If you think things are bad out there, you’re right.
While estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that total US traffic deaths dropped a modest 3% in the first quarter of this year, the news for pedestrians is every bit as bad as you might think.
In fact, Streetsblog reports pedestrian deaths reached a 41-year high last year, topping the previous year’s 40-year high, while erasing decades of progress in reducing fatalities for people outside of motor vehicles.
And horrifyingly, that is with only 49 states checking in.
According to new estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association, “at least” 7,508 people on foot were killed by drivers on U.S. roads last year — an estimate, that notably, excludes the entire state of Oklahoma, which failed to deliver its preliminary totals this year due to technical difficulties but has averaged 92 pedestrian deaths in recent years.
If that estimate sticks, U.S. walkers will have experienced a stunning 77-percent increase in deaths since 2010, rising at a rate more than three times faster than the rest of the traveling public, for whom fatalities increased 25 percent over the same period.
While the total doesn’t include bicycling fatalities, a rise in one usually corresponds with rise in the other.
The GHSA report suggested that common factors in pedestrians deaths include large arterials designed to prioritize vehicle speed, the ever-increasing size of motor vehicles, and dark road conditions.
You can add to that a lack of safe sidewalks and crosswalks, and all the multiple and varied forms of driver distraction — including distracting video and touchscreen systems installed directly into the dashboard.
The GHSA reports that “in the absence of urgent action to address those systemic factors, safety officials are begging drivers themselves to be more careful.”
Sure, that’ll happen.
Notably, pedestrian deaths are estimated to have dropped 20% in California, tied by South Carolina, and exceeded only by New Jersey’s 27% decrease.
So we may be doing something right.
Meanwhile, according to a report from Pro Publica, the US Department of Transportation allowed trucking lobbyists to review an unpublished report recommending sideguards on all large trucks.
The goal of the report was to save lives by preventing bike riders and pedestrians from getting trapped underneath turning trucks, or from overly close passes.
Needless to say, trucking firms rejected the modest cost of sideguards, which are already required in the European Union, apparently preferring to pay higher insurance fees and the occasional legal settlement when they actually kill someone.
And making it clear that the USDOT exists to maintain corporate profits, rather than save human lives.
Here’s what the Bike League had to say on the subject.
Orange County bike advocate Mike Wilkinson sends word of an important active transportation survey in Buena Park.
THIS IS IMPORTANT! Buena Park is developing its first Active Transportation Plan. This is a rare opportunity for people who bike or walk to tell the city what they need.
There are two surveys. One is near the top of the page linked here, and it asks for basic information about biking and walking in the city. Scroll down further, and there is an interactive map that allows you to click on streets or intersections that need to be improved. It’s a little complicated, but please take your time to figure out how to use it, and then let the city know what needs to be done!
Wealthy NIMBYs in San Diego’s Pacific Beach used their cars to protest permanent safety installations on Diamond Street, claiming they will somehow cause more traffic emissions.
And missing the irony entirely.
Rhodes scholar, country singer-songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson is one of us, or at least he was in his college days at Oxford.
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on rolling.
A Colorado letter writer somehow surmises that an ebike rider’s torn pants leg means he’s already crashed his bike, because there couldn’t be any other possible explanation for fashionably torn jeans. And questions whether the state’s ebike rebate program pays for the bike helmet he apparently lacks, too.
People Powered Media says the new bike lanes on Venice Blvd are far from ideal, in part because they encroach on the gutter, and were laid over the existing broken roadway.
Claremont is ending its micromobility pilot program, and making the city’s shared mobility ordinance a permanent part of the city’s municipal code.
Meanwhile, West Hollywood will decide at Monday’s city council meeting whether to permanently approve the city’s micromobility program, or reinstate the city’s previous ban on rental ebikes and e-scooters.
Police in Santa Monica busted a bike-riding homeless man for robbing a Wells Fargo Bank of $1,100, after stopping the man while he was still in possession of the money.
Bike-riding Encinitas Assemblymember Tasha Boerner is making her third consecutive attempt to pass a California Safety Stop, aka Stop as Yield, aka Idaho Stop law, after Governor Newsom vetoed the bill two years ago; last year she pulled the legislation after it passed both houses of the legislature to avoid another threatened veto.
Police in San Bernardino busted a bike thief who preyed on an autistic man as he made his twice daily coffee run.
Ventura will ban bikes and e-scooters from the city’s pedestrianized Main Street in the downtown area.
If you’re going to tour Roswell, New Mexico, do it from the seat of a bike. That way, there will be some evidence left behind after the aliens grab you.
Milwaukee concludes that sharrows may work in some limited contexts, but are pretty much useless in most cases.
Kindhearted Illinois sheriff’s deputies bought a new bike for an 11-year old boy after his was stolen.
A Duluth, Minnesota columnist says if you hate potholes, trying riding a bike more often to do less damage to the roadways. Or none, even.
A writer for The Guardian says the four people killed recently in a New York ebike battery fire won’t be the last if nothing changes.
Velo says your next fully 3D-printed titanium roadie could retail for a mere $18,600.
Soccer great Lionel Messi is one of us, enjoying a bike ride with his family in Venezuela before reporting to his new team in Miami.
London’s annual Parliamentary Bike Ride draws Members of Parliament, local officials and bike advocates to promote bicycling in the city, putting active transportation over party politics.
Germany’s Schwalbe is bringing its rubber-free Aerothan thermoplastic polyurethane material to bike tires, saving 5 grams per tire — or a whole 0.17 ounces.
Inside EVs says Yamaha’s new ebike motor is a weight weenie’s dream come true at just 5.7 pounds — over five ounces lighter than the previous version.
Life is cheap in Australia, where a 20-year old woman walked without a single day behind bars for killing a 75-year old bike-riding grandfather, because the judge concluded “her remorse is self-punishing.”
He gets it. The Aussie academic behind the recent study showing drivers see bike riders wearing helmets and hi-vis as less than human says “If you have a safe and normal cycling culture, how could you see people as anything but human?”
Your new 2023 US national time trial champs are former national and world time trial champion Chloé Dygert, and Giro stage-winner Brandon McNulty.
And if anyone has me on their Secret Santa list this year, this will do nicely.
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.
Oh, and fuck Putin, too.