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Bicycle Network’s utter hypocrisy about cycling safety

August 1, 2017

01 August 2017

Bicycle Network, one of the leading bicycle lobby groups in Australia, has released a report of crash data among its members and revealed what all rational bicycle advocates already knew: cycling is very safe.

Bicycle Network Crash Report 2012-2016

Their key findings:

* Most crashes happen when the weather is fine (81.4%) and the road is flat (70.7%)

* October and January are the two most common months for crashes, with the fewest recorded during winter months

* Crashes are most common during peak hour, with the number of crashes in the morning peak almost double those of the afternoon peak

* Intersections are the highest risk area, where 42.8% of crashes occur

* Only 20.9% of crashes occur in environments where there are no motor vehicles

* 13.8% of crashes occur when the rider is travelling at less than 11km/h, and 46.1% when the rider is travelling at less than 21km/h

* The chance of a bike rider crashing are just 0.003% on any day, and 0.99% in a year. The chance of having a crash that requires hospitalisation on any day is just 0.001%

It’s important to note the percentages are of crashes reported to BN by their 50,000 members over 5 years (2012 to 2016), and include a total of 2480 crashes (or 496 per year), of which 1162 (or 232 per year) required hospital treatment. It seems to presume every one of those 50,0000 members uses a bicycle once per day. If you consider commuters would ride at least twice per day and BN members would be quite active anyway, it’s probably about right, and a fair illustration about the safety of cycling.

That most crashes happen on flat roads in fine conditions should not be a surprise since most riding is done on flat roads in fine conditions. That 80% of crashes involve a motor vehicle is, again, no surprise since Australians are forced to ride among motor vehicles and that most crashes involving motorists are caused by motorists. It’s not even a surprise that many crashes happen at low speed, with 4% even stationary, given that a cyclist’s speed is irrelevant if the motorist doesn’t see them or take proper care when passing. Of the 54% of crashes that occurred at speeds over 20kph, it would be interesting to know how many of these fit into the fast-riding sports cycling group. It’s curious that speeds are even known since most cyclists don’t carry a speedometer. Most would be estimates.

The most stunning revelation from the report was from Bicycle Network’s introduction to section 7 about the crash percentages: “Sensationalised media reporting have led many to believe that riding a bike is a dangerous activity, where the risk of injury is high.” BN then reveal in section 8 that one in four people had a negative experience with police when reporting a crash.

Wait! Bicycle Network is the organisation actually most responsible for the sensationalism. They’re responsible for the hysterical campaign to wear helmets and the legislation to punish riders with massive fines that go without a helmet. In 2010, they encouraged the Victorian state government to triple helmet fines and raise ALL other fines to the same level of motorists, saying cyclists must be “prepared to cop equivalent fines to other road users if it means we are accorded the full rights we are entitled to under the law”. This has fed the narrative that the media, police and general population have picked up. There were no excuses or exemptions with their helmet campaigns, not even exemptions for separate paths where statistics already showed it was incredibly safe, while the harsh penalties empowered police to enact an extreme enforcement policy against cyclists. It wasn’t long before New South Wales followed Victoria’s lead with even higher penalties and tougher enforcement.

The fact cycling is perceived as so dangerous to most Australians is due to Bicycle Network’s own actions, and yet here they are trying to undo the damage with a few statistics and a stylish report. Unimaginable hypocrites! You can’t blame the police either after the way BN have “promoted” cycling. The police, like most Australians, perceive cyclists as a menace to themselves and others, and believe they are probably responsible for all their crashes, and causing an enormous cost on the health system. If you think reporting a crash to the police is an unpleasant experience, try being chased down with sirens blazing and persecuted over the lack of a helmet, or a bell!

If Bicycle Network passionately believe cycling is safe (which it is) then it’s time for real action. While separation from traffic is critical, that will take years to facilitate throughout the cities. In the meantime cycling must be shown to be easy, fun and safe if it’s to have any chance to grow from its stagnant and oppressed status in this country. The first step is to make helmet optional riding legal again – just like it is in 99% of the world.

Living under a mandatory bicycle helmet law regime


From → Cycling Free

  1. hcdr permalink

    Not that I disagree on any point above, but I’m hoping the current captain at the helm is trying to reverse the damage done by his predecessors. One difference I note he doesn’t denigrate others like the venomous and divisive Brennan.

    • So true. It was something I thought about mentioning – that Gary Brennan would reply with nasty letters to anyone that asked Bicycle Network to reconsider their stance on compulsory helmets. The latest guy, Craig Richards, is not only far more sensible, he seems sympathetic with the plight of those harassed by police for not wearing a helmet, and with the damaging effects the helmet law creates in general. The release of this study is a nice re-positioning of BN’s attitude about the safety of cycling.

  2. Trav permalink

    “cyclists must be “prepared to cop equivalent fines to other road users if it means we are accorded the full rights we are entitled to under the law””

    AHAHAHA oh my god! by “full rights” I assume they mean more and more and more and more laws, AND more fines, and you have idiot Australians that actually want to make it mandatory to have an ID while biking and presumably force people to buy insurance.

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