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Wednesday, July 30 2014 @ 12:54 AM UTC

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Why Clearing Sidewalks Isn’t a Priority Like Plowing Streets

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: First some Maryland data to put this in context.

Where Maryland stands compared to other states with their pedestrian fatality rate.
image http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/

How Maryland pedestrian fatalities by month rank for pedestrian fatalities.
Month20082009201020112012AVG.%
December149914101111
January1489109109.8
September91010137109.6
November9127911109.4
October871010998.6
February12985888.2
May510128788.2
June410146888.2
April8879787.6
July77491077.2
August61256576.7
March10824465.5
Fatal Crashes1061109710395102100
http://mhso.mva.maryland.gov/TrafficSafetyData/_benchmarkreports/PedestOnFootBR-12Aug1-13.pdf

It seems to me that Maryland has a winter time pedestrian problem.
by Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

If where you live is anything like where I live, the sidewalks are a mess right now. People are walking in the streets and getting summarily blamed by the press when a driver injures them.

Plows are out all night salting and scraping the streets, but sidewalks are a private responsibility, and compliance with shoveling laws is haphazard enough to make mixing with SUVs seem like the best option for a lot of pedestrians.

To their credit, community leaders in Akron, Ohio, have been debating how to keep children safe when they walk to school. On his blog Notes from the Underground, Jason Segedy, head of Akron’s metropolitan planning organization, AMATS, wrote about the relative lack of concern for kids who walk:

The immediate, specific, and tactical answer to the question of “Why don’t we make safe and accessible sidewalks a priority?” has to do with a panoply of thorny and interrelated fiscal, legal, and property issues.

But the holistic, general, and strategic answer to that question is simply this: our culture does not value or respect people on foot the way that it does people behind the wheels of cars. To be clear, this cultural orientation is not the result of conscious antipathy toward pedestrians, or an intentional organized conspiracy to disenfranchise or disrespect the marginalized and the poor. Instead, it’s simply the way that our society has evolved over the past 60 years, as the automobile has achieved near complete dominance as a mode of transportation – at least for the affluent majority.

I discuss this issue with people all of the time, and often hear people say “Why waste the time or money on this? No one walks anyway.” My translation: “I don’t walk anywhere, no one that I know walks anywhere, and since I occupy a place of privilege in society, I really don’t notice anyone that does walk.”

In addition to being patently false, the generalization “no one walks anyway” misses the point entirely.  Social equity and fairness in transportation is not about a tunnel-vision view of the needs of the majority that drives, considered in a vacuum; but rather, about looking out for the needs of the minority that does not drive.

...

http://streetsblog.net/2014/02/19/why-clearing-sidewalks-isnt-a-priority-like-plowing-streets/

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AlterNet Comics: Jen Sorensen's Safety Tips for Law-Breaking Pedestrians

Biking Elsewhere image

AlterNet Comics
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Massachusetts Official: Boston’s Winter Cyclists “Living in the Wrong City”

Biking Elsewhereby Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

Bostonians making polite requests for a clear path on one of the city’s key bike routes were met with disdain from the state agency responsible for maintaining the paths.

Here’s how one unnamed official from the Massachusetts’ Department of Conservation and Recreation responded in an internal email thread to a message from a Boston resident asking for better snow removal on the Southwest Corridor, an important off-street bike path. The leaked email was published on the Boston site Universal Hub (emphasis ours):

Frankly, I am tired of our dedicated team wasting valuable time addressing the less than .05% of all cyclists who choose to bike after a snow/ice event… We should not spend time debating cyclists with poor judgement [sic] and unrealistic expectations, and stick with [the staffer]‘s recommendation that they find other transportation. If someone is completely depending on a bike for year-round transportation, they are living in the wrong city.

Bikes advocates in the Boston region didn’t take those remarks lying down. The Boston Cyclists Union, working with Allston-Brighton Bikes and Southie Bikes, asked local cyclists to share photos of themselves on social media with the slogan “I am the .05%” to demonstrate their numbers and their normalcy. Local cyclists also took to tweeting under the hastag #winterbiker to explain why biking in cold weather months is their best option.

Those efforts appear to have found their target. The Boston Cyclists Union and MassBike are reporting today that DCR has agreed to meet with local cyclists to discuss their concerns regarding snow and ice clearance on bike paths.

And, for the record, cold weather cities that put real effort into making it safe to bike see little drop-off in cycling during the winter. Copenhagen, for instance, retains 80 percent of its peak-season bike traffic in the cold months

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/02/19/massachusetts-official-bostons-winter-cyclists-living-in-the-wrong-city/

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Be careful, deer

Biking ElsewhereBy CHARLES MAROHN, Strong Towns

Three deer have been killed recently in collisions with automobiles in a five-block stretch on Belliare Boulevard in Houston, Texas, within the past month. This has prompted Houston Police to urge the deer to be extra cautious when walking along the city streets.

[Picture of] Deer crossing the stroad without the aid of a crosswalk. Houston police are encouraging an end to this reckless behavior. (Click for license.)

Police officials say so far this year, there have been 15 crashes where deer were killed, a roughly 11 percent increase from the same time frame in 2013.

Department officials outlined a number of precautions the deer should take. Among them are:

* Do not walk across the street unless you are at a crosswalk.
* Take the extra minute or two to walk to a crosswalk.
* Obey traffic signals of Walk / Don't Walk.
* Look before you step.
* Do not assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with a driver; don't just look at a vehicle.
* Dress to be seen. Wear light colored clothing if walking at night and carry a flashlight, if possible.
* Do not wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while walking across the street.
* Be especially careful in construction zones.

Houston is spending considerable wealth in an effort to relieve automobile congestion, increase the flow of traffic and improve travel speeds. There is no word from City Hall on whether or not Houston is reevauating priorities and shifting resources to address the safety issues of deer within the community.

[Picture] The designated sidewalk is two blocks over yet this deer is found walking along the edge of the stroad. Houston police have issued caution to deer. (Click for license.)

All I can say is, thank goodness I'm not a deer. Imagine if I had to try to walk through these auto-dominated areas with only this sage advice to protect me. Wear light colored clothing indeed! Have you ever seen a deer talking on a cell phone while walking? Totally reckless behavior -- they are almost asking for it. Save that stuff for when you are driving.

Let's never forget, the forgiving design concepts standardized by the engineering profession apply to cars, not deer. We need to design to forgive the common and casual mistakes of drivers, ensuring that those routine and easily anticipated mistakes do not result in collisions or, worse, fatalities. There is no way we can apply this thinking to the ungulates among us. We engineers should not be expected to design places that take into account the normal and predictable behavior of deer and plan for their safety. That's not only beyond our professional charge, it may simply be impossible (without slowing down the cars).

Come on, deer. Take that extra minute or two to walk to the crosswalk. And look before you step. Nobody wants to see that messy venison on the side of the road during their morning commute.

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2014/2/19/be-careful-deer.html#.UwVRxPldWYA
*****************************************************************************************************************
[B' Spokes: I hope you get the point, people need to be accommodated along desire lines, this is true for obvious safety reasons. Saving fast cars two seconds while making people on foot travel 5 minutes or more makes no sense, people are people and everyone has a right to public space.]
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A short History of Traffic Engineering

Biking ElsewhereimageAttribution Some rights reserved by Mikael Colville-Andersen

Via The Copenhagenize Guide to Liveable Cities (And my friend Bob)
[B' Spokes: Because we all know the fast need to go faster and the slow don't mind going even slower. :/ ]
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Chris Boardman: "Helmets not even in top 10 of things that keep cycling safe"

Biking ElsewhereBritish Cycling policy advisor says it's time to stop distracting helmet arguments and concentrate on real safety issues

by John Stevenson, Road CC

...
Talking to road.cc at the London Bike Show, Boardman said, “I think the helmet issue is a massive red herring. It’s not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives.”

You’re being shot at, put on body armour

Boardman returned to an analogy he has made before, and which even he admits is a bit melodramatic, though it gets the point across

“It’s a bit like saying ‘people are sniping at you going down this street, so put some body armour on,’” he said.

Government encouragement to wear helmets was therefore “a big campaign to get people to wear body armour, by the people who should be stopping the shooting.”

Widespread use of helmets, he said, sends the wrong message.

“Once you see somebody wearing body armour, even if there’s no shooting, you think ‘Christ I’m not going down there if they’re wearing body armour to go down that street.’ It scares people off.”
...

http://road.cc/content/news/111258-chris-boardman-helmets-not-even-top-10-things-keep-cycling-safe
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Move Along: Upending the social order on our roads

Biking ElsewhereBy Jonathan Krall, Alexandria Times

While not intentional, biking and walking upset the transit social order. According to conventional thinking, roads are for cars, slow drivers are “bad drivers,” and cyclists and pedestrians should stay out of the way.

The idea that roads should be safe and effective for all users — the concept known as complete streets — aims to upend this social order, moving cars from first to last.

The longstanding order of the road is governed not by laws, but by socially enforced rules. For example, one might voluntarily drive below the speed limit on the Beltway.

That would be perfectly legal but likely would garner honks, flashing headlights and rude gestures. As everyone knows, appropriate driving speeds begin at the speed limit and extend upward, not downward. The power of these rules is such that police rarely issue a ticket, photographic or otherwise, for driving up to 10 mph above the speed limit.

All this came to mind the other day, when I was bicycling in violation of the social order. I was riding in the center of a narrow lane when a driver started honking at me. Shortly thereafter, he pulled alongside me and helpfully explained that cyclists are not allowed in the street unless they can ride at the speed limit.

This struck me as quite the head-scratcher. After all, isn’t the speed limit an upper limit? Those of us with Internet access have certainly read that cyclists should not be allowed on the road unless they “obey the law.” Riding at a typical bicycle speed surely complies with the law. Nevertheless, I’ve been told — even by friends — that cyclists must ride at the speed limit.

As it turns out, the speed limit is the single point of intersection between socially acceptable driving speeds and socially acceptable bicycling speeds. Cyclists who do not ride this tightrope — and that would be all of them — are in violation of at least one of these social conventions.

Despite endless discussions about safety and the law, increasingly it is clear to me that many people get upset by social rather than legal violations of the rules. While the majority of drivers remain polite, a vocal minority is extremely attached to the status quo.

As old gives way to new, outdated ideas fall by the wayside. One of these is that automobile traffic is an unstoppable force. As a pedestrian, it is up to me to get out of the way or suffer the consequences. As a cyclist, there is no point in asking for bike lanes because they would simply put me in harm’s way.

The complete-streets concept recognizes that individual drivers, cyclists and pedestrians rule traffic. Each is able to slow down and even stop to avoid a crash. Complete streets are updated streets, often with narrower traffic lanes that have been demonstrated to slow motorized traffic. With complete streets, pedestrians come first, followed by transit, cyclists and cars.
...

Responding to the failure of the automobile to deliver promises of speed and freedom to 100 percent of the population, people take up walking and bicycling
...

A 2012 nationwide poll, reported by McCann, showed that “63 percent of Americans would like to address traffic congestion by improving public transportation and designing communities for easier walking and bicycling.” While frustrating for some, these changes are supported by a majority of residents. The new social order, it seems, is here to stay.

http://alextimes.com/2014/02/move-along-upending-the-social-order-on-our-roads/
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LEGALLY SPEAKING- THE 1-MILE SOLUTION

Biking ElsewhereVia Bicycle Law

What if there was something you could do to improve your health and fitness, save money, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, and reduce your carbon footprint, all at the same time—would you do it?

Maybe that’s a bit of preaching to the choir here, but that’s the idea behind The 1-Mile Solution. As Andy Cline explains,

The idea is simple: Find your home on a map...Draw a circle with a 1-mile radius around your home. Try to replace one car trip per week within that circle by riding a bicycle or walking. At an easy riding pace you can travel one mile on a bicycle in about seven minutes. Walking takes about 20 minutes at an easy pace.

Now I know Legally Speaking readers generally put in their miles every week, but the concept here is a little different. According to Two-Wheeled Wonder, an article published in the March/April issue of Sierra, “nearly half of all trips in the United States are three miles or less; more than a quarter are less than a mile.” As the Sierra article notes,

Short car trips are, naturally, the easiest to replace with a bike trip (or even walking). Mile for mile, they are also the most polluting. Engines running cold produce four times the carbon monoxide and twice the volatile organic compounds of engines running hot. And smog-forming (and carcinogenic) VOCs continue to evaporate from an engine until it cools off, whether the engine’s been running for five minutes or five hours.

Discussing the Impact of the 1-Mile Solution. Andy Cline cites research from Professor Chandra Bhat that reveals that “the transportation sector accounts for about one-third of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Within that sector, travel by personal vehicles accounts for nearly two-thirds of those emissions.”

With the 1-Mile Solution, Cline proposes a simple means for each of us to reduce the impacts associated with these short trips—once a week, make a trip make a trip of one mile or less from your home by bicycle, or on foot, rather than by car. As Cline observes,

You start out small. You commit to one trip per week by foot or on a bicycle within a 1-mile radius of home. One mile is not far. At a modest pace it’s a 20-minute walk (great exercise!) or a 6-minute bicycle ride. The idea, of course, is that we’ll all see how easy one mile is and then begin replacing two trips per week. Then three. And soon enough, we’re routinely walking and riding within the circle.

Some of us are already making our short trips by bike; others have yet to make the change, or have friends and family who make all of their short trips by car. Because it’s so easy, the 1-Mile Solution is the kind of change that almost anybody can incorporate into their lives. As the year draws to an end, and a new year begins, that’s something to think about.

Wishing all of you a very happy new year,

Bob

(Research and drafting provided by Rick Bernardi, J.D.)

This article, The 1-Mile Solution, originally published on Dec. 31, 2008 on VeloNews.



http://www.bicyclelaw.com/articles/a.cfm/legally-speaking-the-1-mile-solution
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Ride your bike

Biking Elsewhereimage

EARTH-The Operators' Manual
[B' Spokes: What amazes me is how many think 2 miles on a bike is too far for a human to travel under their own power unless they are uber fit.]
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Tom Vanderbilt in NYT: Jaywalking Tickets Don’t Make Streets Safer

Biking Elsewhereby Tanya Snyder, Streets Blog

Enforcement of jaywalking doesn’t improve pedestrian safety. So what will? Tom Vanderbilt, best-selling author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, gave a succinct answer in a New York Times op-ed this weekend. Our cities will be safer to walk in when we have “better walking infrastructure, slower car speeds and more pedestrians.”

It’s that simple. Police departments in cities around the country — including, disappointingly, Bill de Blasio’s New York — crack down on pedestrians who break the letter of the law even though, Vanderbilt says, “more pedestrians generally are killed in urban areas by cars violating their right of way than are rogue pedestrians violating vehicles’ right of way.”
...

But his larger point is indisputable: Blaming pedestrians for the destruction wrought by motorists is disastrously misguided. Drivers need to be held responsible for any crash they could have reasonably prevented, no matter what the pedestrian was doing. The fact that the most vulnerable and least destructive people on the streets are getting hefty fines from police is ludicrous. If we want to make our streets safer for people walking, we will design our streets to welcome and protect them.

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2014/02/03/tom-vanderbilt-in-nyt-jaywalking-tickets-dont-make-streets-safer/

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