Tag Archive for NHTSA

Bicycling deaths drop 3% last year, compared to 6.3% jump in 2018; and Slow Streets spread across US — but not LA

Let’s start with a little good news for a change.

According to the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US traffic fatalities fell 1.2% last year.

And that drop extended to bicycling deaths as well, which declined 3% compared to 2018.

There was also a 2% drop in pedestrian deaths.

All of which is great news.

But it would be even better if bike and pedestrians deaths hadn’t spiked in 2018 by twice as much as they fell in 2019.

Photo by paul voie from Pexels.

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Today’s common theme is the nation’s bike boom and the spread of Slow Streets across the US.

Bike riders are taking over the streets of San Jose as drivers stay home, and people get out on their bikes.

Sonoma County bike shops got the okay to reopen on Monday, just in time to capitalize on the boom in bicycling.

Bike shops are booming in Las Vegas, where one shop manager says iconic Las Vegas Blvd is turning into a fitness trail; bikeshare use is up in Vegas, too.

Pennsylvania bike shops are missing out on the coronavirus bike boom, prohibited from selling bikes during the lockdown.

Baltimore is getting on the Slow Streets bandwagon, closing streets so people can get out for fresh air and exercise during the Covid-19 lockdown.

New Orleans is getting on the Slow Streets bandwagon, too. But Arlington VA won’t be closing streets for social distancing anytime soon.

Missing from that list is Los Angeles, which continues its longstanding policy of automotive hegemony on the streets.

Although Mayor Garcetti hinted yesterday that changes may be coming, albeit too late to help Angelenos make it through the lockdown.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes goes on.

They clearly don’t like people on bikes. An English man was pulled off his bike and attacked by the occupants of a car following a punishment pass, in the same area where a family was harassed for riding their bikes last month.

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

Police in Chicago are looking for a gang of bike-riding robbers who have been terrorizing pedestrians in Rogers Park.

A man was busted for stalking an Idaho Falls, Idaho woman after riding his bike 15 miles from another town to harass her, despite a restraining order.

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Local

Former US Women’s National Team cyclist Ryan Kelly walked 44 miles from Ventura Harbor to the Malibu Pier to raise $4,400 for pediatric cancer research.

Michael Keaton is one of us, as the former Batman and 80’s sitcom star took a spin through Pacific Palisades on his ebike.

Adam Sandler is still riding his bike through the ‘Bu, stopping off at a mobile bike repair van for a little work

 

State

Orange County beaches and beach bike paths will reopen on a limited basis, with users required to keep moving.

The San Diego Bike Coalition is taking Bike Month into the virtual world with a series of riding challenges for both new riders and seasoned commuters.

Sad news from San Francisco, where 22-year old Twitter staffer and bike advocate Courtney Brousseau was murdered Monday night, apparently collateral damage in a shootout between two groups of men.

 

National

Bicycling’s Selene Yeager discusses how to keep going when the going gets hard, while cycling coach Chris Carmichael offers advice on how to descend faster — and safer.

A Chicago woman tracked down the thief who stole her cargo bike, and eventually let him go after talking him into giving it back — and after he complained about being harassed. No, really.

Once again, it takes the death of a bike rider to get needed safety improvements, as Chicago installs protected bike lane bollards where a woman as killed in a collision six months ago. Although “protected” is a relative term when the only barrier is a row of thin plastic sticks.

Seriously, how fast do you have to be going to kill a 72-year old New York bike rider while backing into a parking space?

A writer looks back to his New Jersey childhood with a warning to look out for inanimate objects during May’s Bike Safety Month, while another writer from the state says he knows he’s taking a chance, but riding a bike is therapy right now.

A Virginia company is distributing free bike locks to frontline workers after reading about an Irish doctor whose bike was stolen during her 12-hour shift.

Heartbreaking story from Mississippi, where an 11-year old girl was killed by a hit-and-run driver as she rode her bike next to her mother, after they were both run down and left in the street to die.

Sad news from Florida, where a 71-year old man was killed, and a 70-year old woman injured, when a pickup driver slammed into the tandem bike they were riding.

 

International

Canadian bike advocates say people taking up riding for the first time during the pandemic need a new mindset to stop thinking like they’re driving a car.

Famed Italian bike builder Ernesto Colnago has a new boss, after his eponymous company was sold to an Abu Dhabi investment fund.

No bias here. A European website says Spanish bicyclists are out of control after finally being released from the county’s severe lockdown, and fed-up residents are ready to teach them a lesson.

 

Competitive Cycling

The revised WorldTour calendar has been released, assuming pro cycling will return in 2020 — which is a big if right now; all three Grand Tours will take place, along with the Monuments, although the the compact calendar means the Giro and Vuelta will overlap. There will also be a women’s Paris-Roubaix on the same day as the men’s race.

Legendary French journalist Philippe Brunel looks back on 40 years of the Giro d’Italia, as well as Italian cycling great Marco Pantani.

Speaking of legends, the BBC looks back on triple Giro and double Tour de France winner Gino Bartali on the 20th anniversary of his death; as great as he was, Bartali’s cycling exploits are overshadowed by his secret work to save Jews during WWII.

 

Finally…

Apparently, investing is just like riding a bike. And who needs a Naked Bike Ride when you can just strip down and go for a ride?

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

CA bike deaths set 25-year high, bicycling cop pays dangerous driver a visit, and bike video captures Kobe crash conditions

Yes, they really are killing us out there.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that California bicycling fatalities are the highest they’ve been in 25 years.

The NHTSA analyzed the data for the state, and found more bicyclists died in traffic collisions in the years from 2016 through 2018 than any other three-year period since Bill Clinton took office.

And that’s a long damn time ago.

Needless to say, LA County once again led the way for the entire state, with an average of 35 deaths per year in that same three year period, compared to a little less than 25 per year from 2006 to 2008.

Also needless to say, the best way to stop people from dying on the streets is to lower the damn speed limits.

Which would require repeal of the deadly 85th Percentile Law, and legalization of speed cams to enforce it.

And that can’t happen soon enough.

Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up.

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A bike-riding LAPD cop describes going to visit a reckless driver who nearly ran down a pair of bicyclists at Ohio and Veteran in Westwood.*

And for a change, it has a happy ending. Well worth a short six minutes of your day.

Thanks to Zachary Rynew for the heads-up.

*Exactly where I used to ride both coming and going at least three or four times a week before we moved to Hollywood.

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Apparently, Mr. Rynew has been a very busy boy, filming the first bike video connected to the helicopter crash that killed nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter.

Then stumbling on the Coaster Bike Challenge.

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Streetsblog is hosting a Transportation Town hall in CD12 next month; both regressive incumbent John Lee and progressive challenger Loraine Lundquist have been invited, but only Lundquist has confirmed so far.

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Once again, the Marines have decided to some military stuff on Camp Pendleton — like helicopter operations, according to the base — which will mean shutting down the bike path for the week of February 10th.

However, people on bikes are allowed to ride I-5 through the base, while cursing the Marines for forcing them out there.

Thanks to Robert Leone for the tip.

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Every bike event should be held in a craft brewery. And every bike path should lead to one.

Just saying.

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Robert Leone also forwards opportunities for San Diego bike riders to get more involved, courtesy of the San Diego Bicycle Coalition.

This Tuesday, January 28th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm at our office downtown (300 15th St. San Diego, CA 92101) we will have a presentation from Susan Baldwin on Measure A. She will highlight the importance of smart growth and how crucial this is for the San Diego region. Learn more here. We invite you to join us and learn more so that you may make informed decisions when you vote.

This Wednesday, January 29th at 6pm the Draft Active Transportation Plan (ATP) for the City of Chula Vista will be presented at a specially scheduled Safety Commission Meeting in the Council Chambers. Click here for the agenda. Click here for the Draft ATP. The address is 276 Fourth Ave. Chula Vista, CA 91910.

Next Monday, February 3rd, 2020 at 2pm the City Council members from the City of San Diego will vote on the Budget Priority Memos they each submitted Friday, January 10, 2020 to the Mayor’s office. Click here to see what they submitted. If you would like to attend and speak, please join us. There will be a lot of people who plan to attend with their requests. The more we can speak up for cyclists the better!

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It may not have been easy, but Bicycling once again proves there’s no such thing as a theft-proof bike lock.

Then again, as one cop put it, all you really have to do it make easier for a potential thief to steal someone else’s bike instead.

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The Hollywood Reporter reviews the latest Lance Armstrong documentary, which premiered at Sundance in advance of its airing on ESPN.

But this pretty well sums up what you need to know.

Every word he says in the documentary feels either lawyered to death or endlessly rehearsed over countless solitary bike rides…because he’s still halfway between victimhood and martyrdom in his own mind.

Touché.

To paraphrase an old country song, how can we miss him if he won’t go away?

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

A road raging New Mexico driver faces a well-deserved four and a half years behind bars after he was convicted of shifting his vehicle into reverse and backing into a group of senior bike riders he’d just passed, after exchanging words with them. Thanks to Brian Kreimendahl of Bike Santa Fe for the link.

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

A Wisconsin father hopes a $10,000 reward will lead to the two people riding bicycles who stabbed his son to death in an apparently random attack last September, then disappeared without a trace.

A Florida bike rider faces charges for pulling out a hammer and attacking a driver who almost hit him, after the driver told him he’d been watching out for cars, not people on bicycles. I’ve practiced nonviolence since I was a teenager, but I’d still be tempted to take a swing at him myself for that.

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Local

Bike West LA, Bike Culver City and the Central NBA/Sunset4All will host the second annual Mobility Mixer tomorrow night at the Bike Shop California on Motor Ave in West LA.

ULCA’s Daily Bruin reports Wheels sit-down scooters will soon come with an attached helmet. Somehow I doubt those hygienic liners they promise to provide will keep people from sharing their scalp critters, though.

Ride Around Pomona and Pomona Valley Bike Coalition will hop in the wayback machine for a 1950’s themed casual ride through, yes, Pomona.

 

State

Give it up, scofflaw scooterists. Lime will soon know if you’re riding on the sidewalk illegally. Now if they can just figure out how to tell when they’re parked blocking the sidewalk.

Speaking of scooters, San Diego just voted to ban them from the city’s boardwalks.

This is who we share the bike paths with. A 70-year old Santa Cruz woman was busted for her third DUI after driving the wrong way on a local bike path. Just one more example of government officials keeping dangerous drivers on the roads. Or bike paths. 

Streetsblog says the Bay Area suburb of Fremont will soon have the area’s best curb-protected bike lanes. And definitely puts to shame anything we have down here.

 

National

Bike Snob breaks down and admits that some bike do have souls.

CityLab offers its predictions for the scooter industry.

Bicycling talks bike baskets, and lists the ones they recommend. But which is the best one for toting a corgi?

Forbes says much of the initial information about the killing of bike rider Elaine Herzberg by a self-driving Uber car in Tempe AZ was wrong, including the myth that she “came out of nowhere.”

A Texas TV station corrects a letter writer, saying runners and walkers are required to face oncoming traffic, but bike riders are forbidden from riding salmon.

Seriously, what good is a bike box if the cops won’t keep drivers out of it? The Chicago Tribune wants to know.

Congratulations to New York, which came out on top with the least impact in a ranking of the climate impact of 100 metropolitan regions, followed by the Bay Area. Los Angeles ranked a surprisingly good 34, scoring high for bike use — no, really — and transit, but losing significant points for vehicle miles traveled.

Mourners released balloons on Tuesday in honor of Deondrick Rudd, the Louisiana bike rider who was killed by street racing brothers last weekend; Rudd was preparing to propose to his girlfriend on Valentines Day. Don’t do that. Mylar balloons can short power lines, causing fires and blackouts, while latex balloons pose a risk to birds and wildlife once they come back down. And they always come back down. 

 

International

Unlike some bicycling magazines and sites we could mention, Road.cc apparently recognizes that not every bike rider has wads of money falling out of their Rapha, recommending five roadies under the equivalent of $390, as well as ten of the best affordable bike shorts.

A Montreal website says the city’s Vision Zero program is revolutionizing the way people think about Montreal’s streets. That compares favorably with Los Angeles, which is revolutionizing the way a Vision Zero plan can gather dust on the shelf.

An English writer stumbles on his stolen bike, and swears his way into getting it back.

Life is cheap in the UK, where a truck driver gets off with a measly eight months behind bars for killing a woman riding a bike while talking to his wife using a handsfree cellphone, despite blinding glare from the wet road.

An Irish paper breaks down where the country’s political parties stand on bicycling issues. All of which show more support for bikes than both of America’s two major political parties.

Paris offers yet another incentive to get people out of their cars, reimbursing residents up to the equivalent of $660 for buying an ebike or cargo bike.

Damn. A Bali mob beat a man to death over an accusation that he’d stolen a bike helmet; police have been unable to confirm the theft, let alone who did it.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews tells the tale of how Primož Roglič, aka he whose name must be copied and pasted, made the unusual leap from ski jumping to the top of the cycling world.

A writer for Cycling Tips struggles to find hope in the hopeless at the Tour Down Under — or as he calls it, the brushfire tour.

Cycling’s governing body has pulled the plug on China’s Tour of Hainan next month due to fears over the new coronavirus.

 

Finally…

If you’re going to make your bank robbery getaway by bicycle, maybe try something a tad more nimble than a cruiser bike. If you want to go unnoticed after shoving 30 purloined cellphones into your pants, maybe spandex bike shorts aren’t the best choice. Thanks to J. Patrick Lynch for that one.

And if you think a dangerous pass is a good idea, this British cop has some advice for you.

 

Morning Links: Marin driver arrested for swerving into 4 cyclists, and traffic deaths up in US, including bicyclists

Call it attempted murder.

In just the latest horrifying attack on the streets, four cyclists participating in the Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin were injured when a driver allegedly swerved his truck into them.

The pickup driver fled the scene after smashing into them from behind, in an attack that witnesses described as intentional.

One of the riders is in stable condition after suffering major injuries; the other three were not seriously injured.

It’s probably not what any of them expected when they signed up to ride with cycling legend Jens Voigt.

Police later arrested 21-year old Novato resident Aaron Michael Paff, an off-duty maintenance worker for the Marin Municipal Water District.

He was taken into custody roughly 12 hours after the attack, and released on $50,000 bond. There was no word on possible charges as of Sunday night.

However, this should be a case of assault with a deadly weapon, at the bare minimum.

Dr. Christopher Thompson got five years in state prison for a similar assault, in which he intentionally brake-checked a pair of riders on Mandeville Canyon Road in 2008.

Photo of suspect vehicle from CHP. Thanks to everyone who let me know about this case.

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It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that our streets are getting even deadlier.

In the latest report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities shot up another 5.6% in the US last year, coming on the heels of an 8.4% increase the year before.

According to the report, there was an increase in almost every category, from pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, to DUIs and day versus night crashes.

A total of 37,461 people were killed on American streets last year, up from 35,485 the year before.

Four hundred ninety-two pedestrians lost their lives, the highest figure since 1990. And 840 bicyclists were killed, a 1.3% increase and the most since 1991.

It’s worth noting, especially in light of the next item, that an average of over 102 people died in crashes in the US every day — dwarfing the 58 killed in Las Vegas last week.

But no one is holding vigils. No one is sending thoughts and prayers.

And hardly anyone even seems to notice.

Or care.

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Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson has written a hard-hitting piece comparing gun violence with the violence on our streets.

In the first instance, Americans have decided that mass shootings are a reasonable and acceptable cost of being able to easily and legally obtain weapons of virtually any kind. In the second, Californians have decided that individual killings of cyclists are a reasonable and acceptable cost for being able to drive as fast as possible to get where they want to go.

Whether or not you agree with his premise, it’s worth the read. Because this is a conversation our country will have to have sooner or later.

And it’s already a lot later than it should be.

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A Belgian cyclist is lucky to walk away after flipping over a barrier at the Giro di Lombardia, as Vincenzo Nibali takes his 50th career win.

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Local

An LA company presents its vision for a four-mile section of the LA River, calling it the LA River Gateway.

One letter writer in the LA Times asks if drivers who object to bike lanes have a better solution, while another says traffic has always been bad in Playa del Rey, and it’s not the bike lanes’ fault.

 

State

New bicycle wayfinding signs go up in Highland.

The Southern California Association of Governments has approved nearly $10 million in funding for active transportation projects in the Coachella Valley.

Ventura County approves construction of bike lanes along Potrero Road near Lake Sherwood.

Sad news from Arroyo Grande, where a woman was killed while riding her bike on the popular Corbett Canyon Road; the driver played a variation of the universal Get Out of Jail Free card, claiming he couldn’t see her because the sun was in his eyes. Even though admitting something like that should be a confession, not an alibi. Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the heads-up.

A drunk San Francisco salmon cyclist was responsible for one of the 13 crashes involving GM’s driverless cars when he crashed into the car’s bumper after its human operator had stopped the vehicle.

 

National

A Spokane WA woman is considering a civil suit after a bike rider plowed into her on a multi-use trial; the rider yelled “hot pizza” as a warning, somehow thinking that would make her get out of his way. Pedestrians are unpredictable. So slow the f*** down around them and pass carefully. It’s not that hard.

Dozens of wounded vets joined 71-year old former president George W. Bush on his annual Warrior 100K mountain bike ride.

A driver in Austin TX says he only drove drunk, ran down a cyclist and fled the scene because there was a two-hour wait for a cab.

A Montana man is working to send bikes to Central America to be converted to pedal-powered machines.

An Indiana man rode 2,800 miles from Portland, Oregon to his home state, despite suffering from epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

Facing 35 years in prison for the drunken hit-and-run death of a bicyclist, a Kentucky driver tries to withdraw his guilty plea, saying it wasn’t fair because the crash wasn’t intentional. And the drinking — and getting behind the wheel afterwards — was probably an accident, too.

Over one thousand bicyclists turned out to ride with actor Patrick Dempsey at his annual fundraiser ride in Maine.

A New York man died a week after he was attacked with a hammer by five teenagers who were trying to steal his bike. We’ve said it many times before — no bicycle is worth your life, so just let it go.

A New York woman has died a month after she was struck by a drunk, unlicensed driver who plowed into several bicyclists who were on a fundraising ride. As I recall, there were allegation that this crash may have been intentional, as well.

A homeless man in Florida has been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial in the stabbing death of a man who was riding his bike from Connecticut to Miami to propose to his girlfriend.

 

International

A Toronto columnist asks if there’s a war on cars in the city, why are drivers the only ones racking up a body count? It’s a question we should be asking here, and every city where drivers claim ownership of the streets. Which is pretty much everywhere. Thanks to Norm Bradwell for the link.

No bias here. Britain’s Daily Mail offers a breathless headline saying two pedestrians are killed or maimed by bicyclists every week. Then in smaller type mentions that there’s no information on who was at fault, and that it still amounts to less than 1% of pedestrian injuries each year on British roads.

Caught on video: A road raging London driver loses it because a bike rider had the audacity to be in front of him.

A London priest is urging his parishioners to pray to stop a bikeway from being installed in front of the church, claiming it would do more harm that the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.

Caught on video too: A British man learns why you don’t ride under crossing gates.

A man in the UK rode his bike 450 miles through France and Great Britain to deliver a petition to the prime minister’s office to cancel Brexit.

A new Scottish study shows riding a bike on bad roads for as little as 16 minutes is enough to cause nerve damage in the hands and arms. Which means that most LA bike riders could have trouble just picking up a pencil.

An Australian state supreme court justice is one of us, too.

 

Finally…

Your next bike could be a boat. Any band can travel by bike between gigs, but how many perform along the way?

And if you’re going to suffer a heart attack while riding, do it in front of a restaurant full of medical professionals.

 

Morning Links: US traffic deaths are down, while bike fatalities go up; more groups spread holiday bike cheer

According to the latest stats from the NHTSA, overall traffic deaths in the US are down slightly, while bicycling fatalities are the only category that went up in 2013.

That increase, to 743 cycling fatalities — up from 726 the year before — is most likely due to increased ridership.

Which doesn’t make it acceptable.

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‘Tis the season.

Redlands police donate 23 bikes to help veterans in the Inland Empire. The Santa Barbara Bike Coalition gives shiny new bikes to 24 kids; thanks to Megan Lynch for the link. A Sonoma County businessman donates 150 bikes to kids in need. A San Jose bike charity donates 2,700 bicycles to local kids. Oregon elementary school kids get 25 new bikes.

Why do these stories matter?

Because this is the next generation of bike riders. And every kid — or vet, for that matter — deserves the chance to ride a bike, regardless of whether they can afford one.

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Local

Streeetsblog wants your vote for the annual Streetsie Awards for Elected Official and Civil Servant of the year; I’m proud to have a couple of those on my mantle. Not that I actually have a mantle, but still.

A bike riding 24-year old mother fights for safer spaces for her daughter.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a free bike valet at the city’s big party at Downtown’s Grand Park. About time LA did the New Year right.

 

State

A Newport Beach bike rider suffers minor injuries in a right hook.

The wrong-way and allegedly intoxicated San Diego driver who hit a group of cyclists on Fiesta Island, leaving one paralyzed from the waist down, is found competent to stand trial. Although her lawyer successfully argues for a second opinion.

San Diego is sued over a recently installed road diet and bike lane, claiming the city did an inadequate CEQA review; however, California law was recently changed to exempt bike lanes from environmental review.

A bike rider suffers moderate injuries in a Desert Hot Springs collision after he allegedly runs a red light.

A Bakersfield family asks for help after a 46-year old grandfather is killed in a hit-and-run while riding his bike.

The new three-foot passing law gets a thumbs-up from San Jose cyclists; not so much from a local pedestrian.

Evidently, a NorCal driver failed to note the three-foot law, as he whacks a Siskiyou County physician with his right mirror; the victim suffered a broken collarbone.

 

National

Bicycling’s Elly Blue offers an interview with the founder of Black Girls Do Bike.

The editor of an Arizona newspaper reminisces about the places a bike can take you.

The Denver Post questions the $16.5 million cost of the new 18 mile bikeway paralleling a newly rebuilt highway. Funny, but they don’t seem to question what it cost to build the part cars will travel on.

The penultimate stage of next year’s USA Pro Challenge will end in my hometown.

Sadly, a research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory lost his life in a mountain biking fall.

 

International

Now that’s more like it. A diabetic motorist in the UK is sentenced to fifteen months in jail and banned from driving for 20 years — yes, years — for killing a cyclist after he failed to monitor his blood sugar levels.

Caught on video: A Brit bike rider confronts a motorist who nearly hit him after not clearing the ice from his windshield; the driver claimed he could see clearly, but somehow couldn’t see the cyclist.

A British bike rider feels like a pariah when his bike is attacked for taking up space on a train.

Russell Crowe takes the cast of his new movie on 30-mile bike rides to bring more energy to the set.

A Philippine priest rides over 1,100 miles to raise awareness of climate change.

Over 600 bike riders have been busted for drunk bicycling under Taiwan’s new BUI law. And fined the equivalent of a whopping $9 to $18 dollars.

 

Finally…

A bunny gets trapped in the wheel of a mountain bike, and somehow hops away relatively unscathed; and yes, you really do need to see the photo. Former Talking Head David Byrne discusses the joys of bike riding.

And unbelievably, three Dallas cyclists are harassed by a driver who deliberately knocked one off his bike, then got out of his car and started hitting him — and not only do police issue the attacker just a minor ticket for assault, they ticket the victim for taking a beating. Thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.

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Please accept my best wishes for a very merry Christmas. And may this season bring peace and joy and bikes and love to you and all your loved ones.

 Silent-Night

Traffic deaths are down, unless you’re on two wheels. Or two feet. Or driving a big ass truck.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released their latest figures for traffic fatalities in 2011.

And the news is not good for bicyclists.

While the overall traffic fatalities showed a nearly 2% decline, bicycle deaths shot up 8.7%, to 677 throughout the U.S. So much for the safety in numbers theory, as the increase is attributed to the higher number of riders on the road.

The news isn’t much better for pedestrians, as bipedalist deaths rose 3% to over 4,400. Then again, either one is better than drivers of large trucks, who saw an amazing 20% increase in fatalities in a single year.

Yet even with increases in virtually every category other than car and light truck drivers and passengers, the total number of traffic fatalities dipped to just over 32,000, the lowest level since 1949.

The Times quotes me as saying in response that bicycle fatalities are a largely urban phenomenon. What I meant by that is that there are more cyclists, and more traffic collisions, in cities, which explains the relatively high number of deaths here in Southern California, while more rural areas may only suffer a handful of deaths each year.

Which is not to say their experience is any less tragic or heartbreaking.

Or unnecessary.

It’s also unclear if the NHTSA figures includes bicycling deaths from various causes, or is limited to fatalities due to collisions.

My counts of 70 SoCal cycling fatalities last year, and 71 so far this year, include deaths due to all causes except for shootings — including solo falls, collisions with trains, and deaths due to natural causes while riding, which may not be included in the NHTSA figures.

We’ll have to wait until statistics for individual states are released to see if their totals are anywhere close to the numbers I’ve counted, which showed a significant increase over the NHTSA’s figures for 2010.

Or if it will be closer to the 49 deaths registered in 2010, before I started tracking them on my own.

Meanwhile, a Sacramento writer says to take those numbers with a grain of salt.

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Los Angeles’ newfound commitment to bicycling helps make us smarter than our neighbor to the south; sorry San Diego. Women on Bikes SoCal interviews new Bike Nation bike share head April Economides. Long Beach releases ten years of data on the causes of local bike crashes; cyclists are to blame for the top three, which makes me wonder who compiled the figures and how. More on the Long Beach cyclist being named the city’s person of the year. An Orange County man is under arrest for stealing a five year old’s bike; the victim drew his own wanted poster. Fontana cyclist fights off would-be robbers on his way to work. A Marin writer says when police crack down on cyclists, it makes the road a more dangerous place. Sonoma County votes to screw cyclists and pedestrians. A Vacaville woman is looking for the good Samaritan cyclist who helped save the life of her bike riding husband.

Even Goldfish crackers are riding bikes these days — with a helmet, no less. Sometimes, the real victory is just not quitting; I’ve learned many times over that it’s always too soon to quit, whether on a bike or in life. Portland reaches double digits when it comes to kids bicycling to school; kind of sad that such a low number is such a big achievement. My Colorado hometown celebrates a winter Bike to Work Day; if they can do that on a chilly December day, why can’t we do it here in sunny SoCal? A Rochester NY cyclist is hit by a police cruiser; needless to say, it took little time to find the rider at fault. Pedestrians call for bike-only traffic signals in New York’s Central Park to address red light-running bike riders. Making the public health case for bicycling.

A Toronto writer explains why we mourn fallen cyclists. Alex Moulton, developer of the iconic small-wheeled Moulton bicycle, passed away at 92. A British driver who fatally doored a cyclist may not have seen his victim, after recently having his windows tinted to allow only 17% transparency. If there’s a war on Britain’s roads, only a small minority of drivers and cyclists are taking part; personally, I’d call that one a must read. An Aussie writer says it’s time to declare war on cyclists, because we’re so much more dangerous than motor vehicles; nice to know irresponsible journalism isn’t just an American phenomenon. Meanwhile, a local bike organization offers a more rational response. And an Aussie planning institute says give up on bikeways and turn them into Segway and scooter lanes, because their lazy ass countrymen won’t ride them anyway.

Finally, the Alliance for Biking and Walking is looking for nominations for their 2013 bike and pedestrian advocacy awards, both individual advocates and organizations are eligible. When you fill out your nomination, it’s spelled B-i-k-i-n-g-i-n-L-A.

Okay, okay, I’m kidding.

Sort of.

California traffic deaths continue to drop, but OC bike fatality stats just don’t add up

Evidently, 2010 was a very good year for Orange County cyclists.

Or maybe not.

According to official statistics released recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only three cyclists were killed in the county in 2010.

This in a county that averages one bicycling fatality a month. And one that suffered 21 bike deaths just five years ago, in 2006.

Judging by the stats, the county has shown a remarkable — or perhaps miraculous — improvement in bicycle safety.

Then again, things aren’t always what they seem.

Overall, the state of California showed continued improvements in roadway safety, with the total traffic fatalities in the state dropping from 4,240 in 2006 to 2,715 in 2010 — a decrease of over 1,500 in just five years.

Then again, one death is one too many.

And 2,715, while much better than previous years, still reflects the ongoing carnage on streets, as far too many people leave their homes or jobs, and never return again.

I’ll leave it to others to speculate why we’ve seen such a dramatic drop in motorist deaths.

But just imagine how much that figure could be improved if we could just get people to stay the hell away from their cars when they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Or leave their damn cell phones and other distractions behind once they slide behind the wheel.

Although fighting distracted driving looks like a losing battle as manufacturers seem intent on building distraction into their dashboards in order to bring that death rate right back up.

You have to scroll down to the middle of the NHTSA’s page for California before information on bicycling fatalities finally appears.

Surprisingly, even that shows significant improvement over the last five years, with a drop from 141 cyclists killed on California streets in 2006 to 99 in 2010. That matches the total for 2009, although the percentage of the total traffic fatalities represent by cyclists rose from 3% to 4% as other traffic fatalities dropped even more.

Then again, that number may not be entirely accurate. Because a breakdown of the totals on a countywide basis shows one highly questionable total.

And yes, I’m looking at you, OC.

To put those figures in perspective, we can add in last year’s unofficial totals from my own records, along with an average for the six-year period.

As you can see, the totals for 2010 pretty much fall in line with the six-year average, even though several counties showed a dramatic increase for last year.

With one glaring exception.

Remarkably, Orange County experienced, by far, the greatest improvement in the state, dropping to the lowest rate per capita (pdf) of any county in the California reporting even a single death, with just 0.10 cycling fatalities per 100,000 population.

By comparison, OC reported .37 bike deaths per 100,000 population in 2009, while L.A. showed .22 for both 2009 and 2010.

Maybe it’s a fluke.

Maybe the county did have an exceptionally good year. Maybe far fewer cyclists really did die on OC streets than might otherwise have been expected.

The problem is, at least two cyclists died after being hit by cars on Orange County streets that weren’t included in that total. Published news reports indicated that at least five cyclists died as a result of traffic collisions in the county that year.

In order to clarify the situation, I downloaded the entire list of 1318 bicycling collisions in Orange County from the CHP’s SWITRS database — every bike-involved collision that was reported to police in the county in 2010.

And like the FARS data, it showed just three fatalities within the county.

  • 4/20/10, Beach Blvd & LaHabra Blvd, La Habra, 49F
  • 7/15/10, Spyglass Hill CT, Newport Beach, 35M
  • 12/22/10, Brookhurst & Villa Pacific Dr, Huntington Beach, 69M

Those dates, locations and ages correspond to the tragic deaths of Annette Ferrin-Rogers, Michael Nine and Jurgen Ankenbrand.

The list also showed 59 other collisions in which a cyclist was severely injured.

Of those, two corresponded to fatal collisions that had been reported in the press:

  • 8/3/10, Newport Coast and RT 73, Newport Beach, 65M
  • 11/17/10, Walnut and Browning Avenues, Tustin, 22M

The first matches up with Dan Crain, who died 12 days after he was hit by a car, and Marco Acuapan, who lingered in a coma until April of last year following the hit-and-run collision that eventually took his life.

Maybe the problem is that they initially survived the collision, only to die days or months after the initial impact.

It could be argued that Dan Crain died as a result of the surgeries he was subjected to following his collision; however, those surgeries were performed to treat injuries he received in collision and would not have been necessary otherwise. Meanwhile, Acuapan’s death was a direct, if somewhat delayed, result of the collision that put him in a coma until the day he died.

Maybe Orange County authorities are splitting hairs by excluding their deaths.

But that appears exactly the argument Orange County is making by excluding their deaths from the county’s reported fatalities. Even though it’s hard to argue that Crain and Acuapan might not still be here if they hadn’t both been hit by cars.

Which makes me wonder if there were other deaths that year that we don’t know about. In the absence of any other news reports — and trust me, I’ve looked — we can only hope that no other deaths are hidden among the other 57 severely injured cyclists included in the SWITRS data that never made the news.

After all, it’s only in the last year or so that the press has started taking cycling collisions seriously as bicycling gains in popularity and riders press for more accurate reporting; in years past, it wasn’t unusual for cycling deaths to go virtually unnoticed by the mainstream press.

But even if you count all five fatalities, instead of just the three that were officially reported, 2010 would seem to be an exceptionally good year for Orange County cyclists. And by far, the county’s safest year on recent record.

Sadly, though, it’s not one local authorities can much take credit for; it appears to be a fluke, as cycling fatalities bounced right back with at least 13 deaths the following year.

And just three months into this year, Orange County has already seen three cyclists killed in traffic collisions — as well as a fourth who may have died of a heart attack as a result of a fall while riding, or perhaps the other way around.

Clearly, the county has a lot of work to do to make their streets safe for all users.

Regardless of what may or may not have occurred two years ago.

*Based on primarily on published news stories, as well as CHP reports.

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