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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Weak cycling studies exposed by The Numbers Guy

Carl Bialik (the WSJ numbers guy) calms down some of the press reaction to two non-peer-reviewed studies of cycling;

Two recent studies appear to expose cyclists as a potent urban menace.

Bicycle riders pose a danger to themselves and to pedestrians, according to the studies. Bicycle commuters have 2.3 times the black carbon, or soot, in their lungs as do noncyclists, according to a U.K. study whose results were applied to cities world-wide. And each year in New York state alone cyclists cause about 1,000 injuries to pedestrians that require a hospital visit, 55% of those in New York City.

These widely reported numbers look very different when put in context. The carbon figure was based on only a handful of cyclists in London. And the injury figure appears less troubling when cast alongside trends in New York City cycling: The number of cyclists has nearly doubled since 2007, even as pedestrian injuries have fallen slightly.

There’s more detail at the link above; I respect Carl’s work on the yeoman task of getting good numbers, and would rather you give his blog a few extra hits.

Thanks to Ross Firestone for sending this.