Street Smart Fall Campaign starts. And the focus is on lights ""If you are a cyclist, here are some tips for riding in traffic. Michael Farrell, from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) says that the biggest danger for cyclists and pedestrians this fall season is the same: they are not visible in the dark, “there are too many bicycles out there without lights or even reflectors.” It is important that all bicycles are equipped with reflectors and that all cyclists have lights if they are planning to ride at night."
NYC's bikesharing may be delayed again. This time by Sandy related flooding. "The city’s Transportation Department would not describe or detail the extent of the damage; officials released a brief statement on Tuesday saying the agency was “making an assessment” and would provide updates if the program’s rollout might be affected.
Stop sign violation on the W&OD trail dismissed. "It was what she asked next that I found to be quite interesting. She asked the officer whether or not this intersection was a city street crossing another city street or a crosswalk crossing a city street...."
A list of possible candidates to fill the office of Secretary of Transportation if LaHood leaves includes former local yokel Gabe Klein. "Klein, like Sadik-Khan, is another darling of the smart growth crowd. He led the transportation department in D.C. until he was tapped by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year to take on the same role in the Windy City. In Washington, he helped develop a forthcoming streetcar system, implemented pedestrian safety programs, and oversaw the expansion of the Circulator bus system. In Chicago, he's helped implement bus rapid transit and a bike share program, among other initiatives. In the private sector, he's served as a regional vice president of the car-sharing service Zipcar." Actually he was pushed out in DC, but for political reasons. One person missing from the list former DC transportation department head, former WMATA executive and now current head of GSA - Dan Tangherlini. Obviously the Administration likes and respects him. Also on the list former Maryland DOT secretary John Porcari.
Roll Call has a series of stories on bicycle funding at the federal level. One on how local leaders and federal leaders see the issue differently, with local officials (even conservative ones) supporting bicycle funding. Another about Caron Whitaker who is leaving America Bikes (sort of) for the LAB where she'll be Washington’s most prominent bicycling lobbyist. And finally, Rep. Earl Blumenauer has an article about things Congress can do that are "Bikepartisan".
With the ‘Wiggins effect’ in full swing after London 2012 and people taking up cycling for sport or recreation like never before, the safety of the country’s cyclists has never been more important.
Crashes are an unfortunate fact of life for many travelling on our roads and bicycle paths, but how and why they happen is not always well understood. In the Netherlands alone, A&E Departments treat 46,000 injuries sustained in single-bicycle incidents each year, 6000 of which lead to hospital admission. Reducing the number of bicycle accidents is thus good for the public purse as well as for the cyclists themselves.
Faced with such figures, two Dutch academics, Paul Schepers and Berry den Brinker, set out to learn more about single-bicycle crashes. The resulting paper, ‘What do cyclists need to see to avoid single-bicycle crashes?’, has been awarded two prestigious prizes from insurers Liberty Mutual: ‘Best Paper Published in the Journal Ergonomics’ (54/4 2011, 315¬–327) and the ‘2012 IEA/Liberty Mutual Medal in Occupational Safety and Ergonomics’.
The researchers followed two approaches. The first was to ‘study the relationship between the crashes and age, light condition, alcohol use, gaze direction and familiarity with the crash scene’ in a set of accidents. The second used the ‘image degrading and edge detection’ (or IDED) method to investigate the visual characteristics of some crash sites.
What the authors found was that in those crashes where a single cyclist collided with a bollard, narrowed road or other obstacle, or rode off the road altogether, poor visibility and especially poor visual contrast played a significant part. Schepers and den Brinker also investigated how issues with a cyclist’s ‘focal’ vision (seeing the ‘far’ road ahead to plan for future hazards) and ‘ambient’ vision (seeing the ‘near’ road to correct the bicycle’s current position) can contribute to a crash.
As a result of their study, the authors question the common assumption that cyclists ‘can do without a minimal level of guidance and conspicuity of (design-related) obstacles’.
They state that ‘the visibility of critical information in the visual periphery is indeed important for safe cycling’ and make several recommendations, including applying edge lines to the curves on bicycle paths, especially on those with high levels of cycling, no street lighting or a risk of glare from oncoming vehicles.
Schepers and den Brinker also suggest that adding warning centre lines to two-way cycle paths, increasing the visibility of bollards with contrasting colours, and using ‘profiled’ markings to alert a cyclist riding behind another to dangers ahead could all help prevent crashes.
This prize-winning study on accident prevention – which shifts the focus from road-surface issues and the visibility of cyclists to what the cyclists themselves actually see – is essential reading for urban planners, cycling promoters and anyone concerned with the safety of the thousands of people now taking to two wheels after the recent Olympics.
Pennsylvania Avenue repaving has begun - but that hasn't stopped taxis from making quasi-illegal U-turns across the bike lanes and hitting cyclists. It appears that bollards will not be replaced in January instead of at the end of snow-plow season.
The M Street SE/SW Draft Report was released for public comment through 5 p.m. on Friday, November 30, 2012. The near term improvements are more of the same - bike parking, education, etc...The mid-term changes include cycle-tracks on M Street with bike lanes on Eye.
Montgomery County passed two laws to help with Capital Bikeshare. One which removes some red tape for siting stations on property without approved site plans and the other which adds CaBi to a list of transportation projects eligible for certain transportation funding. "During the run-up to yesterday's decision, many council members said the county has a long way to go in making roads safe for bikers. The number of bike-vehicle collisions is on the rise in the county, and that's even before this new bikesharing program, which will likely add many new cyclists on county roads."
This Wednesday, the Dupont Circle ANC will consider a resolution on " bicycle lane renovations and bicycle safety." But the publisher's of the InTowner would instead like to focus on sidewalk cycling - which they deem "Out of Control" - despite the fact that it is mostly unrelated to the issue at hand.
It is true that cycling is up, but I don't know of any evidence that bike-ped crashes are up significantly, or that these crashes are occuring on the sidewalks. "Not only have we had our own near collisions with inattentive or even thoughtless bicyclists, but we have heard from many others of the same –- sometimes not just near misses but real injuries." I don't doubt these stories, but I wonder if it truly is "Out of Control". I ride a bike a lot and have many drivers pass me too closely, but walking around the city, I can only think of one near-miss with a cyclist (and she really did belong on the sidewalk, although probably not on a bike until she learned how to ride it better).
Though cyclists are required to have a bell, they aren't required to use it.
The authors throw a bit about bike salmoning in there, even though the thesis is about sidewalk cycling - Focus people
"Why is it critical to protect pedestrians from getting run down by cars when crossing streets but no less critical if the instrument of injury and maybe even death is a speeding bicycle?" Becuase it is much more difficult to kill or injure someone with a bicycle, and much more rare to be hit by one in the first place. That's why the fines are lower. This is not to belittle the legitimate concerns of pedestrians about cyclists, but they should not be equated with the concerns with cars in this respect.
What they don't seem to get is that a resolution that makes biking safer in the street IS about making sidewalks safer for pedestrians. Do you want cyclists to stop riding on the sidewalk? Then you should support bike facilities in the street. After the 15th Street cycletrack was installed, sidewalk cycling on 15th dropped by 12%.Do you want cyclists to stop bike salmoning? Then support contraflow bike lanes. A city that entices sidewalks with safe streets will be more livable than one that forces them off the sidewalks with laws and enforcement.
Last night DDOT hosted the second Public Meeting for the Broad Branch Road Environmental Assessment, part of the NEPA process. Essentially a show and tell without formal presentation, the various alternatives were displayed with engineers and others present (e.g., a National Park Service representative, Jim Sebastian from DDOT) to answer questions as we the public walked around from alternative to alternative. The underlying motivation is the complete rehabilitation of the 1.7 mile segment of Broad Branch Road between Beach Drive and Linnean Avenue. No one familiar with this stretch of Broad Branch would deny (I hope) that changes are badly needed in order to "create a safe facility for all travel modes - auto, bicycle and pedestrian": a stated objective of the Broad Branch Road redesign.
The alternatives start with minimal restoration and improvement (Alternative 1), then escalate infrastructure for pedestrians (Alternatives 2 and 3) and finally bicyclists (Alternative 4). The latter three alternatives each also include improved storm water management, road side retaining walls, a cleaner T-intersection with Brandywine Street, and a long desired connection from Soapstone Creek to the parking lot; all maintain two travel lanes.
Alternative 2 adds a one thousand foot length, five foot wide pedestrian sidewalk, an improvement since currently no sidewalk exists at all along this section of Broad Branch Road. The sidewalk is limited to one thousand feet because Alternative 2 limits itself to the current right of way and that is all that is possible within that constraint. Extending the sidewalk along the full 1.7 mile length of Broad Branch in Alternative 3 requires additional right of way (compared to current) in the areas beyond the thousand foot Alternative 2. Alternative 4 adds a single one way bike lane heading north, and requires a bit more right of way beyond Alternative 3, although not much more.
The renderings lack contours so it isn't obvious that the single northbound dedicated bike lane is in the uphill direction - making it a "climbing lane", analogous to the extra lane in the climbing direction of roads going up mountains. The idea is that southbound downhill cyclists will be able to travel at close to automotive pace, assuming of course the cars aren't speeding. Nevertheless, cyclists uncomfortable sharing the road (and in this section of road I will admit even I might fall into that category, at least under less than ideal conditions) would end up using the sidewalk. Thus my suggestion to Jim Sebastian that an alternative accommodation might be to remove the one way bike lane and instead add to the width of the sidewalk to make it a true multi use path.
For more information, to see the displays & handouts, and to download (and then print, fill out and send in) Comment Sheets:
Pennsylvania Avenue will be resurfaced in advance of the inauguration, and this will include the cycletracks. The cycletracks will be restriped and improved "including additional space to accommodate turning/waiting bicyclists at the intersections with 15th St. NW and 4th St. NW." There will also be new bases installed for the plastic safe-hit posts. But they won't be going back to the original design - the one that was hurriedly taken out to save Mayor Fenty's re-election - in case you (like me) held out hope that would happen. And so far there is no word on using colored pavement or barriers that will prevent "illegal" U-turns across the cycletracks.
WABA adds "For those who rely on the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack, you will still be able to travel on the unmarked street. While light timing will not be changed during the project, we cannot recommend continuing to ride in the center of the roadway during construction, so we encourage cyclists who wish to use Pennsylvania Avenue to ride in the right lane as you would any other road without a center cycletrack. For those who prefer a route with bicycle facilities, your best alternatives are the bike lanes on E St. NW & G St. NW. Other alternatives with little traffic might be Madison Dr. NW & Jefferson Dr. SW along the Mall."
About those illegal u-turns. The DMV doesn't think they're illegal even though there are signs that instruct drivers not to do U-turns. "the DMV adjudicator has interpreted the laws in a way that does not prohibit mid-block U-turns across the cycletrack. Thus, MPD is reluctant to ticket motorists when the agency adjudicating the tickets has deemed such a ticket invalid....[DMV] seemingly shares a concern for the safety of cyclists and would support a change in the law to make the mid-block U-turns legal." WABA is pursuing two solutions to this, getting DMV to interpret the law the same way MPD and DDOT do, or explicity changing the law.
John Diehl, the former DC police officer who is accused of intentionally hitting a cyclist and then leaving the scene (an event caught on video), went to court last week. He changed lawyers and rejected the plea deal. He's accussed of four charges: Assault with significant bodily injury, Hit and run with personal injury, Hit and run with property damage and destruction of personal property. The case will now continue into at least February.
Thanks to Joe for pointing this out. Heather Simmons, the driver who hit Diane Whitman from behind on Olney-Latonsville Road/Route 108, killing her, was found guilty of Negligent driving and "Not Keeping 3 Feet" and charged $400 in fines. That may be the first prosecution of the 3 feet rule in the region.
There doesn't seem to be any sign of points or loss of license. There may be a civil case that follows, but still it looks like 2 tickets for $400 is the extent of the punishment.