The idea behind congestion pricing was remarkably simple: when people see that driving costs more, they drive less. This basic economic lesson has been offered in response to recent tech-driven hopes that tunnel networks or self-driving vehicles can solve traffic on their own. “The bottom line is, when you give away something valuable for free, you create insatiable demand,” writes UCLA researcher Herbie Huff in the L.A. Times. “Traffic is the result.”
Numerous studies have documented the phenomenon known as induced demand in transportation: Basically, if you build highway lanes, more drivers will come. And yet, transportation agencies rarely account for this effect when planning road projects.
In a recent paper published by the Transportation Research Record, author Ronald Milam and his research team reviewed the various studies documenting the induced demand effect.
By Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog
The fact is, even children who follow the rules are not free from risk, because drivers travel at dangerous speeds and fail to yield the right of way when they should. But for some reason we hold children to awfully high standards while tacitly absolving all kinds of dangerous driving behavior.
It doesn’t help when official powers contribute to this false equivalence, implying that the licensed adult driver with the capacity to kill and the vulnerable child trying to get to school are equally responsible for preventing traffic injuries and deaths.
Consider the following data on the current state of our streets:
* With 20,035 crashes per year, the City is Maryland's most dangerous jurisdiction. The number of crashes per vehicle mile traveled (VMT) is 3.7 times the state average. Crashes cause traffic delay, property damage, injury, and death.
* The Baltimore MSA is 10th worst for traffic fatalities involving pedestrians, at 20%.
* Our average commute is 31 minutes and average transit commute 50 minutes, among the highest in the U.S.
* Transportation poses a barrier to employment for City residents even for jobs located in the City. City residents only hold 34.6% of City jobs.
* In Baltimore, high crash areas include the Greater Penn-North area, Bel-Air Edison, and Southern Park Heights, all majority Black neighborhoods.
* Children, older adults, and persons of color are disproportionately affected by pedestrian crashes. Nationwide, African American and Latino cyclists are 30% and 23% more likely to suffer a biking fatality than White cyclists, and the fatality rate for African American and Latino pedestrians is 60% and 43% higher than for White pedestrians.
* Automobile dependency extracts money out of our local economy and deprives businesses of customers and communities of investment that come with Complete Streets.
In our City, there are 8 Community Statistical Areas (developed by Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance) where more than 50% of the households do not have access to a personal vehicle. In some census tracts within these areas, the rate can climb as high as 80%. These Community Statistical Areas are:
Cherry Hill (51.8% no vehicle access)
Southwest Baltimore (52.8%)
Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park (56.3%)
Madison/East End (56.6%)
Greenmount East (57.8%)
Poppleton/The Terraces/Hollins Market (58.9%)
Upton/Druid Heights (67.5%)
Oldtown/Middle East (71.6%)
[B' Spokes: Some helpful arguments that may come up as Baltimore move toward more automated traffic enforcement.]
First, let's understand what the National Motorists Association is: an extremist fringe group that thrives on emotional explanations to reason that humans should be able to drive cars without consequences.
Their representatives have actually argued that hit-and-run drivers should not be penalized for leaving the scene of a crash in which pedestrians are murdered.
Blaming all victims who are not motorists for their own demise is heartless at best and cruel at worst. People may make mistakes, but no one deserves to die because they stepped into or rode a bike on a street. Especially when it is so totally unnecessary.
The facts are this: Most fatal and severe crashes are caused by motorists driving at excessive speed. According to the Pennsylvania State Mayors Association, Pennsylvania has most speed-related traffic deaths in the United States, after Texas and California. That’s a problem.
A report released last week by the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia found that in 195 out of 277 crashes between cars and bicycles (just over 70 per cent) the cyclist was not at fault.
To keep our cyclists safe, it may be time to adopt the approach of many European nations by introducing legislation that, in civil cases, presumes that car drivers caused a collision unless there is evidence to the contrary.
Shifting the burden of proof to drivers — who must prove they didn't cause a crash — has been highly successful in other nations, along with other measures, in keeping cyclists safer and reducing accidents.
Under current laws, cyclists and pedestrians involved in collisions with cars on Australian roads are required to claim on motorists' insurance.
If the insurance company contests the claim, the injured cyclist or pedestrian has to take the case to a civil court.
Surely the burden of proof should shift onto the more powerful road user, especially given that the research suggests they are more likely to be the one at fault.
To do so, we need a presumed liability law that protects vulnerable road users.
Similar laws have been introduced in Canada and in many European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and France.
Under these laws, sometimes also referred to as "reverse onus" or "strict liability" laws, drivers must prove that a collision with a cyclist or a pedestrian was not their fault.
These laws affect civil cases only and do not remove the presumption of innocence. In criminal law, drivers in collisions with vulnerable road users remain innocent until proven guilty.
It's also not about always blaming motorists. For example, if a cyclist ran a red light and caused a collision, they would obviously be at fault and would not receive compensation.
‘Powersliding a sports car through a rain-slick city at night might seem like an unrealistic activity that most car owners won’t participate in, but marketers count on the excitement generated by this imagery to influence consumer decisions. These marketers are seeking those consumers most driven by “a need for speed.”
These are called ‘Hedonistic Considerations’.
How often do we see a car that solely occupies space in an advert? It is a fantasy world that deceives not only the driver but demands that we all give way to that fantasy by prioritising traffic flow.
The anger at this disconnect between fantasy and reality materialises on the ground as projected ‘road rage’ onto the perceived or socially constructed ‘weakness’ of pedestrians and cyclists.
Nothing brings a driver crashing down to reality more than a pedestrian who walks faster or a cyclist who weaves ahead.
[B' Spokes: Just the headlines:]
How High Vis Falls Short
How to Stay Safe
FOLLOW TRAFFIC LAWS
RIDE WHERE OTHERS RIDE
MAKE EYE CONTACT
WATCH THE WHEELS
FIND YOUR VOICE
RESIST THE URGE TO GET ANGRY
MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE