ARG-181 (2022 new)


The following memo was published by the Welzaton City Commission.

"A recent nationwide study of the effectiveness of wearing a safety helmet while bicycling indicates that ten years ago approximately 35 percent of all bicyclists reported wearing helmets, whereas today that number is nearly 80 percent. Another study, however, cites a 200 percent increase in the number of serious accidents involving bicycles during the same period. Meanwhile, results of a local survey of frequent bicycle riders indicate that 75 percent of those riders feel 'much safer' on busy roads when they wear helmets than when they don't. Clearly, the best explanation for the rise in bicycle-related accidents is that bicyclists take more risks now than they did ten years ago because they feel safer when they are wearing helmets."

Write a response in which you discuss one or more alternative explanations that could rival the proposed explanation and explain how your explanation(s) can plausibly account for the facts presented in the argument.

In this memo, the author attributes the rise in bicycle-related accidents over the past decade to riders wearing helmets. Specifically speaking, from a local survey that more riders wearing helmets make them feel safer on the road, the author hypothesizes that this sense of safety makes riders more willing to take risks when riding bicycles, which in turn leads to accidents. While the author's explanation is plausible based on the available evidence, it is not the only factor in the rise in bicycle accidents.

First, although the author gives data indicating a 200% increase in bicycle-related crashes over the past decade, he/she does not provide a change in the total number of people who ride bicycles. It is highly likely that the number of bicyclists has also increased significantly over the same period. A rise in the total number of cyclists, with other factors remaining constant, would naturally lead to a rise in the number of accidents.

Second, before discussing whether the explanation given by the author is adequate, we should also consider the party responsible for the bicycle accidents. It is possible that the perpetrators of the increased number of bicycle accidents over the past 10 years were not the riders. For example, in the past decade, Welzaton City's population has increased dramatically and road traffic has become extremely busy. More unruly cars and pedestrians in the midst of a rider's normal ride can also lead to a bicycle accident. Alternatively, there is the possibility that the quality of the bicycle itself has deteriorated, so that more bicycle accidents are caused by the bicycle itself rather than by the rider's subjectivity.

Finally, even if the person causing the bicycle accident is the rider himself, then the increase in accidents may be due precisely to the fact that the perpetrator was not wearing a helmet, rather than to the fact that he was wearing one. Specifically, although the number of bicyclists wearing helmets has increased from 35% to 80% over the past decade, it is possible that as the total number of bicyclists has increased, so has the number of people not wearing helmets, despite the fact that more people are wearing helmets. It is this increase in the number of people wearing no helmets that is rising the cases of bicycle accidents.

In conclusion, it is worthwhile to consider more about the reasons behind the increase in bicycle accidents, and all the additional explanations mentioned above can explain the data presented in the author's memo.

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