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How Engineering Standards for Cars Endanger People Crossing the Street

Biking ElsewhereBy Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

...
The signal timing that puts pedestrians at risk is baked right into traffic engineering conventions, Furth told the Boston City Council in December [PDF]:

Synchro, the standard software [traffic engineers] use, is based on minimizing auto delay, and it doesn’t even calculate pedestrian delay. “Level of Service” criteria give engineers an incentive to minimize auto delay, often at the expense of pedestrian service (which isn’t measured). That’s how we get designs with 30 second delay for cars with 120 second delay for pedestrians.
...

Part of the problem, Furth says, is that transportation engineers have standards for measuring motorist delay but not pedestrian delay. He has developed a tool to assess delay at intersections for pedestrians and cyclists, recommending that Boston weigh those factors in its signal timing.

Disregard for the walking environment is also embedded in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices — a point of reference for engineers. The MUTCD does not require pedestrian-specific signals at crossings, treating them as a judgment call even in urban locations.

The MUTCD does not even “warrant” (i.e. allow) a signalized crossing for pedestrians unless at least 93 people per hour try to cross the street, or five people were struck by drivers within a year.

Meanwhile, there are no such thresholds for motor vehicle signals. Regardless of traffic counts, the MUTCD gives engineers permission to install traffic signals on major streets to “encourage concentration and organization of traffic flow” — i.e. to make things go smoother for drivers.

Ian Lockwood, an engineer with the Toole Design Group, said this institutional bias helps explain why the U.S. has struggled to reduce traffic deaths.

“When a traffic engineer says they’ve optimized a traffic signal, that typically means they made it the best for the motorists,” he said. “There’s a pro-speed, pro-automobile bias that’s built into the traffic engineering culture dealing with these sorts of issues.”

When a pedestrian is killed, Lockwood says, engineers tend to blame the victim for not complying with the standard road design, instead of questioning how the street design created deadly risks.

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/03/03/how-engineering-standards-for-cars-endanger-people-crossing-the-street/
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Where are the nation’s worst drivers? This data may hold the answer

Biking in MarylandMaryland Ranks 5 for speeding as well as hard braking with a overall ranking of 11

via http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/nations-worst-drivers-data-may-hold-answer/
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America Needs a 'Metropolitan Party'

PoliticsAn Interesting idea via City Lab https://www.citylab.com/politics/2017/04/america-needs-a-metropolitan-party/523065/
While the political divide does seem to be city vs rural so maybe the idea is to capture more of the suburban mind set. But I see just one problem, few seem to be doing the metropolitan area as a economic engine well. We are on the cutting edge of a lot of new concepts like complete streets which seem to be taken as a war on cars when really they are trying to get the streets to work well for everyone, including cars. Basically every thing we should be doing is fought tooth and nail because it does not continue old fashion ideals that the car is king so everyone should get a car. And that's just one issue that needs to be settled before a metropolitan party could become main stream.
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Cell phones are not what’s causing America’s epidemic of pedestrian fatalities

Biking ElsewhereBy Emiko Atherton, Smart Growth America, via Medium

More people drove in 2016 than in 2015, according to new data released this week by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Alongside that increase was a disproportionately high rise in pedestrian fatalities — a trend that the authors attribute to increases in distracted driving and distracted walking.

This analysis is wrongheaded, and blames individuals for what is a systemic problem. The way we design and build streets is a fundamental part of whether people can walk safely along a road or whether they are at risk for being struck and killed. Street design does not seem to be a priority for GHSA — but it should be.

We know street design is part of this problem because there are patterns to where fatal collisions occur. Heat maps of pedestrian fatalities show that pedestrians are struck and killed by cars at the same intersections and along the same corridors over and over again. Are people using cell phones more in these locations? I doubt it. Street design plays a clear role.

And if street design is part of the problem it needs to be part of the solution. Instead of blaming pedestrians, GHSA would do better to explore how state highway departments — the groups they represent — can make streets safer for everyone from the ground up.

Reducing pedestrian fatalities needs a “yes and” approach. Should we reduce distracted driving? Yes. Should we reduce drunk driving? Yes. We should also change the way we design and build streets to protect people from fast-moving cars. Until that happens, it should surprise no one that pedestrian fatalities continue. This problem is bigger than our phones.

https://medium.com/@SmartGrowthAmerica/cell-phones-are-not-whats-causing-america-s-epidemic-of-pedestrian-fatalities-8ab944201249
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We all break traffic laws. Why are bicyclists different?

Biking ElsewhereBy Robbie Webber, State Smart Transportation Initiative

Bicyclists break traffic laws, but they do so at a lower rate than either drivers or pedestrians. It would be safe to say that almost 100 percent of roadway users break traffic laws. Yet the general public’s perception of lawbreaking behavior by drivers and bicyclists is vastly different—at least if you listen to talk radio or read the comments section to online news stories.
...

In an article in the Journal of Transport and Land Use, Marshall concludes that while almost 100 percent of road users are scofflaws, regardless of mode, the reasons for lawbreaking differ. Drivers and pedestrians generally report that they are saving time. Saving time came in third as a reason for bicyclists, but personal safety was the top reason, with saving energy as second. Visibility to other road users was the fourth place answer.

All road users feel they are acting safely, and statistically they are. Even drivers who speed or run red lights have a small risk of a crash, even with decades of driving. However, if a fatal crash does happen, there is a 50 percent chance the fatality will be an innocent party. This is in contrast to the chances of an innocent-party fatality due to a scofflaw bicyclist, which is extremely rare.
...

http://www.ssti.us/2017/04/we-all-break-traffic-laws-why-are-bicyclists-different/
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Pedestrians are dying at the highest rate in two decades

Biking ElsewhereBy Associated Press, New York Post

WASHINGTON — Pedestrian deaths are climbing faster than motorist fatalities, reaching nearly 6,000 deaths last year — the highest total in more than two decades, according to an analysis of preliminary state data released Thursday.
...

http://nypost.com/2017/03/30/pedestrians-are-dying-at-the-highest-rate-in-two-decades/

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SHA IMPROVES SAFETY FOR PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLISTS IN MONTGOMERY AND PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTIES

Bike Maryland updates[B' Spokes: Apparently making the case to legalize the HAWK beacon prompted SHA to act. Also there is a hint on why SHA opposed the HAWK beacon in the first place. So apparent SHA is going to pursue a MD specialized HAWK beacon to go with our MD specialized "Bikes May Use The Full Lane" sign. I guess if it is bike or pedestrian related stuff the feds have standardized on is not good enough for SHA.]

http://www.roads.maryland.gov/pages/release.aspx?newsId=2792
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SUVs double pedestrians’ risk of death

Biking ElsewhereBy Paul Marks, New Scientist

Someone struck by a large sports utility vehicle is more than twice as likely to die as someone hit by a saloon car travelling at the same speed. The finding by American researchers will add further weight to calls for SUVs ­ sporty vehicles with a high, blunt-fronted body atop a broad chassis ­ to be made safer.

In March, Jeffrey Runge, the head of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), called on the automobile industry to make SUVs safer (New Scientist print edition, 8 March).

Their high centre of gravity makes them more likely to roll over. According to the NHTSA, 36 per cent of fatal SUV crashes in the US in 1998 involved a rollover, compared with only 15 per cent in cars.
...

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4462-suvs-double-pedestrians-risk-of-death/
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Stupidity Is the Reason that Delaware Pedestrians Die So Frequently. But It’s Not the Stupidity You Think.

Biking Elsewhereby James, Bike Delaware

...
Call it the Grand Unified Motorist Theory of Dead Pedestrians: They are stupid. They deserved to die. And perhaps it’s just as well for the rest of us that they have been removed from the gene pool.
...

[B' Spokes: Good article worth looking at.]
http://www.bikede.org/2015/10/19/delaware-pedestrians/
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Pedestrian Deaths Rise Nationally, But Not In D.C. Or Maryland

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: I'll note it's hard to get worst when you are already in the top ten. You can read WAMU's story here:

http://wamu.org/story/17/03/30/pedestrian-deaths-rise-nationally-not-d-c-maryland/
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