Joseph Rose‘s Friday Hard Drive column hit the nail on the head: MAX beating was ugly, but the reaction by some has been just as bad.
And it also disseminates some telling statistics:
The assault of Karley Buckland was one of just 36 reported on a light-rail system with 41 million boardings last year. By comparison, the Bay Area’s BART system – with turnstile access and its own police force — had 19 last month alone. In 2011, there were about 20 carjackings in Portland and 319 Oregonians died on the road. Does that mean we should discourage our 16-year-olds from learning to drive? Frankly, I worry more about my 17-year-old daughter – who isn’t in a rush to get her license — getting hit in a crosswalk than her being a TriMet crime victim.
Your odds of being assaulted on MAX are about one in a million. About the same as your odds of drowning in your bathtub, or being struck by lightning (no, really).
The crime rate has been declining on TriMet for years (though there was an uptick in 2010 when the Green Line opened), and the rate of violent crime nationwide is at a nearly 40 year low.
Your odds, in any given year, of dying in a workplace accident are 1 in 48,000, so your transit commute may actually be the safest hour(s) of your work day. Transit is also far safer than driving – in 2008 the passenger death rate on buses was .08 per 100 million passenger-miles (as opposed to .55 for automobile passengers).
Humans are bad at risk assessment, so it would be natural if a report in the news triggers a fearful reaction. That doesn’t make you an idiot, it makes you human. But you ARE an idiot if, upon learning how rare the risk is, you still cling to your irrational fear, or perpetuate the myth that riding the MAX is “dangerous.”
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