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Thursday, September 29 2016 @ 05:03 PM UTC


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Biking Elsewhere-> By most counts the US has the worst road-safety record in the rich world. Its rate of 10.9 deaths per 100,000 people per year is almost twice as high as Belgium's, the next-worst well-off country, and roughly level with that of Mexico. One of the main reasons is because Americans drive far more often than the rich-world average. When miles travelled are taken into account, America was actually a bit safer than Japan, Slovenia and Belgium. In addition, the United States also has a relatively high share of rural roads, which often have poor lighting, road markings and safety barriers. However, most other countries have made better progress than America has in recent years. Sweden, which in 1997 introduced its Vision Zero plan to reduce fatal crashes to zero, now has the safest roads in the world.

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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Biking Elsewhere-> The newly-released USDOT data from the first half of 2016 shows a disturbing increase in traffic deaths. The National Safety Council recently estimated that motor vehicle fatalities rose 9% in the first six months of 2016 compared to 2015, and 18% compared to 2014. At this rate, 2016 is shaping up to be the deadliest year for driving since 2007. The jump in traffic fatalities coincides with sinking gas prices and an uptick in driving. During the first half of 2016, U.S. motorists collectively drove 3.3% more compared to last year, reaching 1.58 trillion miles traveled. The recent upswing in miles driven has been linked to the availability of cheap gas and a sharp increase in traffic deaths. Pedestrians and bicyclists already account for more than one in four traffic deaths in New York and New Jersey, and 15% in Connecticut. In New Jersey alone, traffic deaths surged 12% during the first half of 2016. The number of bicyclists killed in New York City so far in 2016 has already exceeded the total number of fatalities in 2015.

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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Traffic Deaths Are Up, and DOT Asks the Public to Investigate

Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: Alternate headline: Only you can prevent traffic fatalities (because no one else understands what's going on.)]

By Jen Kinney, Next city

The U.S. Department of Transportation is asking for big data help after 2015 numbers released this week showed that traffic deaths were up 7.2 percent last year, the largest annual increase in half a century. Reversing a recent historical trend that saw fatalities decreasing every year, 35,092 people died while walking, biking and driving on U.S. streets in 2015. The department released the data three months early, along with a call to action, asking nonprofits, tech companies and citizens to help interpret the data and use it to prevent future deaths.

“Focusing on one year’s count ignores that disproportionately high numbers of people have been dying on U.S. streets every year for decades,” said Executive Director Linda Bailey. “Even comparing against our safest year in recent history, 2010, the U.S. traffic fatality rate was almost double that of our industrialized peers.”

NACTO also published its own call to action of sorts — aimed at state and federal government. “Federal and state standards incentivize building wide streets that allow cars to go fast but create dangerous conditions for everyone,” reads the statement. “Good street design can make sure that a mistake or a distraction does not result in a death. Cities must redesign their streets to save lives, and they need to be supported by their state and federal governments as they do so.”

[B' Spokes: It amazes me how much attention the impatient driver gets in road designs and other aspects of our drive till you die culture. For example it is a known fact that allowing right on red is hazardous for pedestrains. So what do we do? Tell pedestrains that they have to cross using the most dangerous part of the road with the most conflicts and absolutely nothing geared for the impatient drivers. Or look at it this way, how much time are we saving drivers by allowing this? Unless most are traveling in circles (keep doing a right on red) absolutely none.

For every driver who saves time by jumping the red light by turning there are more drivers down stream that can't turn in/out of shopping centers or minor streets because of the traffic diarrhea. What else would you call the dribble of traffic that is the result? And what's the result of all the at time savings? Just to get at the next red light sooner with a longer wait , and that's the best we can say. We've put pedestrains lives at risk, delayed other drivers their proper place in line of traffic, and maybe just maybe if we can create enough traffic diarrhea they be so delayed that they well begin to take chances to get moving.

IMHO this is a major issue now. How do you safely make a left turn? Wait for a break in traffic and then turn. But what if we set things up so there is no break in traffic? People well start to take chances and "shoot the gap". Like this is going to improve safety? :/ And the secondonary reason to be concerned, we are rewarding impatience. It's like saying "Even the government thinks stopping at red lights is a waste of time. So do your part and never wait at a red light unless you absolutely have to." Then let's start adding a lot of high speed turn lanes and we get "The government wants you to do your part and never slow down, never stop to keep that traffic moving." Now let's add pedestrians into the mix and tell them "Look what we created for you to cross the street." It's not even close to being a safe place to cross the street.

My assertion is that more traffic means a increasingly amount of traffic diarrhea so more people are taking chances to make their turns. And adding pedestrians into this mix is naturally going to result in more fatalities. A simple solution is rid of right on red, the benefits are dubious at bestand the hazards are far greater than they are letting on. ]
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Sweden's Smart Speed Bumps

Biking ElsewhereVia Core77

If you think about it, it's strange that cars are sold that vastly exceed speed limits. The highest speed limit anywhere in America is 85 m.p.h., yet we can freely purchase cars capable of doing double that amount. While governments could mandate that all cars come with speed governors, none are willing to take such a draconian step.

Instead societies devise primitive, external methods to prevent people from speeding. Perhaps the most inefficient is the pursuit-ready policeman who must sit in an idling cruiser, manning a radar gun; that's a waste of both manpower and resources, even if tickets bring in revenue. It would be better if people were simply motivated to not speed in the first place, rather than wasting everyone's time and money with your average pull-over situation.

A Swedish company called Edeva has designed a better anti-speeding system. They designed the Actibump, a sort of smart speed bump:
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Biking Elsewhere-> According to calculations, Portland, OR area’s drop in car use frees up $138 million in their local economy every year. Multnomah County auto registrations per resident are down 7 percent since 2007. Using a conservative estimate, by not owning 38,501 cars that they would have owned in 2007, Multnomah County residents are saving $83,855,178 each year to spend on other things. As of 2014 Portland-area residents are also driving about 8 percent less than they did in 2007, saving another $53,945,366. This shift happened with hardly anyone noticing. Not only has 7 percent of per-capita car ownership and 8 percent of per-capita driving been eliminated from the economy without overall ill effects — the local economy has been booming. See details at

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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Biking Elsewhere-> For the past year, Bike Batman has waged a one-man battle against bike theft in Seattle. The unidentified cyclist has become a hero by returning 22 bicycles to their rightful owners, and in at least a dozen cases, the police also have arrested the alleged culprit. Like his namesake, Bike Batman lives a double life. By day, he is a married engineer in his 30s. In his free time, however, he is precisely what this city of fixies and fast-fingered thieves so desperately needs.

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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Biking Elsewhere-> As fire apparatus has become super-sized in the United States it has also has become more expensive. The average price of a Type I engine costs $400,000 to $600,000 and a 100-foot aerial ladder is over $1 million. With traffic congestion and rush-hour gridlock plaguing many of large metropolitan areas and winding streets littered with parked cars common in suburbia, there is now another aspect for public discussion regarding super-sized fire apparatus: how wide should the streets be in our cities? Do we need big and expensive trucks on the road for mostly medical calls and car wrecks? Fire apparatus used in Western Europe are highly maneuverable on the narrow, winding streets, and have a much smaller apparatus footprint than American rigs. Fire departments in Europe and Asia are using smaller rapid response vehicles as primary tools in their urban firefighting deployment strategies.

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.

[B' Spokes: And because of these too big trucks some fire departments are actively engaged in fighting bike lanes and safer narrow travel lanes.]
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How the human body would have to be built to survive a catastrophic car crash

Biking Elsewhere[B" Spokes: I will maintain that the perception that cars are safer than cycling is only valid for cycling speeds. Rev cars up to 40 mph or above and the human body has a hard time coping with the forces in a crash... That is unless you are designed like this fellow:]
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Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year

Biking ElsewhereThere’s an open secret in America: If you want to kill someone, do it with a car. As long as you’re sober, chances are you’ll never be charged with any crime, much less manslaughter. Over the past hundred years, as automobiles have been woven into the fabric of our daily lives, our legal system has undermined public safety, and we’ve been collectively trained to think of these deaths as unavoidable “accidents” or acts of God. Today, despite the efforts of major public-health agencies and grassroots safety campaigns, few are aware that car crashes are the number one cause of death for Americans under 35. But it wasn’t always this way.

[B' Spokes: A very good overview of the history of the automobile and the battle for public space. Not to mention how speed was put ahead safety.]
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What if young people had a say in planning?

Biking Elsewhere"Young people feel a lot of issues very viscerally, because some issues directly impact their everyday lives. I recall one situation where some high school students became very interested in zoning once they realized that it determined whether they could get somewhere without their parents. They were interested in making sure that there were things of interest to them that would be within walking distance."

—Susan Santone, founder and executive director of Creative Change Educational Solutions on the value of engaging youth in planning processes. Planning Magazine:

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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