Recently, London mayor Boris Johnson has had to backpedal (no pun intended) on cycling statistics.
The article is well worth reading, I think. Some highlights:
"London mayor's claim that two-thirds of bad cycling accidents were due to cyclist law-breaking is proved to be utterly false. Where's the apology?"
"TfL... figures show that in accidents were a cyclist was killed or badly hurt the cyclist was presumed to have committed an offence in just 6% of cases. The vehicle driver was assumed to have done so 56% of the time while 39% of the time it wasn't clear."
"Not only are cyclists an outgroup, they're also a minority outgroup. Moreover, they are engaging in an activity that is deemed slightly inappropriate in a culture that... views cycling as anti-conventional and possibly even infantile.... It's easy to identify other minority outgroups whose behaviour similarly challenges social norms but who do not get verbally and physically attacked... : vegetarians, for example."
To see a statistic that shows cyclists are almost 1/10th as much to blame for serious crashes as motorists - well, it's a shocking statistic to say the least.
What can we in the US learn from this? Well, unless London cyclists are incredibly careful and law-abiding, unless London drivers are unusually bad, or unless London's police are biased towards cyclists (none of which I believe for a second because, having lived and cycled in London, I've had experience with all three), it suggests to me that the general consensus among cyclists here in the US - that fault in collisions is split pretty much evenly between cyclists and motorists - might need closer scrutiny.
For a while now, it's seemed quite clear to me that there's a lot of 'outgroup'-fueled anti-cyclist and pro-motorist bias in the US legal system and even in the system that produces crash studies, but until now I hadn't seen any evidence to suggest that my opinion might have some validity. I think perhaps the difference in the statistics between the US and the UK might have to do with the fact that, in the UK, 'SMIDSY' (Sorry Mate I Didn't See You) is much more likely to be regarded as evidence of motorist fault than it is here in the US. I think that needs to change in the US - when a motorist hits another road user and then claims he didn't see him, that is not an excuse - it's an admission of guilt.