Phoenix puts the "graphic" in graphic novels about bike safety
April 20, 2016 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Arizona Central reports that the Phoenix Department of Streets has been distributing to kids bicycle safety comics that use very explicit visuals of injuries from bicycle accidents. Warning: I'm not kidding when I say they are explicit.
posted by agatha_magatha (86 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, that brings new meaning to "graphic novel".
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:53 PM on April 20, 2016


These are great!

They do a poor job of patient care, though. Try not to move a patient until the ambulance gets there, particularly if there is risk of spinal injury.
posted by poe at 3:53 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well yes, it's explicit. But it's no 'Apaches'.
posted by pipeski at 3:55 PM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Dang. Ricky from #4 is harsh.

It's nice to see these. The streets in Phoenix are pretty inhospitable to cyclists; I always cringe when I see some dude blasting down the sidewalk along Thomas.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 4:03 PM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is a victim-blaming piece of shit that isn't even backed by evidence.

Wear your helmets, kids. A motorist could plow you down at any time, and it'll be entirely your fault! Next time, consider driving instead!

You should probably wear a helmet, but the benefits of doing so don't even remotely correlate with the amount of attention that helmet safety gets (mostly peddled by non-cyclists and government officials who have no interest in addressing the factors that make cycling unsafe).

After bikesharing started appearing in American cities at the start of the decade, there was widespread outcry about how the proposed systems would attract inexperienced cyclists who don't wear helmets, and that this would lead to huge numbers of injuries. 6 years later, the statistics show that bikesharing indeed attracted many new cyclists, many of whom don't wear helmets. But, there was no uptick in injuries, and there has yet to be a single fatality in the US -- contrary to the predictions, bikeshare users were significantly less likely to be injured.

The biggest factors affecting bicycle safety are the number of other cyclists on the road, and the existence of infrastructure that can safely accommodate them.

The death throes of suburbia and car culture are starting to get ugly.
posted by schmod at 4:05 PM on April 20, 2016 [58 favorites]


lol wow it's like Goofus and Gallant, only with exposed brains and impalings

oh and spoilers, I shit you not, the one fatality is the black kid
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:05 PM on April 20, 2016 [24 favorites]


This is the most Phoenix approach ever to bicycle safety. Like, how much more Phoenix could it be? None. None more Phoenix.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:13 PM on April 20, 2016 [13 favorites]




This is a victim-blaming piece of shit that isn't even backed by evidence.

Wear your helmets, kids. A motorist could plow you down at any time, and it'll be entirely your fault! Next time, consider driving instead!


This is very uncharitable. It looks like good advice to me and I didn't pick up any trace of victim-blaming. These are all hazards you should watch out for if you're riding among cars because, well, drivers kinda suck a lot of the time and on a bike you are comparatively really quite vulnerable. Not sure how teaching bike safety to kids is going to work if anything they hand out is going to be interpreted as laying blame.
posted by Hoopo at 4:14 PM on April 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Wow those are intense! I was all set to be all rageful about victim blaming: we need better road design that favors bikes and peds - all the "education" of the victims of car fatalities in the world won't stop cars from killing people - buuutttt, these are actually really quirky and awesome! Even if their intended message is a fail from my point of view.
posted by latkes at 4:15 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is a victim-blaming piece of shit that isn't even backed by evidence.

Riding on the wrong side of the road isn't victim-blaming, it's a great way to get hit and statistics back it up.

Seriously, don't ride on the wrong side of the road.
posted by GuyZero at 4:31 PM on April 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


So, basically that one Calvin and Hobbes arc?
posted by fifthrider at 4:35 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The sound effects are the best.

CRACK!
CRITCH!
CRUNCH!
GUSH!
posted by gottabefunky at 4:44 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Time to reboot "One Got Fat?"
posted by drezdn at 4:50 PM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


"What if that's the last wheelie I ever do?" These are fantastic. Teens will be happy to slog through five or six pages of goody-goody nonsense if they're guaranteed that someone gets graphically wrecked on the last page, and these do not disappoint.
posted by phooky at 4:52 PM on April 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Oh, oh! Let's do one next for motorists who run over cyclists! It can show the graphic consequences of what happens to people who recklessly kill others in public spaces.


Oh right, there are none. Wear your helmet, bikers!
posted by bradbane at 4:57 PM on April 20, 2016 [35 favorites]


/wonders how many collisions there are that would leave you with an exposed brain sans-helmet that wouldn't kill you just as much with one.
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh, oh! Let's do one next for motorists who run over cyclists! It can show the graphic consequences of what happens to people who recklessly kill others in public spaces.

Remember kids, if you get doored by some clueless automobilist and impaled on the handlebars of your shitty bike, it's your fault. You should have done some fucking bike maintenance, punk.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:08 PM on April 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


the one fatality is the black kid

I dunno, Harry looks pretty dead in #7.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:09 PM on April 20, 2016


I didn't pick up any trace of victim-blaming.

Look a little harder. I suggest starting with the one entitled "Don't Get Doored!" that ends with the protagonist yelling "I'm lucky that wasn't worse! And it happened because I was riding too close to those parked cars!"

In case I have to spell it out: no, it happened because the driver didn't fucking look to see if there was anyone there before opening their door. This is textbook victim blaming. The Platonic ideal of victim blaming.
posted by valrus at 5:11 PM on April 20, 2016 [28 favorites]


Man, biking is *so* easy in a city whose infrastructure is built that way. (I live in Copenhagen, but Mr. Nat lives in Phoenix so I'm there a bunch).

Separated bike lanes for the win. Phoenix could build them- it's not like buildings are too close together or anything. They should have a pamphlet that says "go to city hall and demand better infrastructure".

(of course, unlike here where yes you can bike in the snow... I don't think I'd want to bike in Phoenix in August..)
posted by nat at 5:16 PM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I like the Karl Pilkington bit (paraphrasing):

"Bloke had a motorcycle accident out the front of our place. He was wearing a helmet...but his head had come off."

Edit: ooh!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:28 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


schmod, I'm aware of the arguments regarding helmet use by adults and the effect of mandated helmet use on ridership. With respect to your statement that wearing helmets doesn't contribute to child cycling safety, are you aware of this study? I was not until I read your question. I teach cycling safety as an LCI and assumed there might be a child-specific line of research on brain injury. [ As an aside, perhaps the single most useful piece of software I ever wrote helped assess the severity and locality of brain lesions. ]

Bicycle helmet laws are associated with a lower fatality rate from bicycle-motor vehicle collisions.

Abstract
OBJECTIVE:
To assess the association between bicycle helmet legislation and bicycle-related deaths sustained by children involved in bicycle-motor vehicle collisions.

STUDY DESIGN:
We conducted a cross-sectional study of all bicyclists aged 0-16 years included in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System who died between January 1999 and December 2010. We compared fatality rates in age-specific state populations between states with helmet laws and those without helmet laws. We used a clustered Poisson multivariate regression model to adjust for factors previously associated with rates of motor vehicle fatalities: elderly driver licensure laws, legal blood alcohol limit (<0>0.08% between states with helmet laws and those without helmet laws. The mean unadjusted fatality rate was lower in states with helmet laws (2.0/1,000,000 vs 2.5/1,000,000; P = .03). After adjusting for potential confounding factors, lower fatality rates persisted in states with mandatory helmet laws (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.70-0.98).

CONCLUSION:
Bicycle helmet safety laws are associated with a lower incidence of fatalities in child cyclists involved in bicycle-motor vehicle collisions.

The full paper is here. It notes:
Our findings are in contrast with a recent review of pediatric
trauma patients in Los Angeles County that concluded
that the statewide helmet law had no significant effect on helmet
use or on the proportion of pediatric head injury patients
who were helmeted. Other previous studies have reached
conclusions similar to ours, however. In an analysis of
a trauma registry in San Diego County, California, Ji et al
showed that helmet use increased after the introduction of
legislation, and the that helmet use by patients with
bicycle-related trauma was associated with a decreased
odds of suffering a serious head injury. Similarly, a study using
the discharge records of all California public hospitals
found that an 18% decrease in the proportion of traumatic
brain injuries sustained by youth bicyclists after the advent
of bicycle safety helmet legislation. In addition, an examination
of bicycle-related mortality rates in Ontario, Canada,
by Wesson et al1 revealed a significantly reduced rate after
the introduction of a law mandating helmets in all bicyclists
aged <18 years when riding on a public way.
In my state (TN), children under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.
Cyclists on the street must ride in the direction of traffic.
Cyclists must obey traffic control devices.
Cyclists riding at night must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector capable of being seen 500 feet.
That is, several of these issues appear to be advising young riders of their legal responsibilities as cyclists.
posted by grimjeer at 5:30 PM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


It looks like good advice to me and I didn't pick up any trace of victim-blaming

If wearing a helmet looks like a good idea to you then wear a helmet. But everyday riding is extraordinarily safe; There is no reasonable expectation of head injury, and it is victim blaming to suggest otherwise

Then again, judging by the safety equipment Mario was wearing in the first comic (elbow pads?! What the!?) those bicyclists were probably about to engage in some insanely dangerous stunt riding on purpose. (Maybe they are vicious little bastards who went to the park to run over dogs?) In that case, yes, young Smitty should have been wearing a helmet, and the injury is totally his fault...

Looking at the other comics... Wow! impaled on his handlebars! Has that ever even happened? I thought most grips were more for comfort than anything...
posted by surlyben at 5:38 PM on April 20, 2016


Glad the MeFi bike posse is here to lay some smackdown on this garbage fire. I would have weighed in sooner, but I was on my bike! (Okay, post-ride beer.)
posted by entropicamericana at 5:42 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hi Fellow Cyclists! Just a suggestion: Let's not act like rabid weirdos to folks who might not have already been exposed to a lot of theory about road design. Catch more flies with honey, just sayin!
posted by latkes at 5:46 PM on April 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm completely baffled by this argument. Pedestrians get hit by cars all the time, too. Pedestrians trip and fall over and hit their head on the pavement all the time, too. 4,735 pedestrians died last year as a result of injury, over 6 times as many as cyclists. On a per-mile basis, walking is more dangerous than cycling (42 deaths per billion miles traveled compared to 35). Surely at least some of those people's lives could have been saved if we mandated wearing a helmet while walking around.

Why is no one talking about helmet safety for people walking outside?
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:46 PM on April 20, 2016 [24 favorites]


The second comic doesn't even make a lot of sense. How does riding on the wrong side of the road increase the chances of you crashing into a truck going through the cross street of an intersection? Not looking where you're going causes that, but that's equally applicable no matter what side of the street you're on.
posted by chrominance at 5:50 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why is no one talking about helmet safety for people walking outside?

Why qualify that with "outside"? Don't you know how many injuries occur in the home!?
posted by indubitable at 5:56 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The most common injury for motorists is a head injury. Pretty sure it's more common for drivers than cyclists, even. Not hard to believe, considering the speeds involved, it is just physics after all. You even see the professional drivers wearing helmets, seems reasonable that the amateurs should be mandated their use as well, especially on the open road. Surely we can all agree on common sense safety rules like this.

Sarcasm aside, it is kind of insulting to say something like getting doored is a "road hazard" that could be prevented by more education (for cyclists), paying better attention (cyclists, not door openers), or of course wearing a helmet. This is not like, how to spot a pot hole at night. Dooring is the #1 way people die in my bike friendly, green lane everywhere city actually. Because if you get doored mid-pass you're going to fall into the traffic lane and end up under a car (or like recently here, a city bus). No helmet in the world will save you then.

It is a mystery to me why the cities of the world do not have piles of ripped off car doors everywhere with the way people open them without looking. Surely a closely passing truck takes one out every block or two?

Anyways, we can all be thankful these comics will provide decades of flyers for alleycats and taco night rides.
posted by bradbane at 6:15 PM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


How does riding on the wrong side of the road increase the chances of you crashing into a truck going through the cross street of an intersection?

See #4.
posted by asperity at 6:17 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have had one or two ghastly helmetless bike accidents. I have a scar or two. Never got sloppily trepanned.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:39 PM on April 20, 2016


FWIW, I think these do a decent job illustrating likely ways that people can be injured riding, and do it in a sufficiently gory fashion that they're attention-getting. They do lay it on pretty damn thick about protective clothing (I'm pretty sure elbow-pads kid was going to the skate park on his BMX bike, so that wasn't completely stupid) but I like that they don't pretend that all major injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet. That, in itself, is a huge advance in bicycle safety education aimed at kids and teens. Mostly they get "wear a helmet" and that's about it, and however you feel about helmets, that's not sufficient information for safety.
posted by asperity at 6:41 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


The biggest factors affecting bicycle safety are the number of other cyclists on the road, and the existence of infrastructure that can safely accommodate them.

Absolutely true. But as a cyclist, I really like it when the other cyclists around also behave predictably, because it completely sucks when everyone coming up to an intersection is on a bicycle and you have no clue what any of them will do (in my experience, this ends up as a sad slow game of chicken.) I can't see cyclists without lights in the dark any better than a motorist can. And it can be terrifying when a wrong-way rider is coming at me head-on.

I don't really care if anyone else wears a helmet, but I do want them following pretty much every other guideline in these comics (such as: working brakes are a good idea.)
posted by asperity at 6:57 PM on April 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


"You can see his brain."
posted by exlotuseater at 7:09 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Time to reboot "One Got Fat?" yt
posted by drezdn at 7:50 PM on April 20 [1 favorite −] [!]


I like this version.
posted by 4ster at 7:22 PM on April 20, 2016


I don't think Phoenix wants anyone to ride a bike ever.
posted by gurple at 7:56 PM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


You can't control other cyclists or drivers or pedestrians. The only thing you can control is your own actions. So I don't mind the victim blaming. It bothers me not one whit. I am sick of seeing students zipping around without lights at night (I nearly hit one once) or passing me when I stop at red lights (and nearly clipping me in the process) or darting in front of traffic at inappropriate moments. It's true that an asshole may open their car door and kill me some day, and maybe that will be on them but I will still be dead. So I'm doing my best to stay the hell away from those car doors whenever I can. Yes, drivers should pay more attention but they don't. So many of them run red lights in my neighbourhood that I always wait a while to ride or walk after I get a green light. That has saved my bacon at least three times. So I can be right and dead or realistic and keep cycling. (Or realistic and dead anyway.) Anyway, I'm not horrified by these comics. They won't work but I think they're great anyway.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:00 PM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


gurple: "I don't think Phoenix wants anyone to ride a bike ever."

That's exactly it, and why I got so angry about this.

Campaigns like this discourage people from cycling. Full stop. They also paint cyclists as reckless idiots (which has some particularly nasty baggage when you consider that suburban cyclists tend to be poor minorities who can't afford to drive).

Why aren't we seeing campaigns depicting graphic car accidents, warning kids to think twice before hopping in the car with Mom and Dad? Why aren't the vocally-pro-helmet people running similar campaigns about seat belt usage?

I really do try not to be Crazy Bike Person, but campaigns like this aren't even a microaggression. They're outright hostile, and actively encourage a mindset that devalues my life.

That being said: I encourage educating cyclists! And drivers! The road is a much safer place when everybody is acting defensively, and behaving predictably. If a cyclist gets "doored," it's absolutely the motorist's fault, but it also doesn't hurt to remind new cyclists that parked cars are not necessarily static objects.

Drivers get almost no instruction about how to share the road during drivers' ed. For instance, most people are unaware that many states require drivers to merge *into* a bike lane before turning across it. It's a rule that makes a lot of sense, but also probably isn't intuitive for drivers who don't ride bikes often.

posted by schmod at 8:12 PM on April 20, 2016 [18 favorites]


With respect to your statement that wearing helmets doesn't contribute to child cycling safety, are you aware of this study?

I'm not directly familiar with that specific study, but it strikes me as being flawed, because it doesn't consider the overall rate of children being injured in car-bicycle collisions.

It's like saying "Mandating kevlar school uniforms significantly decreases the number of children who die from gunshot wounds" without pausing to ask "Wait. Why are so many kids getting shot at school?"
posted by schmod at 8:17 PM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]




I mean Cathy - ACK!!
posted by unliteral at 8:48 PM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


At first I thought this was going to be one of those fictive universes that don't have any women in them, but then I got to #7 and breathed an enormous sigh of relief. Whew! That was close.

I wonder who brought to the attention of the Phoenix Department of Streets the facts that a) females exist and b) they ride bikes.
posted by scratch at 9:18 PM on April 20, 2016


I have my kids wear helmets when they ride their bikes. I instruct them not to drive by the sides of parked cars if possible, because some motorists are idiots and open their doors without checking. It's good to know that I can always turn to MeFi to find out I am a horrible monster of a parent/tool of Big Helmet and that if one of my kids gets in a bike wreck I'm going to storm into the emergency room and shout "It's your own damn fault, victim!!" I learn so much about myself here.
posted by Bugbread at 9:22 PM on April 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Motorists and aspiring motorists should definitely get more education along these lines, but gory driver's ed videos are a thing. I remember seeing some similar videos and comics when I was learning to drive a car back in the dark ages and the treatment was pretty similar. Lots of Gallant adjusting mirrors and Goofus failing to fasten his seatbelt type stuff. (Also, Archie comics used to be full of this kind of stuff.)

I would say scare tactics never stopped anybody from driving (true), but I can't compare the effects of scare-tactics bicycle education with scare-tactics automobile education, since driving's got our whole automobile-centric infrastructure and culture around it.

My main complaint about motorist education is that no state in the US has any mechanism at all for updating anyone's skills. I know how to merge into a bike lane because I ride a bike more often than I drive a car, not because I was ever tested on the material (or even informed of it). There weren't bike lanes at all anywhere near where I lived when I got my first driver's license.

We really should work the you-are-inherently-injuring-others-by-driving-a-car angle more often, IMO. Knowing damned well that by getting in that vehicle I am personally contributing to giving little kids asthma keeps me from driving a half mile to buy lunch, even if I don't actually run over anyone on the way there.
posted by asperity at 9:24 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


The biggest factors affecting bicycle safety are the number of other cyclists on the road, and the existence of infrastructure that can safely accommodate them.

Separated cycling infrastructure is the single biggest factor affecting cyclist safety. The whole idea of "safety in numbers" is misguided bullshit based on a flawed understanding of the data used to reach that conclusion. Specifically, the research I've seen that talks about a "safety in numbers" effect? Tends to be from American or British transport researchers who look at data on cyclist accidents per road mile in the Netherlands and Denmark (places where cycling has a high modal share) and compare them with cyclist accidents per mile in the USA and UK (where cycling has a low modal share) and conclude "aha, safety in numbers!" when the safety is not from the numbers at all but from the infrastructure (which isn't visible in the dataset they're using).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 9:30 PM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


asperity: " gory driver's ed videos are a thing. "

I think you mean "gory driver's ed videos are victim-blaming pieces of shit. Wear your seatbelts, kids. Another motorist could plow you down at any time, and it'll be entirely your fault! Next time, consider taking the train instead!"
posted by Bugbread at 9:34 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why is no one talking about helmet safety for people walking outside?

I actually talk about the Urban Safety Helmet all the time. You just don't know me. (I also wonder why people in cars don't have to wear helmets.)

Wear your helmets, kids. A motorist could plow you down at any time, and it'll be entirely your fault! Next time, consider driving instead!

That's the message I got.

I mean, "Don't get doored" ... c'mon. Might as well say "Don't ride."

I didn't pick up any trace of victim-blaming.

Look at the heds.

Motorists and aspiring motorists should definitely get more education along these lines, but gory driver's ed videos are a thing.

The funny thing is that in both cases ... it's still the cars that are the ONLY danger.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:39 PM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Or we could reduce these needless injuries by lowering speed limits.

Big Helmet/AAA propaganda strikes again!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:56 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I referenced it above, but there's some new data that suggests that bikesharing being much, much, much safer than originally estimated (including being significantly safer than cycling in aggregate).

To be honest, my interpretation of this data is that our existing data/statistics about bicycle safety could be seriously flawed.
posted by schmod at 10:25 PM on April 20, 2016


schmod, I'm aware of the arguments regarding helmet use by adults and the effect of mandated helmet use on ridership. With respect to your statement that wearing helmets doesn't contribute to child cycling safety, are you aware of this study? I was not until I read your question. I teach cycling safety as an LCI and assumed there might be a child-specific line of research on brain injury.

I just read the study, and it isn't useful in any way. It shows (or claims to show, I didn't evaluate it on that dimension specifically) that there's a 15-20% reduction in children's cycling fatality rates per capita with helmet legislation.

Let me make a modest proposal of another piece of legislation that I think would be even more effective at reducing children's bicycle fatality rates per capita: the Random Sniper law; a team of sharpshooters will be legally allowed to patrol the streets, and shoot any child they see on a bicycle. I expect that after this law was passed, nobody would let their children out on their bicycles at all, and thus there would be a 100% reduction in cycling deaths, a much greater improvement in cycling safety than mandatory helmets. It's obvious hyperbole, but the point is that the only way to measure the effectiveness of a helmet law is by measuring death or injury relative to the amount of cycling.

The only way to test the claim that anything reduces a risk of an outcome is to examine the rate of the outcome relative to exposure. Most helmet studies (including the one you linked) don't do this; they just look at the deaths/injuries or they look relative to total population. I don't think this is because of ill intent; it's just much harder to develop data on ridership in part because deaths and injuries involve official statistics in a way that riding a bike doesn't, as well as in part because the research on cycling safety is led more from the medical/epidemiology community who are familiar with medical statistics and less with transportation statistics. Locally, I've seen some numbers showing a 75% reduction in cycling by children after a mandatory helmet law, although that was small samples 10 years apart. I certainly don't think it's out of the question that a 15-20% reduction in cycling deaths with mandatory helmets could be entirely due to a 15-20% reduction in cycling itself with mandatory helmets.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:33 PM on April 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Geeze, I wore a helmet in Phoenix to protect myself from motorists throwing shit at me while I rode.
posted by gucci mane at 11:01 PM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


In case I have to spell it out: no, it happened because the driver didn't fucking look to see if there was anyone there before opening their door. This is textbook victim blaming. The Platonic ideal of victim blaming.

Or as we learned in motorcycle safety training, you can be alright or you can be dead right. Call it the realpolitik of street safety.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:11 PM on April 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Locally, I've seen some numbers showing a 75% reduction in cycling by children after a mandatory helmet law, although that was small samples 10 years apart. I certainly don't think it's out of the question that a 15-20% reduction in cycling deaths with mandatory helmets could be entirely due to a 15-20% reduction in cycling itself with mandatory helmets.

So I wasn't going to do this, because it is after midnight and I am supposed to be doing my taxes, but what the fuck. Ontario implemented a mandatory helmet law for under 18 year olds in 1995; the Greater Toronto region does one of the largest household travel surveys in North America every five years. I pulled and compared the travel survey data for 1991 and 1996, comparing the percentage of trips and the distance travelled by bike. (Caveat: the survey area was somewhat expanded in 1996 to include an even larger area including Niagara and Waterloo for example, but these are relatively small shares of the total population.)

For 5 to 17 year olds, cycling was halved after the mandatory helmet law; this was remarkably consistent whether the measure was share of trips or of distance travelled; it was consistent at 50% for shorter (<3 km) and longer (3-10 km) trips; it was fairly consistent by purpose - school trips were 56% of prehelmet while discretionary trips were 46% of prehelmet. As a comparison, I checked 18-34 year olds, and found that cycling rates were almost exactly the same in 1991 and 1996. So a robust data source, same methodology and (basically) same area, before and after a mandatory helmet law. There's a little cleanup I'd do before publication, but the point stands. A 15-20% reduction in cycling deaths is minor in comparison to a 50% reduction in cycling.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:21 PM on April 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


Cartoon blood is less graphic than real blood but still, these seem a bit much to give to kids. But, I dunno, what do the kids these days need to learn a lesson?

I was WAY more terrified riding a bicycle in San Francisco than I ever was riding a scooter or a motorcycle. Bike lanes seemed like war zones with (car) traffic, whereas scooters and motos lived in traffic lanes but were way better because of lane-sharing.

Now that I'm in Portland, OR, and not a cyclist I realize how difficult it is to be on the car side of the equation. I do my best when I'm in a car!

All helmets, all the time.
posted by bendy at 12:03 AM on April 21, 2016


Regarding the helmet issue, I think there's an issue of people not being on the same page. There are the effects of "wearing a helmet" (which I suspect contributes to a reduction in cycling deaths) and "being required to wear a helmet" (which seems to increase the likelihood of cycling deaths, presumably because it reduces the number of cyclists, so automobile drivers have less experience driving near cyclists, which leads to unobservant driving among some drivers and antagonistic driving among other drivers).

So I'm guessing "wearing a helmet = good" while "requiring cyclists to wear helmets = bad".
posted by Bugbread at 12:06 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


When I was little I got lots of safety courses on different topics; train safety ("stay the fuck away from trains!!!!"), fire safety ("your house CAN and FUCKING WILL BURN DOWN"), pedestrian safety ("if you don't cross with the signal you WILL get hit and it WILL be your fault"), power tool safety ("never do this!"), bike safety, etc. I was such a cautious little kid that it all freaked me out tremendously. What I got from bike safety is that you will definitely ride over a pebble, flip over the handle bars, and break your neck. I stopped riding my bike as soon as I possibly didn't need it to get around anymore. Even when I went to college and needed a bike I couldn't do it because I couldn't get that image out of my head.

Just saying some kids are naturally cautious and telling them that everything is more dangerous than even they can imagine is counter-productive. Some safety instruction is important but I just felt like they went way overboard. And still do.
posted by bleep at 12:23 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I mean, "Don't get doored" ... c'mon. Might as well say "Don't ride."

It's not too realistic, at the least: The victim is lucky enough to get up and walk away. Which is not always the end result, speaking from personal experience.

I would agree that the general sentiment is that collisions are the victim's fault, but we live in a car-centric society where that viewpoint is not questioned too severely. So it goes.

When you ride a bike, you must necessarily rely on drivers to be aware of their environment, because they are ensconced in metal shells with technology — be it airbags, crumple zones, seatbelts and so on — that make them and their passengers mostly impervious to the consequences of operator mistakes.

The resulting choices that drivers and passengers make — such as opening a door on a cyclist — are causal. The worst that happens is physical damage to the car, which is annoying but not life-altering in the way that physical damage would be to the car's human cargo.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:58 AM on April 21, 2016


I would agree that the general sentiment is that collisions are the victim's fault, but we live in a car-centric society where that viewpoint is not questioned too severely. So it goes.


Which is why the general message of these comics is "do not ever ride a bike".

Really, why not just show One Got Fat. It's already been referenced, but everyone should see it.
posted by alexei at 2:18 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


When I was little I got lots of safety courses on different topics; train safety ("stay the fuck away from trains!!!!"), fire safety ("your house CAN and FUCKING WILL BURN DOWN"), pedestrian safety ("if you don't cross with the signal you WILL get hit and it WILL be your fault")

i am so jealous that you got Samuel L. Jackson to come to your school for safety class
posted by indubitable at 5:22 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


"FIRESTICK"
posted by clavdivs at 6:23 AM on April 21, 2016


I am going to keep posting these links in every relevant thread until I don't need to post it anymore:

Roads were not made for cars. There was an organized campaign to criminalize centuries-old behavior to benefit motorists to the exclusion of all others.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:28 AM on April 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


I do not understand the people in this thread that support these Chick-Tract-like comics, unless the aim is to scare kids away from commuting by bike.

A study in the Netherlands found that commuting by bike is a net reduction in risk compared to a car. I don't know if the same result directly translates to the US, of course, but our fearmongering over bikes is beyond all proportion.
posted by splitpeasoup at 7:16 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I do not understand the people in this thread that support these Chick-Tract-like comics, unless the aim is to scare kids away from commuting by bike.

I thought pulp horror pastiche safety publications were funny as a kid and I think they're funny now. I'm not sure this sort of thing ever scared me away from doing anything useful, or even from playing D&D.

Lots of kids don't like scary comics/books/movies, but lots of other kids do. I think these comics are a reasonable way to reach the latter group with some useful information. They're probably also best for older kids with some degree of independence and ability to bike without immediate supervision, not little kids who don't need the information themselves yet anyway.
posted by asperity at 8:44 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Look at the heds.

So we have

1."Protect your brain - always wear a helmet" - I've got no issue with this, but I gather this is a contentious point around here. I know a helmet won't protect you from every kind of injury but it will help against some head injuries. My toddler wears one, pros wear them, everyone I know that bikes wears one, and it's the law here, so I will wear one.

2. "Ride on the right - Go with the flow" - yep, do that.

3. "Don't get doored" - not well put but it's something to watch out for. I wasn't even aware this was a thing until I moved downtown. You better believe I watch out for it. Drivers here suck at driving. They don't pay attention when their cars are moving; I am not going to assume they are looking when they're stopped. It doesn't make it my fault if I got doored, though, and that's not what I picked up from that title.

4. "Avoid the blind spot - ride where you can be seen" - good advice, they tell you the same thing in driver's ed. Being visible is pretty fundamental bike safety. Again, this doesn't make it your fault, it's something to consider because drivers here are shit and if you run into an issue, it's you that's going to be hurt, not the idiot in the recliner inside a 2-ton glass and metal box.

5. "Don't Run the red - respect the traffic signal" - yep, do that, too.

6. "Follow the signs, stop means stop" - yep, do that too.

I count one where there's any argument at all that they blame victims, the doored one. And even then it doesn't seem all that much like blaming to point out this is a hazard you want to watch out for.
posted by Hoopo at 9:33 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm of the same mind as Hoopo - people who don't want to ride a bike won't ride one. I don't think mildly graphic comics are really going to change anyone's mind. The issue with many places in the US isn't that the roads are terrible - which they are - but also that you'd have to go many many miles to get anywhere. The mythical Copenhagen is only 34 square miles! Even San Francisco, a tiny city by US standards, is 46 square miles. (though looking at a map the city boundaries of Copenhagen are weird so maybe they're about the same actually? anyway) And for everyone's complaining many US cities have vastly improved their bikeability over the last decade. New York isn't bad. San Francisco is less terrible than it once was although yes, it is pretty crazy to bike along Market St.

Yes, drivers need to do a better job of not hitting people. Here in the south SF Bay a handful of recreational cyclists are flat-out murdered by drivers every year and if any punishment is handed out it doesn't make the news. I'm sure some of the drives are actually pretty upset about it, occasionally you get psychos like that doctor in LA who ran that cyclist down. Thankfully that's rare.

That said, there are plenty of ways a cyclist can make their own trouble and I'm not sure why it's controversial that we should let people know not to be stupid when they're riding.

The issue, as I have heard it, with riding on the wrong side of the road is that drivers going in and out of driveways won't see you as they're focussed on vehicle traffic going in the other direction. So there's a higher chance of a collision in those circumstances.

As for getting doored, yes, motorists should not be idiots. But the cyclist is going to be the one with the dislocated shoulder so there's some natural incentive to be cautious riding along parked cars.

As for helmets I'd be fine with showing how to properly adjust one with the caveat that if you're not going to bother to wear a helmet correctly, just don't bother wearing it at all. I see people with the chinstraps dangling inches below their jaw and I wonder what they think the helmet is going to do in the case of an accident.
posted by GuyZero at 9:59 AM on April 21, 2016




what is that recapping exactly?
posted by Hoopo at 12:01 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


To recap: Wear a helmet, follow traffic laws, get murdered, murderer released without charges.

Yep. God Bless America.
posted by GuyZero at 12:01 PM on April 21, 2016


what is that recapping exactly?

That kind of thing that people who bike have to worry about every day, regardless of whether or not they wear a helmet.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:21 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone here is saying it's not a shitty situation that drivers are often total assholes to cyclists and make their commute/ride a lot more dangerous than it should be. I don't think anyone would say the consequences of what would be a minor "fender bender" for 2 cars are much, much deadlier when dealing with someone on a bicycle instead of another car. But when I see a thread of people that seem to think these comics are going to discourage people from biking, while you're going to acknowledge that every day you worry about getting hit by a car anyway? How do you suggest communicating this to kids, then, if this is the actual worry you have about them sharing the road with cars?

Also, for the record, murder implies premeditation. The story you linked to definitely does not go into enough detail and that type of argument is not helpful. I say this as someone that recognizes the threat posed to cyclists. A friend of my wife's was crushed by a bus a number of years ago while riding through the city I used to live in. She did nothing wrong.
posted by Hoopo at 2:05 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Streetsblog USA also thinks the comics are horrible, though the article doesn't mention much about their contents other than a) helmets and b) gore.
posted by asperity at 2:36 PM on April 21, 2016


[A few comments deleted. Points of view stated; let's skip an increasingly heated back-and-forth over the term "murder" where people are just repeating themselves.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:30 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Compassion has absolutely nothing to do with discussing whether helmets and other safety considerations are improving interactions between people and vehicles.

Facts and logical best-practices outcomes are going to be the method by which the problem is solved. Compassion is noise, not discussion.

And what's anyone going to say? "Fuckin' kid deserved it?". Not likely. Everyone agrees: car drivers are shitty human brings and society supports them in it. Yay, end of "discussion."

For me, at least, I'd like to see continued factual evidence for and against safety laws and their real-world outcomes.

Personally, as a kid, I didn't have them or had ineffective helmets. As an adult, I wore them for ww kayaking, motorcycling, mtn biking; didn't for skiing and snowboarding. I did get direly injured. As an older, wiser, having-nearly-died adult, I… dunno where I'd draw the line. I'd toboggan/inner tube w/o one. Skating? Shoveling my icy driveway? The head injury doesn't make it easier to decide, it just makes me more anxious.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:35 PM on April 21, 2016


I had an argument with a guy about checking your blind spot (in a car) when changing lanes. His position is that nobody should be in your blind spot, so you shouldn't have to check your blind spot, so he didn't. My position was that nonetheless it does happen, so you should check your blind spot. For whatever reason, he couldn't bridge the gap between "I shouldn't have to X" and "Yet I do have to X". (I didn't ride with him after that)

I think the whole "blame the victim" narrative exacerbates that mindset. I don't know if that comes from criminal law, where a party is either "innocent" or "guilty", or from human nature, or what. Reality is more, I think, like civil law, where there is a ratio of blame, extending from 0:100 at one end to 100:0 at the other end. You can have situations where blame falls on the offender, and absolutely zero falls on the victim, but you can also have situations where blame falls on the offender, and also on the victim. If you're driving a car down the road without a seat belt and someone throws paint on your windshield and you crash, are flung out the windshield, and break your neck, the guy throwing the paint is totally to blame. Also, you are partly to blame for the severity of your injuries because you weren't wearing a seat belt.

If people want to say that that's victim blaming, then, sure. These comics are victim blaming. And that's fine, because victims are sometimes to blame. And before anyone throws out the predictable "Oh, so you're saying that with crime X the victim is to blame?! You are evil incarnate!" I'm not saying "victims are always to blame." There are plenty of examples where the victim is 0% to blame. If you've thought of an awesome smackdown hypothetical where saying the victim is to blame makes me a horrible monster, rest assured that I agree with you that the victim in your hypothetical is 0% to blame.
posted by Bugbread at 4:05 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Also, I suspect my position in this discussion is colored by the fact that I live in a country where everyone bikes, and I bike every day. Saying "you should wear a helmet" or "you should watch out around parked cars" are totally non-controversial statements. It's like saying "you should wear a safety belt in a car" or "you should watch your blind spots in a car".)
(This is not to say that people here actually do wear helmets. But "you should wear a helmet" is like "you should exercise every day" or "you should eat less dessert", something people agree with in principle but seldom practice)
posted by Bugbread at 4:13 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Shoveling my icy driveway? The head injury doesn't make it easier to decide, it just makes me more anxious.

FWIW, it's a good idea to at least wear a thick warm hat if it's icy out. Keeps you cozy, looks stylish, reduces head injury risk. (Unfortunately I can't attach a mirror to my wooly hats as I can my bicycle helmet. I seriously wish it weren't completely ridiculous to have rearview mirrors for walking.) Also: walk like a penguin! And push your city to enforce sidewalk clearing ordinances after it snows! Or to have sidewalks at all if your city hasn't gotten that far yet.
posted by asperity at 7:50 AM on April 22, 2016


Are blind spots still a thing? In every recent car that I've driven, I've been able to adjust the side mirrors so that vehicles transition from rear view -> side mirrors -> peripheral vision without any gaps.
posted by indubitable at 8:06 AM on April 22, 2016


The Copenhagenize blog has a lot of interesting posts (and photos! and maps!) on different projects and planning policies and best practices etc. that cities can adopt to encourage cycling and safety on the road. Here’s a few rather apt quotes for this thread from an analysis of "Behavioural Challenges for Urban Cycling":
We're seeing behavioural campaigns pop up wherein cyclists are being told to 'behave'. There is no doubt that if urban cycling is to gain respect as an equal partner in the traffic, simple things like stopping at red lights are important. [Worth noting that in cities like Paris cyclists stop at red lights and behave rather well]

Unfortunately, the dominant nature of cycling's sub-cultures makes it hard to transform urban cycling and sell the concept of the bicycle as a part of traffic to the sceptics. Many people in Emerging Bicycle Cultures only see the aggressive attitude of the fringe groups and judge cycling based on the way these individuals ride in the city. Have gone from being pioneers to being dead weights if redemocratizing cycling is the goal?

When you produce behavourial campaigns for cyclists, there is also the problem of defining your target group. Who are you speaking to? Can you really throw everyone on a bicycle into the same box? The mother with her child on the back of the bike together with an adrenaline-driven 'urban warrior'? Nah. Campaigns aimed at 'all' cyclists risk alienating the New Cyclists who really are the key to redemocratizing cycling. The most fertile buds on the rose bush.

[...]

Producing behavourial campaigns focused on cyclists only serves to continue the marginalisation of cycling and just hammers home the misconception that cycling is not something for everyone and is still just a sub-culture.

Pointing behavourial fingers at cyclists serves no good purpose if you don't point the fingers at the other traffic users at the same time. Behavourial campaigns aimed at everyone remove this focus on cyclists and also serve to place the bicycle on an equal footing in the public psyche.

[...]

The people who are new to the wild ride at the amusement park hold on tightest. Wobbly doesn't need to be dangerous. If you ask me, the Copenhagen Cycle Chic slogan - Style over speed - is the greatest traffic safety slogan in the history of cycling. It may be irritating to the purists who now have to ride crazier to avoid new obstacles on their previously sacred urban landscape. But really, who cares. Such is democracy and democratization.
posted by bitteschoen at 8:17 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've seen the impaled-on-the-handlebars injury referred to as a "core sample." If people riding with drop bars, which curve back and point to the upper thigh, don't put bar ends on and get in the right gnarly crash...well, it's a geologist's core sample, but of your thigh, and it's suitably gruesome for these comics.

I fell on riser bars pretty much exactly like kid #2 once, admittedly with grips on, and holy shit does a bruised sternum take forever to heal.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:14 PM on April 22, 2016


Oof, I just went and read the one where the kid dies, and the very next page is headlined with READY TO RIDE? in streaky letters in the same bright red they use for blood. It looks like Manson Family typography. These are kind of sick and lurid as fuck and I love them. Campy scaremongering!!!
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:22 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


[Brandon has been impaled in the chest by his handlebar]
Brandon: "I'm lucky it wasn't worse!"
[next panel] Brandon: "It is worse! My hand -- it's broken!"

Because why not, right? I like to think that the person who wrote this had at least as much fun as I did reading it.
posted by phoenixy at 12:06 AM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Are blind spots still a thing?

Very much so, yes. Especially for large vehicles like buses and trucks, but even the smallest ones have some issues. Anecdotally, when I was a teenager there were up to 5 kids that might borrow the parents' cars. All different heights. There are definitely times where mirrors weren't properly adjusted, which can create blind spots.
posted by Hoopo at 9:54 AM on April 25, 2016


NYPD: Despite What We Said Earlier, Cyclist Killed In Brooklyn Wasn't Salmoning After All

The day of the crash, the NYPD told reporters that Davis was riding against traffic when the driver hit her, and the driver was not ticketed or charged. A department representative said this morning that investigators have amended their report to indicate that Davis was riding with traffic, and that they are in conversation with the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office about possible charges.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2016


It's like saying "you should wear a safety belt in a car"

Not at all. Safety belts have been proven to reduce injuries and deaths in car accidents. I don't think the same is true for bicycle helmets.

However, in the US, you should definitely wear a helmet, if only because when you get hit by a car you'll get more money when you sue, which is the only real enforcement of laws for drivers who nearly kill cyclists.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:48 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bugbread: "Also, I suspect my position in this discussion is colored by the fact that I live in a country where everyone bikes, and I bike every day. Saying "you should wear a helmet" or "you should watch out around parked cars" are totally non-controversial statements. It's like saying "you should wear a safety belt in a car" or "you should watch your blind spots in a car"."

mrgrimm: "Not at all. Safety belts have been proven to reduce injuries and deaths in car accidents. I don't think the same is true for bicycle helmets."

That whole paragraph was about which statements provoke controversy here in Japan. I understand that in some countries those statements are controversial. But the whole point was "I live in a country where statements like this do not generate controversy."
posted by Bugbread at 5:01 PM on April 26, 2016


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