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Thursday, May 05 2016 @ 02:14 PM UTC
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Critique of the road professionals obsession with exposure in the Dangerous by Design Report

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: (Today's tangent in trying to call attention to Maryland's high pedestrian fatality rates from national organizations) Normalizing data is an interesting concept, how do you compare different groups with different characteristics? Especially when talking about road safety. It seems the road folks are obsessed with "exposure" and not the toll traffic fatalities has on the general population. Which to me would be like Baltimore saying since we have a lot of guns on the street (exposure) our gun violence is not that high considering the exposure. Or maybe a better analogy would be to say that since we have more people on the street so someone has a better chance of catching a stray bullet therefore our gun violence is not that bad.

Whether or not we have a gun violence problem is based on deaths per population and I'll assert traffic deaths should do the same and not per Vehicle Miles Traveled nor how many are out walking. More or less traffic is its own kind of problem, mixing that in with fatality rates just obnubilates the underlying problems and thus the solutions. People everywhere do the same things, basically go to work and shop. Traveling farther to do the same things does not improve safety nor the quality of life. So why do we accept this as a fair way to normalize fatality rates for comparisons?

Don't get me wrong, places that have a high pedestrian fatality rate with a low mode share are bad and should be highlighted but on the other extreme, are places with a high pedestrian fatality rate and a high mode share good? It comes down to what are we trying to point out, fatality rates or mode share? As I said, both have their issues and both have their solution sets (with some overlap) but why mix the two up?

A new report from the International Transport Forum finds that the United States had more road deaths per capita in 2012 than Canada, Australia, Japan, and all of the European nations that reported data.

Specifically, the US had 10.7 road deaths per 100,000 people. Canada and France both had 5.8. And the United Kingdom was down at 2.8. (The report explains that the per-person death rate is helpful for comparing deaths from various causes.)

But then it goes on to say that when the comparison is done by Vehicle Miles Traveled the US looks a lot better. Seriously? The fact that we drive a lot more than the rest of western civilization makes us better?

This obsession with exposure even got into Smart Growth America's report Dangerous By Design. Where their Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is modified by pedestrians walking to work mode share. Like a 2% mode share means that pedestrians can be killed at twice the rate to rank the same with a place with a 1% mode share, that is wrong! That's that's taking a 2% change and making it a 200% change. How about normalizing on those who drive to work? More cars (less people walking), more dangerous right? (This would avoid the wild fluctuations where walking is is up to 5 times that of Florida so fatality rates are ranked 5 times better than what they are IMHO.) So the question is, should "exposure" be based on cars that kill or people who walk? (the latter sounds too much like victim blaming to me. Are they really trying to say, "The more people who are out walking naturally the more that are going to get killed." This is the exact opposite of the safety in numbers concept, granted the jury is still out if this is a proven concept but still we cannot assert the opposite across different population characteristics.) Besides Dangerous by Design's methodology makes the New York metro area's high pedestrian fatality rate one of the safest metro areas to walk, this does not feel right to me. The way I would tentatively do the Pedestrian Danger Index by the change in the population that drives, New York's ranking would improve a few notches over a pure pedestrian fatality rate but it still would be high on the list. And for the converse, the Nashville, TN metro area their ranking would be worse by a few notches because so many drive to "justify" their pedestrian fatality rate.

The Dangerous by Design Report takes normalized fatality rates and normalizes them again. So we are normalizing normalized traffic fatalities, something about that just screams of trying to make something bad sound not that bad,

Back to New York Metro area, sure a lot of people in Manhattan walk but think about the Bronx and New York's Vision Zero. I really don't think New York metro deserves a ranking of 48 (with 51 being the least dangerous metro area for pedestrians.)

The biggest problem with using the primary mode of transportation to work it fails to capture the size of the population that is out there waking. Take kids for example which are not in the mode share numbers, to ball park the error, kids make up ~14% of the population. So adding that to those adults that walk would change the range from 1 - 5 (% of adults that walk) to 15 - 20% (of the population that walks), an increase of a third not the 500% that they are using in their math. And that's just one segment of the population that they fail to capture.

Comparisons of the walking share to work is fine, as it is an indicator of how walkable one place is compared to another but using it to determine the size of that population and its "exposure, well that's just wrong, Seriously deaths per population per another population number is supposed to be a meaningful number?

My next point is I looked up the time of day pedestrians were killed here in Maryland and topping the list is what I would call bar closing times, next was lunch time. Neither has anything to do with how people get to work so why are we normalizing on that? In fact Pedestrian fatalities during normal commute times were near the bottom of the list. "the per-person death rate is helpful for comparing deaths from various causes" Life is life everywhere and the rate in which pedestrians die is indicative how safe the streets really are for pedestrians and making bad places look better based on an unproven concept of "exposure" is wrong.

I was biking through Towson during lunch time and there where hoards of people out walking. I am willing to bet over 90% of those drove to work. That is to say how many walking around work centers is not always determined by peoples principle mode on how they got to work in the first place.

My rework of their tables based on pedestrian death rates follows. IMHO excluding this information is wrong. If they want to add tables based on other normalized data fine but I think their math is way off in their current thinking. (Side note: I can understand fatalities per vehicle miles traveled to justify freeways as they eliminated a known danger, intersections. So apply vehicles miles traveled in this instance proves (or disproves) the safety advantages of freeways. But outside of this context diluting fatality rates for a given population with vehicle miles traveled rewards sprawl and penalizes compact development. Exposure (vehicle miles traveled to name one) should not be the universally accepted way to compare diverse populations unless it is part of what we want to test or show. IMHO What the Dangerous by Design Report does is prove that pedestrian "exposure" by those who walk is not a valid way to compare diverse populations )
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Bike Maryland December 2014 Newsletter

Bike Maryland updates

It Has Been a Busy Season at Bike Maryland!

Sure, winter may be around the corner but there are plenty of great riding days to be enjoyed in 2014! When your friends from Bike Maryland are not out on the roads or the trails, we are here at the office working to raise awareness, raise funds and raise the collective voice of cyclists across the state. Here is a recap of what we have been up to, events you can participate in and a great opportunity for you to invest in your right to bike.

Advocate, Gather, Educate and Ride!

As part of our mission to promote multi-surface bicycling for recreation and transportation, Bike Maryland has been traveling to counties far and wide to support local cycling initiatives. The proactive workshop tour was launched in early August and has successfully gathered and educated experienced and budding advocates in Cumberland, Anne Arundel and Salisbury, Harford, Hagerstown, Emmitsburg, Berlin and Ocean Pines and before the end of the year we will also meet to collaborate (and ride, of course) in Williamsport, Brunswick, Frederick County and Garrett County! If your town, company or university is interested in learning how to become more bike-friendly, please email Emily Ranson, Bike Maryland's Advocacy Coordinator.

Fueled by the positive momentum at the Hood College Bike Friendly University workshop last winter, the Bike Maryland Bike Friendly program hosted an inaugural University Summit in partnership with University of Maryland which gathered sustainability directors, facilities planners and bike advocates from 15 Maryland colleges and universities on October 14th.

The discussion continued and was pushed into high gear on November 8th at the Bike Maryland Legislative Planning Session, where local bicycling advocacy leaders from counties across Maryland came together with highly motivated tactics and agenda items for the upcoming 2015 Legislative Session. The contributions and take-aways from this session were referenced while finalizing the Bike Maryland's strategic plan. 

The positive strides in advocacy coincided as the Bike Maryland Bike MINDED Safety Program wrapped up it's 2014 fiscal year on October 31st, meeting the goal of educating 15,000 adults and children at over 200 educational workshops, tabling events and rides in counties surrounding in the Baltimore metropolitan area over the course of 12 months. We happily report that the Maryland Highway Safety Office program grant was renewed and workshops for the coming year are now being planned! To learn more about the youth and adult workshops, visit here

We encourage you to become a part of the conversation and to express your bicycling desires, concerns or questions! Bike Maryland strives to be the leading resource for bicycling in the state and we want to help connect you with opportunities to ride, engage and belong.

Read our blog. Follow us on Facebook/Twitter. Get the newsletter. Join us.

Upcoming Events

December 2- City of Frederick: Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee: An open meeting to help build recommendations for improved bicycling

December 3- Rockville Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting: An open meeting to help build recommendations for improved bicycling

December 7 - Trail Build Patapsco Fun Series: Bring your favorite tool and expect to get dirty and this truly fun gathering of trailheads! Please RSVP

December 12 - Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting: all meetings are held at MDOT and are free and open to the public.

December 13 - Bike Maryland Bike MINDED Adult Commuter Safety Workshop: a free workshop and ride to learn techniques and meet like-minded folks!

December 15 - Bike the Lights: a festive holiday experience on two wheels benefiting Howard County General Hospital for all ages and experience levels!

December 26 - Baltimore Bike Party: a themed mass monthly ride starting out of St. Mary's Park in Baltimore City for all ages, backgrounds and abilities! 

Invest with Bike Maryland and Your Stock Will Double. Instantly!

We are thrilled to announce that December 2nd, Giving Tuesday marks the launch of Bike Maryland's 2014 End of The Year Charitable Matching Campaign! Thanks to a generous contribution from Race Pace Bicycles every donation between now and December 31st will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000! That means your gift will travel twice as far and help us pedal twice as hard to achieve our mission to improve bicycling conditions across the state! Please consider Bike Maryland as you plan for your end of the year giving and click HERE to donate. 

Thank you to Race Pace Bicycles for their continued support of Bike Maryland and bicyclists across the state. We are grateful of your partnership!

Looking Forward to the Next Newsletter

Keep your eyes open for our next newsletter, which will feature:

  • 2014 Bike Maryland Annual Report
  • 5 Year Bike Maryland Strategic Plan
  • Dates for Bike Maryland's 2015 Events
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Bike friendly rankings make no sense to me

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: Hmm, Maryland with a state ranking of 7 per the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) but none of our cities made made Bicycling Magazines ranking of the top 50 cities.

All this says to me is that our Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access is really good with the double talk and LAB buys into it. Or maybe all the criteria that LAB uses has absolutely nothing to with conditions on the ground, specially near where most people live. And what about progress?

In 2000 we passed a law for a state wide bicycle master plan. It took one year to develop that plan and another year to start implementing that plan.

Bicycle mode share
(National average 0.6%)
% of state roads BLOC grade D or better80%81%
Bicyclists fatalities65
Bicyclists injuries162658

After 10 plus years is this progress? Is this progress worthy of a top 10 ranking by LAB?
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Biking Elsewhere-> According to a Nov.18th City Clock Magazine article, "If urban car ownership levels in the U.S. were the same as Paris, American consumers would have over $450 billion to spend annually on other things. Thats enough to pay for a state of the art city-wide light-rail transit network in 100 cities. All in just one year. In the U.S., car ownership levels are at 809 vehicles per 1,000 people but generally range between 650 and 750 in urban areas. In Paris, its 450, Copenhagen 225, and Hong Kong 73. Of all the G20 countries, the U.S. is way out in front when it comes to car ownership... Going car free can add $7,000 a year to your discretionary spending...

&quot;Of the more than $9,000 spent annually per person on car ownership, $7,095 leaves the local economy according to AAA... So where does all of that car money go if its not leaving the city? One study found that pedestrians and cyclists spend more than drivers through more frequent (but smaller) purchases (Examining Consumer Behavior and Travel Choices: <a href=""></a>;)...&quot;
Source: <a href=""></a>;

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling &amp; Walking.

B' Spokes: Talk to any politician and they love tourism as it brings money into the local economy. So what's the opposite of tourism? I will assert the over use of cars as it's mostly money that leaves the local economy. But then I hear counter arguments that not many bike, Well we don't get many tourists either, let alone tourists that are here year round. - Think about it.
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Baltimore woman pleads guilty in DUI crash that injured two cyclists in Annapolis

Biking in the Metro AreaVia The WashCycle

Sentencing will happen Dec 18th 

Prosecutors said Colbert hit bicyclists  Katie Pohler, 23, and Todd Green, 27, while she was driving on June 28 on Route 450 near Brice Lane in the Annapolis area. Officials said the victims were in the dedicated bike lane and that Colbert drifted into them.

Pohler and Green were flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where Pohler underwent treatment for critical injuries. Green was treated and released, but Pohler is still recovering.

Officials said Colbert had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 at the time, which is nearly double the legal limit. She had also been driving with a 3-year-old relative in the car, prosecutors said.

Frankly, she was lucky that her two victims were young and healthy. Some other cyclists might not have survived. In fact, if one of them later dies from complications due to their injuries, I suppose she could be charged with some form of homicide. 

She was orginially indicted on 11 charges

The woman has been indicted on 11 charges, including two counts of second-degree assault as well as driving while impaired by alcohol while transporting a minor.

But the plea is for only 2 of those charges - causing a life-threatening injury while under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of alcohol while transporting a minor
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Cyclists: What To Do If You Are Hit By A Car

Biking ElsewhereVia Velosurance

Call 911 and request police and EMS to the scene
Gather witness information
Ask the police to write the driver a ticket
Take pictures of the car and bike
Take pictures of the scene
Get the car license plate number
Do not make a statement to anyone except the police
Consult with an attorney before you make a claim on the drivers insurance company offers insurance for cyclists to protect your bicycle from many types of losses, crashes, theft and a bunch of other things that can happen to your bicycle.

<a href=""></a>;
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The bicycle and pedestrian "contributory negligence" bill is in trouble. Here's why.

Bike Lawsby David Alpert , Greater Greater Washington

But sponsors said yesterday it's unlikely to pass, in large part because of concerns from trial lawyers about its impact on high-dollar cases.

Photo by Rosario Esquivel on Flickr.
&quot;Trial lawyers&quot; bring lawsuits to help people recover money after car crashes, job injuries, employment discrimination, defective products, and more. They are often derided as &quot;ambulance chasers&quot; and the like. But lawsuits when people's rights are violated or negligence has caused harm are also an important force keeping companies from ignoring safety problems or violating the law.

The trial lawyers are also well-organized and active in lobbying, locally through the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan DC. According to Councilmember Tommy Wells, the TLA has been pushing councilmembers not to move forward with the bill. So has the insurance industry.

I spoke to her to understand why she feels this way.

Why are trial lawyers against the bill?

You might ask, wait a minute. This bill is supposed to help cyclists and pedestrians recover if they are injured. And trial lawyers are the people who bring those lawsuits. So why are they against this?

It's because of a legal doctrine known as &quot;joint and several liability.&quot; As Wells explained it, if you're hit by a driver who has no money, but someone else who was negligent in some way (maybe the brakes manufacturer, if the brakes failed, for example), you can also go after that party. And even if most of the fault isn't with them, you could recover all of the medical costs from the deeper-pocketed entity.

The trial lawyers really like this provision, because they are really interested in the big cases that can mean a lot of money, both for their clients and for them. Cheh also said she wants to keep it, and noted that in the 45 states which don't have contributory negligence, often they also don't have joint and several liability.

<a href=""></a>;
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Arrogant cyclists? No, they're following the rules.

Biking in BaltimoreBy Alan Solot, Arizona Daily Star

“Arrogant bicyclists feel they own the road” is a common lament of motorists. Since El Tour de Tucson is on Saturday, I think it’s a good time for this discussion.

To state the most important point: All road users — motorists, cyclists, pedestrians — must comply with the law, and use the road safely.

Many motorists seem to believe (I may be incorrect in saying this) that cyclists’ use of the road is not as important as motorists’ use. But, the law doesn’t provide that any road user’s reason for being on the road is more important than others’, unless it’s a police car, fire truck or ambulance responding to an emergency. Cyclists and motorists have equal right to use the road; that right has nothing to do with why they are using the road.

<a href=""></a>;
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Bike Laws[Bob Mionske responds to these and other comments:]
My question: If, on a rural 2-lane road, an officer gives a motorist a citation for part of the vehicle crossing the double yellow in order to grant the cyclist room, assuming there was clearly sufficient room to do so without peril from an oncoming vehicle, what is the likeliest scenario in a courtroom if the motorist decides to contest this citation?
It would seem intuitive that the decision to mark a road double yellow as opposed to a broken yellow is based on engineering decisions contemplating cars passing other cars at high speed. Might the court agree and, if so, could the fact that a car is passing a cyclist, rather than a motorist, be a mitigating factor in the court's decision, and could this be a reasonable defense by a motorist charged with a violation of 21460?

<a href=""></a>;
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Health & Environmentby Mark Plotz
-&gt; This article could have been titled: &quot;Gains in Life Expectancy Slowed by Obesity, Shootings, and Overdoses.&quot; A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research examined preventable deaths for the period 1960-2010 and its conclusion is troubling: the longevity gained from our public health wins (safer cars, less smoking, less drinking) has been nearly cancelled out by the public health battles we are losing (obesity, shootings, and drug overdoses). The wins have given us an additional 1.82 years of good health; the losses have erased 1.77 years, leaving not much net gain. The study uses 'quality-adjusted life expectancy' as it is a more accurate measurement of years spent in good health. Read the working paper at <a href=""></a>; or the summary at <a href=""></a>;.

The decline in motor vehicle death rates is impressive, dropping from 20 per 100k in population (1960) to a little over 10 deaths per 100k (2010). The authors present the counterfactual scenario, which projects death rates if we had done nothing--freezing seat belt use, impaired driving, and vehicle safety at 1960 levels--and continued to drive at our current rate: we reach 78 deaths per 100k population by 2008 before the plunge in VMT brings deaths back down to 65 per 100k in 2010. The lesson seems to be it is remarkable what we can accomplish when government, the private sector, and the public agree on a public health threat and decide to act.

The trend is going the wrong way in Houston, where the voters told the City to turn off red light cameras in 2010. The result: more crashes--a lot more (<a href=""></a>;).

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling &amp; Walking.
B' Spokes: I want to emphasize: &quot;The lesson seems to be it is remarkable what we can accomplish when government, the private sector, and the public agree on a public health threat and decide to act.&quot;

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