Morning Links: LA Vision Zero fail, bike & pedestrian deaths up in US — and LA, and possible bike death in Palm Springs

Good story from LAist about two pedestrian deaths that occurred within two hours last week.

And by extension, the city’s meager efforts at implementing Vision Zero.

Both victims, including a four-year old girl killed just 50 feet from her preschool, died on streets that are part of the city’s High Injury Network.

While overall traffic deaths are down in three of the four LAPD traffic divisions, pedestrian and bicycling deaths continue to make up 60% of all road deaths in the City of Los Angeles.

And in that fourth division, in West LA, traffic deaths are up a whopping 75%.

Not that the city isn’t doing anything about it.

According to L.A. Department of Transportation spokesman Colin Sweeney, the city has been picking up the pace on safety improvements.

“In 2019 alone, we introduced over 700 improvements to increase visibility of crosswalks — more than 2017 and 2018 combined,” Sweeney told LAist, adding that 77 speed feedback signs and “dozens of traffic signal and street design improvements” have also been installed.

But despite those efforts, preliminary traffic collision data from the Los Angeles Police Department shows that, with roughly 10 weeks left in 2019, the number of people seriously injured and killed by vehicles while walking L.A. streets this year is keeping pace with 2018’s figures.

If you want to observe a wasted effort in action, just stand next to one of those traffic feedback signs, and count how many people observe the speed limit. And how many drivers actually slow down.

Chances are, you’ll have more than enough fingers left over to let the city know what you really think about it.

Not surprisingly, LADOT was quick to demonstrate how little the city seems to understand what the hell Vision Zero even is.

When we asked LADOT about the increase, spokesman Colin Sweeney cited the improvement work the department had completed this year and added that while the city can re-engineer roadways, the other component to safer streets is safer behavior by motorists.

“Drivers need to realize the responsibility they take when they get behind the wheel,” he said. “That means avoiding distractions and slowing down on surface streets which are a shared public space — even 5 mph slower can save a life.”

Except Vision Zero is about reimagining the streets so human error does not result in deaths.

It’s not about eduction. It’s not, as the city often insists, about enforcement.

And it’s not about drivers taking responsibility, as nice as that would be.

It’s about re-imagining the damn streets themselves, so no one dies when they don’t.

And on that count, the city is failing miserably.

………

Then again, the same pattern is holding true across the US, where overall traffic deaths are down 2.4%, according to the Washington Post.

Traffic fatalities fell for the second-straight year in 2018, the agency said, and the downward trend continues, with traffic deaths down 3.4 percent in the first six months of this year…

There also were fewer fatalities resulting from speeding and alcohol-impaired drivers. Additionally, there was a 10 percent reduction in the number of children killed in crashes.

That’s the good news. As long as you get around safely wrapped in a couple tons of glass and steel.

But while overall traffic fatalities were down, more pedestrians and bicyclists were killed on U.S. roads last year, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all traffic deaths.

According to NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System data, 6,283 pedestrians and 857 people on bikes or similar nonmotorized vehicles were killed in 2018, increases of 3.4 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. Federal officials said the rises were concentrated in urban areas.

Maybe someday we’ll have elected leaders who care enough to make the hard choices to put human lives over the convenience of motorists.

Let alone actually take steps to protect the planet.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

Not in the US. Not in California.

And not in Los Angeles.

………

Sad news from Palm Springs, where a man was killed in a Palm Springs hit-and-run Monday night.

People who live in the area say the victim was riding a bicycle, but there’s no mention of that in the story, and no confirmation yet through other sources.

Hopefully we’ll get more information soon.

Thanks to Victor Bale for the heads-up.

………

Just a quick, non-sponsored reminder that there is a nationwide roadside assistance program for people on bicycles, too.

………

Metro Bike is waiving the standard fee for unlocking their ebikes through Halloween.

………

The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes is all too real.

A British man is under arrest for pulling up next to a bike rider in a car, and fatally stabbing him as he rode his bike. Police are looking for two other men who ran away from the crime scene, and say the attack did not appear to be random.

………

Local

You could soon find yourself riding streets of plastic.

Congratulations to the Long Beach/Los Angeles metro area, on being recognized for having the worst air quality in the US. And yes, that’s sarcasm.

The latest SGV Connect podcast talks with the leaders of Calbike at their recent summit in Los Angeles.

The LA City Council Transportation Committee will discuss bikeway maintenance at today’s 1 pm meeting, as part of a long agenda.

Whittier beautifies a parking lot on the 4.6-mile Greenway Trail, a year before a 2.6-mile extension is scheduled to open.

CiclaValley and company go riding at Crystal Lake.

 

State

Ride 2 Recovery is raising funds for former motocross champ Micky Dymond, who suffered a severe brain injury and a number of other injuries in a solo fall while riding a time trial bike in Orange County; the group has raised over $13,000 of the $100,000 goal for the uninsured victim.

A 74-year old San Diego driver hit a man who riding his bike legally, and what should have been safely, in the bike lane, then just kept going because he thought he hit the curb. Which is prima facie evidence that maybe he shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

A group of five former Navy SEALs will embark on a 1,000-mile bike ride down the East Coast to raise funds for the VIP Neuro Rehabilitation Center in San Diego.

Morro Bay police are looking for the hit-and-run driver that left a bicyclist lying on the side of the road with critical injuries; police say he did everything right. But got hit anyway.

A Cotati man was seriously injured in a crash near Rohnert Park when a driver hit his bike. Naturally, the CHP didn’t hesitate to blame the victim.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever burgled a San Jose bike co-op serving homeless people twice in just four days.

 

National

A website for lovers of four wheel drive vehicles says if you enjoy taking one offroad, you probably already enjoy mountain biking, too.

Speaking of which, Singletracks lists five examples of trail etiquette that apply in the real world, too.

Americans took over 84 million bikeshare and e-scooter rides last year.

The NAACP calls the forcible arrest of a black Oregon State University student for riding salmon an attack on her civil rights.

The Houston Chronicle offers more on the 27-year old man killed in a collision after he pushed his fiancé off her bike just before the crash, sacrificing his own life to save hers.

A resident of a small Iowa town insists the city has been recruiting Chicago “thugs” to get funding for low income housing. And offers as proof backpack-wearing people riding BMX bikes at 2:30 am. Which just happens to be half an hour after the bars close, when employees who don’t have cars would be making their way home from work. Just saying.

A Missouri nonprofit has refurbished and given away 500 bicycles over the past few years, including one they dropped off just in time for a homeless man to get to a job interview.

A Wisconsin bike rider is suing after he was seriously injured when he hit a steel cable that came off a fence and was lying across the roadway.

The Chicago Tribune rates the best bicycle inner tubes.

An Akron, Ohio man was lucky to escape with his life when an armed thief jumped out of the bushes and demanded his valuables, pedaling away as the thief repeatedly fired at him.

A Toledo, Ohio recycling plant recovered a 1962 bicycle license that somehow became embedded in concrete that someone brought in to be crushed. Let’s hope the rest of the bike wasn’t in there, too. Or the rider, for that matter.

New York residents say the city will have to take “their” parking spaces out of their cold, dead fingers.

Comedian Billy Crystal barely avoided getting knocked down by an out-of-control food delivery rider who landed at his feet as he was filming his new movie in New York.

After someone steals a New Jersey convenience store manager’s unlocked bike, kindhearted customers pitch in to give him a new one, along with $600 cash.

The bike-riding woman who gained international fame for flipping off President Trump’s motorcade, and got fired as a result, is now running for county supervisor in Virginia.

 

International

Cycling News ranks the best steel frame bikes.

Strava users are angry the popular app is dropping support for Bluetooth and ANT+ devices.

Firefighters from Mexico City and Phoenix AZ recovered the body of a Mexican bike rider, who drowned after falling through a six-foot wide sinkhole in a Hermosillo street.

An English man who received a double lung transplant is riding 300 miles from London to Paris to raise the equivalent of over $25,000 for the hospital that performed the operation.

British police investigators are headed to the US to interview the wife of an American diplomat — or possibly spy — who killed a 19-year old motorcyclist, then claimed diplomatic immunity to flee the country.

Life is cheap in Northern Ireland, where a driver got just one year behind bars for plowing into a group of bicyclists, killing one man and seriously injuring another.

An Irish writer wonders why bike riders and pedestrians can’t just get along.

Five people crossed Australia’s 370-mile wide Simpson Desert on fat bikes, 80 years after it was crossed for the first time, without bikes.

 

Competitive Cycling

Cycling Weekly rates the WorldTour teams on their success this part year; Deceuninck-Quick-Step topped the rankings, while Dimension Data might want to take up another sport.

Transgender Masters track champ Rachel McKinnon defends her right to compete — and win — in women’s cycling, while fending off criticism from other cyclists, as well as Donald Trump Jr.

 

Finally…

Skip the energy gels, and pass the French fries. Ride the future today.

And when in Rome, don’t trash the ebikes.

 

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