What if the new infrastructure bill could actually save lives?
That’s the prospect being presented by the US Department of Transportation, which says it’s time to pivot to a focus on reducing traffic deaths.
And that the recently passed bill includes the focus and funding to do it.
If they actually follow through — which is always questionable, as we’ve learned the hard way — it could represent a huge change in direction for the department, from moving cars to protecting human lives.
Here’s what the New York Times had to say on the subject.
In a 38-page report being released on Thursday, the department outlined an approach heavily dependent on working with states and local governments to address things like designing safer roads and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. The department also said it would issue federal guidance and create new programs to carry out the strategy, such as initiating rulemaking to require automatic emergency braking technology in new passenger vehicles.
The report comes as the number of traffic deaths across the country has soared, reversing some of the progress made over the past few decades. Although fewer people were on the road at the beginning of the pandemic, about 38,680 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, an increase of about 2,500 from 2019, and deaths surged further in the first half of 2021. Officials have blamed more people speeding recklessly and using alcohol and drugs to cope with pandemic-related stress…
The report is broken down into five objectives: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and post-crash care. It calls on states and local governments to support research and develop technology to detect and prevent alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. It also directs the Federal Highway Administration to revise guidance to encourage safer speeds and the use of speed cameras.
Officials pointed to several sources of funding within the bill, including the $6 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All program, to reduce traffic fatalities.
But this may be the single most important sentence in the story.
“The big first here is committing the department to the idea that only zero roadway deaths are acceptable, and then aligning all of our resources around that,” Mr. Buttigieg said.
While that’s not a commitment to a national Vision Zero, it’s damn close.
Of course, the federal government has limited power to force changes on the streets, most of which are controlled by state and local governments.
And the report doesn’t address the design of modern motor vehicles, with much of the increase in traffic deaths appearing to stem from the increase in massive trucks and SUV, with flat grills and high clearances that almost seem designed to kill.
But it’s a start.
If nothing else, it’s a change in attitude and direction. And if it sticks, it could lead to safer and move livable streets — in every sense.
We can hope.
A writer for leading British bicycling magazine Cycling Weekly shares the horrifying details of the abuse she has had to endure online, simply for being a woman in a male-dominated field.
Michele Arthurs-Brennan writes that the harassment began just four months into her job, when someone took offense to something she’d written, resulting in a daily torrent of sexually aggressive and threatening comments.
Using sexual slurs is a common tactic among a noisy minority of people who take exception to journalism produced by women. Last year, a global survey of 901 journalists found that women are experiencing unprecedented levels of violent and sexual harassment. A quarter had been threatened with sexual violence and death. This abuse, the UN concluded, was intended to “belittle, humiliate, shame, induce fear and ultimately discredit female reporters.” Similarly, Panorama’s recent documentary ‘Why do you hate me?’ uncovered the sexual and violent abuse that affects women in the public eye.
The reports tally with my experience: harassment has left me feeling physically threatened, and the instigator clearly sought to discredit my career. Very little of the abuse targeted my work directly but instead focused on my appearance, my fertility, my husband and our home. The campaign of insults and intimidation went on for close to a year.
Th abuse eventually forced her to move after photos of the home she shared with her husband started to appear online, along with other personal details.
The final onslaught – published close to a year after the first incident – included two articles targeting not only me but also my husband. These listed our home address with photos of our house, analysis of the parking situation outside, plus screen shots showing routes I used for regular bike rides – alongside false allegations of driving offences based on pieced-together MOT records, false accusations of the use of anonymous online accounts, as well as an entirely fabricated story about my using “feminist extremism as a cover up” to hide my “infertility” and “multiple failed IVF treatments”. The giant red flag of misogyny here is the assumption that a woman would, or indeed should, cover up infertility out of shame.
This content didn’t only affect me in cyberspace. The abuse and false allegations surfaced whenever my name was searched online, alongside our home address, which had some very real repercussions for us, until we moved house.
No one should have to tell you just how wrong this is. And how no one should have to put up with this kind of crap just for doing their job.
Or for any other reason, for that matter.
I’ve with online attacks over the years, including death threats over the road diets and bike lanes in Playa del Rey and Mar Vista, from people who should have know better.
And yes, I reported them to the police.
But I’ve never had to deal with sexual harassment or attacks just for being a man; that seems to be a special online hell reserved just for women, perpetrated by men.
So if you’re tempted to comment on a woman’s body, or make crude comments or threats of any kind, just don’t.
If you wouldn’t say it to a man, don’t say it to a woman.
Or better yet, just don’t say it.
Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.
No surprise here, as a new study once again ranks Los Angeles as the country’s least bike-friendly city, with San Bernardino and Santa Ana not far behind.
This is what the bottom ten looks like, which LA wearing the crap crown once again.
Surprisingly, tiny Colorado ski town Crested Butte, with a population under 1,400, checks in as the country’s most bike-friendly city.
You’d think that repeatedly being crowned the country’s worst bike city by multiple organizations would spur LA city officials into action.
But apparently, you would be wrong.
PeopleForBikes will be holding its 2022 Bicycle Leadership Conference in our own backyard in March.
Meet one of our keynote speakers for the '22 Bicycle Leadership Conference Mar. 21-23 in Dana Point, CA, Polly LaBarre! Polly is a top speaker who leaves audiences with actionable lessons from organizations and leaders. Head to the link to join us in CA!https://t.co/qkqavR6ZUe pic.twitter.com/QVVbydSU4l
— PeopleForBikes (@peopleforbikes) January 27, 2022
Good advice for bikes, too.
Pretty good advice all year, tbh. pic.twitter.com/tBe1mNA97H
— Nancy Argyle (@Plan_Prep_Live) January 28, 2022
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.
No bias here. A Missouri writer decides ebikes don’t belong on trails, after being safely and more or less politely passed by an older man riding one, which didn’t inconvenience him in the slightest.
No bias here, either. So why the hell do some drivers think killing innocent people is funny?
Another motorist spotted with 'cyclist tally' decal — a reader sent us this grainy snap of a bumper sticker apparently tallying cyclists, pedestrians, disabled persons and horse riders hit https://t.co/j2Vx4xo6eu #cycling pic.twitter.com/CMQWEpIsx9
— road.cc (@roadcc) January 27, 2022
But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.
Police in Honolulu are looking for a bike-riding man who pushed over a 78-year old woman for no apparent reason, leaving her facing surgery for serious injuries.
A Florida man faces charges after allegedly stabbing another man in the neck in a dispute over a stolen bike seat before riding away on a bicycle. Repeat after me. No bicycle is worth harming another human being. Let alone a damn seat.
Streetsblog has more on Mike Bonin’s decision to retire from the LA city council.
The Kelly Clarkson Show, with Jay Leno guest hosting, honored East Side Riders founders John “Pops” Jones Jr. and John Jones III for their work in the community, ending the segment by donating $5,000 to the group.
Metro offers an update on plans for congestion pricing focusing on four areas, including Downtown Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Housing Department received a $163.3 million state grant to build seven affordable housing projects, with $54.78 million dedicated to transit-related infrastructure, including seven miles of bike and pedestrian “improvements.” Whatever that means.
The LACBC offers tips on how to report blocked bike lanes on social media, and who to tag to — hopefully — get action, including using the hashtag #BikeBlockedLA.
This is who we share the road with. An 84-year old driver tried to turn a Los Feliz restaurant into a drive-thru, slamming his car into the building and injuring two patrons, as well as himself, in the process. Once again raising the question of just how old is too old to drive, and when should driver’s keys be taken away to protect others?
South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti is one of us, as the local paper says he walks the walk when it comes to the environment, and pedals the talk.
Caltrans says Complete Streets are coming, eventually.
San Diego installs bike counters in a pair of protected bike lanes, which could dispel the harmful myth that no one uses them.
A writer for Forbes says flying cars are great, but how about allowing people to ride bikes without fear of being harassed by the cops?
Chicago Streetsblog explores how the city can rank as one of the nation’s worst for bicycling, while simultaneously being a case study for best practices.
A coalition of New York advocacy groups is pushing the state to do something to curb traffic deaths, including passing a crash victim’s bill of rights. Which sounds like a damn good idea.
New York Magazine suggests “actually comfortable, expert-recommended” bicycle saddles.
Things are going the wrong way in New York, as the city suffered the deadliest year since it adopted Vision Zero in 2014, while Brooklyn was the city’s deadliest borough.
A Maryland city ripped out a successful bike lane project after a six-month trial, despite a jump in ridership and a minimal impact on traffic — as well as a drop in crashes and injuries — because some people complained.
Bike Radar offers a beginner’s guide to shifting gears.
A Toronto columnist complains that a new bike shelter for riders waiting to board the subway is all but useless because it doesn’t include anywhere to lock their bikes.
If you build it, they will come. A new study shows European cities that installed popup bike lanes during the pandemic saw an average 48% jump in bicycling rates. Meanwhile, American cities are busy ripping their popup lanes out, while Los Angeles wasted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by never building any to begin with.
They get it. Vice says not only should every town have a 20 mph speed limit, but roads should be redesigned so it feels dangerous to go any faster.
I want to be like him when I grow up. An English WWII vet is still riding his bike 100 miles a week, despite celebrating his 100th birthday.
The UK is considering switching from gas taxes and excise duties for motor vehicles, which aren’t paid by drivers of electric vehicles, to a road pricing program that would charge all drivers according to miles driven, in an attempt to improve fairness while reducing traffic congestion.
A British man thanked a jury for acquitting him of using excessive force for killing a suspected burglar by pulling him off his bicycle, then kneeling on the man’s back with his head awkwardly twisted to the side for nine minutes.
They get it, too. New Zealand has seen a 700% increase in ebike use over the past five years, along with an 800% jump in ebike injuries, but officials blame the higher injury rates on increased usage, rather than claiming ebikes are dangerous, as too many others have done.
Good news about two-time Grand Tour winner Egan Bernal, who is reportedly alert and in good spirits after suffering critical injuries when he slammed into a bus parked partially in the traffic lane, while training near his Colombian hometown.
The news isn’t as good for Dutch cyclist Amy Pieters, who remains in a coma a month after she was critically injured in a training crash, although she’s breathing on her own and showing increased consciousness.
Still more bad news from the training front, as Irish pro cyclist Imogen Cotter says she’s lucky to be alive after she was struck head-on by a high speed driver who was passing a bicyclist on the other side of the road; she’s hospitalized with a broken arm and leg, along with other injuries.
And if this clip doesn’t make your day, nothing will.
Just wait for it…pic.twitter.com/7FbJNKnwZ1
— CyclingTips (@cyclingtips) January 27, 2022
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.