Breaking news — California report says deadly 85th Percentile Law has to go, and new UK study say hi-viz doesn’t help

The report is in.

And it’s not good news for heavy-footed drivers.

A statewide Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force, created under Burbank State Assembly Woman Laura Friedman’s AB 2363, has examined the deadly 85th Percentile law, and determined it needs to go.

F-S1: Existing law does not provide enough flexibility in urban areas to set speed limits that are appropriate for these complex environments.

Current procedures for setting speeds limits in California rely mainly on the 85th percentile methodology, an approach developed decades ago for vehicles primarily on rural roads. Although California’s population, roads, and streets have changed significantly, reflecting different modes of transportation including bicycling and walking, the method for setting speed limits has not. While the way that speed limits are calculated has remained essentially static, vehicles and street uses have evolved over time. CalSTA’s vision is to transform the lives of all Californians through a safe, accessible, low-carbon, 21st-century multimodal transportation system. Yet the 85th percentile methodology relies on driver behavior. Greater flexibility in establishing speed limits would allow agencies an expanded toolbox to better combat rising traffic fatalities and injuries.

The report goes on to conclude that posted speed limits are effective in reducing traffic speeds without the time and expense required for infrastructure changes.

And that cities need more flexibility to adjust speeds without conducting traffic studies, to reflect current circumstances and save lives.

Especially when it comes to people not protected by a couple tons of glass and steel.

F-S5: There is consistent evidence that increased vehicle speed results in an increased probability of a fatality given a crash. Vulnerable road users are disproportionately impacted by the relationship between speed and crash survivability. State and local agencies would benefit from additional classes of locations eligible for prima facie speed limits which do not require an engineering and traffic survey.

Prima facie speed limits are those that are applicable on roadways when no posted speed limit is provided. They do not require an engineering and traffic survey to be enforceable. Current law defines two prima facie speed limits covering six classes of locations. The first speed limit is 25 mph and is applicable to business and residential areas, school zones and areas around senior facilities. The second speed limit is 15 mph and is applicable to railway crossings, uncontrolled intersections and alleyways. Some allowances are currently provided to reduce these speed limits further, for example, to 15 mph and 20 mph in school and senior zones. State and local agencies on the Task Force stated that additional classes of locations should be eligible for prima facie speed limits especially in areas that have high concentrations of vulnerable road users.

In addition, the report calls for legalization of automated traffic cameras to supplement, but not replace, the work of traffic cops in enforcing speed limits.

F-EF1: International and U.S. studies have shown that automated speed enforcement is an effective countermeasure to speeding that can have meaningful safety impacts.

Automated speed enforcement systems work by capturing data about a speed violation, including images and license plate information, which is then reviewed and processed at a later time to determine if a violation occurred. Currently, automated speed enforcement is used extensively internationally and in 142 communities in the U.S. Numerous studies and several federal entities, including the National Transportation Safety Board, have concluded that automated speed enforcement is an effective countermeasure to reduce speeding-related crashes, fatalities, and injuries.

F-EF2: Automated speed enforcement should supplement, not replace, traditional enforcement operations.

According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Speed Enforcement Camera Systems Operational Guidelines, automated speed enforcement is a supplement to, not a replacement for, traditional traffic law enforcement operations. Automated speed enforcement systems can effectively augment and support traditional enforcement operations in multiple ways. Automated speed enforcement systems serve as a “force multiplier” that allows limited law enforcement resources to focus on other public safety priorities. ASE can be operated in areas where in-person traffic stops would be impractical as well as on higher speed roadways where traffic calming devices may not be appropriate. While ASE does not provide an educational opportunity nor afford the exercise of judgment in issuing a citation that an officer would have from an in-person stop, it may also provide for more consistent and impartial enforcement. Examples of cities that have deployed automated speed enforcement programs without reducing law enforcement staffing levels include Seattle, Portland, and Washington, D.C.

In other words, the report takes 68 pages to sum up what bike and pedestrian advocates have been arguing for years.

The 85th Percentile method currently enshrined in state law allowing speeding drivers to set their own speed limits is outdated and dangerous.

And it’s got to go.

Now.

………

In news that should surprise absolutely no one, researchers in the UK have concluded that wearing hi-viz clothing doesn’t seem to make a damn bit of difference.

Neither does wearing casual clothing, as opposed to a spandex kit, when it comes to how close drivers pass.

Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, there was no marked difference between ‘experienced rider’ kit, and a vest marked ‘Novice Cyclist’, nor between ordinary clothes and hi-viz kit.

Irrespective of any of the kit worn, 1-2 per cent of overtakes were within 50cm (Ed: roughly 20 inches), suggesting that nothing a rider wears makes any significant difference to the incidence of very close passes.

Unless that hi-viz happens to identify you as a police officer, that is. And even then, it’s only a gain of about two inches.

The researchers found that the only item of clothing that had a noticeable impact on passing distance was a high-vis vest that featured the word “POLICE” on the back. Those riders were also bearing a notice advising motorists that they were being filmed. These conditions increased the average passing distance by 5cm, to 122cm.

The researchers concluded that better infrastructure is a more effective means of improving rider safety than how you dress.

So go ahead and wear whatever feels right for you.

………

The rich get richer, as the Dutch continue to show the rest of us how it’s done.

………

The LACBC released a letter in support of keeping the protected bike lanes installed as part of the Reseda Great Streets project right where they are, for anyone attending tonight’s Streetsblog CD12 transportation forum.

………

The West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition, a very active neighborhood chapter of the LACBC, is meeting tonight.

………

This is who we share the roads with.

After his son was killed in a traffic collision, an Oklahoma man got drunk and got behind the wheel of his pickup — then fled the scene after plowing into several members of a high school cross country team.

Two girls were killed. Four others were injured; at least one remains in critical condition.

There’s just no fucking excuse.

………

Sometimes, though, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Davis police are looking for a man who fled the scene on a bicycle after coming up from behind and fondling a woman who was unloading her car.

Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana busted a bike-riding robber who chased a “mildly intoxicated” man before whacking him with a metal pipe and stealing $300 at knife point. Although the thief claims he was just trying to get back money the victim had stolen from him, but he doesn’t really remember because he was too stoned at the time.

………

Local

Streets For All reports the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council will discuss a motion to support protected bike lanes on Sunset Blvd at tonight’s meeting.

Streetsblog takes a look at LA’s newly opened Red Car Bike & Pedestrian Bridge over the LA River in Atwater Village.

A group of San Fernando Valley residents have pitched in to clean up a section of the LA River bike path in Reseda.

 

State

A Davis columnist insists that city, not Portland, is the bicycling capital of the US. Even if it can’t muster a quorum for the city’s Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission. At least they have one; Los Angeles just has a toothless Bicycling Advisory Committee, whose members are usually ignored by the councilmembers who appoint them. Creating an actual commission would give them the authority they currently lack. 

San Francisco supervisors rejected a demand for an environmental impact statement for a bikeway pilot project from a pair of notorious anti-bike crusaders, who blame it for the actions of angry drivers who can’t keep their hands off their damn horns.

 

National

An engineer digs into the data, and discovers that the panic over e-scooters may be overblown, concluding they don’t appear to be any more dangerous than riding a bicycle. Which is good news and bad news, when you think about it.

Kindhearted Utah cops dug into their own pockets to buy a nine-year old boy a new bike after the one he got in a Christmas donation was stolen.

Denver residents ignored the cold weather to ride to work after the city plowed a protected bike lane following a heavy snow. Meanwhile, Los Angeles NIMBYs continue to insist no one will ever commute by bike in the mild SoCal winter, where temperatures sometimes dip all the way into the 60s.

This is why you always carry ID on your bike. Texas police are appealing to the public to identify a man who was killed in a collision while riding his bike. A wallet helps, but can get lost or stolen following a crash. Better to actually carry some form of ID on you, or wear something like a Road ID with your name, emergency contacts and any medical conditions.

Hats off to a kindhearted Omaha, Nebraska Eagle Scout, who is collecting and refurbishing adult bicycles to donate to homeless people.

Chicago decided to make room for humans on the double-decker Lake Shore Drive, and convert one of the lower level lanes to a walkway and protected bike lanes. That’s got to be the only city in the US where it’s okay for drivers to be on LSD.

Great idea. Knoxville, Tennessee opened a new accessible bike trail specifically designed for people with disabilities riding adaptive bicycles.

A proposed New Hampshire bill to require helmets for everyone from bike riders to motorcyclists received overwhelming opposition, with 259 people lining up to speak against it and only four in favor.

New York advocates are up in arms over a secret plan to close part of the popular Hudson River Greenway to make long-delayed repairs resulting from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

This is why people keep dying on our streets. New York prosecutors inexplicably let a killer driver off the hook for backing over an elderly woman last year — even though he continues to rack up tickets for speeding and red light violations.

DC finally gets around to banning parking in bike lanes, fining drivers $150 for blocking the flow of bicycle traffic. It’s illegal to park in bike lanes in Los Angeles, too. Which doesn’t seem to stop anyone, especially in DTLA.

New Orleans cops get a firsthand view of the streets from a bicyclist’s perspective, as officers ride with a group of cycling instructors through a variety of problematic locations. That would solve a lot of problems if we could convince every police and sheriff’s department to try that.

 

International

A 51-year old nursery school teacher was one of the victims of Sunday’s terrorist knifing attack in South London as she rode her bike home after meeting friends, saying she’s lucky to be alive.

A pair of British doctors set a new record for riding around the world on a tandem bike, traveling over 18,000 miles in 218 days and 22 hours.

The British government will ban all gas and diesel powered vehicles by 2035, moving the deadline forward by five years. Meanwhile, the US has committed to banning gas powered vehicles by, um, never.

Parisians are staying on their bikes, despite the winter weather, even after a major transportation strike ended; January ridership was up 131% over the same month last year.

An Indian university tells faculty members that bicycling isn’t just for students.

Failed Chinese dockless bikeshare provider Ofo switches gear and reinvents itself as a shopping platform — and decides to keep users deposits anyway. Scroll down past the obnoxious full screen ad to get to the story, when and if you can. 

A globe trotting Indian bike tourist says he’s not worried about coronavirus as he nears the end of his 16 year ride through 154 countries to promote HIV and AIDS awareness; his now in Beijing while riding through China, leaving 37 countries to go.

 

Competitive Cycling

Good news for non-Californians. San Diego’s popular Belgian Waffle Ride, a mixed-surface, ultra-distance race, is branching out to Asheville, North Carolina and Cedar City, Utah this year.

Pro cyclists offer advice on how to beat jet lag. Personally, I’ve never been able to ride fast or far enough for that to be a problem.

Twenty-two-year old world mountain bike champ Kate Courtney is getting a little extra coaching to prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics from her new riding partner, retired NBA player turned mountain bike aficionado Reggie Miller.

 

Finally…

Apparently, dropping your bong while fleeing police on your bike is a bad thing. If you’re carrying nearly three dozen pre-measured bags of meth on your bike, make sure it at least meets legal standards.

And presenting the perfect gift for bicyclists who drink their bourbon through a straw.

No, really.

 

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