As usual when a cyclist dies on city streets, the bike lobby is outraged and looking for scapegoats for accidents that had nothing to do with bike "infrastructure": one cyclist was killed by a motorist running a red light, another was hit by a punk in a stolen car speeding through the park, and still another was killed yesterday in an intersection in Pleasanton. It's not clear who was responsible for the last accident.
No possible infrastructure "improvement" can prevent motorists from running red lights or from stealing cars and speeding recklessly through the city.
There are too many cars in the city and it is too easy to drive them fast and violently. Every day I observe it getting worse. Every single day is worse than the previous. This is a political problem with a political solution. Golden Gate Park could and should be completely car free. South of Market should have fully-separated and wide cycletracks on every street. But the SF mayor-BOS-SFMTA-SF Planning Commission simply pander to angry motorists and give them more parking.
Actually, there's less street parking in San Francisco all the time, as Matier & Ross reported last year, and the Planning Dept. is encouraging developers to provide inadequate parking for new housing units. But consider the source: Henderson teaches a course in Bikeology at SF State.
Streetsblog throws a bouquet to Holland for its alleged bike safety:
The Dutch, in particular, have all-but eliminated traffic violence and road carnage. This short documentary about the Dutch experience should be required viewing for every law enforcement officer, planner and politician in San Francisco. There is nothing to figure out about how to make our streets safe. The Dutch and other European nations have already done it, through decades of trial and error that cost many lives.
On the other hand, a quick web search turns up this:
The Netherlands has the most cyclist deaths in Europe as a percentage of total traffic. Over the past years a quarter of people killed in traffic accidents in the country were cyclists. The worldwide average is 8 percent, according to accident figures the European Commission published. According to the figures, there are 570 fatal traffic accidents in the Netherlands per year, of which 185 of the victims were on bicycles. Hungary and Denmark are next on the list, with bicycle riders accounting for 16 percent of the fatal accidents...
Streetsblog adds this plaintive question:
Bay Area planners don’t need to experiment. They don’t have to try things out and see what works. There doesn’t have to be “incremental change.” They can copy what works to make our streets safe. But they don’t. So people keep dying. Why is that? Do Europeans love their children more than Americans do?
One could ask Streetsblog, the Bicycle Coalition, and City Hall the same question, since all three encourage city parents to put their children on bikes on city streets where reckless, negligent motorists are not uncommon (See also Children and the bike cult).
Streetsblog LA compares kids playing with toy guns to kids playing with toy cars! Since both are death machines, why should parents allow it?
But I have to give bike guy Ed Reiskin credit for his sensible comment in the Examiner on those fatal cycling accidents:
Ed Reiskin, director of transportation at the SFMTA, disagreed street safety changes would’ve helped. “The best bike infrastructure in the world would not have prevented these collisions,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.
Just so. The moral of the story: Riding a bike can never really be made safe because cycling has intrinsic dangers that can't be eliminated. Don't do it!
Most cycling accidents, by the way, are "solo falls" that have nothing to do with other vehicles.
Labels: Anti-Car, Bicycle Coalition, Cycling and Safety, Ed Reiskin, Examiner, Hoodline, Jason Henderson, Leah Shahum, Mayor Lee, Muni, Roger Rudick, Streetsblog