Maybe the economy is the reason you might get hit by a car.
And more bike lanes could be the reason you don’t.
An interesting piece in Saturday’s LA Times suggests that traffic collisions surged in the first six months of this year, reversing a long-term drop, because an improved economy and lower gas prices — except in California, of course — has resulted in more people on the roads.
In fact, American’s drove a record 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of the year, beating the previous high water mark set eight years ago.
The story notes that the increase in miles driven doesn’t totally explain the jump in collisions here in California, suggesting that distracted driving also plays a significant role.
Interestingly, Dennis Hindman recently came to a similar conclusion, digging into SWITRS data submitted by the LAPD to conclude that pedestrian-involved collisions dropped when the economy tanked, while bike collisions jumped.
And that bike wrecks started to fall when more bike lanes were installed in Los Angeles.
The first chart below was created using California Highway Patrol SWITRS data of motor vehicle involved collisions reported by the LAPD within the city of Los Angeles.
Notice how the amount of pedestrian involved collisions with motor vehicles started to drop in 2009 when the economy went into a recession. Then the pedestrian involved motor vehicle collisions began to increase as the economy started to recover.
The motor vehicle involved collisions with bicycles rose in 2008 when a sharp increase in the price of gasoline very likely contributed to a large increase in the amount of bicycle commuters. The bicycle involved collisions kept increasing in the recession from 2009 through 2011, unlike the pedestrian involved collisions with motor vehicles.
The LADOT started to greatly increase the miles of bike lanes installed per calendar year beginning with 20.94 miles in 2011. Then 62.42 miles of bike lanes were installed in 2012, 96.6 miles in 2013 and 23.3 miles in 2014.
The motor vehicle involved collisions with bicycles had a much lower amount of increase in 2013 of about 1% compared to a 7% increase in 2012 and then declined by about 6% in 2014. This occurred even though there was likely a large increase in the amount of people bicycling due to the miles of bicycle lanes installed.
The percentage of the total motor vehicle collisions that involved bicycles has gone from 3% in 2007 to 6% in 2014.
The second chart below, created from SWITRS data, shows a decline in the motor vehicle involved collisions involving other motor vehicles reported by the LAPD during the recession. Unlike the pedestrian involved collisions, these motor vehicle collisions have not increased to the pre-recession level in 2008 as the economy recovered. A contributing factor in this could be the increased level of safety for occupants of cars that car manufacturers are required to install. This may not have lowered the amount of collisions involving motor vehicles, but it could have reduced the number of LAPD collision reports due to a lower incidence of injuries to motor vehicle occupants.
Comparison of motor vehicle involved fatalities from collisions with other motor vehicles or pedestrians.
Of course, before someone else points it out, we should note that correlation is not causation. But the data does suggest it’s worth considering.
Thanks to Dennis Hindman for his analysis. Not many people have the skill, or the patience, to wade through complex data like that, and actually make sense of it.
Writing for Flying Pigeon, Richard Risemberg offers a warning about the bikelash rearing its ugly head at tonight’s town hall meeting to discuss the successful Rowena road diet, which has cut injury collisions by half.
Ivanhoe Elementary School Auditorium
2828 Herkimer St, Los Angeles, CA 90039
6:30 – 8:30pm
Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson gets a big markdown on a citation for blowing a stop on a group ride, but wonders if the ticket will count against his license.
Which serves as a reminder to always make sure any traffic ticket you get while riding clearly indicates you were on a bike. Bicycling infractions should never count as points against your driver’s license, since no license is required to ride a bike.
But if it’s not marked, the DMV may assume you were in a car, and wrongly assign points against your license for the infraction.
People say cyclists dress funny. I’ll take sausage-casing spandex festooned with logos over fashionista haute couture any day.
The Vuelta was won — and lost — on Saturday’s final mountain stage as race leader Tom Dumoulin cracked, losing nearly four minutes to fall out of contention for the podium, and allowing Fabio Aru to secure the overall victory.
Dumoulin’s performance over the first 19 stages has the Dutch dreaming of Tour de France glory. And a Madrid thief earned himself a striped jersey when police spotted a $13,600 bike stolen from the Orica Greenedge team for sale in a second hand store for one-tenth its value.
Meanwhile, American Shelley Olds sprinted to victory in the first Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, a
token 54-mile circuit race on the final day of the men’s tour.
Germany’s Andre Greipel took the seventh stage of the Tour of Britain in a photo finish, then was stripped of his victory the next day.
Forty-two-year old American Molly Shaffer Van Houweling set a new women’s hour record in Mexico City, breaking the old mark that had stood for a dozen years.
And Bicycling magazine finally catches up with the No Podium Girls movement, and agrees that offering up hot women as the spoils of victory send the wrong message to women, as well as men.
LADOT released their annual report for the last fiscal year, saying safety is their priority. Which is a welcome change from the old LADOT that focused strictly on moving as many cars as quickly as they could, safety be damned.
A Santa Monica High School student is working to promote bike helmet use with a new website, along with a 20% discount on helmets at Helen’s Cycles if you mention the site.
Bad news from Pasadena, as bike rider described only as an Asian man in his 20s is in critical condition after somehow colliding with a parked car with enough force to shatter the rear windshield; he suffered severe head and neck injuries despite wearing a helmet.
Next month’s Richard Selje Ride4Recovery in Pasadena will raise funds to make treatment more affordable for men who want to get clean, with rides of 25, 62 and 100 miles.
The Daily Breeze looks at the Redondo Beach man building custom bikes with steering wheels instead of handlebars; so far he’s only raised just $10 of a requested $10,000 with a month to go. Call me crazy, but I’d think a steering wheel would make the handling awfully twitchy.
CLR Effect’s Michael Wagner goes for a dirty ride, and looks forward to the coming SoCal Cross season.
A new poll says most Californians think local politics are pointless. And that’s how we get stuck with people like Gil Cedillo, when only a handful of people turn out to vote.
The Orange County Bicycle Coalition reports the Santa Ana River Trail is open again, after riders were detoured for construction work.
A writer for the San Diego Free Press says the city’s North Park neighborhood should be bike friendly, but isn’t.
San Diego’s Bike SD will benefit from this weekend’s 35-mile Bike to the Border.
Scofflaw Santa Cruz cyclists attend bike traffic school, just like their counterparts on four wheels. A bill to allow similar bicycle traffic diversion schools statewide passed the legislature last month and awaits the governor’s signature.
Caught on video: A plant-killing San Francisco bike messenger was apparently doing other cyclists and the native environment a favor by stomping out fennel.
Two Special Forces vets are riding cross-country to raise money to help the families of special ops soldiers, while 10 cyclists are setting out from San Diego today on a ride across the US to raise awareness of mental illness.
Portland opens a new bridge for trains, buses, bikes and pedestrians, but motor vehicles need not apply; the lights on the bridge change according to the river flow and temperature.
A dozen blind Iowans team with sighted cyclists for a tandem bike ride.
Just days after complaining to the local press about the danger of motorists driving in a dedicated bus and bike only lane, an Ohio cyclist was injured in a fall when a driver blared on his horn while hugging his back wheel. Although the driver, who claims he didn’t know about the lane restriction, says he just “beeped at the gentleman and he fell off his bike.” Right.
Nearly 500 cyclists ride from Ground Zero to Boston to remember victims of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings, raising half a million dollars for the families of police officers.
A Boston area livable streets group wants to connect the area’s existing pathways to create a 200 mile bike and pedestrian network.
British police are looking for a driver who got out of his car and punched a bike rider in the face, breaking his cheekbone in an unprovoked attack.
A Brit bike rider uses his to deliver blood, breast milk and meningitis fluid to hospitals.
The new leader of the UK’s Labour Party isn’t just unabashedly liberal, he’s also car-free and rides a bike; in fact, he owns two.
One-hundred-fifty Indian med students ride their bikes to promote bicycling and other forms exercise to prevent heart attacks.
Bicycles are helping young Bangladeshi women eradicate gender disparity by providing the opportunity to get an education.
A New Zealand study said MAMILs — Middle Aged Men In Lycra, for the uninitiated — were keeping people from riding bikes, as just the thought of wearing skintight togs was enough to scare some people off. Spandex serves a purpose, especially if you plan on long, fast rides. But bicycling isn’t a fashion show; wear whatever the hell you feel comfortable riding in.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei takes his impressive bicycle art sculpture to Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria. I can’t help thinking that those 1,500 bikes would be even more impressive on the streets with people riding them, though. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.
If you’re going to ride your bike to rob a bank, at least do it right; a New York man tried to rob six New York banks in just two days, but only managed to ride off with a lousy thousand bucks. Evidently, pointlessly sexist ads for children’s bike are out of fashion these days.
And no. Just… no.
I love your site and read daily so please forgive this little nit-pick, but I believe the headline should be “affect” not “effect”. And keep up the great work!
Nothing to forgive; I love it when people proofread my site for me. And you’re absolutely right. That’s what I get for trying to put up a post at two in the morning.
Thanks for the correction, and thanks for reading!
Something else that correlates to the decline in motor vehicle occupant deaths in 2008 is the adoption of stricter crash test standards in 2006 that required vehicles be able to hit a concrete wall at 35 MPH and all the occupants be able to open the nearest door and walk away from the wreck. The closest we got to that as cyclists and pedestrians was advances in trauma care reducing the fatality ratio from 50% to 40% at 30 MPH.