Tuesday, October 24, 2006

David Smith's Bicycle Fatality Report

David Smith thinks a lot about bicycle safety. He rides a lot of miles and asks a lot of questions. He is an advocate of the position that cyclists are safest when they behave as vehicles and he is often a critic of segregated cycling facilities. One of David's pages is at:


David strongly believes that the current bike lane structure on Dexter Avenue in Seattle is flawed and could be improved. I think he makes some good points.

But David has a problem in that he often presents so much information that things get buried. In chatting with David a while back he told me about a study he did of cycling fatalities. I got him to send me the direct link and I found it very interesting. Some quirks of in the original formatting prevented me from printing the report and it also seemed to not show up on Google's nearly infallible radar.

I took the liberty of reformatting David's original paper (I didn't change any of the contents) and posting it here:


I found the paper to be quite interesting and I think it deserves a wider audience. By mentioning it here, I'm exposing it to the blogosphere.


Anonymous said...

Can we conclude that proper lighting and following the rules of the road are enough to avoid fatalities? Maybe so. It still pays to be extra cautious and react to cars as if they never see you.

Kent Peterson said...

I tend to believe that ultimately life'll kill ya. But having lights, reflectors, and bright clothes sure don't seem to hurt your odds. Being visible, riding consistently and assuming that drivers still may not see you all seem worthwhile to me. On my commute last night I passed a jogger who was wearing a great reflective vest and I also rode by some folks dressed like ninjas. I think the reflective jogger has a better chance of survival.

Anonymous said...


I think many people, and admittedly me, remove reflectors from their bikes when new, because of looks. Many people seem to think they make their bikes look “kiddy” like and not like a serious cyclist machine. I usually leave the pedal reflectors on my platform pedals and the rear reflector in place. I remove the wheel and front reflectors. Well, after reading your blog, I’ve had some second thoughts about my sense, or lack thereof.

Ironically enough, I passed a bicycle commuter today on my way to work (still a little dark) and he had a red rear blinking light. I kept looking at him in my rear view mirror as I went along … it was still visible at at least ½ mile. That helped convince me, that in low light conditions or even daylight for that matter, a rear light really helps a motorist’s visibility of a cyclist. I suppose you could compare it to daytime headlights on cars … the headlights alert drivers that may otherwise not see the vehicle … or are in just in enough of a lala land to be oblivious to their surroundings. And I’m sure a front headlight on a bike would equally help motorists see you exist when they are turning.

Regards and keep up the good writing …

Chris Autterson / Novi, MI

GO Tigers !

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kent, for highlighting this report. I have viewed David's web pages and links and also spoken with him several times. The information and skills I picked up from him have helped me be a better cyclist. But I agree that there is so much good information available that some things can get buried. Thanks for putting the spotlight on this data. Anything I can do to increase the margin for error (my own or others) I find helpful. Cheers, Gene

nollij said...

Kent, you inspired me to write my own blog entry about the subject. Your's and Todd Fahrner's (of Stokemonkey fame) blogs are my favorites: keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Another thanks! I too am a hi-vis cyclist, with my yellow jacket, multiple reflectors, Planet Bike super blinkies and reflective tape on the bike.

But... there's the flip side. Sometimes when it's your day, it's your day:


Thanks for the re-write, very interesting.