Tag Archive for biking while distracted

Distracted Driving: Playing a Risk for Drivers and Cyclists

I’ve been otherwise occupied by out-of-town guests this past weekend.

Not to mention dealing with a 17+ hour internet outage, which is why you didn’t see a post this morning, and I haven’t gotten around to answering my email yet.

Thanks, Verizon. 

Fortunately, Brooke Kerwin has stepped into the breach, offering her thoughts on one of my favorite topics, the ever-increasing risk posed by distracted driving.

And distracted cycling.

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There’s no question that automobiles and drivers play a large risk to cyclists every day. In the last few years, technology has certainly had an effect on society, in both a positive and negative light. When it comes to transportation, technology had served as a major distraction to both drivers and cyclists everywhere.

In 2012, smart phones and other tech devices serve as a risk for those using them on their bikes, as well as a risk from people who are driving distracted. The issue of distracted driving is one that is at the forefront for a number of different bicycling advocacy groups right now. While the risk to other drivers is often spotlighted, the risk that is presented to cyclists is often overlooked.

Personally, I can say that I’m guilty of certain times becoming distracted both on a bicycle and operating an automobile. With the increase in accidents, deaths and general injuries related to distracted driving in the past few years, I’ve tried to be more cautious in both forms of transportation. There’s no doubt that this has been the general consensus, yet there’s still plenty of awareness to be had and people to reach.

Legislation is a good step forward in getting awareness of the ground and though the ultimate goal should be a nationwide restriction, it’s likely to continue to stay in the hands of individual states for the near future.

Just as many things that go back and forth between the driving and biking communities, one issue has developed in the form of whether or not texting laws should include cyclists. As someone who both drives and rides a bike, I believe it should. Texting and distracted driving have certainly played a role in a number of different injuries and accidents involving cyclists, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look to protect cyclists as well.

Already in some large cities such as Philadelphia, legislation has crossed over to include a texting ban while operating a vehicle or a bicycle. The next great move is likely to be here in California, which is a good thing because being one of the larger states in the union, what is done here is likely to be looked at closely by other states.

It’s my general thought that distracted driving and biking can only begin to come down with a combination of things coming together in the future.  It won’t just be limited to increasing legislation and influence from larger states and cities. There will also need to be continuing work to communicate the dangers that distractions and texting can cause to both drivers and cyclists.

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The California legislature passed a bill last year to increase penalties for distracted drivers, while banning handheld cell phone use by cyclists, which is currently legal — despite what some websites might say.

Unfortunately, the law was vetoed by Governor Brown, who said he thinks the currently penalty is strict enough to stop most drivers from using handheld phones.

Clearly, he doesn’t get out enough.

I’ve counted ratios ranging anywhere from one in 10 to one in four drivers blissfully ignoring the ban at various times — including uniformed police officers on patrol. And nearly been hit by cyclists using theirs, as well.

Meanwhile, Chicago recently banned cyclists from texting or speaking on a handheld device while riding.

And the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that cell phone use be banned entirely for all drivers, handheld or otherwise.

Thanks to Brooke Kerwin for the contribution.

Haute couture cycling, Gov. Brown vetoes distracted driving/biking bill, GOP tried to gut bike spending

Biking goes haute couture; I discovered this bike in the Fendi store on Rodeo Drive during Thursday's Fashion's Night Out.

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Go ahead and text while you ride.

Remarkably, Governor Brown vetoes a measure that would have increased fines for the nearly universally ignored law banning the use of handheld cell phones, as well as banning handheld use while biking.

According to the North County Times,

Brown explained his decision to kill the bill on Wednesday in a brief letter: “I am returning Senate Bill 28 without my signature. I certainly support discouraging cell phone use while driving a car, but not ratcheting up the penalties as prescribed by this bill.

“For ordinary people, current fines and penalty assessments should be sufficient deterrent.”

I think the governor needs to get out of the office more. By my count — and yes, I have counted — anywhere from 25% to 50% of drivers appear to be using a handheld phone at any given time.

Brown vetoed a very good and very needed, law. Which doesn’t give me a lot of confidence regarding his support of the newly passed three-foot passing law.

However, it seems the legislature may try to override his veto. Maybe that’s something the GOP members can get behind, if only to embarrass our Democratic governor.

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The League of American Bicyclists begins the I Bike I Vote campaign to save federal funding for cycling projects from a GOP-led effort to eliminate all Transportation Enhancements. You’re urged to contact your Senator today; you can download your own IBIV graphic here.

Hopefully they can resist the right’s mad dash rush to return to the transportation policies of the 1950s.

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Another two bike thieves are behind bars; the Santa Monica Mirror shows a little levity in describing the situation police found when they were called to the Santa Monica Place mall.

When they arrived at the scene the officers spoke with the security personnel who told them that they had observed two men who had been using bolt cutters to cut bicycle locks.

This sparked the interest of the security personnel because they evidently knew that typically owners of bicycles do not do this.

Then again, make that three bike thieves.

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This is why you always see a doctor after a cycling collision.

A Memphis cyclist dies after riding home following a collision and telling his girlfriend not to call for medical help; charges won’t be filed against the driver who tried to render aid but was chased off by the rider.

If someone ever asks if you want an ambulance following a collision, the answer is yes. Insurance should pay for it — yours or the drivers; regardless, your life is worth it.

If I’d followed my instincts and ridden home after the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter, I probably wouldn’t be here today. Fortunately, the EMTs insisted I go to the ER, where they found a massive hematoma on my hip that could have bled out if I’d tried to ride home.

And yes, I’m grateful as hell.

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Streetsblog says the 7th Street bike lanes are now officially open; LACBC offers photos of the press conference. The Times seems amazed that a car lane on 7th is removed in favor of bikes, while KPCC asks if the city is doing what it should to support cyclists and bikeways. And Dave Moulton uses the road diet as an example to ask if more lanes really move more traffic.

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The L.A. firefighters biking across the country to honor victims of 9/11 should have arrived Friday. How about Safe Routes to Universities, too? Nate Baird clarifies LADOT’s confusing stats on bikeway installation. L.A. Eastside visits the new bike lanes on 1st Street in Boyle Heights. Bike friendly City Council President Eric Garcetti announces his candidacy for mayor. The Times looks at the Bicycle Film Festival on now; Flying Pigeon will be there with select children’s and cargo bikes available at a discount. Rick Risemberg says it’s time for Beverly Hills to reach beyond the low-hanging fruit. Beverly Hills Patch looks at last week’s meeting to make the city more bike friendly, which could start with bike parking if they’d stop saying no. Why the beachfront bike path is named after Marvin Braude. Slow progress for cyclists and pedestrians in Malibu. Santa Monica lays out an ambitious implementation plan to become a bike friendly city. Streetsblog examines the unique arrangement that resulted in Glendale’s Safe and Healthy Streets program, including the planned Riverdale-Maple Greenway. A bike-riding gunman robs  a Glendale woman. A Glendora cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries when he’s hit by a car; no other details are currently available. KPCC offers a great video of cycling the Angeles Crest Highway. Long Beach’s biking expats discuss trading Long Haul Truckers to tour by Brompton.

Thousand Oaks cyclists ride to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A Santa Maria cyclist is stabbed in a robbery attempt. Santa Paula cyclists are about to get a new three-mile bike trail. Chico State students protest police citations for illegal bike parking at the same time bike racks are being removed. A Bakersfield teenager is critically injured after being hit by two cars while riding in the wrong direction. Tahoe cyclists are identified as a “major problem” because they’re the victims of a large part of injury collisions; next, South Tahoe police will target local deer because they keep getting shot by hunters. The cyclist nearly killed in a collision during last year’s Sonoma County Gran Fondo is nearly ready to ride again, almost a year later.

Help Kickstart A Day in the Life with Vegan Athletes. Urbana’s industrial-strength rear rack is now available for all cyclists. A writer for the New York Times considers the lessons learned riding across the West; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Thanks to an article in the Economist, a spotlight shines on Seattle’s hazardous conditions for cyclists. Durango CO cyclists need to observe the law; you know, so they don’t offend all those drivers who don’t, either. An Idaho driver is scared to death after hitting a cyclist who must have been right in front of him; just imagine how the rider must have felt. The Missoula cyclist found dead on the sidewalk apparently died of internal bleeding after crashing his bike and hitting his chest on the handlebars. The widow of a cyclist is forced to pay court costs as a jury blames her husband for the driver’s left cross that killed him. A Milwaukee driver claims he blacked out before his car drifted across the road to hit a salmon cyclist riding in the same direction in the wrong side of the road; police say a search warrant for cell phone use is standard procedure in such cases, which should be the case everywhere. A ghost bike is reinstalled after residents complain about its removal. Using GPS data to fill in the blanks following a crash.

Courtesy of Carlton Reid, British researchers say if you want to grow cycling, ignore existing riders and focus on people who don’t ride; interesting advice, but isn’t that how we got the crappy infrastructure we have now? A UK cyclist dies when a fly flew into his eye while riding at high speed; a tragic reminder to always wear shatter-proof glasses when you ride. A minor lapse in judgment, another dead cyclist. The problem in Copenhagen is too many cyclists. Magnesium frames make a comeback; hopefully these will withstand exposure to oxygen, which seems to be almost everywhere these days. Say it ain’t so, Jeannie — one of the greatest cyclists of all time faces a ban for dodging doping tests. The Leopard-Trek – Team RadioShack merger doesn’t seem  to be going so well. Hong Kong police start an educational campaign prior to a crackdown on scofflaw cyclists. An Indian cyclist dies in a freak collision with two motorcycles.

Finally, a UK cyclist is beaten with a hammer by a motorist for riding too slowly up a hill into the wind; a police spokesman calls it a “massive over-reaction.” And a DC cyclist is intentionally hit by a driver for the crime of riding in the street.

Evidently, human compassion sometimes skips a generation.

And I notice the L.A. Weekly’s blatant misrepresentation of the new bicycle anti-harassment ordinance is still online, and still hasn’t been corrected despite a number of people repeatedly pointing out their error. I guess journalistic integrity skips a generation, too.

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