NBC4 plays up the driver-cyclist conflict when talking about the "fallout" of the new safety bill, but really there doesn't seem to be any "fallout". No one really seems oppossed to it. Video below the bump.
There's an uncomfortable set of incentives to on the one hand tell people that biking is safe (so that new people will give it a try) while also telling people it isn't (so that they'll give more money to safety). I suspect that despite the rise in bicycle deaths last year - which may just be noise in the data - biking in America is safer than it's ever been in my lifetime. Nonetheless, America Bikes references last year's uptick in their letter to Secretary LaHood asking that performance measures for states include non-motorized transportation. "In 2011, motor vehicle crash
fatalities were at a 60-year low in real numbers, and a historic low in the fatality rate per vehicle
miles traveled. Unfortunately, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are on the rise—both in actual
numbers and percentage of overall fatalities. In 2011, a total of 5,109 individuals were killed
while walking or bicycling, an increase of 11.7 percent from 2010. As a share of overall
fatalities, bicycling and walking fatalities increased a full percentage point, now making up 15.8
percent of all traffic fatalities."
More biking is part of Mayor Gray's Sustainable DC Plan. "Although cars would still dominate city streets, it would cost more to park them and they would be expected to share the road with a streetcar system and tens of thousands of bicyclists. By 2032, according to the plan, a quarter of all commuter trips would be by bike or foot and half would be by public transportation... Other “medium term” goals include having ... an additional 200 Capital Bikeshare stations, twice as many bike lanes..."
Virginia texting bill passes Senate awaits Governor's signature. "Currently, texting is a secondary offense — drivers can be cited only while stopped for something else. Fines are only $20 for a first offense, $50 for subsequent offenses. The new law would raise fines to $250 and $500 respectively. Additionally, drivers convicted of reckless driving would face a $500 fine if they were texting at the time of the offense."
"Traffic fatalities rose 5 percent last year, according to an analysis of preliminary state data, reversing a seven-year decline in which the number of annual traffic deaths reached their lowest level in more than six decades." While more driving is part of the reason, the rate of deaths also went up. Faster driving, driving on rural roads, more freight traffic and distracted driving are possible reasons. "Increases in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths — a reflection of more people walking and biking in urban areas — may also be a factor, said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices."
Earlier today, DC Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Mary M. Cheh introduced an Bicycle Safety Omnibus bill that would make several significant changes to the law. These include
Require the District Department of Motor Vehicles to
require an applicant for an operator’s permit to demonstrate knowledge of safely sharing
roadways with pedestrians and bicyclists
Allow bicyclists to use pedestrian traffic
control devices to cross an intersection unless otherwise indicated;
Establish a requirement that public space
permit holders blocking a sidewalk, bicycle lane, or other pedestrian or bicycle path
provide a safe accommodation for pedestrians and bicyclists;
Establish driving record points and
civil fines for failure to yield the right-of-way to a bicycle and colliding with a bicycle,
Modify the requirement for
bicycles to have an audible warning device,
Remove restrictions on where a
warning device may be used.
The MSM is focusing on the points and fines for failure to yield the right-of-way or colliding with a cyclist, but all of these have the potential to make biking easier and safer in the District.
The rule allowing cyclists to go on the Pedestrian Leading Interval (PLI) will allow cyclists to legally get out ahead of automobile traffic, even when a bike box isn't present. It's like Idaho Stop lite.
The bill removes the requirement to have a bell, as long as you can yell loud enough to warn people, which is a good step since the rule was widely ignored and probably served no purpose. Yelling in an emergency is so much easier than ringing a bell. Though, I think a bell is more courteous for trail users, I don't think they should be required.
Unfortunately, the rule change about riding two abreast didn't make it in (though it's mentioned in the header), but still this is a good step forward.
Let's Choose DC asks candidates in the Special Election about how drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can share the road.
A pair of letter writers to the Post either miss the point of bike helmet legislation opposition or ignore the reason for opposition. It is not opposition to bike helmets. It is opposition to a mandate to wear them. William Shepherd argues, in contrast to the evidence that a helmet law will not discourage biking and that "Helmet legislation such as that under consideration in Maryland will save lives, and passage of the bill will nudge the bikeshare system to provide helmets." Those points are very much in contention, and are not supported by the evidence thus far.
Bike sharing leads to more biking. "exposure to a BIXI station was associated with a significant increase in the likelihood of bike riding. The change didn't occur overnight. After the first season of BIXI there was a slight positive trend, but nothing measurable. By the end of the second season, however, Montreal residents who lived near a bike-share docking station were much more likely to be people who rode a bike."
As a reminder, DC is a Green Lane Project city "The GLP aims to foster this evolving mindset by helping six target cities to adopt high-quality bicycle infrastructure – bike lanes where people can ride with at least some protection from car traffic in the form of bollards, parked cars, raised pavement, or other separation. Often they are painted – that’s right – green. GLP is educating city officials through travel and the exchange of information with peers around the world; identifying obstacles to implementation of better bike infrastructure; and gathering data to quantify the effect such lanes have on riding patterns and demographics. It will make its findings available to the general public as the project progresses."
Earlier this month Last year, there was a hearing on the Enforcement of Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, chaired by Councilmember Phil Mendelson. The purpose of hearing was to serve as a followup to a February 4th hearing on the same subject and to discuss the Assault of Bicyclists Prevention Act of 2011 (ABP Act).
Councilmember Tommy Wells spoke first in favor of the bill. Cycling is on the uptick in the District becasue the District has worked hard to be bicycle friendly. Wells discussed claims that the law is very harsh, but said that those who mistreat their fellow road users need to be treated harshly. He spent some time discussing the need for the ABP Act including the fact that DC has a very high number of taxis per capita and that, in his opinion, taxi cab drivers are the most hostile drivers on the road. He's seen them make very aggressive maneuvers - midblock u-turns for example - to get a fare. The testimony from the previous hearing made it clear to him that the Council must do more to protect cyclists. He noted that he is eager to hear if citizens think the bill should be extended to other classes such as pedestrians.
CM Mary Cheh started out by citing statistics that there have been 31 pedestrian deaths and two cyclist deaths involving cars in the last year (actually, three cyclists have died in DC in the last year, but none of them involved cars) and that pedestrian and cyclist deaths are an increasing percentage of total road deaths. Cheh called for a "culture shift" from a car-first culture, as well as enforcement, technology and road design changes such as bike lanes and Pedestrian Lead Intervals at intersections. She stated her support of the ABP Act and touted the other recently introduced bills to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
[Names below are often phonetic. My apologies for any misspellings]
Evan Wilder was the first speaker. He's the man who was hit in the video that has become emblematic of the need for the law (He was hit, and it was pretty clear it was intentional, but the US Attorney refused to prosecute).
much of discussion was about how scary it is to ride because of a few bad apples. MPD is often kind and supportive, but in one case a woman was hit by a police van but was ticketed with riding abreast - even though it was one cyclist. A lot of input on the bill, but no one testified against it.
Officers now have to interview everyone before closing a crash report. Reports still need to be done by end of shift, but with a note that supplemental information needs to be added - and they're expected to be finished. MPD is fighting culture - with more people cycling, need to get officers into fold and let them know this is important. Training module is part of that. But need traffic officers (need a traffic division) who are experts in this. Some officers don't operate cars and bikes safely. Using police officers to enforce laws on cyclists. Will work with WABA and DDOT to decide how and where to do that. Late November enforcement period. 70 officers have now gone through online bike/ped training. 2227 tickets for bike lane violations.
Mendelsohn, Wells and Cheh all spoke first. The latter two made statements supporting the anti-assault bill.
The cyclist who caught his assault on video spoke about how he suffered as a result of an attack that he didn't deserve, but the driver didn't even get a ticket. The video was shown and Mendlesohn pointed out that the driver swerved into the cyclists lane causing the crash.
Shane Farthing of WABA mentioned that there is a systemic problem with MPD enforcement of cycling laws and that this is backed up by the recent Police Complaints Board report.
Am I the only one hoping Barney Frank gets appointed to fill Kerry's seat? I know it won't happen, but that guy is just too fun to lose. And realistically, he already knows Congress, will be 'unemployed' in January and could possibly move some of his staff with him. He could hit the ground running more any of the other people being mentioned could. But mostly, I just like seeing him interviewed. But Deval should really just put Paul Kirk back in and save us the expense of paying an additional pension. Who else has his kind of experience with caretaker Senatoring for the Commonwealth?
The zoning for the St. Elizabeth's East Campus has been approved and it includes bike parking.
One of the unintended consequences of bike commuting. "The [parking] tickets started stacking up the day after Thanksgiving, unbeknownst to many residents because they often ride the bus or bike or walk."
6 CaBi bike stations will have to be temporarily removed for the inauguration. "There were 199,127 trips and 221,809 miles traveled in October 2012. The number of trips decreased by 9.0% from September" But that's up from 123,497 trips and 140,402 miles a month in October 2011 - ~60% year-to-year increase in both.
The DC Council Committee meeting on bicycle and pedestrian safety mentioned this morning has been postponed into the next year. No word on the topless bars hearing.
A utility pole was recently installed on the MacArthur Boulevard Trail in Montgomery County - and also, continuing coverage of the war on everyone else. (Photo by John Kelly)
"Advocates for Holmes Run Park Trail are pushing to install mile markers along the West End greenway to quicken emergency response times." Rather than using posts, they might just paint the markers on the trail. It could help with emergency response or responding to assaults on the trail - of which there have been two this year.
According to a recent study the risks of walking, biking and driving are about the same for men - except for young men. "risks were similar for men aged between 21 and 49 for all three modes of transport and for female pedestrians and drivers aged 21 and 69 years," said lead author Dr Jennifer Mindell (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health). "However, we found that for young male cyclists between 17 and 20 years of age, cycling was markedly safer than travelling by car....research regarding the safety of cycling tends to be distorted by a number of errors which are found repeatedly in published papers and policy documents, with many substantially overstating cycling injuries and under-reporting pedestrian injuries." I can't tell if cycling is safer for women than walking and driving or less safe. But my boys are not getting cars until they're 20 (at which point, they'll just get jetpacks instead).
Maybe I'm getting too close to DDOT, but I think this article (and especially it's headline) is a little over the top. The gist is that some lights on the MBT are not working. This is bad and DDOT should be working to resolve this. And it sounds like they are. " There are, again, more lights out and we have submitted this information to the company", Heather Deutsch (who manages these things) reports. She concedes that they are having trouble with their vendor. This is unfortunate, but not entirely DDOT's fault. At some point they might have to sue, which would also be unfortunate. It sounds like this was an experiment that didn't work out. That will happen and the alternative is no more experimenting, which isn't really good either. As for temporary lights under the bridge - I think that was found to be pretty expensive (there's not a good electricity source there and it would be constantly getting in the way of the bridge work). Cyclists should have headlights - even on lit trails. I'm all for lighting trails as I think it invites night time use, and improves safety (though as I read it, not security) and I think the District needs to find a near and longterm solution to this problem, but going after someone for response on Facebook - without following up with them - is a bit unfair. And the claim that DDOT said riders were on their own is completely false. She said that DDOT is working with the vendors, but if you want to do more than alert DDOT about something they already know about and are already trying to fix, you can contact the vendor. That's different.
The DC Velodrome is dead because of real estate issues. "The site at Buzzard’s Point was a problem from the start First, it took forever to get a lease signed. Then along the way we found out they wanted rent of $30,000, which we didn’t have. The parking area we had been promised became subject to additional rent payments," explained David Butterworth, a driving force behind the velodrome." It's a crying shame they can't just set this up in the RFK parking lot.
Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown is upset that 3 parking spaces in front of their church were removed for a CaBi station, but Topher at Georgetown Metropolitan points out that the CaBi station serves 171 trips a day and that it's unlikely that three parking space match that.
Bicycling is on the agenda Monday at DC's Environment, Public Works and Transportation Committehearing at 11am. Agenda: Bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle safety. (Of Course on Wednesday you can stick around to talk about Topless Bars, if that's something you're more interested in). Update: the bicycle hearing has been postponed.
The Springfield Mall is being redeveloped and part of that project includes "improved pedestrian and bicycle connections to the Franconia-Springfield Metro and Virginia Railway Express station." A trail system centered at the Metro station could follow the railroad south to Newington, east from there along the abandoned railroad to Ft. Belvoir and then to many locations following the power lines in the area. And from Springfiled Mall it's not far to Lake Accontik which has trails too.
Good afternoon. I successfully sold my folding bike (but my Schwinn) is still on the market. It's only the third bike I've willingly parted with since I became an adult. One I sold before leaving for Peace Corps and the other - the "Bike of Love" - I donated to Goodwill when I got a better road bike. They'll be some emotional adjustments needed.
Bad Headline: "Biking to Work: Healthy Trend leads to more collisions." Proably not true. Sure, more cyclists will likely lead to more bike-related collisions. But they aren't (and probably can't) accounting for the fact that less driving should result in fewer car collisions. Also, it's hard to call one year to year comparison a solid trend. Still, next week's headline "Vegetables: Healthy eating leads to more chokings" This video, and others, below the jump.
The last of those videos is for the Penn Ave bike lanes story, in which the on-the-scene reporter says that things had "gotten so dangerous that something had to be done" which is probably a bit of hyperbole. One crash per season isn't really Thunderdome. Another takes time to emphasize that cyclists "also need to follow the rules" pointing to red light running. Following the rules is good, but if 11 out of 14 crashes are the result of illegal U-turns, it's not really a "we're all equally responsible" situation.
Text of the bill moving through the DC Council is here.
Baltimore County approved the bike and pedestrian plan that Richard Layman worked on. It now becomes part of the Master Plan. "The plan offers a long-term look at the infrastructure and steps necessary to make roadways safer for children walking to school, commuters pedaling to work and recreational cyclists on a weekend ride."