Monday, August 13, 2018

Will the city share its "research" on traffic safety?

SF Chronicle

The story appeared in both the NY Times and the SF Chronicle (Health Officials Prepare to Track Electric Scooter Injuries):

A hospital conference room is an unlikely place to assess a budding transportation revolution, but a team of San Francisco trauma specialists and researchers who gathered there sees its work as essential to ensuring the safety of residents in a city of high-tech guinea pigs. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” Dr. Catherine Juillard, a trauma surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, said during the meeting in late June.

After a brief absence, shared electric scooters will soon return to San Francisco, and the city and the doctors at the meeting want to track the injuries — from skinned knees to head trauma — that result from the scooters and other transportation options flooding the city.

Dr. Juillard's comment is odd, since her colleagues at UC did a study in 2012 on similar injuries to cyclists---and how San Francisco had a significantly flawed method of counting those accidents (The NY Times did a story on it, but city papers failed to even mention it).

The city then lied about why it had to create "a new reporting system."

More from the story:

It’s not just the scooters that Dr. Juillard and her colleagues are worried about. During their first meeting, the team called out the possible transportations options it might see: electric bikes, mo-peds and scooters, and then hoverboards, Segways and even unicycles. (Given its proximity to Silicon Valley, San Francisco has become a real-world test bed for all manner of transportation.)

Dr. Juillard sees only the most banged up of accident victims, those who are rushed to the operating theater or admitted to the intensive-care unit. But Dr. Chris Colwell, the hospital’s chief of emergency medicine, sees everything from bumps and bruises to life-altering head injuries, and safety concerns popped up almost as soon as the scooters did. “I’m quite confident that we were seeing five to 10 injuries from this a week, and I’m probably underestimating that,” Dr. Colwell said. “We saw one or zero a month before the increase in electric scooters.”

Are we now going to have separate studies on accidents from the use of electric bikes, mopeds, hoverboards, Segways, unicycles, and scooters? This is absurd. Surely all these transportation "modes" have the same thing in common with bicycles: a lack of an outer covering that cars, trucks, and buses provide motorists/passengers. 

Also in common with bicycles: most of the accidents will be "solo falls" that don't involve other vehicles.

Aaron Peskin is apparently the go-to guy for City Hall soundbites:

Mr. Peskin, the San Francisco supervisor, called the bill[to relax helmet requirements] “terrible public policy” that would risk safety. Still, he said he understood that the city needed to do something about pollution and congestion. “If used properly, electric scooters may very well be part of the transportation solution,” he said. “And if used wrongly, they’re a hazard.”

In choosing between safety and trying to mitigate the city's traffic congestion, years ago the city chose the latter when City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition began pushing bicycles on a reluctant citizenry in spite of the well-known safety consequences for people on bikes. (The city even encourages parents to put their children on bikes!) 

The city has a conflict of interest: regardless of safety, the more people it can get on bikes and scooters, the thinking goes, fewer will be driving motor vehicles and contributing to traffic congestion.

After that UC study showed how negligent a supposedly pro-bike City Hall had been about counting cycling accidents and it installed its new system, it started the fatuous Vision Zero campaign. Though the city does some analysis of accidents that happen at problem intersections in its Collisions Report, it could/should do a lot more.

My question is Why doesn't the city analyze every injury accident on the streets of the city---why and where it happened---and then make that information public? 

The answer: Because the facts would show that all the "improvements" that the MTA/Public Works are making to city streets are not improving the accident and fatality numbers. The scooter fad is only providing more casualties for the city to tally and deal with---or obfuscate and conceal.

The city surely has the manpower and resources to do this. Public Health has 8,340 employees and a $2.37 billion budget. The SFMTA has 6,387 employees and a $1.22 billion budget.

Instead of encouraging people to use these risky means of transportation, the least the city can do is inform them about the dangers involved.

“When technology enters transportation, people forget that it also becomes public health,” she[Dr. Juillard] said. “It becomes something where human lives are at stake.”

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Our $2.16 billion bus station

Ribbon cutters at the Transbay Transit Center included Muni chief Ed Reiskin (left), Supervisor Jane Kim, former Transbay Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Maria Ayerdi, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chairman Jack Mackenzie, S.F. Mayor London Breed, Assemblyman David Chiu and S.F. Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle
Photo: Liz Hafalia

From Matier & Ross in this morning's Chronicle:

A decade ago, then-Mayor Newsom had insisted he wouldn’t allow the terminal to be built without funding for high-speed rail, declaring: “We’re not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch.”

And we didn’t build a $2 billion bus station. Instead, we built a $2.16 billion bus station (Even as SF transit center opens, officials figuring out how to pay bills).

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