By Hillel Aron
Yesterday in Le Times:
Los Angeles isn’t known as a city for walking. Maybe there is a good reason — it’s too dangerous.
That’s a pretty good lead! I’ll bet it’s backed up with some pretty interesting study too.
Drivers in Los Angeles kill pedestrians and bicyclists at a significantly higher rate than drivers nationally, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
There you have it. Drivers in LA = bloodthirsty monsters. Except…
In Los Angeles, pedestrians accounted for about a third of all traffic fatalities, or nearly triple the national average of 11.4%. About 3% of the fatalities were bicyclists. That compares with 1.7% nationally.
Wait a minute… who the hell cares about that? Instead of citing a useful statistic, like total pedestrian fatalities per capita or per driver, the study is about percentage of traffic fatalities. As if to drive home the inanity of the article (and study), it cites sites the obviously much higher New York percentage – 49.6%.
As one redditor puts it:
[T]he only thing this statistic means is that drivers are killed with a smaller frequency compared to cyclists and pedestrians. This statistic alone tells you exactly nothing about road safety in general. Are drivers getting better at not hitting other cars but instead swerving and hitting bicyclists/peds? Are drivers purposefully targeting cyclists (yes, some are, but that’s not the point) and peds? Are more people committing suicide by jumping in front of traffic? Have bicyclists been failing more often than they did last year? Are pedestrians dumber than they were last year? You don’t learn the answer to any of these from this statistic.
Bicycle activist Ted Rogers has a similar critique.