Thursday, 18 December 2008

Dumb Statistics!

I have to be very careful with this post. As i've usually only want to post positive stories about cycling (lets face it we hear enough negative ones!) but on a recent ecovelo post about cycling and health, someone posted a great rebuttal to the classic cycling is dangerous statistics.

All cycling is dangerous statistics compare accidents or deaths on a distance travelled basis eg per million or billion miles travelled.

Trains are safest, then cars and bikes are usually 10-20 times more dangerous than cars. Of course its nonsense for a variety of complex reasons. Which i have often explained at a dinner table till i've started to bore myself...
1) Individual routes make a huge difference eg Cars are safe on motorways but not A roads
2) Bike mileage is not comparable to car mileage, journey durations or trip nos would be more useful
3) Cyclists live longer than car drivers because they have protection against cardiovascular disease so its a truly dumb stat. Its dangerous not to cycle. If your family has a history of heart disease its suicidal not to cycle.

Back to that ecovelo response to the dumb stat....

"How any astronauts have died? But they travel a really long way, so that means space travel is statistically safer, right? Uh, no."



Angela V-C said...

Great post -- I know I sometimes feel nervous with my daughter on a bike (and the biking with a kid seems crazy to some), but she probably goes an average of less than two miles a week on a bike and basically does zero miles in a car. It's hard to get safer than that.

WestfieldWanderers said...

Interesting post. I've used the same argument too. But among the Great Bike-Phobic British there's none so blind... etc.

I've never used the space travel example before. That's a good one!