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Thursday, November 26 2015 @ 12:07 AM UTC


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No Crime, No Punishment

Biking ElsewhereWhy do dangerous drivers receive more protection from the law than their victims do?

By Bob Mionske, Bicycling

When a dangerous driver injures somebody, or takes another person’s life, we pretend that it’s somehow normal. We’re all so aware of our own driving mistakes that we do everything we can to avoid holding other drivers—even dangerous drivers—accountable when somebody dies. We call it “an accident.” We blame the victim. We worry about how the driver must have suffered. Our system of traffic justice is so broken that, for the victims of dangerous drivers, there is often no justice at all.

Instead, our legal system shields dangerous drivers from any real consequences. With the exception of DUI, motorists can get away with just about anything. Consider a few recent examples.

[B' Spokes: Things he points out make my blood boil.]

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High-viz jackets don’t affect how close motorists pass cyclists

Biking ElsewhereBy Sam Dansie, Bike Radar

Whether you wear a big notice saying you're a total cycling newbie, look like a Tour de France pro or just put on a straightforward high-viz jacket, the distance at which UK cars will overtake remains roughly the same: 117.5cm.

That's the result of an academic study investigating what difference a cyclist's clothing choice may have on how close motorists pass them when overtaking during peak rush hour.

It means, say the researchers, there is little cyclists can do with their wardrobe to influence motorists' behaviour once they've been seen.

The only jacket that appeared to make a meaningful difference to the average passing distance was a jacket with the word 'police' written on it.

&quot;It's those close buzzes that make cycling feel unsafe,&quot; said Walker. &quot;If it doesn't feel safe people won't do it.&quot;

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Paris bans cars, makes transit free to fight air pollution

Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: You would think being near the worst on the number of bad air days (<a href=""></a>; ) we would be working towards something like this.]
By John Upton, Grist

Air pollution is about as romantic as wilted flowers, chapped lips, and corked wine, so the record-setting smog that has settled over the City of Love in the past few days is definitely dampening the mood.

Unseasonably warm weather has triggered unprecedented air pollution levels in Paris. Over the weekend, the city responded by offering free public transportation and bike sharing. (Similar measures were taken throughout nearby Belguim, which also reduced speed limits.) But that wasn’t enough to fix the problem, so Paris and 22 surrounding areas are taking more extreme steps, banning nearly half of vehicles from their roads.

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What should the speed limit be for cars in cities?

Biking Elsewhere
Speed limit vs injuries

Via Treehugger
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Motorists are at fault in the majority of cycling fatalities

Biking ElsewhereBy Gregory A. Clark, Standard-Examiner

But one contributing factor is inappropriate motorist attitude: Roads are for cars, not bikes. Another is that American motorists typically receive little or no penalty for injuring or killing cyclists -- even when the accident is clearly their fault. A third is the lack of cycling infrastructure.

These need to change.

When it comes to attitude, all too often people are ready to blame the victim.

As one commentator put it after another recent local accident, &quot;Often the blame should be shared. ... Cyclists have to do their part to stay out of the way.&quot; (Read)

Sure, cyclists sometimes fail to obey the letter of the law. Me too. But that is not the major problem. Motorists are at fault in the majority of cycling fatalities.

Nearly every motorist, on nearly every drive, also breaks the law: Failing to come to a complete stop at stop signs, failing to obey the posted speed limit, failing to signal appropriately, and so on. Me too. If receiving respect required giving respect for the letter of the law, then motorists would deserve no respect, either.

Despite our own routine driving infringements, we don't claim that other drivers should be absolved of blame for hitting our cars. Or that roads and infrastructure shouldn't be built or maintained. Or that cars shouldn't be allowed on roads. Yet that is much the attitude many motorists wrongly convey toward bicyclists.

Pedestrians also often violate the letter of the law, crossing in the middle of the street or against red lights. Me too. But that's no excuse for motorists to run them down, or to deny them infrastructure.

Instead, pedestrians are correctly presumed to have the legal right-of-way over motorists. That makes sense, given the discrepancies of size, speed, and injury potential between cars and people.

The same legal principle should apply to cyclists. And where that principle has been put into legislation, it works. Such legislation -- with enforcement -- doesn't &quot;result in rampant injustice to drivers ... it results in far fewer accidents.&quot; (Read) Nor does it result in rampant law-breaking by cyclists, who must worry about their physical harm far more than about traffic tickets.

Overall, bicycle use reduces, not increases, traffic and parking problems. Traffic jams and slowdowns are caused by too many cars, not by too many cyclists. (Read) Nor are traffic jams caused by the few extra seconds (if any) it takes for drivers to pass slower cyclists.

Further still, bicycle use saves the taxpayer money. That's a kind of &quot;green&quot; that most anyone can love.

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FHWA Proposes to Let States Fail Their Own Safety Goals With Impunity

Biking Elsewhereby Tanya Snyder, Streets Blog

Secretary Anthony Foxx has made clear that safety — and specifically, safety for bicyclists and pedestrians — is a priority of his administration. If that’s true, his administration sure has a funny way of showing it.

The Federal Highway Administration’s proposal on safety performance measures allows states to fail to meet half their own safety targets without consequences. And it gives the seal of approval to worsening safety performance as long as people in that state are driving more.

First, bike and pedestrian advocates are bitterly disappointed that their demand for a separate performance measure on vulnerable road users was not included. “Once again, bicyclists have been left out,” said Bike League President Andy Clarke in a blog post Tuesday. “We know that without a specific target to focus the attention of state DOTs and USDOT on reducing bicyclist and pedestrian deaths within the overall number — we get lost in the shuffle.”

More people dying? No problem — just keep driving!

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Traffic Safety Trends

Biking ElsewhereBy Anne Teigen and Douglas Shinkle

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 3 and 34. In 2012, highway deaths increased for the first time since 2005, from 32,479 in 2011 to 33,561 in 2012. While motor vehicle deaths in 2012 remain at the same level of fatalities as in 1950, Americans drove approximately the same about of miles in 2012 as they did in 2011, but with a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia saw reductions in overall traffic fatalities (Table 1); in Mississippi, the number of fatalities decreased by 48, or 7.6 percent.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

After a few years of declining traffic deaths among bicyclists and pedestrians, the past few years have witnessed an increase in deaths for these groups. In 2012, pedestrian deaths rose from 4,457 deaths in 2011 to 4,743 deaths in 2012 (an increase of 6.4 percent), while bicyclist deaths increased from 682 to 726 (an increase of 6.5 percent). Injuries increased as well, by 10 percent for pedestrians, to around 76,000, and by 2.1 percent, to about 49,000 for bicyclists. Alcohol use continues to increase the risk of injury or death for pedestrians and cyclists; 37 percent of pedestrians killed in 2011 (the year with the most recent data), had blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal driving limit of .08, although that has declined from 44 percent of pedestrians in the early ‘80s.

Due largely to the success in decreasing vehicle deaths, the proportion of bicyclist and pedestrian traffic deaths has increased significantly; according to the newest data from the NHTSA passenger vehicle deaths now account for 65 percent of traffic deaths, down from 75 percent in 2003, while the proportion of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities increased from 13 percent of deaths to 17 percent [22 percent for Maryland]. Common legislative strategies to enhance traffic safety for pedestrians and bicyclists include vulnerable user laws, complete streets, safe bicycling passing laws, and yield to pedestrian laws.

Vulnerable Users

A number of states [but not Maryland] considered legislation to assess stiffer penalties for traffic incidents that cause harm or death to vulnerable users, but Utah was the only one to enact such legislation in 2013. The Utah law defines a vulnerable user as a pedestrian; a person riding an animal; or a person operating a skateboard, wheelchair, bicycle, moped, motorcycle and other devices. A motorist may not distract, force, or attempt to distract or force a vulnerable user off the roadway with the intent of causing injury. Violating this law can result in fines of up to $750 and up to 90 days in jail; in the case of a violation resulting in injury to a vulnerable user, the penalty can be fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

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Cycling is good for you part 2,869: vigorous exercise reduces flu risk, study suggests

Biking Elsewhereby John Stevenson , Road.CC

It’s well known that being fit and active reduces your risk of heart problems and a host of other diseases of a sedentary lifestyle. A new study suggests that at least two and a half hours of vigorous exercise a week - including what the authors term ‘fast cycling’ - cuts the risk of catching flu by around 10% too.

But gentle activity has little effect; the activity has to be hard enough that it makes you sweat or breathe hard, according to experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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An Advocate’s Guide to Elections

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: A sample of what I would love to see around here.
By Darren Flusche, Policy Director, League of American Bicyclists

Bike Delaware

In 2010, Bike Delaware surveyed all candidates running for the state’s General Assembly. The survey included questions related to the appreciation of the benefits of bicycling and ended with direct questions about the candidates’ willingness to dedicate state funds to bicycling and walking. The responses indicated widespread support for dedicated state funding for bicycling and walking.

Encouraged by this, Bike Delaware and their health partners launched the successful “Walkable, Bikeable Delaware” campaign. The governor and the General Assembly have since committed over $20 million dollars of state funds to bicycling and walking projects.

Bike Delaware published the results online:
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2010 Bike Delaware Survey

On a scale of 1 to 5, rank your support of the following statements, with one being ‘strongly agree’ and five being ‘strongly disagree’:

1. I supported or agreed with the recently passed “Vulnerable Users Bill”:
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2. I believe that increased use of ‘active’ modes of transportation (i.e. walking and bicycling) improves public health.

3. I believe that investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure saves people money by allowing them to spend a smaller percentage of their household budgets on transportation; and makes Delaware’s economy less vulnerable to disruption from oil price shocks.

4. I support greater state transportation spending on walking and bicycling.

5. A minimum percentage of state transportation funding should be dedicated to the development of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and facilities.

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AA uses naked cyclist to launch #thinkbikes wing-mirror campaign

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: I laughed at this.

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

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The state should support what kind of bicycle facilities?

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