Thursday, April 17, 2008
The axes in this graph have been totally cooked by the presenter. The 1951 vehicle miles is about 1800 with a fat rate of say, 24%, while the 1991 vehicle miles is 8000 with a fat rate of about 32%. In other words, quadrupling the vehicle miles resulted in a increase in the overweight population of about 8%. That's not very compelling, even disregarding the difference between correlation and cause/effect.
However, the sharp spike in vehicle miles per capita is absolutely breathtaking. No wonder we feel like we're spending all of our time in a car. No wonder Americans have one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world.
In 2003 there were about 42,000 road-related fatalities and about three million injuries. In this same year there were 622 cyclist-related deaths and 46,000 cyclist-related injuries. (The injuries are probably unreported). There were 4749 pedestrian fatalities and about 70,000 injuries.
The available statistics seem to be rather heavily slanted towards counting victims instead of perpetrators. However, it seems reasonable to assume that almost all of the motorist fatalities and injuries involve other motorists. There are also allegations that, at least in New York City, drivers are at fault for 90% of the cyclist and pedestrian deaths.
To put it simply, the danger on our roads arise from motorists--not pedestrians and cyclists. This blame-the-victim attitude is getting rather tedious. What if your sheriff excused a lynching, explaining that African-Americans who move into white neighborhoods should have known it was dangerous?
(By the way, I'm not saying there aren't stupid pedestrians and cyclists. Heavens, over half of all bicycle accidents don't even involve the assistance of a second party, but the numbers are pretty clear: motorists are the problem here.)
Have I gotten your attention? OK, I'll let Bob Mionske take over from here...