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Cycling Under the Influence Focus of Debate

Posted in Drunk Driving

It is a well-known fact that driving a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not only illegal, it is life threatening. The same is true for driving a boat or airplane. But, what about maneuvering a bicycle? Could this form of transportation hold the same dangers as the motorized version?

According to the Gothamist, New York cyclists found a City Room article about “pedaling under the influence” taking the issue too far. One reader suggests that it is wrong to equate the dangers of drunk driving with those of drunk cycling.

This reader has a point considering a drunk driver who gets behind the wheel of an automobile is putting more than his or her own life at risk. But, someone who climbs onto a bicycle while intoxicated is more likely to be killed by a motorist.

While nearly 13,000 people died in car crashes involving a drunk driver in 2007, more than 4,300 of those victims were not the inebriated driver. These statistics are staggering, yet how many have perished as a result of a drunk cyclist?

The City Room article covered a study of cyclist autopsies after fatal accidents in New York City from 1996 to 2005. Of the 225 people who died in an accident involving a bicycle, only 176 were tested for alcohol. Only 84 of those cases were considered to be valid test and 21 percent showed signs of alcohol.

This study and the related article do little to support drunk cycling or argue against it. However, it is possible to argue the theory that getting on a bicycle drunk can interrupt the flow of traffic that can in effect cause an accident. Such a move does put lives at risk and cyclists should think twice before pedaling home drunk.