False Equivalence and Our Roads

8. October 2018 19:23 by olops in Cycling  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

I am fed up of coming across examples of false equivalence on social media, so eventually I wrote this and will belatedly extend with the examples I come across.


Consider the relative danger a cyclist poses to other road users compared to the driver of a car. 

A driver is sitting in 2000kgs of car, A heavy bike is 15kgs and you can add 75kgs of human to that. 90kgs. Let's round it up to 100kgs. On this basis you might argue that a driver provides 20x more danger to other road users than a bike. Of course the difference is much greater than this as the car can travel much faster than the bike.

Consider the fairly extreme, but not uncommon, case of a car overtaking a cyclist at 55mph on a road where the cyclist is travelling at 15mph. Where are we up to on the relative danger caused by each individual now? 50x more danger? More?

Next, think about a 10tonne lorry …

Finally, think about the relative danger a cyclist and a driver cause towards a pedestrian crossing the road. 


Equating the danger to other roads caused by cyclists to that caused by drivers is false equivalence. It is wrong, It is dangerous. It is ignorant. Don't do it.


We need to focus road safety improvements on those that cause the most danger. These are the bad drivers. There is no point wasting resources on cyclists who cause minimal danger to other road users.


A Too many drivers run red lights.

B But I see lots of cyclists running red lights.

This is false equivalence. B is ignorant. Don't be like B.


A Too many drivers pass cyclists dangerously, not giving them enough room. 

B But what about the cyclists who go on the pavement, eh?

This is false equivalence and what aboutery. B is ignorant. Don't be like B.



Further Reading 





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About the author

I am Dr Christopher Sully (MCPD, MCSD) and I am a Cardiff, UK based IT Consultant/ Developer and have been involved in the industry since 1996 though I started programming considerably earlier than that. During the intervening period I've worked mainly on web application projects utilising Microsoft products and technologies: principally ASP.NET and SQL Server and working on all phases of the project lifecycle. If you might like to utilise some of the aforementioned experience I would strongly recommend that you contact me. I am also trying to improve my Welsh so am likely to blog about this as well as IT matters.

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