Feb 222012

Media: Melbourne Age
Dates: 10th February 2012, 11th February 2012
Headlines: Cyclist killed in highway car collision, Fatal February looms as another cyclist killedLinks: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/cyclist-killed-in-highway-car-collision-20120210-1s73p.html, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/fatal-february-looms-as-another-cyclist-killed-20120210-1smf7.html
Journalists: Megan Levy, Adam Carey

The Age’s photo of the Melton cyclist death shows an intersection designed only for fast moving cars.  There are no cycle lanes, no separate crossing for bikes, no way for a bike to trigger the traffic lights and dangerous slip lanes for turning cars.  The Age ignores these most relevant factors and instead focusses on things that would have made no difference.  Bike lights pointed away from the traffic would not have enabled cars doing 80+km/h to stop in time.  It was deemed relevant that the cyclist was wearing earphones and “may have been listening to music”.  Nobody asked whether the car driver had the radio on.  Nor would a helmet designed for 20km/h impact be relevant.

If we focus on irrelevant “causes” that blame the victims we will never implement solutions that work.

In London men are more numerous on bikes than women and yet more women are killed by trucks. A study for Transport for London, the government body responsible for roads and public transport in London, found the reason was that men were more likely to break the law by going through red lights to get away from the trucks at intersections.  Women obey the law more and are killed more often as a result.  There are many reasons why a cyclist would break the law that don’t result from carelessness but in fact are a rational response by cyclists to roads that are not designed to make cycling safe.

The Netherlands hasn’t reduced its death toll by blaming the victim with campaigns, fines and lectures about being “safe”.  It has done it with safe infrastructure and campaigns, fines and lectures directed at motor vehicle drivers. A focus on the real causes will produce results, while focussing on irrelevant “causes” will perpetuate the problems.

 Posted by at 3:58 pm

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