We already know that, even though there are more cyclists on the road here, there have been less fatal injuries to cyclists in Philly. Slate, in a piece about the relationship between motorists and cyclists, is quick to point out that this is a national trend, telling us that “A recent study by researchers at Rutgers and Virginia Tech … showed that, despite the total number of bike trips tripling between 1977 and 2009, fatalities per 10 million bike trips fell by 65 percent.” This, as we learned, could be a “safety in numbers thing,” but Slate also argues, using the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia‘s own statistics, that cyclists are also riding safer.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia studied rider habits on some of Philly’s busier streets, using some rough metrics to measure the assholishness of bikers: counting the number of times they rode on sidewalks or went the wrong way on one-way streets. The citywide averages in 2010 were 13 percent for sidewalks and 1 percent for one-way streets at 12 locations where cyclists were observed, decreasing from 24 percent and 3 percent in 2006.”
We know there are still tons of asshole bikers out there (Jim Saksa, who authored the Slate piece, admits to being one), but most of them are alright. So why all the vitriol still? Saksa ties it to affect heuristic, or “a fancy way of saying that people make judgments by consulting their emotions instead of logic.” The negative experiences dominate the positive ones, which explains why some dude cutting you off with a bike once sticks with you longer than 100 cyclists riding calmly alongside your car. What this says is while it might have been your fault back then as a cyclist, it’s totally on the driver for still holding a grudge against everything on two wheels. But word to the wise, until everything is honky dory, just try to keep an eye out for that Escalade (or fixie) coming up behind you.