Morning Links: Coddling drunk drivers, analysis of the new Bike League study and a moving new hit-and-run video

This is why people continue to die on our streets.

An Olympia WA man gets work-release despite his seventh — yes, seventh — DUI arrest; he’ll spend nights and weekends in jail, but be released every day to run his business. Odd that they don’t offer bank robbers and drug dealers the same consideration. And no word on how he plans to get there; let’s hope he won’t be driving.

And an Illinois lawmaker proposes a new bill to help keep more drunks on the road. Because it’s too inconvenient for them to find some other way to get around without killing someone.

………

More on the League of American Bicyclists’ 12-month study of bicycling fatalities across the US, as USA Streetsblog offers eight takeaways from the study released Wednesday, including:

  • Most fatalities occur on urban arterial roads
  • Hit-from-behind collisions were the most frequent cause of bicycling fatalities
  • Intersections are the most dangerous place for urban riders
  • Most victims were wearing helmets
  • The more people who ride in your state, the less risk you face

Vox provides their own analysis of the report.

………

A moving new documentary profiles Damian Kevitt and Ghost Bikes LA to call attention to the dangers cyclists face, especially from hit-and-run drivers. At only eight minutes long, it’s definitely worth watching.

………

Local

Streetsblog looks at Temple City’s new partially protected bike lane on Rosemead Blvd.

Both Milestone Rides and Boyonabike offer reviews of last week’s LA Bike Week, most of which I missed.

Santa Monica considers dropping speed limits to 15 mph near schools; then again, it doesn’t matter what the speed limit is if they don’t adequately enforce it.

Downey is preparing a new citywide bicycle master plan. They’d better hurry, as a bike rider was seriously injured attempting to cross a freeway onramp early Thursday morning.

 

State

Redlands gets a new Community Based Bicycle Master Plan, which will provide 175 miles of bikeways — a huge amount for a town of just 69,000. And a local market plans their own privately operated bike share program.

A new company plans to provide bike camping around San Luis Obispo.

Specialized finally puts their wind tunnel to good use by determining the aerodynamics of beards on bikes. Now if they’d just figure out if shaving your legs really makes you faster.

 

National

According to Forbes, American bicyclists save $4.6 billion a year by riding instead of driving; I’d like mine in cash, please. Meanwhile, Intuit explains just how that works.

A Grist writer says Idaho Stop laws infringe on pedestrians’ right-of-way; actually, cyclists are still required to yield to anyone with the right-of-way. Brooklyn Spoke says the subject is complicated.

Chicago drivers — including city bus drivers — are turning a buffered bike lane into their own traffic bypass lane.

The NYPD is back to ticketing cyclists in Central Park.

The US Pro National Championships roll in Chattanooga this Monday.

A Virginia lawyer offers advice on the eight things you should do right away if you’ve been injured in a bike collision. Seriously, though, you’d think an attorney would know not to call them accidents.

 

International

An Ottawa writer says the city doesn’t need any more bike lanes because they can’t make the climate bike friendly. Oddly, he doesn’t suggest they stop building roads due to adverse winter driving conditions.

Four hundred London cyclists stage a die-in at a notoriously dangerous intersection.

Liverpool plans to triple the number of cyclists who ride at least once a week.

A Melbourne bike rider is injured when she crashes into a police vehicle hidden by a blind curve on a bike path. The cops were targeting motorbikes and other motorized vehicles illegally using the trail, like… uh, them.

Aussie cyclists protest the country’s mandatory helmet law; ridership in Tel Aviv jumped 54% in just two years after the Israeli city revoked theirs.

Even Chinese robots can track stand, so why the hell can’t I?

 

Finally…

A road-raging New Hampshire bike rider shatters a driver’s passenger window, then takes his anger out on a nearby construction worker; no matter how angry you get, acting on it only makes things worse. A PA man posts a thank you for the man who stole his bike. And three young cyclists are arrested for speeding at a blistering 10 mph.

In 1899.

………

The Memorial Day weekend means heavy traffic this afternoon as people get off work early and rush to get home and get out of town. So ride defensively and watch out for drivers today, because chances are, they won’t be watching for you.

I expect to see you all back here safe and sound on Tuesday.

 

13 comments

  1. Nick Kasoff says:

    This is a meaningless and deceptive study, with only one purpose: to advance the agenda for bike lanes and other segregated facilities. First, it’s a bit deceptive to call it a study – in fact, it is simply a review of media coverage of bicycle accidents. Per their introduction, the information came from newspaper reports, TV reports, and blogs. Since this coverage is notoriously inaccurate, it makes a poor basis for developing cycling policy. If our cycling advocates really wanted to determine best practices to improve safety for cyclists, they would find ways to encourage accurate reporting of crashes by law enforcement, including a list of relevant details to be gathered for each crash. Perhaps somebody could even devise a standardized reporting form for bicycle involved crashes. Only by collecting standardized and accurate information can we make sensible decisions on how to improve the situation.

    Second, while I obviously have no experience with fatal accidents, I find it VERY hard to believe that 40% were “hit from behind” while just 10% were T-hit and only 2% were “cyclist failure to yield.” With all the clowns I see shooting off the sidewalk for a mid-block cross on busy arterials, or zooming through red lights at busy intersections, I’m amazed there aren’t many more fatalities. Unless people being T-boned just don’t die, there’s no way this statistic is anywhere near accurate. I had frequent close calls with being T-boned when I was an edge rider, as most cyclists are. I have never had a close call with being hit from behind.

    Finally, while their statistic that far more fatal crashes were on urban arterials than any other road type may be true, it is also meaningless. Without detailed information on how much bicycle traffic is on these roads, as well as the relative skill level and behavior of the cyclists here as compared with elsewhere, you can take no conclusion from that statistic. That is, if urban arterials carry far more bicycle traffic, and/or are frequented by less skilled cyclists than other road types, the higher accident count may actually be a lower count per skill adjusted cycle mile traveled.

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of these advocates in mourning dead cyclists. But it’s a cynical ploy to put forth a fake study to push an agenda which you already back. It’s something I’d expect of a tobacco company. I would hope for better from a cycling advocacy organization.

    • bikinginla says:

      Relax, Nick. This isn’t part of a vast bike lane conspiracy. While the Bike League does support quality bike lanes — as do the overwhelming majority of bike riders, myself included — they are also one of the leading proponents of vehicular cycling techniques through their LCI education programs.

      They have also been very upfront about the limitations of this study. As you point out, it is far from the gold standard we’d all like to see. But there is valuable information that can be gleaned from the limited data available. I have done exactly the same thing in analyzing the data on SoCal cycling fatalities that I have gathered in exactly the same way. In fact, I have been told that my work in tracking regional bicycling fatalities was the original inspiration for Every Cyclist Counts.

      As for the credibility of the hit-from-behind stats, bear in mind that we’re talking about fatalities rather than injury collisions. The groundbreaking Fort Collins CO study confirmed that the majority of collisions occur at intersections, either broadside or right angle collisions; however, these are less likely to result in death due to the relatively slow speeds around intersections.

      And very few are due to “clowns” shooting off the sidewalk or blowing through red lights.

      In contrast, hit-from-behind collisions often occur at far higher speeds — frequently highway speeds — which are much more likely to result in death. So while hit-from-behind collisions may be relatively rare, they are far more likely to be deadly when they do occur. And that 40% figure tracks with my own analysis of 2011 bicycling fatalities in Southern California (see link above), which found that at least 25 of the 71 deaths, or 35%, were hit-from-behinds.

      It’s very surprising that you’ve never had a close call with a hit-from-behind collision. Virtually every rider I know has complained of too-close passes or having to bail off the roadway to get out of the way of an aggressive or careless motorist. It’s happened to me more than I can remember, despite riding vehicularly most of my adult life.

      As for the high number of fatalities on urban arterials, again, it tracks with my own records. And again, is most likely due to the higher speeds found on those streets. One of the primary reasons for the relatively high fatality rates in San Diego and Orange County is that cyclists are forced to share roads with speed limits in excess of 45 mph — and drivers that frequently exceed those limits. Meanwhile, a number of other fatalities have resulted from T-bone collisions as riders attempt to cross those arterials.

    • Fred says:

      Here’s more data where much larger and easier to see vehicles are also routinely rear ended. Common sense says that if we follow the advice of putting ourselves in front of motor vehicles, collisions will happen.

      “According to the National Safety Council, over 2.5 million rear end collisions are reported every year, making them the most common type of automobile accident ”

      http://www.auto-accident-resource.com/statistics.html

      In the study in which Forrester based his flawed cycling approach on, it also concluded that rear ending was one of the deadliest collisions.

      http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/25000/25400/25439/DOT-HS-803-315.pdf

      “The fear of overtaking accidents is well founded since the likelihood of fatal injuries is indeed higher for overtaking accidents than for any other class of accidents revealed by this study.”

      If anyone is manipulating data it is the savvy cycling/take the lane types.

      The data has been available for decades and it’s very clear. This study is nothing new if you have spent any time reading real data and outside of the denialist VC bubble.

  2. It’s important to understand that “hit from behind” is almost entirely comprised of cyclists riding at the edge of the road, in bike lanes or on shoulders, and one of the following happens:

    1) While still a ways behind the motorist fails to notice or ignores the relatively inconspicuous cyclist at the edge and not in the motorist’s intended path, wrongly assumes the road ahead is empty, chooses to attend to a distraction, and drifts off course into the cyclist. This is what happened in the Camp Pendleton Udo Heinz fatality last year, as just one example.
    2) The motorist noticed the cyclist at the road edge up ahead, wrongly assumed there would be enough space to pass, and is much closer before he realizes there is less space than he initially thought, but goes for it anyway, sideswiping the cyclist.

    It’s practically never about a cyclist using the full lane who is hit from behind. In fact, as common as motorist-motorist “rear-enders” are, they almost never involve faster traffic hitting slower traffic directly in front of them. It’s almost always when the traffic in front unexpectedly slows or is stopped, not when the traffic in front of them is moving at a slow but steady speed.

    Because of this, and to nip road rage in the bud, this is what I do:

    1) I use a mirror. A mirror easily alerts me to a potential rear-ender or road rage situation 10, 20 or sometimes even 30 seconds or more before I would be aware of it without a mirror. Drivers move up through the various stages of road rage very quickly sometimes, and without a mirror you often just become aware of the situation only after it is too late. A driver who notices you using the full lane is easily discerned from those who don’t – they slow down or change lanes.
    2) I use the full lane by default. This might seem counter-intuitive, getting motorists attention sooner rather than later reduces the last-second realizations which can get them enraged.
    3) I acknowledge them in a timely fashion. I’m convinced that much of the frustration that motorists feel towards cyclists when they come upon them in the road is not the delay, but the apparent obliviousness. Nobody likes to feel ignored, and that’s exactly what motorists often feel from bicyclists for what can seem like an eternity on the road. This is where the mirror is really handy – because periodic mirror checks inform me when is the right time to suddenly turn my head back and smile and nod. Nothing nips road rage in the bud like a timely friendly smile and nod. Nothing. A slow/stop left arm signal doesn’t hurt either. Just that informs that I know they are there, I know what I’m doing, and I’ll probably help them out shortly.
    4) I move aside. Remember, normally I’m using the full lane, riding several feet further left than cyclists typically do. So I have plenty of space on my right to use once I can see that it safe for them to pass – that’s when I move aside, and, maybe, wave to them to encourage them to pass.

    As soon as I’m passed, I move back to my default position near the center of the lane; usually a bit closer to the left tire track than the right.

    Some imagine it to be a chore not worth doing, but because I prefer nods, smiles, wide safe passes, friendly “thank you” toots and thumbs up to glaring, dangerously close passes, middle finger expositions and angry prolonged honks, I follow the above “rules” no matter where I’m riding, and as a result I almost never encounter close passes or road rage. Makes riding in traffic much more enjoyable. Much more enjoyable.

    • Nick Kasoff says:

      Well, that would explain why I’ve never had a close call with being hit from behind – I do all of those things, every time I ride. And I ride on 4 lane 40 mph arterial roads almost every time I ride. I actually prefer them to the 25 mph 2 lane roads which so many cyclists seem to prefer, for the simple reason that everybody can go around me. Conflicts are reduced by about 95%.

      I’ll admit to being a little shocked at the frequency of cyclists deaths in southern California, as documented on this site. It would be interesting to know why. I’m sure there are more cyclists than in St. Louis, and they are riding year-round. With no quantitative data, it’s impossible to say whether that explains it all.

      But I will also say, based upon a recent trip to Hollywood via LAX, that the drivers there are INSANE. It was so bad that I bailed out of a prepaid cab ride a mile shy of my destination, because I couldn’t stand to be on the road anymore with all that insanity. Cycling around people who drive like that sounds very unpleasant.

      • Fred says:

        The more “vehicularly” a city is designed the more cycling deaths there will be.

        This explains why Portland and NYC saw a record reduction in deaths when they built sensible infrastructure. Again, people have been saying this for years and getting fought on it.

        Orlando, the home of cycling saavy is the most vehicular city in the country due to people who fight infrastructure and they have paid for this with the highest rate of fatalities.

        Similary Southern California is the home of the infrastructure denialist John Forrester who preached agianst the infrastructure that’s currently saving lives elsewhere.

        Riding in traffic is dangerous and the reason you are OK is due to luck only.

        The biggest variables for death are: speed limit, speed of cyclist, and the tendency to yield in that order. Look at some crash data and this is backed up by that. Ride on roads which are 20 MPH or less, only, and you should be OK even if you blow stop signs, etc.

        It doesn’t matter what one imagines with running lights and stop signs, rational people put aside their preconcpetions and accept the data. This is the only way to plan an actually safe city.

        Otherwise, we’ll continue to hear vehicular nonsense which continues to allow good cyclists to due before their time.

        • Nick Kasoff says:

          Wow, what a bunch of silly that was. I’ve been in one injury crash in my bicycling life thus far. It was on a multi-use trail, aka infrastructure. A pedestrian stepped in front of me, I veered to avoid mowing him down, and woke up in the ER. Cracked clavicle, wrist fractured in three places. I’ve done a thousand miles on roads this year, mostly 40 mph arterials. I’ve spent five minutes on “infrastructure.” So by your assessment, I’ve had endless good luck while spending long hours in irreparably dangerous situations, while I had bad luck in the brief flash I spent in your safe world. Sorry, pal, but I didn’t buy it before this crash, and I definitely don’t buy it now.

        • Nick Kasoff says:

          And by the way, St. Louis county has 3,100 miles of county arterial roads. That doesn’t include the many state and municipal roads which a cyclist might want to use. Most of these roads have numerous driveways and/or abut commercial properties. The only kind of bike lane they ever do here is paint in the gutter. And then, cars are that much more aggressive because you should be in the bike lane, not on THEIR road. Never mind the condition of the pavement. Never mind the constant hazards. Never mind the broken glass and gravel because they don’t sweep bike lanes here. Just get off the road. Yep, it has been a real boon for cycling.

          • bikinginla says:

            Let’s not let this devolve into another endless battle over VC vs non-VC riders. We’ve already been there more than once, and gotten nowhere. And we’re sure as hell not going to settle the debate here.

            Vehicular cycling is a valuable tool to deal with the common road conditions and lack of good infrastructure in the US. However, it is not the only tool.

            If some riders prefer bike lanes and others would rather avoid them, then we should be able to accommodate both.

  3. Typo in #4:

    So I have plenty of space on my RIGHT to use …

  4. Joe Linton says:

    I winced a little bit when I read “partially protected” as a description for the wonderful bikeways that Temple City recently opened on Rosemead Blvd. I think that you got this from my write-up… and I do think that the Temple City facility could have been a little more protected than it is… but all of the U.S. protected bikeways I’ve ridden could be classified as “partially protected” – meaning that there are some gaps, especially at driveways and intersections. Estimating from the top of my head: NYC’s are ~95% protected. LB’s are ~75-80% protected. Temple City’s is ~50% protected. Could all of these be a little better – I think so… but I would personally still call them all “protected bikeways” – and leave out “partial.”

    Temple City built a great facility (in a fairly suburban place with no serious reputation for being popular with cyclists) so, I’d hate for cyclists to get the impression otherwise.

    • bikinginla says:

      No criticism intended, though I probably could have phrased it better. That was just meant to say some sections are protected, while others aren’t. That has been clear since the project was in the design phase.

      It’s still apparent. even for someone like me who hasn’t actually seen it, that this is one of the better bike facilities in Southern California.

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