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A NEW “STUDY” FROM ODOT RAISES SOME QUESTIONS

By: Steve Magas, June 21, 2011

Well, here it is June 20, and I’ve been away from the Blog for FAR too long… a very busy Bike Month indeed!

ODOT, Ohio’s Department of Transportation, does a lot of statistical stuff, along with the Ohio Department of Public Safety – ODPS.  ODOT had a Press Release about the dangers of cycling and  walking the other day which is interesting.  The key points:

-  FORTY PERCENT of all Pedestrian & Cycling Crash incidents involve KIDS – Folks age 5-18!

- Between 2006 and 2010, more than 23,297 crashes were pedestrian and bicycle-related resulting in 552 fatalities and 20,478 injuries (3,699 serious injuries).

This was surprising to me.  I have all the crash data in Ohio for all bicycle crashes from 2005 to 2010.  Unfortunately, the data I have is not searchable, as in a spreadsheet.  Rather, it was provided to me in 250 page PDF files.

ODOT submitted four charts of data. The first, below, shows ALL the bicycle and pedestrian crashes for five years, broken down by month.  The 10,212 “bike” crashes is consistent with the data I have which shows an average of around 2,000 crashes per year.

The second chart, below, shows the pedestrian & bike crashes involving kids aged 5 to 18.  The chart highlights what you and I might think, “Oh Yea, that makes sense…” – the fact that kid-crashes go up when school goes out.

The third chart shows the results of the second chart in a timeline manner.  The Kid Crashes – both bike and pedestrian.

The fourth chart shows the total pedestrian and bike crashes.  The pedestrian crashes are  certainly linear – they actually go UP a bit in the fall – my guess is that there is a correlation between the earlier darkness of the fall.  The total bike crashes match the kid-crashes – a “Bell” curve showing a rise in the summer “riding” months…


What fascinated me about this ODOT data review was this concept that Kid “Crashes” actually make up HALF of all bike crashes.  When I see that I feel MUCH better about being an adult rider in Ohio.  I “feel” like my odds of being in a crash on the roadway just got cut in HALF.

Fatal crashes are very different from just crashes.  Ohio has an average of 15-16 cyclists killed on Ohio’s roads each year.  The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety [IIHS], an auto insurance sponsored research group known primarily its auto crash testing, also keeps bicycle crash data – fatal crash data.  IIHS data reflects the following with regard to cyclist deaths in the United States.

As you can see, the demographics of bike crashes have completely Flip Flopped in the past 35 years.  In 1975, there were 1003 cyclist fatalities.  67% of those were under the age of 16.  Of the 1003 fatalities, 323 were over the age of 16.

By 2009, cyclist deaths have dropped significantly to 630.  However, while ODOT says 50% of all the “crashes” involve kids under 18, only 13% of the fatalities [85 out of 630] involved kids and 87% of deaths were of people over the age of 16.  This means that while cyclist deaths dropped almost 40%, the number ADULT cyclists killed in 2009 [545] was significantly GREATER than the number killed in 1975 [323].

According to NHTSA’s 2008 Report the average age of cyclists killed in the U.S. was 41 in 2008, UP from 32 in 1998.  The average age of cyclists INJURED has also gone up – from 24 in 1998 to 31 in 2008.

Bottom line – ODOT has tossed out some interesting math this week. I’m still waiting to receive the underlying data.  For now, though, it seems like an adult cyclist in Ohio can “feel” like the roads became LESS dangerous to him/her than they might have “felt” last week!

Good Luck and Good Riding!
Steve Magas, The Bike Lawyer

Printed from: http://www.ohiobikelawyer.com/bike-law-101/2011/06/a-new-study-from-odot-raises-some-questions/ .
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1 Comment   »

  • Lyle says:

    Thank you for the “% of deaths by age” chart. This supports my long-standing hypothesis that the vaunted “safety in numbers” effect is in some part a confusion with a demographic shift in the age/skill/gender/riding-style of cyclists.

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