Wednesday, May 24, 2017

San Francisco, Boston, and traffic safety

The Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street intersection might benefit from eliminating a lane, cycling advocates say.
Boston Globe

When the Mayor of Boston recently reminded pedestrians and cyclists that they too need to exercise greater care on city streets, his sensible comments caused outrage---blaming the victims!---among cyclists. 

The mayor's remarks:

“There’s a lot of talk about what the city is doing to make everything safer — pedestrians need to be safer,” Walsh said. “Pedestrians need to put their head up when they’re walking down the street, take your headphones off...you’ve got to understand, cars are going to hit you"...Bicyclists and advocates for street safety have called on the city to implement safer roadways and bring fatalities down to zero on city roads.

According to Walsh, that can only happen if pedestrians and cyclists take more personal responsibility. “We need to coexist together on the roads of our city...we need to start following the rules,” Walsh said. "People need to be more cognizant of the fact that a car is a car. Even bicyclists, when you’re riding; a car can’t stop on a dime.”

A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Administration showed an 11 percent spike in the number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roadways last year...The report credits the trend to distractions, like using phones while driving or walking.

“I see it all day long, people walking down with headphones on,” Walsh said. “You can’t hear a car coming, and they don’t know you have headphones on, so take them off.” In a recent City Council meeting, Walsh said residents were placing too much blame on his administration to solve the problem. “A lot of people were pointing the finger at me and at the City for not doing enough — we’re doing everything we can,” Walsh said..“Every day it seems like more and more, we have fatalities in the road with our bicyclists, we have pedestrians hit, we have cars crashing. People always look for somebody to put the blame to..."

Mayor Lee would probably say the same thing about San Francisco's cyclists and pedestrians. (Boston and San Francisco have another thing in common: they have the same problem counting cycling accidents.)

From the governors' report linked above:

A more recent factor contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities may be the growing use of smart phones by all road users, which can be a significant source of distraction for both drivers and pedestrians. According to The Wireless Association, the reported number of annual multimedia messages increased by 45 percent from 2014 to 2015, and the volume of annual wireless data usage more than doubled (page 36).


"A perfect storm" of factors spurred the increase, [Maureen]Vogel says: A stronger economy and low gas prices have put more cars on the road and have people driving more often, "but that is really only part of the story...so something else is at play here." One possibility can be seen during rush hour in downtown Chicago just by looking at both the drivers of the dozens of vehicles inching through traffic and the scores of pedestrians crossing the busy intersections. One thing many have in common is that their eyes are down, staring at their phones.

And then there's alcohol:

Just as drinking and driving can be deadly, so can drinking and walking. Over a third of U.S. pedestrians killed in 2011 had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit for driving, according to government data released Monday. Thirty-five percent of those killed, or 1,547 pedestrians, had blood alcohol content levels of .08 or higher, the legal limit for driving, according to data reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by state highway departments.

You'll never hear about any of this from the Bicycle Coalition or Walk SF. Their narrative requires that motorists and those devilish motor vehicles are always the villains in traffic accidents---I of course mean "collisions," since, according to Vision Zero dogma, there's no such thing as an "accident." (See Aaron Bialick: "Changing our language will help keep us safer.")

The reality: As Commander Ali of the SFPD put it a few years ago about injury and death on city streets: “A lot of it is just really, really bad behavior.”

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1 Comments:

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

Hmmm. So the streets are more crowded than ever meaning slower speeds. Traffic participants and distracted by their gadgets more than ever. And pedestrians are drunker than ever.

I've got some ideas! Let's put speed bumps in JFK Drive and get Sacramento to give us permission to install speeding cameras at intersections! That'll deal with the root causes, no?

 

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