As many of you know, I am a numbers guy – as an old not-quite-reformed math major who made a right angle turn, or perhaps a tangent arc, into law school, I’ve never shied away from “doing the math.”
Here’s some of the math from 2012 – Ohio had, roughly, 11,536,504 people living in its 88 counties, according to the 2010 census. I looked at the county-by-county breakdown of population for the 10 largest counties in Ohio. I then downloaded from the Ohio Department of Public Safety webpage the 2012 crash data for all of Ohio listing bicycle crashes, deaths and injuries in Ohio, and then again for each of the top 10 largest counties. I downloaded the results by Age and then reshuffled the deck and downloaded by “Light Condition” – i.e., daylight, darkness. I was wondering if things were sort of … even… all over the state … if bigger, more urban counties were more “dangerous” …
The results are, I think, rather intriguing and certainly raise more questions than they answer.
First, the overview. In Ohio in 2012 there were a total of 1928 crashes in the OSPS system in a bicycle was involved. Typically these are crashes with cars. Some may be single vehicle, or bike-to-bike, if they happen on the public roadway. They may involve parking lot crashes with cars. They likely do NOT include crashes on trails, or crashes where someone fell down on the sidewalk or their driveway.
In 2012, there were 1,525 cyclists injured in those 1,928 crashes. We lost 18 cyclists in fatal crashes. From a numbers perspective, if you happened to be in a crash, the odds of you being injured in that crash are almost 80%. However, the odds of you dying are less than 1%.
How “likely” are you to crash on any given day? I wish we had a way to figure that out, but my answer is, and remains… NOT VERY – more on that below.
Let’s start with the the chart below from ODPS which shows the total crashes in Ohio broken down by the population of the city where the crash occurred. As you can see, 871 crashes [45% of the total] occurred in “bigger” cities [>50,000 people]. That means 55% of the crashes happened in cities with fewer than 50,000 people. According to the 2012 census figures only 15 cities in Ohio had populations exceeding 50,000. Does that mean there were a LOT of crashes in smaller rural villages and towns and not so many in Ohio’s “big” cities, with populations over 50,000? 44% [8 of 18] of the 2012 fatalities occurred in bigger cities – again are smaller, less “urban” towns seeing a lot of fatal bike crashes?
Well… now, numbers can be a tad wee bit deceiving if you don’t understand what they are or where they came from. There are something like 800+ different law enforcement organizations in Ohio which might investigate crashes. Ohio has hundreds of small townships and cities and villages and burgs and incorporated areas and towns.
Hamilton County, where Cincinnati sits, has more than 45 smaller cities- Terrace Park, Newtown, Cheviot, College Hill, Fairfax, Mariemont, etc etc etc – Each has police and fire departments, a mayor and its own special breed of “bike laws.” Each police department “investigates” crashes within its borders, along with the Ohio State Highway Patrol [OSHP] and the Sheriff. Anyone who’s “not from these parts” might categorize a Mariemont bike crash as happening in the “big city” of Cincinnati – but Mariemont’s population is only 3,403 per the census figures.
So, OK, maybe this chart isnt’ all THAT useful.
What I ended up doing was looking at the ten biggest COUNTIES in Ohio and asking the ODPS magic 8-ball computer to break down the data that way. I created the chart below to summarize the data by county.
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