The deadly 85th Percentile Rule has gone mainstream.
Credit the LA Times’ Laura Nelson for interrupting the paper’s move to El Segundo with a front page story explaining how and why speeds are set at the speed of the 15th fastest driver on the street — the 85th percentile of drivers.
To update driver speeds, city engineers visit a street in the late morning or early afternoon, park along a stretch of road without stop signs or traffic lights, and use an electronic device to measure the speeds of 100 drivers.
They rank the speeds from fastest to slowest and identify the 85th percentile — that is, the speed just below the 15th-fastest driver. City engineers use that “critical speed” as a basis for establishing a new speed limit, typically rounded to the nearest 5 mph.
Which means drivers can set the speeds with their right foots. Which is kind of like putting bank robbers in charge of security at Wells Fargo.
Although that might be an improvement over their recent scandals, but still.
Failing to conduct those surveys, or raise speeds as a result, means police officers are prohibited from using speed guns or other electronic devices to stop speeders.
And drivers can go as fast as traffic and LA’s over-engineered streets will allow.
The restrictions on police using electronic devices has coincided with a 77% drop in the number of speeding tickets written annually by the Los Angeles Police Department, from 99,333 in 2010 to 22,783 last year.
Traffic officers have been particularly hamstrung in the San Fernando Valley, where the majority of the city’s speeding tickets are written and more than 130 miles of streets carry speed enforcement restrictions, according to a Times analysis of city data.
“People are driving like maniacs on city streets,” said Dennis Zine, a former city councilman in the Valley who worked as a traffic officer. “It’s costing people their lives.”
Particularly the lives of bike riders and pedestrians.
There have been numerous failed attempts to reform the 85th Percentile Law, each dying in the legislature over fears that speeding drivers will have to slow down or get the tickets they deserve.
Which is kind of the point.
Maybe this story will finally motivate homeowners to join with bicycle and pedestrian advocate, to demand that state legislators change the law that imposes highway speeds on city streets.
And leaves far too many bodies in its wake.
Thanks to David Drexler for the heads-up.
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes goes on.
An Australian bike rider suffered a broken collarbone and fractured ribs when he was clotheslined by a garden hose stretched across a roadway.
A rider in South Africa blacked out — and was nearly decapitated — when he struck a fencing wire that had been strung across a bike trail at neck height; fortunately, the wire snapped, preventing serious injury.
Someone vandalized a pair of cyclist resting posts in Vernon, British Columbia, which position riders in the right spot to be recognized by traffic signals, and allow the rider to rest at the light without unclipping. Note: I originally wrote this as Vernon, California; thanks to Joe Linton for the correction.
And police in New York are continuing their decidedly non-bike friendly ways by ticketing bicyclists riding in a new privately developed park where planners somehow left out bike lanes on the wide, one way street.
If you were planning to ride Topanga Canyon next weekend, you might want to start making other plans.
The newly affordable Metro Bike bikeshare is expanding onto the Westside towards the end of this year, and wants your input on where to put docking stations.
Los Angeles is installing intelligent traffic signal controllers throughout the city, in part to allow the installation of bike traffic signals.
The Hollywood Reporter says a backlash is brewing against e-scooters, which are being blamed for crashes and near-crashes with bicyclists and pedestrians.
A Michigan man who attempted to ride all of Route 66 in honor of his late son arrived in Santa Monica last week, raising $10,000 for pediatric cancer research.
Bike SD expresses concern that a bikeway is being held hostage by a neighborhood planning group.
A writer takes an epic carfree ride down Highway 1 where it was closed down by a Big Sur mud slide; the highway was just reopened to cars last week.
Now that’s more like it. A road in the Presidio will be closed to cars to improve safety for San Francisco cyclists and pedestrians.
A California appeals court has denied a plea from Marin cyclist Jeff Smock to overturn his road rage conviction for beating a truck driver senseless after the driver allegedly clipped him with the truck’s side mirror. He appealed despite receiving a slap on the wrist for the conviction.
Marin County vows to appeal a judge’s ruling blocking mountain bikes from using a single track trail that had recently been widened to make room for people on bikes, as well as on foot and horseback.
Bike Snob says kissing bike lanes is the new equivalent of politicians kissing babies, as support grows for bicycling. Except in Los Angeles, where elected leaders quake in fear of angry four-wheeled voters.
Bicycling rates the year’s fastest, funnest and most exciting ebikes. And more clickbait from the magazine, as they list their picks for the 30 greatest bike moments in pop culture.
Bicycle Times offers tips on how to smuggle documents like cycling legend Gino Bartali.
Mobility Lab shares a nice piece from
Travel site Lonely Planet says you don’t have to drive to get your kicks on Route 66 anymore.
A self-described Spandex Mafia shows up in defense of an Oregon protected bike lane, after a city councilmember uses the term to disparage people on bikes.
Las Vegas bike riders get their own carfree open streets event when they’re allowed on a 25-mile segment of new freeway before its opened to cars next month.
Salt Lake City bicyclists ride to remember a 23-year old man who was killed in a collision with a train on a late night group ride; the crossing gates reportedly went up after train passed in one direction, then quickly came back down when a second train approached from the other, catching his bike on the tracks.
Horrible news from Houston, where a renowned cardiologist was shot and killed as he was riding his bicycle by a bicyclist who passed him, then turned around and fired; he had treated former President George H.W. Bush for a heart condition several years ago. No word on a suspect or what may have prompted the shooting. Thanks to Ed Ryder for the link.
Dallas bike riders say more has to be done to protect bicyclists, following the hit-and-run death of a rider who reportedly did everything right.
A new book describes the history of bicycling in the Windy City.
The World Naked Bike Ride strips down and rolls through St. Louis. But how can you tell when a bike-riding Wookie is naked?
St. Louis is renovating a velodrome popularly known as Mr. Bumpy Face because of the rough track.
The Indiana Business Journal gets it right, as an urban designer and university professor says the streets belong to all of us, even e-scooter users.
A South Carolina doctor decries the lack of support for healthy activities in the area after drivers succeeded in demanding the removal of a new lane reduction and bike lanes before the project was even finished.
Bike Radar offers advice on how to climb hills faster.
If you’re over 50, running or bicycling to work can cut your risk of a heart attack as much as a third.
Road.cc lists the UK’s best smartphone apps for bicycling, some of which should be available in the US.
A new 85-mile Calgary bike path connects 55 communities with over 400,000 people. And links to a 621-mile bike path network, the longest bike path network in the world.
Tragic news from Calgary, where a 75-year old man was killed in a collision with a bike rider as he was walking in a marked crosswalk; the rider allegedly ran the red light, but remained on the scene after the crash.
The local newspaper says someone is going to get killed on a bikeway bypass around a temporarily closed footbridge in Ottawa, Canada; a safer plan was nixed when people signed a petition preferring parking over preventing injuries to people on bikes.
The Department of DIY has struck once again, as Ottawa bicyclists build their own pop-up protected bike lanes using orange and black highway cones.
Louis Garneau — yes, that Louis Garneau — was seriously injured when he touched wheels with another rider on a Montreal group ride; the founder of the popular bikewear line suffered a concussion and punctured lung, but credited his helmet with saving his life.
No bias here. A Toronto newspaper portrays a conflict between people on bikes and residents of a hill country community as cyclists versus blue collar locals. Never mind that some of the riders live in the community, and many bike riders are decidedly blue collar.
The former bike-riding parking cop who gained fame on Twitter for ticketing bike lane blockers is now running for the Toronto city council.
A British man who was left paralyzed when he was struck by a distracted driver while riding his bike is demanding that phone makers automatically lock devices when a car is in motion.
Teenagers under 18 can now legally ride on sidewalks in Australia’s New South Wales state.
Rouler looks at the classic Tour de France illustrations of Roger Blachon.
American cyclist Lawson Craddock explains how he’s surviving the Tour de France with a broken shoulder blade, completing all 15 stages so far after falling in the first stage. His suffering has raised nearly $130,000 for a Houston velodrome.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Tour de France fans continue to get on Chris Froome, even though he was officially cleared of doping charges recently. However, the fans are reportedly getting out of control.
An Ontario writer recounts Canada’s contribution to the Tour de France.
Twenty-three-year old Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel has become the first rider to win national championships in cyclocross, road cycling and cross-country mountain biking.
A Spanish Continental rider offers the latest proof that the era of doping is not over.
And you won’t want to miss the world’s cutest bike race, even though one of the competitors evidently did.