It’s not just pickups and SUVs.
While the risk of high-profile vehicles is well documented, a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows even flat-front, medium–height vehicles present a higher risk of pedestrian fatalities compared with similarly-sized cars with low or sloped front ends.
And guess what the current automotive style trend is.
According to the study, vehicles measuring just 30 to 40 inches from the street to the top of the hood posed a 25% greater risk of pedestrian deaths. And presumably, the same or greater risk to people on bicycles.
According to Streetsblog,
Of course, advocates have long known that high and mighty SUVs and pickup trucks are a significant factor in the 80-percent increase in pedestrian deaths on U.S. roads over the last 14 years. High front ends are associated with higher risk of deadly head and thorax injuries, and studies show vulnerable road users are more likely to be thrown under the wheels of an SUV and sustain even more extensive injuries, rather than being being pushed onto the hood or the roof.
The new study reveals, though, that even cars that Americans think of as “medium sized” aren’t necessarily safe, either. Nearly 35 percent of U.S. vehicles are now designed with a blunt — and significantly more deadly — front end, the study authors said, citing a recent re-design of the Ford Mustang…
“Over the past 30 years, the average U.S. passenger vehicle has gotten about four inches wider, 10 inches longer, eight inches taller and 1,000 pounds heavier,” the Insurance Institute added. “Many vehicles are more than 40 inches tall at the leading edge of the hood.”
And they wonder why traffic deaths have been going up every year.
As long as federal regulations continue to allow the seemingly endless motor vehicle size creep — and allow car makers to literally design their vehicles to kill anyone not safely ensconced in a couple tons of glass and steel — that’s not going to change.
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.
Sometimes, though, traffic violence has less to do with the size and shape of the vehicle than the design of the roadway.
And the actions of the driver.
Like on PCH in Malibu, where a driver traveling in excess of 100 mph killed four Pepperdine University students just standing on the side of the roadway, as they made their way to a fraternity party.
Or rather, where they were brutally murdered.
The memorials are similar to ghost bikes, to remember those who have been killed by speeding drivers.
But sharing responsibility with their alleged killer are the officials who have done little or nothing to correct the single deadliest surface street in LA County.
Here’s how SAFE put it in their press release.
Any single loss of a loved one and community member due to a preventable traffic collision is tragic. The loss of four in one incident is horrific, but these preventable collisions are made worse by the fact that the short stretch of PCH that travels through residential and business areas of Malibu has been known for decades as a dangerous road with vehicles regularly doing 60-80 MPH and sometimes well over 100.
Since 2010 there have been 58 fatalities (including the four young women just killed) and about 2500 individuals injured. The single largest factor in these crashes is reckless speeding. (Source LA County Sheriff’s Dept and TIMS) For decades the community of Malibu, including various family members of those who have been killed and city officials, has asked Caltrans (the government agency responsible for PCH) to slow down PCH and re-engineer it. Little has been done.
In 2015 the California Office of Traffic Safety commissioned a study of PCH through Pacific Palisades and Malibu called the PCH Pedestrian Safety Project. In that report, there were 130 improvements recommended for the section of PCH in Malibu, including reducing the speed limit of PCH through the most densely populated areas. In the eight years since that report, Caltrans has implemented 6 of the recommendations (the City of Malibu has implemented additional recommendations with Caltrans approval) and none of the most effective recommendations have been accomplished. There is still a 45 MPH speed limit – too fast for the road conditions through Malibu. Drivers still often drive 60+ MPH through this built-up, high-pedestrian area, because there are few stop lights, and traffic calming measures are lacking.
“It’s been eight years since the 2015 safety recommendations were issued. Caltrans has done virtually nothing since then to reduce unsafe driving on PCH in Malibu. EIGHT YEARS! What else has Caltrans been doing over that time that is more important than stopping people being killed at this rate on such a short stretch of road?” – Barry Stewart (Father of Peyton Stewart, killed along with her three friends by a speeding driver on PCH.)
The question is how many more people will have to die before someone, anyone, finally does something to fix the problem.
Because the modest tinkering around the edges that passes for safety improvements on LA’s killer highway clearly haven’t done anything to save lives.
And if the deaths of four innocent young women isn’t enough to convince state, county and local officials to do something, I don’t know what will.
Speaking of which, the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is this Sunday.
Maybe someday, carmakers will finally try to design their vehicles to make fewer victims to remember, and traffic engineers and elected officials will build roads that don’t contribute to the problem.
Which is what Vision Zero is all about.
‘Tis the season.
Meanwhile, the US Army’s South Korean base Camp Humphreys distributed 80 refurbished bicycles for Veterans Day, ensuring that junior-enlisted soldiers had first choice.
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.
Nope, no bias here. A former Baltimore city council president decried a recent road diet and bike lanes, saying “There are elitist, fanatical people who believe they want to improve the world by getting rid of cars and the way they do it is by narrowing every street that they can, even if it has a negative effect on the city.” Never mind that lane reductions and bike lanes have been repeatedly shown to improve safety for everyone, and often improve traffic flow while increasing sales for local businesses. But sure, just keep hating on people working to make positive changes on our streets. Schmuck.
No bias here, either. After police ignored a sideswipe hit-and-run by a motor scooter rider that knocked a London man famed for bicycling with his cat off his bike, telling him only that he should wear a helmet, the victim has received thousands of abusive messages on social media — going so far as telling him to kill himself — and been reported to the SPCA for animal abuse.
Yes, please. CD5 Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky talked with UCLA’s Daily Bruin student newspaper about her goals for Westwood, including more bus and bike lanes to build more livable communities.
Alhambra’s newly revealed active transportation plan calls for more than 50 miles of new bike lanes, as well as several new pedestrian priority zones. Let’s just hope they follow through. Because, as we’ve learned the hard way here in Los Angeles, a mobility plan is only as good as the city’s commitment to it.
Santa Monica cops will be conducting another bicycle and pedestrian safety operation today, ticketing anyone committing a traffic violation that could put bike riders or pedestrians at risk. So if you haven’t left for your ride yet, ride to the letter of the law until you cross the city limits, so you’re not the one who gets ticketed.
Streetsblog’s Melanie Curry examines the new Calbike survey showing most respondents are afraid to walk or bike on roadways controlled by Caltrans, four years after Governor Newsom vetoed a bill that would have mandated Complete Streets because, in his words, “Caltrans was already doing that.” Apparently not.
The new owner of the 50-year old Leucadia Cyclery is fighting to stay in business, after the owners of the building refused to extend the lease due to “water leaks, electrical problems and its overall vulnerability as high-risk unreinforced masonry.”
It’s been a rough few days in Kern County, where a man riding a bicycle was killed by a driver in Bakersfield yesterday afternoon, while a 21-year old woman was arrested for the hit-and-run that killed a bike-riding woman in Wasco on Sunday.
In better Kern County news, a new bike lane is slated to open in Tehachapi this month.
San Francisco state Assemblymember Phil Ting writes about securing more than $2 million for bicycling programs in the city, including $1.2 million for safety improvements to Arguello Blvd between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, where champion cyclist Ethan Boyes was killed earlier this year. Maybe someday, a Los Angeles-area legislator will secure funding to fix the site where someone, anyone, was killed on our streets.
Seattle is nearing completion on a $40 million curb-protected bike lane connecting the Capitol Hill neighborhood with downtown, although design compromises — like rerouting it onto a sidewalk and around light post to avoid inconveniencing drivers — could reduce its effectiveness.
Advocates in my bike-friendly Colorado hometown are working to turn the site of the former college football stadium where I used to smuggle rum inside my tuba on game days into a massive 60 to 80 acre world class bike park. I mean, the statute of limitations for that is over, right?
About damn time. A new Chicago ordinance requires the city to study any fatal crashes to determine the cause, and report all fatal crashes to the public. Now let’s get them to do something like that here. Thanks to Bike Lane Uprising® for the heads-up.
No bias here. After a 16-year old Chicago boy was killed in a collision while riding his bike, the only mention that the truck that hit him even had a driver was a brief note that the driver was uninjured.
That’s more like it. A 27-year old Michigan man will spend between 3.6 and 15 years behind bars, less four days for time served, for the drunken hit-and-run that killed a 30-year old man riding a bicycle; he was nearly three times the legal alcohol limit when he fled the scene, dragging the victim nearly a mile and a half under his van.
Officials in New York called on retailers and food delivery companies to do more to halt the proliferation of dangerous ebike and e-scooter batteries, after three people were killed in a fire blamed on a lithium ion scooter battery.
A coalition of safe streets and immigrant rights advocates are pushing back against a New York City proposal that would require registration and licensing for ebikes, arguing that it would be dangerous and expensive, and wouldn’t make the streets any safer.
An Emmy-winning Irish filmmaker and photographer’s bike was found at a beach in Queens, after he vanished without a trace last week,
There’s a special place in hell for the New Jersey man accused of robbing a group of kids at gunpoint when they met him to buy a bicycle he’d posted online.
Sad news from Philadelphia, where the local bicycle coalition remembers a former staffer who was killed by a driver while leading a long-distance LGBTQ + BIPOC bikepacking trip.
Momentum offers a guide to securely storing your cargo bike or ebike.
A writer for Bike Magazine takes a five day bikepacking trip through the Alps, discussing all the gear they brought, as well as the gear they didn’t need.
E-bikesharing services are quickly replacing the popular e-scooters on the streets of Seoul, South Korea.
Velo remembers the best moments of the 2023 cycling season.
The Tour de France will stay home in 2025, with the Grand Départ set for Lille in northern France.
$70,000 worth of bicycles belonging to competitors in September’s triathlon World Championship race in Pontevedra, Spain are being held hostage by a subcontractor for the shipping company, which insists they are owed $300,000 in unpaid invoices. However, the roughly 180 people whose bikes they’re holding aren’t the ones who allegedly stiffed them.
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.
Oh, and fuck Putin