Why US traffic safety is behind the rest of the world, LA closes Chandler Bike Bath gap, and getting Inglewood kids on bikes

Before we get started, a quick reminder that Daylight Savings ends this weekend, and it’s time to set your clocks back on Sunday. 

Which means it will get dark earlier, and you could find yourself riding in it more.

So pack lights with you, even if you don’t plan to be out that light; I’ve found myself riding in the dark more than once because of a flat or some other mechanical. 

And don’t forget that even an extra hour of sleep is enough to throw drivers off their already negligible game. So ride defensively and use extra care for the next week or so.

I don’t want to write about you because some fool couldn’t manage to concentrate behind the wheel.

Photo from Pixabay

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Writing for CityLab, Harvard visiting fellow David Zipper recounts that US Transportation Secretary Pete recently formed a new traffic safety program “to help countries around the world learn from our best practices in planning and modernizing transportation.”

As if we actually have any.

As Zipper points out,

The US underperformance in road safety is especially dramatical: 11.4 Americans per 100,000 died in crashes in 2020, a number that dwarfs countries including Spain (2.9), Israel (3.3) and New Zealand (6.3). And unlike most developed nations, US roadways have grown more deadly during the last two decades (including during the pandemic), especially for those outside of cars. Last year saw the most pedestrians killed in the US in 40 years, and deaths among those biking rose 44% from 2010 to 2020…

The closer you look, the clearer it becomes that the US traffic safety crisis is not a reflection of geography or culture. It is the result of policy decisions that elevated fast car travel and automaker profits over roadway safety. Other countries made different choices, and they’ve saved lives as a result.

He goes on to add that the US has fallen behind other countries to the point that we hit a 16-year high for traffic fatalities last year, at the same time Japan and Norway posted their lowest fatality rates since the 1940s, when both countries were recovering from the devastation of WWII.

Not surprisingly, there are some pretty obvious reasons for that.

Europe, for example, has created many more car-free and car-light urban neighborhoods than the US. Since motor vehicles play a role in virtually all roadway deaths, their removal from the urban core is a big boost for safety. Meanwhile, countries like Canada and France have embraced automatic traffic cameras — devices that are banned in many US states — to deter speeding and running red lights. Likewise, safe infrastructure enhancements like roundabouts and road diets have been adopted more enthusiastically in other countries.

A widening gap is also visible in car regulations, which have grown relatively stricter abroad. A case in point: The European Union added pedestrian safety tests to NCAP crash ratings over two decades ago, and Japan, China and Australia now conduct them as well. The US still does not.

He also notes that when famed urban planner Jan Gehl first proposed that Copenhagen remake its streets in favor of bicycles to reduce reliance on motor vehicles, he was told they were Danes, not Italians.

Sort of like we’re constantly told this isn’t Copenhagen. Or Amsterdam. Or any other bike-centric city local NIMBYs have vaguely heard of.

It’s worth a few minutes of your day to read the whole thing.

But if you’re short on time today, just commit every word of this to memory —

For the US, this may be the most important road safety lesson from abroad: Many of the best solutions are quite simple. Build slower streets. Penalize reckless drivers quickly and reliably. Use regulations and taxes — on vehicle weight as well as fuel — to nudge the car industry toward smaller, safer models.

Seriously.

Thanks to Molly Timmons for the heads-up.

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We missed this one somehow.

Probably because we weren’t invited, which is apparently what happens when you’re critical of city leaders.

But still.

Los Angeles officials celebrated the completion of the long-planned Chandler Bicycle Connection yesterday, providing a low-stress, protected bikeway connecting the Orange Line Bike Path with Burbank’s popular Chandler Bike Path.

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Former pro Elliot Jackson offers a progress report on the Grow Cycling Foundation, a two-year old program to “provide opportunities for underserved communities to experience all that the bike has to offer” — starting with offering bike training at Inglewood elementary schools and building an Inglewood pump track.

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The LACBC is hosting a pair of Bicycling 101 classes covering Principles of Traffic Law and Riding With Traffic, as well as a short ride exploring landmarks in Downtown Los Angeles.

And don’t forget their Bike Fest fundraiser in DTLA tomorrow.

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Gravel Bike California explores the unpaved side of the Inland Empire.

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Of course Julia Roberts is one of us.

Which explains where she gets that famous smile.

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Take a few minutes for a morning mountain bike break.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

A Michigan TV station catches scofflaw motorists driving salmon on the westbound portion of a roadway, which is only supposed to be open to people on bicycles.

An Irish cabbie threatened to run over a bike rider if he ever touches his cab again, after the bicyclist tapped it to ask him not to park in the bike lane.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Sarah Jessica Parker jumped back to avoid a bike rider as she was filming the second season of And Just Like That… on the streets of New York, though it was unclear if the scofflaw rider was part of the show.

Tokyo police are continuing their crackdown on scofflaw bicyclists who get caught blow through traffic lights, ride salmon or ride too fast on sidewalks.

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Local

The New York Times says Los Angeles pedestrians are looking forward to California’s new law decriminalizing jaywalking. Even though most Angelenos have probably never even heard of it yet.

Props to Walk ‘N Rollers founder Jim Shanman, who was named a Culver City Hero by the local edition of Patch. And deservedly so.

Streetsblog offers more on the overwhelming success of the Move Culver City project.

 

State 

Wealthy San Diego homeowners are suing the city over its plans to spend development mitigation funds equitably throughout the city, arguing that they should be spent right where the structures are built.

Ramona High School’s mountain bike team could see one of its former members on the US Olympic Team in 2024.

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine is one of us, taking his young daughters for a family bike ride in Montecito.

 

National

In a surprising study apparently beamed back to us from the future, the January edition of Accident Analysis & Prevention reports a bicycle simulator lab at Oregon State University revealed bike boxes are the safest form of intersection treatment for bike riders, compared to mixing zones and bicycle signals.

Electrek says all the signs point to a new low-cost bike coming from Rad Power Bikes.

Portland officials respond to the death of a bike rider by routing truck traffic away from a dangerous intersection, after she was right hooked by a truck driver recently. Which is exactly how Vision Zero is supposed to work, unlike in a certain SoCal megalopolis we could name.

They get it. Community leaders in Albuquerque, New Mexico fight for equity and investment on one of the city’s most dangerous corridors, arguing that streets are for people, too.

Members of a bicycling group in Grand Rapids, Michigan, can’t understand who would shoot and kill an 18-year old man as he rode on a local bike path. Or why.

Streetsblog reports drivers crash into buildings an average of 100 times a day in the US, examining the case of a Richmond VA woman who has suffered over $100,000 in damages to her home as a result of five crashes in 15 years.

A second man has been arrested in the bludgeoning death of a 49-year old Florida man, who was beaten more than ten times with a tire iron as he rode his bike; the random attack was part of a crime spree using the same weapon on a number of cars and windows, as well as in the of beating an elderly man.

A suspected serial killer faces charges in the death of a 43-year old Florida woman, who disappeared 31 years ago while riding her cruiser bike.

 

International

Momentum examines the efforts of Montreal to make North America’s best bike city even better for people on two wheels.

Meet a 15-year old stunt biker from Kashmir. Although it would be nice if they’d included video of him in action.

That’s more like it. An Aussie driver gets a minimum of five years behind bars for the “despicable and cowardly” hit-and-run death of a 60-year old man riding a bike. Then again, every hit-and-run fits that description.

An Australian man is challenging the settlement he received in 2013, when he was struck while riding his bike when he was just 15 by the man who would become the premier of Australia’s Victoria state a year later; he claims he was ordered to stay quiet and never got a copy of the settlement.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews looks at pro cycling’s annual game of musical chairs, otherwise known as the men’s WorldTour transfer market.

Cycling Tips discovers there is no cycling route so iconic that Google reviewers won’t trash it.

Bianchi got spanked by UCI, cycling’s governing body, who told them their new Oltre RC bike is okay but the Air Deflector wings designed to channel airflow around the head tube aren’t.

 

Finally…

Nothing like stopping by your favorite LBS for a few tubes and a couple skeins of yarn. Or your bike basket beagle biting your breakfast.

And that feeling when you design a 14 passenger bike, but don’t know if it has peddles or pedals.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

4 comments

  1. Joe Linton says:

    I haven’t seen the new Chandler bikeway yet (is it done? or did they just celebrate the full funding?) but I find it odd that Krekorian left Councilmember Raman off of the announcement when a couple of blocks of the project are in her CD4.

  2. I think the bike company knows the difference between pedal and peddle, but the journalist writing the article depends on spellcheck and doesn’t catch the wrong word spelled write right.

  3. Ralph says:

    The dog video may be cute but a 30 second lead in ad with no escape is too much for a 6 second clip…

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