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Whoa, look at Nevada's new vulnerable user law.

From Streets Blog with Maryland comparisons inserted: Nevada’s pedestrian fatality rate is almost twice the US average. Between 2000 and 2009 541 people were killed while walking in Nevada [Maryland: 1,057 pedestrians killed] – this makes the state the eighth most dangerous in the nation for walking, according to Transportation for America’s 2011 “Dangerous by Design” report [While this report ranks Maryland at #15 for the years 2000-2009 Nevada has been getting better but Maryland is getting worse. FARS ranks Maryland the 4th highest pedestrian fatality rate and Nevada #19 for 2009, basically a flip in positions from 2000]. Conditions are also hazardous for bicyclists. Urban streets and rural roads with high speed limits, a discontinuous bicycle and pedestrian transportation system, and careless drivers in a car-oriented culture make for dangerous conditions.

But Nevada also has a growing and active community of bicycle and pedestrian advocates who got together in the 2011 legislative session to work with legislators on two bills to improve cycling and walking conditions in the state.

Muscle Powered, a grassroots citizens organization advocating for better bicycling and walking conditions in Nevada’s capital city, decided last year to make the passage of a Vulnerable Users Law a priority for the Nevada 2011 legislative session. The bill was modeled on Oregon’s law, which defines vulnerable users and describes additional penalties for careless driving when vulnerable users are affected.
It is interesting to note that MDOT and in particular the Highway Safety Office has opposed any sort of vulnerable user law while they did push and got double fines for highway workers (one group of vulnerable road user) as if to say only highway works have a legitimate reason to be on the road and pedestrians and cyclists do not. Shameful that the government agency responsible for our ever increasing pedestrian fatality rate should oppose such a measure.

Let's look at the new Nevada law:
1. A person who is convicted of a violation [a bunch of "regular" violations or simply: an at fault driver] and as a result of the violation proximately causes the death of or substantial bodily harm to a vulnerable highway user, shall, in addition to the term of imprisonment or amount of the fine, or both, that the court imposes for the primary offense, be punished by:
(a) A fine of not more than $12,500;
(b) The revocation of his or her driver’s license for 1 year;
(c) The performance of not less than 50 hours or more than 200 hours of community service; and
(d) Completion, at the person’s expense, of a course of traffic safety approved by the Department.

In Maryland if you are speeding and kill someone it's just $500 speeding ticket max (if a highway worker it's $1000.) If some sort of negligence can be proved tack on a whopping $290 (court rule.) If a higher form of negligence can be proved that results in a death (not a serious injury) then out new manslaughter law kicks in with a $5,000 max and/or 3 years in jail max. No doubt you heard all the buzz about jailing someone so it remains to be seen what the courts will do with this new law.

Compare that to $12,500 + 1 year revoked drivers license+ community service + traffic safety course + fine for the violation. This is why this is filed under News You Will Not See in Maryland.

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[Filed under News you will not see in Maryland]
 Require more from all users of the roadway network by setting tougher requirements for licensees.   Broaden Driver’s Education to cover “mobility” education (bus, bike, pedestrian, and car), increase the number of questions that include pedestrians, and add reviewing criteria for driver’s license renewal to incorporate more than just vision and signage tests.
 Include bicycling information on driver’s licensing exam, distribute cycling laws with new bicycles at points of sale, and develop web resources which are easy to understand for cyclists/motorists.  
 Incorporate bicycle and pedestrian skills into driver education and license renewal.
 Develop bicycle training course which helps a student earn points toward a driver’s license.
 Include messages in drivers’ education about the dangers of distracted driving and how to interact safely with bicyclists/pedestrians.

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Caltrain Update -- All Trains have Two Bike Cars

Filed under "News You Will Not See In Maryland"

Multi-modal transportation commuters in the San Francisco Peninsula have a reason to be happy. All Caltrain gallery trains have two bike cars, and hold 80 bikes. Some of the trains (the Bombardier cars) still carry just 48 bikes, which is why the San Francisco Bike Coalition still has an active "Bikes on Board" group to monitor the number of people getting bumped and continue to improve the service for cyclists.

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'Pedestrian-friendly' car bonnet revealed

Impact absorption specialists Cellbond, a division of Encocam Ltd based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, has collaborated with researchers at Anglia Ruskin University to develop and test a 'pedestrian-friendly' car bonnet design which could cut the number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by impact in car accidents.

Pedestrians account for 20% of all traffic fatalities in Europe and 14% in the United States - with the majority being caused by head impacts. Statistically 65% of pedestrians impacting or rolling on the bonnet of car that is going above 40mph are killed or suffer from serious injury.

In such a crash the pedestrian is initially impacted by the car and then by the ground, and most fatalities and head injuries occur when there is insufficient clearance between the bonnet and stiff underlying engine components.

Now a 'pedestrian-friendly' car bonnet has been designed by Cellbond's Dr Mehrdad Asadi in research collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University's Engineering Simulation Analysis and Tribology (EAST) Group. The 'pedestrian-friendly' car bonnet design makes use of an aluminium mechanical energy absorber. Its works via a sheet of metal that is etched into a grid format so that, upon impact, it collapses inwards - absorbing the impact energy with less resultant reaction forces which causes the impact injury.

Professor Hassan Shirvani, Director of Anglia Ruskin University's EAST group, said:

"During an impact the pedestrian exerts a dynamic force on the car bonnet. If the kinetic energy of the impact is not absorbed the bonnet will exert equal amount of the force that impacts it, causing injury to the body. The majority of car test standards and protocols use the 'Head Impact Criteria' to measure the severity of such impact on human heads and restrict the criterion to certain numbers. The Cellbond car bonnet design has been tested and verified in a EuroNCAP certified test house. Test results show that this Cellbond design reduces the 'Head Impact Criteria' by 50-60%, hence the energy is absorbed in the collapsing structure."

The Cellbond car bonnet design is now being assessed by a number of leading motor manufacturers and research continues.

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An American monster truck makes an "impression" in the Netherlands [video]

This really makes me wounder if there is not something American car marketing that brings out a "you can solve any traffic problem trough power, speed and taking chances." Did you forget the doughnuts for today's meeting? No problem if you have a fast car. ... Seriously?

I really think they need to do away with these professional drivers on a close course car commercials and replace them with real drivers in real rush hour traffic.

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D.C. traffic cameras could multiply, ticket drivers for a growing list of infractions

I find it amazing that there is acknowledgment of driver errors that contribute to an unsafe environment for pedestrains and the willingness to enforce it. We'll probably not see anything like this in Maryland but things like this need to start somewhere. Some excerpts from TBD article:

"The D.C. police are hoping to install smaller, more mobile cameras in neighborhoods around town, catching drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, block the box at intersections, or even fail to fully stop at stop signs, among other potential violations. The portable units would probably be battery- or solar-powered and affixed to small concrete pads set up around town, making them far more versatile than the permanent streetside cameras or cruiser cameras now in use. Their modest size would allow them to be used in areas where cameras couldn’t go before."

“I want [drivers] to modify their behavior. I’m not trying to just give out tickets,” Sutter said after explaining the new cameras at a community meeting last night. “If there are enough of [the cameras] out there, then people have the attitude, I’m not really sure where it is, so I’ll slow down everywhere, or I’ll stop at every stop sign, or there’s a pedestrian so I’ll stop. That’s the attitude I want.”

"...commuters coming in from Maryland and Virginia – view them as a surreptitious taxing mechanism designed purely to bring in revenue."

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A public safety hearing on proper enforcment


As I made my way up 14th Street last night at 10:00, I passed a lone intrepid cyclist slowly cutting his way through the slush, pushing his way uphill. Godspeed, I thought.

But perhaps it shouldn’t have been too surprising. D.C. is becoming a cycle-friendly city, with a young work force living in a densely populated area where offices and entertainment are just blocks from home. More and more residents are giving up cars, or using them less frequently, and getting around by pedal power -- even in the snow.

But this requires new thinking about traffic and safety. At-Large D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson tells WAMU that he has been receiving complaints about collisions and police enforcement of the law. He cited the sad case of Alice Swanson, struck and killed by a garbage truck in 2008. The truck driver was exonerated.

Mendelson said, “It’s already illegal to hit somebody, so we can’t pass a second law to make it more illegal to hit somebody. Instead, it comes down to what’s going on with enforcement.” He plans a public safety hearing on the subject.

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Zigzag lines make W&OD trail crossing safer

[Filed under News You Will Not See in Maryland]
from TheWashCycle by washcycle

Zigzagsblog Back in April 2009, VDOT added zigzag markings to Sterling Boulevard and Belmont Ridge Road where these roads meet the W&OD Trail. Since then they've studied how these lines have changed driver behavior.

White zigzag lines jumping from one side of the road to another in Sterling are having a positive impact on speeding, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation

"Before the study, we thought the zigzag pavement markings would have an immediate impact on motorist awareness, but over time would lessen," Lance E. Dougald, research scientist at the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research, says in a statement. "It was interesting to see that the markings actually had a sustained positive impact on speed reduction even after the markings had been in place for one year.

"One possible explanation for this is that markings installed within the roadway, especially unique markings, are more visible than signage and are less likely to blend into the roadside environment," he says.

VDOT touts the program as a low-cost way to improve road safety.

The department says the zigzags will stay on the roads for a number of years, and if similar programs are successful in other parts of the country, the project could be expanded.

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Mendelson calls for better traffic enforcement to protect vulnerable users

Filed under News you will not see in Maryland:

The story is here.

D.C. Council Member Phil Mendelson says he's received a number of complaints in recent weeks from pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups about traffic incidents and collisions and how police enforce the laws.

Mendelson highlights the case involving Alice Swanson, a bicyclist who was struck and killed by a garbage truck in Dupont Circle in 2008.

Mendelson says the police exonerated the driver, despite what he says was a bad driving record. Mendelson says he doesn't think the laws need to change, just how they're applied.

"It's already illegal to hit somebody, so we can't pass a second law to make it more illegal to hit somebody," Mendelson says. "Instead, it comes down to what's going on with enforcement."

Mendelson, who oversees public safety on the council, says he will hold a hearing in the near future to discuss these issues.

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