There were a couple of recent articles about speeding, the efforts to reduce it and the theoretical impacts of those efforts. Speeding, and it's compatriot aggressive driving, is one of the largest, if not the largest, threat to all road users.
In Virginia, 183 lives were lost in speed-related crashes during 2007, the latest year with complete statistics. That was a 9 percent increase from 2006. The Maryland numbers show that from 2005 to 2007, aggressive driving killed an average of 75 people per year. That was an increase from the previous three years, during which an average of 64 people died in aggressive driving crashes.
So the Smooth Operator campaign, that targets aggressive driving during waves in July, August and September, is a good step toward reducing traffic fatalities.
It's worth noting that enforcing speed limits appears to be having some positive effects.
Nine people have died in traffic accidents so far this year. During the same time frame last year, 19 had been killed. In 2007, 18 had died.
My inner scientist is, of course, recoiling at the idea that one half a year makes a trend. If there had been 25 deaths would they have called the cameras a flop? Or that only cameras can be credited (people are driving less and were, for a while, buying smaller cars - for example). But if they installed cameras to slow people down to improve safety, and then people slowed down and the roads became safer
It is reasonable to assume that the cameras should get some credit - if not the lion's share. As Prof. Steven Dutch puts it "Correlation doesn't prove causation when there is no plausible link between two phenomena, or when there is some more plausible cause. But if there is a plausible link, then correlation is very strong evidence for causation."
I've heard several arguments against speed cameras; such as privacy issues, not being able to face your accuser, manipulation of the data or circumstances to increase violations and, thus, revenue. But this is a new one:
Really? Bicyclists? Not drunk drivers? Not inattentive drivers? Especially since we're talking about speed cameras (not red light cameras) - and it is very difficult for cyclists to speed. Bikes just aren't that big a hazard - in comparison. In NYC, where there is a larger bike share than Montgomery County, and many delivery cyclists, here are the average fatalities based on NYC DOT and NYPD data from the period 1990-1995.
Pedestrians Killed by
Bicyclists: 1 annually
Pedestrians Killed by Motor Vehicles: 250 annually
Pedestrians Struck by
Bicyclists: 500 annually
Pedestrians Struck by Motor Vehicles: 13,000 annually
And there are not 250 cars for every bicycle. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if, even on sidewalks, more pedestrians are injured by cars than by bicycles.
Furthermore being against speed cameras because they don't stop bad behavior by cyclists, is like being against penicillin because it doesn't cure carpal tunnel syndrome. That isn't the point. If he wants to be FOR enforcement for cyclist, that's fine - but that isn't a reason to oppose speed cameras.
In recent dust-ups like the one over Loudoun County's ticketing of cyclists on an MS ride, people like to point out that cyclists have the same responsibilities as drivers. Cyclists have the same obligations - to operate their vehicle safely, legally and courteously - but not the same responsibilities as the driver of a 2000 lb machine that could (and does) easily kill if mishandled. Cyclists do, on occasion, kill pedestrians, other cyclists and even motorist with bad behavior - but it is pretty rare. Even if you wanted to kill someone with your bike, I'm not sure you'd be successful half the time (and you'd injure yourself so badly, you probably wouldn't try more than once).
So, same obligations, different levels of responsibility - that's one reason why we let kids bike, but not drive. And why we require drivers to demonstrate limited proficiency before being allowed to drive. Driving, we recognize, requires more responsibility.
This is not to excuse bad bicycling behavior, and cyclists can do more to ensure their own safety and that of others; but the idea that we represent "one of the major hazards" on the roadways is just ridiculous. Maybe by hazard [Name redacted at person's request] meant "something that keeps me from speeding."