The Los Angeles Times pretty well sums up LA’s Vision Zero failure in two short paragraphs.
Last year, 244 people were killed in traffic collisions on city streets, a decrease of 0.8% compared to 2018, according to preliminary figures from the city. The victims included 134 people who were walking and 19 people biking.
The data may change slightly with additional analysis, officials said. But the early figures suggest another year of lackluster progress for Vision Zero, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s initiative to eliminate traffic deaths on city streets by 2025.
That’s two more bicycling deaths than I showed in my records. Which isn’t too surprising, since too many fatal crashes never make the news.
But instead of placing blame on the city’s insistence at nibbling on the edges of traffic safety, rather than making the wholesale changes to LA streets that define a true Vision Zero program, the city insists on pointing the finger at texting drivers.
Which is a major problem, of course.
But Vision Zero is supposed to be about accepting that people will always make mistakes behind the wheel — like texting, for instance. And designing roadways in such a way that those mistakes don’t become fatalities.
According to the story,
The Transportation Department made more changes to streets in L.A. in 2019 than in the prior two years combined, said spokeswoman Connie Llanos. Those 1,529 modifications to crosswalks, traffic signals, intersections and other elements of the street are designed to improve the safety of the street.
Yet none of those modifications included a single road diet or protected intersection.
Or, to the best of my recollection, a single new protected bike lane.
Rather than making simple changes to intersections, the city needs to take aim at changing the city’s car culture, said John Yi, the executive director of Los Angeles Walks, a pedestrian advocacy group.
If zero deaths is really the city’s goal, “we need to have a visionary plan that matches the scope of that goal,” Yi said. “We have failed to do that.”
There is every argument for making those kinds of wholesale changes to the streets, from saving lives to reducing traffic congestion and fighting climate change.
And only one reason not to — city leadership that fears angry voters, and lacks the political will to do what they know must be done if this city, and the people in it, are to survive and prosper.
As exemplified in the mayor’s action in unceremoniously ripping out the Playa del Rey road diets and bikes lanes less than a month after they went in, before they had a chance to prove themselves and drivers could adjust to the changes.
Yet they were elected, not to follow the will of those who scream the loudest, but to actually lead their constituents by making the hard choices to do the right thing, and build a city that works for all of us.
Not just impatient drivers. Or wealthy homeowners.
And not one that continues to kill too many of it’s most vulnerable road users.
Just in case anyone wants to argue that Vision Zero doesn’t work, Helsinki, Finland didn’t have single pedestrian death last year, following a slow decline from a high of 60 in 1970.
He gets it.
Then again, Peter Flax always does.
This time, the former editor-in-chief of Bicycling and near-daily bike commuter goes on a polite rant over a recent highly biased article blaming bike lanes on the Bay Area’s Richmond–San Raphael Bridge for making poor, suffering teachers late for work.
Not, say, all those other drivers on the bridge.
This is how efforts to build safe and convenient places for cyclists are demonized—as something that screws up the lives of motorists struggling to get somewhere important. This is how American car culture operates in 2020, when record numbers of cyclists are killed by drivers and efforts to do something about it are viewed as impractical and an attack on the driving public’s way of life.
Swan’s story is better reported than its clickbait headline might suggest, but upon close examination it reads like inadvertent propaganda. Though she name-checks the real problems plaguing miserable commuters, the central premise of her piece lends credibility to the absurd idea that the basic needs of embattled, working-class commuters are being trampled upon by people riding bikes…
He goes on to point the finger where it really belongs.
Let’s be frank. The congestion on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (and roadways in every U.S. city) can really suck. But it doesn’t suck because of cyclists or bike lanes. The traffic sucks because of sprawl and cheap gas and Americans’ love of cars. The traffic sucks because cities and states don’t put enough effort into housing, carpooling, telecommuting, micromobility, and financial tools like congestion pricing (in which motorists pay a modest surcharge to use roads at busy times, a tactic that has decreased traffic in European cities). These systemic problems—less suited to cranky populist headlines—are the real cause of traffic.
As with anything Flax writes, it’s a good read.
But more to the point, it’s an important one. Because we face this same sort of seemingly innocuous bias on a daily basis, with drivers failing to the real traffic problem is facing them back in the mirror.
And it’s not caused by bikes, bike lanes, or the people who use them.
Repairs are finally underway on a storm damaged section of the Arroyo Seco Bike Path.
— LADOT Livable Streets (@LADOTlivable) February 6, 2020
The LA Daily News is hosting another candidate forum in CD12 on the 17th.
— Ariella Plachta (@AriPlachta) February 6, 2020
Then again, so should every other mayor in the area.
Sometimes, though, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.
Edinburgh, Scotland police are looking for a sidewalk-riding “bike thug” who got off his bike and beat a total stranger for no apparent reason, sending him to the hospital with facial injuries.
Congratulations to Sunset For All, after the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council voted to support protected bike lanes on dangerous Sunset Blvd.
Voice your opposition to plans to widen deadly Magnolia Blvd — one of the city’s Vision Zero High Injury Network streets — next Monday at the North Hollywood Neighborhood Council meeting
Uber’s self-driving cars are on their way back to California, three years after the company got its hand slapped by the DMV for unleashing them in San Francisco without permits.
As we noted earlier, San Diego’s popular Ocean Beach bike path will be closed for construction work for the remainder of this month.
Nice gesture by a Santa Maria man, who returned a Kobe Bryant jersey that belonged to a fallen teenage bike rider to the boy’s mother nearly 13 years after he was killed in a collision; the boy had left it at the man’s apartment shortly before his death.
The Vallejo police union blames the victim after a cop is cleared in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager who fled a traffic stop.
A new San Francisco report contradicts the usual narrative from motorists, finding that drivers were responsible for two-thirds of collisions with pedestrians in the city last year.
Plans are underway to link 15 towns in Sierra, Plumas, Lassen and Butte County with more than 300 miles of new motorized and non-motorized trail bike trails in the Lost Sierra region.
The New York Times says new digital data streams are driving new approaches to transportation, using LA’s data-sharing requirement for e-scooters and dockless bikeshare as a prime example.
On the topic of bikes going nowhere, Flywheel cops to ripping off Peloton’s patented streaming technology.
Specialized has a new e-mountain bike for you, if you’re willing to fork out $6,500 — or $16,500 for the carbon model.
Life is cheap in Washington, where a man walked with time served after copping a plea to vehicular homicide for fatally right-hooking a 75-year old bike rider while driving stoned, despite a commitment to never drive after using medical cannabis for a bad neck. Evidently, DUI and homicide is just no big deal up there.
This is why I love the bicycling community. When the owner of a Cincinnati mom-and-pop bike shop had to go to the hospital, ten bike mechanics from other shops offered to fill in for him. And a crowdfunding page raised over $9,000 since Sunday night — nearly double the modest $5,000 goal.
Chicago Streetsblog says the city needs a Rapid Response Team, arguing that inaction in the wake of tragic crashes is unacceptable. Which is exactly what I argued for before and after Los Angeles announced its Vision Zero program; every death should be immediately investigated by a multi-disciplinary team to determine contributory causes and prevent another one.
Speaking of the Windy City, the Department of DIY struck once again, spray painting bike lane markings at a Chicago intersection where a woman was killed, after the city failed to maintain them.
New York City could soon require side guards on large trucks to prevent bike riders and pedestrians from being pulled underneath. These should be mandatory everywhere, for reasons that should be obvious.
Pennsylvania votes to allow protected bike and pedestrian lanes on state roadways.
A DC website questions whether “war on cars” is a useful term, after a WaPo reporter insists the district is waging one. Probably not, considering only one side is dying, and it ain’t the people in motor vehicles.
A local website discovers that some people actually like an Alexandrian VA road diet that’s being maligned by very vocal opponents.
Treehugger confronts the recurring myth that fuel for a bike rider causes as much CO2 emissions as someone in car. Short answer, no. Longer answer, hell no.
They get it. A column in Cycling Industry News says if the bike industry wants to draw new customers, people need to feel safe riding their bikes. Which is the best argument for why bikemakers and bike shops should get involved in local advocacy. But few do.
Even the Cayman Islands need better bike lanes.
Bicycling offers five tips from the world’s coldest bike ride, Canada’s Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, to help keep you warm here in frigid Southern California.
Saskatoon, Canada, could soon remove a requirement for bicyclists to ride in bike lanes, arguing that faster riders should be allowed to ride in traffic lanes if they feel more comfortable.
Great Britain is debating whether to allow e-scooters in the country, where they are currently banned; a Swedish professor argues that cities should embrace them.
One place you can cross off your bike bucket list — the mean streets of Gaborone, Botswana, where bicycles are unwanted and unwelcome, along with the people who ride them.
A teenage Aussie driver faces multiple charges for killing two men out for their usual early morning bike ride while driving on the wrong side of the road.
The San Diego Union-Tribune says USA Cycling CEO Rob DeMartini is taking the organization in bold new directions after years as an afterthought, as the sport went its own way without its help or oversight.
VeloNews says they already miss the Amgen Tour of California, which was cancelled this year after a 14-year run.
And world famous bike rider LeBron James wants to get you on a bicycle; rumor has it he also plays basketball or something.