from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
We commend the work of the National Transportation Safety Board in issuing recommendations to dramatically reduce speed-related deaths and injuries and urgently raise public understanding of the deadly toll this under-addressed problem is taking nationwide.
In its landmark speed study, the NTSB, the nation’s leading authority on crashes and prevention strategies, called for stepped-up national leadership and modernization of speed practices, including a multi-modal approach to set speed limits and use of proven technologies such as automated speed enforcement, among other effective countermeasures championed by a growing number of Vision Zero communities.
“For too long, speed policies have been stuck in neutral, at the expense of more than 10,000 lives lost each year,” said Leah Shahum Director of the national Vision Zero Network, a non-profit promoting the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries. “Attention to this problem is long overdue. This study should be a wake-up call to allow local communities the ability to manage speeds to save lives.”
NTSB identified dangerous speeds as an under-appreciated problem despite the fact that it is poses one of the greatest threats to public safety. More than 112,000 people died in speeding-related crashes in the U.S. from 2005 to 2014, averaging more than 10,000 deaths each year. This is on par with the number of drunk driving fatalities during the same time period, NTSB reported, yet receives far less attention. The impacts of speeding also come with an economic cost estimated at $52 billion in 2014, compared to $44 billion in losses from drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Proven policies to reduce speeding in our communities have been held hostage at the expense of more than ten thousand lives lost and many more lives permanently altered each year,” said Shahum. “The real responsibility of prioritizing safety over speed falls not just on a driver’s behavior, but also on our policymakers and government institutions that have let this problem to fester for too long. If NTSB’s recommendations are implemented, many fewer people will suffer and die needlessly.”
In its study, NTSB prevails on states to modernize speed practices and affirms the effectiveness of proven speed control technologies such as safety cameras, lower speed limits, and improved street design.
All of these tools are instrumental to reaching zero deaths and serious injuries. Where the majority of fatality crashes occur on local roads, local governments need the ability to set their own speeds. For too long, this hasn’t been possible. Luckily, implementing recommendations outlined in the report will change this.
New research says speeding is almost as big a factor in deadly crashes in the U.S. as drunk driving.
Speed cameras, when properly placed, have helped to significantly reduce the likelihood of a driver exceeding the speed limit, making streets safer for pedestrians and drivers. But only a fraction of states actually allow the use of these cameras.
The NTSB identified more than 100,000 deaths due to speeding between 2005 and 2014. That's nearly as many as were killed in alcohol-involved crashes.
BTC has a full complement of guidance counselors, therapists and special educators to work with its students, but one of the most promising additions has been a bikeshare program.
"When you learn to ride a bike, there's a big pride in that, especially the first time you cross a bridge in New York City or the first time that you ride your bike home by yourself," Flanagan said. "There's a different level of pride than just taking the subway or walking home."
But a program like this wouldn't even be legal in many U.S. cities, where teenagers are trusted with 3,500-pound cars before they can ride a 45-pound bikeshare bicycle. San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Baltimore, Birmingham and New Orleans all require bikeshare riders to be 18.
In the United States, more than $23 billion a year is spent getting kids to school; almost nothing is spent on bikes, and this blind spot is costing cash-strapped municipal governments.
In many municipalities, it would be cheaper for the government to buy a child a new bike each school year, rather than paying for bus service. In 2013, $914 was spent per U.S. student on transportation. A serviceable bike can be bought for half that figure. And a bikeshare membership could be bought for even less.
It's a different story elsewhere in the world. Chinese children are welcomed on the country's thriving bikeshare systems at age 12. In Paris, home to Europe's largest bikeshare program, 14-year-olds are allowed. Milan's bikeshare has a set of small bicycles designed to fit children.
Research shows that children who exercise in the morning concentrate better in school. When more people rides bikes, air quality improves, aiding everyone's health. Having a bicycle also teaches responsibility and confidence.
In recent years, a number of U.S. cities have been intently focused on reducing the number of pedestrians who are killed in traffic accidents. These cities have started to transform their streetscapes to minimize pedestrian, cyclist and motorist deaths as part of the Vision Zero movement, which emphasizes that no traffic deaths are acceptable.
But the big question about those efforts is just how effective they really are. Now, new data is emerging that gives policymakers a better picture of where Vision Zero is working. And more data tools are on the way that could help address dangerous conditions before traffic deaths or injuries occur.
People who ride their bikes to work often feel like they are in the minority because, well, they are. The percentages for bike commuting in Washington-area jurisdictions range from 4% (DC) down to 0.1% (Prince Georges). So at least 96% of commuters get to work some other way, and as a result, sometimes talk about bike commuters like exotic animals or eccentric distant relatives. Tim Kelley, BikeArlington’s Operations Manager of the past 8 years, likes to turn the tables on this conversation style, and presented this ironic blog post on his final week at work.
Did you know that there are people who drive their cars to work? That’s incredible. I mean, I own a car and I like to drive it on the weekends for fun with friends, but I could never drive it to work. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are car drivers and I even had a cousin who married one. I guess I’m more of what you’d call a “recreational motorist.”
The way many media outlets report road traffic collisions in which someone riding a bike is the victim can provoke strong emotions in the cycling community – and research by a PhD candidate in Canada has found that typically, the way such incidents are reported often shift responsibility away from the motorist towards the bike rider.
So a terrorists has no respect for life, does someone who drinks and drives? Text and drives? Speeds and drives? So we end up with a situation where nothing is done to prevent 30,000 traffic deaths but a few terrorists attacks steps are taken so it can't happen again.]
The article that got me on this tangent: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/reckless-driving-deadlier-terror-article-1.3177621
Most parking spots might cost you nothing, but parking is never really free. We just pay for it in ways that are completely divorced from our actual consumption of parking.
Instead of paying directly for parking, the costs are almost always bundled into the price of other things we consume. These costs are very real — it takes a lot of land, material, and labor to build and maintain parking spaces — but in the name of cheap driving, we’ve made them invisible. Everything else costs more so that driving can cost less.
Pricing a good this way produces what economists call a market distortion. Because the price of parking is hidden, Americans purchase more parking than we would if we paid for it directly.
It appears that cars are like guns: Instruments of control and vehicles of intimidation.
The more legitimate a system is perceived to be, the greater in-group favoritism and out-group discrimination that dominant users will display (Pratto et al., 2006). Our automobile system, although less than a century old, is inarguably the dominant mode. The automobile is considered the default mode in much of the Western world, as evidenced by mode share and even the term “alternative transportation” applied to bicycling and walking. One distinguishing characteristic of social dominance is that “the degree of lethality . . . is often orders of magnitude greater” by the dominant group toward the subordinate group (Pratto et al., 2006, p. 3). As discussed earlier, the roadway environment has a high degree of lethality: automobiles are a leading cause of preventable death.
The greater the degree of lethality, the more popular they are, which probably explains why everyone is driving big pickup trucks, which are the AR-15s of the road. They are vehicles of intimidation. It's no wonder that cyclists and pedestrians feel threatened by cars; the system is designed to do exactly that.