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Ghost bikes? No thanks ...

by Carl Brewer last modified 2008-11-20 19:35
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Cycling is not dangerous, why linger on the very rare horror stories?

Ghost bike: A white painted bicycle chained near a cycling fatality site.

Dog bites man is never news, man bites dog is. It's a media truism and a cliche'.  We notice the unusual, and ignore the commonplace. 

In 2007, for example, 332 people died on Victorian roads.  How's that break up?

6 cyclists

173 drivers

45 motorcyclists

67 passengers in motor vehicles

41 pedestrians

6 cyclists. On average over the last 5 years, 8 cyclists a year died on Victorian roads. 

That's not very many.  It's hardly even noticeable in the stats, ~2% of road fatalities are cyclists.

So what's the point of the ghost bikes and the ride of silence and other such activities?  If we're to accept the generally held interpretation of some reasearch out of the US, that suggests that the more cyclists ride on the roads, the less (in terms of riding time) get involved in collisions, one aim of most sensible cyclists is to encourage more people to ride, more often (apologies to Bicycle Victoria!).  How does a ghost bike help that?  How does something unusual and thus newsworthy reminding passers-by of a fatality encourage those passers-by to consider riding rather than driving?  I don't think it does any of us any favours.

Cycling is NOT dangerous, cycling is one of the safest and best ways to get around.  It's healthy for riders, it's better for the air we share, it's even better for drivers (reducing congestion etc). That's the message we want to push, and we need to push it because it's the truth.

So get on your bike and ride it, encourage your friends to ride. That's how to make a real difference. The best monument to the fallen, if you must, is for more people to ride their bikes; ride to work, ride to school, ride to the shops, ride to parties and dinners with friends, ride to your holidays, RIDE!



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