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Wednesday, September 17 2014 @ 11:30 AM UTC


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Distracted Driving Is Claiming the Lives of More Pedestrians and Cyclists

Biking Elsewhereby Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

Pedestrian fatalities attributed to distracted driving increased significantly between 2005 and 2010. Image: Public Health Reports

Total traffic deaths have declined nationwide in recent years, but the same has not held true for the most vulnerable people on the streets: cyclists and pedestrians. In 2011, 130 more pedestrians were killed in traffic than the year before, a 3 percent increase, while 54 more people lost their lives while biking, an increase of 8 percent. The same year, overall traffic deaths declined 2 percent.

As for the reasons why, good data has been scarce, but that hasn’t stopped major media from blaming victims for “drunk walking” or “distracted walking.” Now a new study published in Public Health Reports, the journal of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, reveals that distracted driving — particularly driving while texting — partially explains the rising death toll.

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Biking Elsewhere-> According to a Sept. 19th StreetsBlog article, "The question isn't whether your city can afford to build high-quality bike infrastructure anymore, say our friends at the Green Lane Project. It's whether your city can afford not to. The Green Lane Project has been working with the Alliance for Biking and Walking on a study examining the different ways protected bike lanes help local businesses. Blogger Michael Andersen classifies the economic benefits into four basic categories:
Protected bike lanes increase retail visibility and volume...
Protected bike lanes make workers healthier and more productive...
Protected bike lanes make real estate more desirable...
Protected bike lanes help companies score talented workers..."

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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The Safety Paradox: How an Irrational Culture of Fear Endangers Us All

Biking ElsewhereBY Chris Bruntlett, Hush

The United States Postal Service caused an uproar earlier this month when they released a series of stamps designed to encourage physical fitness among their nation’s chronically inactive children. In the end, they were forced to destroy the entire run of fifteen stamps over outcry about some of the ‘unsafe’ activities that they depicted. These include the wild and irresponsible acts of performing a cannonball into a swimming pool, doing a headstand without head protection, and skateboarding without kneepads.

In reality, there is far more safety in numbers than Styrofoam, which is why cities around the world with the highest cycling rates are also the safest, irrespective of helmet usage. Furthermore, the mistaken sense of invincibility provided by safety gear drastically changes the dynamic between road users, and not in the favour of the cyclist. Armoured cyclists have been statistically documented to indulge in ‘overcompensation’, taking additional risks, riding quicker and more recklessly than they otherwise would. Similarly, in a scientifically proven phenomenon known as the Mary Poppins effect, motorists also conduct themselves differently around cyclists dressed in protective equipment, leaving less space when passing, and travelling notably faster around them.

Once, just once, I’d like to see a police or medical professional courageously call for the taming of the bull in society’s china shop, not just the bubble wrapping of our fine china.

Underlying each and every one of these issues is an obesity epidemic that shows no signs of slowing down. 93% of Canadian children do not get the recommended hour of daily physical activity. One in three are either overweight or obese, a vicious cycle that proves difficult to break as they enter adulthood. By 2040, almost three quarters of Canadian adults will be overweight, significantly increasing their risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and costing us over $100-billion per year in treatment and accommodation. Sadly, this generation of children will likely be the first in the history of Western Civilization to live less healthful and shorter lives than their parents.

Despite all of this, the message from our so-called ‘health authorities’ is broadcast loud and clear: you are safer at home on the couch than exercising outdoors without the obligatory padding. The remote possibility of a traumatic injury trumps the overwhelming chance of a lifestyle disease, every single day of the week. They may mean well, but by fixating on the emergency room, these fear-mongering, headline-chasing ‘experts’ perpetuate a safety paradox, which makes matters much, much worse.

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Another cyclist dies because North American trucks don't have sideguards

Biking ElsewhereBy Lloyd Alter, Tree hugger

I wasn't going to write about this. It's just another cyclist killed in Toronto by a truck, where the 25 year old woman was pulled under the wheels of a trailer and had her lower body crushed and took almost a week to die. There are only so many posts you can write about the need for sideguards on trucks, about how little they cost and how easy it would be to do yet the government doesn't demand them, even though in Britain they reduced deaths by 61%. Even China insists on them. I was looking for analogy; Toyota is recalling millions of cars right now because there might be spiders in the airbags even though nobody has been hurt, but are they recalling trucks even though dozens have been killed? Of course not.

B' Spokes: there is also the commercial driver training that is woefully lacking in detail on common mistakes drivers of large trucks make and what should be done to compensate.
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Why Bicyclists should be allowed on some trails in some Wilderness*

Biking Elsewhereby Jim Hasenauer, Wilderness Bicycling

Mountain bicycling is a human powered, environmentally sustainable, outdoor recreation that is compatible with the philosophy, history and future of Wilderness. Mountain bicyclists are drawn to wild places, to exploration, to self sufficiency and to traveling under their own power through challenging terrain.

The ban on bicycles in Wilderness is philosophically and historically flawed. It harms a significant number of bicyclists who are being discriminated against. It weakens the environmental and outdoor recreation communities and therefore reduces protection of wild places. Lifting the system-wide ban and creating regulatory language that would allow bicyclists on some trails in some Wilderness is the best public policy.

Historical Justification

Some people think that bicycles are banned from Wilderness because they are machines, but the legislative and regulatory history does not bear that out. Bicycles are machines, but (as is discussed on this site) only in the way that oarlocks, hiking poles, ski bindings, some climbing equipment, kayak rudders or even soft-soled shoes are. They lever human effort, but ultimately they are human powered, not “propelled by a non-living power source” as 1966 Wilderness regulations define “mechanical transport”.
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Heart Disease, Traffic Jams and ADHD Share One Simple Solution: Drive Less

Biking Elsewhereby Elly Blue, Streets Blog

This is an excerpt from “Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy,” by Elly Blue (Microcosm Publishing, December 1, 2013, See our interview with Elly from spring 2013.

Car exhaust is no laughing matter. Nearly half of residents in major urban areas in North America live close enough to highways and other large roads to experience serious problems as a result. Exposure to car emissions worsens and may cause asthma and other lung conditions, including lung cancer. There is evidence to suggest that it leads to hardening of the arteries and thence to heart disease. One study has found an increased risk of heart attacks while in traffic, either while driving or using public transportation. Breathing car exhaust may increase the risk of developing diabetes; it is certain, however, that people who have diabetes suffer disproportionately from the effects of air pollution.

The worst effects of breathing polluted air are experienced where it is densest: in traffic. Spending time on and near highways, freeways, and other busy roads is terrible for your health. How near is a question that is still being studied, but researchers believe that the effects are worst within either a fifth or a third of a mile. People in cars or buses are exposed to considerably more air pollution, perhaps because of, rather than despite, being in a closed space. People walking and bicycling on or next to roads breathe more air, but inhale somewhat less pollution; and cyclists have been found to have even less risk if they are on paths that are separated from the road.

Children are particularly at risk, beginning before birth. Air pollution affects prenatal development, and a recent study suggests that exposure to air pollution such as diesel particulates, mercury, and lead may put a child at risk for autism. A separate study found double the rate of autism among children who live within 1,000 feet of a freeway in several major cities. Air pollution has also been linked, tentatively, to hyperactivity in kids and childhood cancers. And kids who have high daily exposure to car exhaust score lower on intelligence tests and have more depression, anxiety, and attention problems. This isn’t just a matter of where children live – one in three public schools in the U.S. are within a quarter mile of a highway, well within the danger zone.
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WalkBikeDoBetter PSA [video]

Biking Elsewhere

[B' Spokes: Of course the real issue is our roads are perceived as unsafe so few can feel comfortable venturing outside their homes. And the issue behind the issue is that too many in DOT feel the road should be made unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians, after all that's how it has been done since the 1950's. :/ While this video is great we also need to be shaming DOTs for their lack of motivation in making things better.]
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The dangers of dooring

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: You'll note that a featured story here shows a cyclist in a bike lane getting doored. I like bike lanes as much as the next guy but if they can't be fully out of the door zone something different should be done. And no I don't think "You can always bring a civil suit." Is much of a deterrent nor does it serve much in the way of informing the general public about the issue.

And the bigger issue is we have motorists who want us to ride far right in the door zone and think we are being very rude, if not illegal when we ride out of the door zone. In a discussion with our Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access who does have some background in law said that a car door is only considered a hazard (the lawful requirement we need in order to avoid) when a person is present in the car. There is a lot I can say about that but this news report should suffice as a good enough rebuttal.
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The Massive Potential of Shifting Trips from Car to Bike

Biking Elsewhereimage

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NATCO Urban Street Design Guide

Biking Elsewhereimage

B' Spokes: A typical Baltimore downtown street with cyclist "encouraged" to ride in door zones, ramps that put wheelchair users into the path of cross street traffic and low visibility crosswalks. But can it be improved?


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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

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