the numbers on traffic collision fatalities the better. I’m often fond of comparing the number who die in collisions to the number who die in terrorist attacks.

    9/11 was a terrible tragedy in which about 3,000 people died. So how much more terrible is this? And why do we spend so much money “fighting terrorism” when the treat is relatively minor.

  2. Joe Linton says:

    I think you mean “bike corrals” not “bus corrals”

    Also, eco-village blog broke the Hoover bike lanes story a day and a half before the LADOT – show us some link love!

    • bikinginla says:

      You’re right of course. What would I do without you to keep me honest? And you got your link love now (see above).

      • Joe Linton says:

        yay! I am in the running for chief bike proof-reader… and I am always happy when I, as an amateur, publish the scoop in advance of other more official sources.

  3. Opus the Poet says:

    Loved the Tweed Ride.

  4. Opus the Poet says:

    OK I was checking out some of the links from the main body of the story, and that family killed in the rainstorm article had right at 60 comments, 4 of which blamed the wreck on cyclists in spandex. I’m reading this and asking myself, “What does a report on people getting killed on the freeway have to do with bicycle riders?”

  5. Digital Dame says:

    I frequently post alerts from this organization: Transportation for America when there are votes pending on these kinds of issues (making roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists).

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