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Putting pedestrians and cyclists first upsets the social order of the roads

Complete streets, or the idea that roads should be safe and effective for all users, aim to upend the social order, moving cars from first to last. Despite endless discussion of "safety" and "the law," many people seem to be upset by social, rather than legal violations of the rules.


Photo by EURIST e.V. on Flickr.

While the majority remains polite, a vocal minority is extremely attached to the status quo. In the current social order, roads are for cars, slow drivers are "bad drivers," and cyclists and pedestrians are expected to get out of the way.

The social order of the road is governed not by laws, but by socially-enforced rules. For example, one might voluntarily drive below the speed limit on the Beltway. That would be perfectly legal, but would also garner honking, headlight-flashing, and rude gestures. As everyone knows, appropriate driving speeds begin at the speed limit and extend upwards, not downwards. The power of these rules is such that police rarely issue a ticket, photographic or otherwise, for driving less than 10 mph over the speed limit.

Violating social norms

All this came to mind the other day, when I was bicycling in violation of the social order. I was riding in the center of a narrow lane and a driver started honking at me. Shortly thereafter, he pulled alongside and helpfully explained that cyclists are not allowed in the street unless they can "ride at the speed limit."

This struck me as quite the head-scratcher. After all, isn't the speed limit an upper limit? Those of us with Internet access have certainly read that cyclists should not be allowed on the road unless they "obey the law." Riding at a typical bicycle speed surely complies with the law. Nevertheless I've been told, even by friends, that cyclists must ride at the speed limit.

As it turns out, the speed limit is the single point of intersection between socially acceptable driving speeds and socially acceptable bicycling speeds. Cyclists who do not ride this tightrope, and that would be all of them, are in violation of at least one of these social conventions.

Despite endless discussion of "safety" and "the law" it is increasingly clear to me that many people are upset by social, rather than legal, violations of the rules. While the majority of drivers remain polite, a vocal minority is extremely attached to the status quo.

As old gives way to new, old ideas fall by the wayside. One of these is that automobile traffic is an unstoppable force. As a pedestrian, it is up to me to get out of the way or suffer the consequences. As a cyclist, there is no point in asking for bike lanes because they would simply put me in harm's way.

The complete streets concept recognizes that traffic is ruled by individual drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, each of whom is able to slow down and even stop to avoid a crash. Complete streets are updated streets, often with narrower traffic lanes that have been demonstrated to slow motorized traffic. Pedestrians come first, followed by transit, cyclists, and cars.

Barbara McCann, author of Completing our Streets, describes supporters of complete streets as "a broad coalition of bicycle riders, transportation practitioners, public health leaders, older Americans, smart growth advocates, [and] real estate agents" who "came together to insist that we begin to build streets that are safe for everyone."

Because the automobile can't deliver the promises of speed and freedom to 100% of the population, people continue to take up walking and bicycling, often in the direction of the nearest Metro station. When these non-drivers get in the way of the cars, and they do so often in urban settings, they upset the social order. Transit planners participate in these changes as well by calling for dedicated bus lanes and new buses that give their drivers the power to change traffic signals. I myself joined AARP specifically because they are a champion of complete streets.

McCann cites a 2012 nationwide poll that found that "63% of Americans would like to address traffic congestion by improving public transportation and designing communities for easier walking and bicycling." While frustrating for some, a majority of citizens support these changes. The new social order, it seems, is here to stay.

A version of this post appeared in the Alexandria Times.

Jonathan Krall is an advocate for bicycling and walking and a former Chair of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He lives in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria and has been car-free since 2011.  

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How this came to be, and how to change it, is a major theme of my book "Dead End." The earliest citation I found of the social inferiority of the streetcar versus private carriages is from 1886.

by Ben Ross on Feb 6, 2014 1:18 pm • linkreport

Last night the L St cycletrack was full of cars between 16th and 15th st when I was biking home from work. So I realized that the L St Cycletrack is not a safe place for cyclists to ride. After getting home I realized I had left something at the office so I had to do a full 2-way commute again. On my way back home from the office the 2nd time last night, I elected to not use the unsafe cycletrack. Traffic was still heavy on L St. I was amazed how often I got honked/yelled at while there was traffic stopped ahead of me. When I rode, I went the same speed as traffic. Drivers were offended just to SEE a cyclist in the road, even if it wasn't slowing them down at all. Maybe a lot of them are just stressed and don't think it is fair that bikes are allowed to use the roads as well. Or they are ignorant of the law.

by Atlas on Feb 6, 2014 1:36 pm • linkreport

Great points, but I was hoping you would bring up the class issue which (to me) is the subtext to a lot of the driver-biker/pedestrian interactions. In my experience, most of the time the people that honk at me when I'm biking or walking are driving more expensive cars.

As you point out most drivers are polite, but one can imagine the drivers that do honk at bikers/peds thinking "Get out of my way! Can't you see I'm more important than you? I'm driving a car!"

by Chris on Feb 6, 2014 1:40 pm • linkreport

You are definitely onto something on the "social order." This is one of the reasons we constantly hear that "we'll give you bike lanes only when you start to follow the rules." As you point out, car drivers actually have a different set of perceived rules than the law actually provides. Ergo the old chestnut "get out of the way, you don't pay road taxes." As if such a thing exist.

Another "social order" problem has to do with physics. Cars are completely captive to their size, so that when a driver sees a bike scoot around that traffic, particularly if they use a bike lane not open to the car, the driver sees the world as unfairly favoring cyclists.

Sadly, when it comes to human beings, it is very hard for people to be able to assimilate that those different from them have the same rights they do. The same issues that give rise to class and racial prejudices against someone different applies equally to how drivers view cyclists (and they wear lycra!)and pedestrians. It would be nice if this were not human nature.

by fongfong on Feb 6, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

I have a slightly different take though I don't think you're wrong. I think people see the ability to do something as the right to. My car CAN go 60 so I have the right to go 60. Bikes can't move that fast THEREFORE they are inferior THEREFORE I am more important. Pedestrians must not be in a hurry because they are walking. They go so SLOW anyway what does waiting for the light another minute cost them? I can get so much further if they would just stay out of my way. I almost see it as complete obliviousness tinged with certainly some class issues and ego.

Of course on the other hand downtown DC slightly flips the social order on its head. If you are walking downtown in DC you probalby work or live there and quite possibly are doing just fine so I sense resentment sometimes from people who travel from farther away who already feel there is a class of people receiving preference in the city (which is not undebatable).

by BTA on Feb 6, 2014 1:50 pm • linkreport

All this came to mind the other day, when I was bicycling in violation of the social order. I was riding in the center of a narrow lane and a driver started honking at me. Shortly thereafter, he pulled alongside and helpfully explained that cyclists are not allowed in the street unless they can "ride at the speed limit."

This struck me as quite the head-scratcher. After all, isn't the speed limit an upper limit?

Well, sure. On the other hand, if you are slowly sauntering down the street or in the subway in Midtown Manhattan, there's a pretty good chance of a friendly local Newyohkah helpfully explaining to you that you should go f*** yourself.

Bottom line: people do not like being obstructed, whether on the road (by bikers, people driving slower than they easily and safely could, accidents, etc.), on the Metro (by selfish a-holes who decide to off themselves by committing Suicide by Metro), or in just about any other situation. Nothing surprising about that.

by Dizzy on Feb 6, 2014 1:55 pm • linkreport

I bike thru Capitol Hill to and from work everyday, and unless I am on Mass Ave in the bike lane, I always ride down the middle of the street. It is not safe to ride along the side because cars will attempt to pass in the same lane with less than a foot between me and the car.

Best bet - ride down the middle and if anyone honks ride even slower and smile at them.

by DLG on Feb 6, 2014 2:10 pm • linkreport

All: thanks for positive comments.

BTA: How do you explain drivers who get mad over being "forced" to repeatedly pass the same cyclist on a road with lots of stop signs? They are both playing leapfrog, but it is the cyclist who is expected to let the driver go ahead. I never hear a cyclist complain about having to repeatedly pass the same driver.

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 6, 2014 2:21 pm • linkreport

Thing is, these issues all become radically apparent once you actually hop on a bike and use it to actually get somewhere.

So many "conflicts" would simply disappear if more people actually used a bicycle every once in a while and then remembered the experience the next time they are behind the wheel.

by drumz on Feb 6, 2014 2:24 pm • linkreport

I agree with a lot of this article, but I dispute the characterization of Complete Streets as meaning 'pedestrians come first, followed by transit, cyclists and cars'. In principle, Complete Streets means 'accessible to everybody equally'. It does not assign priority to any particular user group. In practice, Complete Streets means whatever you want, because all user groups only have to be 'considered'.
Complete Streets is therefore a useful philosophy but any particular Complete Streets policy is only as good as its implementation. Increasingly, a lot of places have Complete Streets policies but no complete streets.

by renegade09 on Feb 6, 2014 2:24 pm • linkreport

More seriously, I think it's important not to conflate prioritization overall (which is heavily skewed toward car traffic and should be remedied) with prioritization at specific points in time or instances.

No one here is arguing that dedicated ROW rail is an intolerable privileging of "an unstoppable force" in the form of rail traffic. It is accepted that for rail transit to work efficiently, it needs to have exclusive or near-exclusive or near-exclusive priority on its ROW. There are some instances where the entire ROW was constructed solely for the rail system (subway, elevated), but in many other cases, it is part of a larger ROW.

Generally, especially in an urban context, each ROW includes portions where pedestrians have absolute priority and cyclists have secondary priority (sidewalks, L'Enfant City excepted). There are also places - and there need to be more of them, of course - where cyclists have primary priority and cars are excluded (bike lanes).

This all makes sense from an efficiency perspective. I think what gets people's goat is when efficiency is hampered. A vehicular traffic lane that can accommodate 30mph traffic is not operating efficiently if everyone is stuck behind a cyclist going 10mph. This isn't some sort of windshield perspective fallacy - I doubt anyone here would argue in favor of letting cyclists slow down trains or buses by riding in a light rail or BRT ROW. That would be a reduction in efficiency.

When you have modes with very different speed capabilities and passenger capacities, you're going to get conflict. My preferred solution is trying to limit that conflict to the extent possible through ROW separation. Bikes get their own lane or cycletrack, transit gets its own lane. If taht requires taking away from general vehicle lanes, so be it. Large arterial roads can accommodate this; smaller roads tend to have lower demand and thus fewer conflicts, although it can arise there too.

What I don't think is helpful is defaulting to an inverse, 'anti-windshield' perspective that says we don't have to worry about drivers' experience or efficiency because they're in a car, so their interests are automatically the lowest priority in every possible situation. That's not realistic, and it has no chance of becoming a popular opinion when a majority of people feel that they have no option but to drive.

by Dizzy on Feb 6, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

As everyone knows, appropriate driving speeds begin at the speed limit and extend upwards, not downwards.

It really depends on the road, I often find people driving 5-10 miles under the speed limit on some less traficced roads

by Richard on Feb 6, 2014 2:40 pm • linkreport

The privilege of the social order is apparent in how some drivers behave in the face of so many laws that are on the books for driving. In the last week I've witnessed blocking & texting twice. Once, while I was on a Circulator a woman blocked the box and three lanes of cars and our bus couldn't get through the intersection. What did the lady do? She started texting. Did I mention that she was blocking all the lanes? This morning, I saw the same thing while on my bike. In the middle of the intersection, blocking the box, and texting.

I brought it up in my office to my coworkers and they just shrugged. Oh well. I understand "live and let live" but really, this is what it has gotten to? Sitting in your car, texting, drinking your coffee, listening to the radio, climate control - like a living room on wheels. And then they get upset at a bicyclist or a pedestrian for daring to go too slow, or taking up a lane???

by dc denizen on Feb 6, 2014 2:45 pm • linkreport

@dc denizen

Don't worry, I'm an equal-opportunity road rager (not really, as a rule I'm very calm and composed while driving). But yes, the violations of basic driving etiquette and safety measures (not to mention laws) are egregious, and they do bother me a great deal. I am a very conscientious driver and am appalled by the bad behavior of those who don't seem to realize they're operating heavy machinery.

by Dizzy on Feb 6, 2014 2:52 pm • linkreport

'As everyone knows, appropriate driving speeds begin at the speed limit and extend upwards, not downwards.'

The opposite occurs in snowy, icy conditions or should.

by DaveG on Feb 6, 2014 2:54 pm • linkreport

So many "conflicts" would simply disappear if more people actually used a bicycle every once in a while and then remembered the experience the next time they are behind the wheel.

I do. Unfortunately, it's mostly "there's a pretty solid chance that the guy on the bike has no intention of stopping at that stop sign."

I live in Old Town Alexandria and walk a lot regardless of the weather and the bike comes out in the warmer months. I very much want to be on the side of the bicycle, but its very hard to do so when I'm stopped at a stop sign on my bike so the cars stopped on the cross street can go (after they stopped)...and then two guys trying to win the Tour de Alexandria blow past me without even slowing down and the car barely misses them because he was already 75% of the way through the intersection.

by Another Nick on Feb 6, 2014 3:05 pm • linkreport

This has to be the reason. Because all the intellectual arguments that drivers make don't hold up. At all. Taxes, rules of the road, slowing traffic, etc all fall apart on further examination, and that it just comes down to entitlement.

by GG on Feb 6, 2014 3:11 pm • linkreport

I get that in the dreaded situation where I must turn left. Bike lanes are on the right and, even without lanes, bikes are generally expected to be in the right lane, so you have to move across traffic to get to the left turn, where you must often wait for cars. Any car would have to wait as well, but the drivers behind often just don't seem to get that it's no different; somehow you seem more of an impediment to them than a car would be. If they rode, they'd get it.

As for the question of why a car driver would get annoyed at the stop sign leap-frog thing, I think it's once again just that you are an impediment to them getting where they want to go. They successfully passed you and thought they were done, but here you are again.

by DE on Feb 6, 2014 3:13 pm • linkreport

Another Nick, that happened to me last night on Water Street in DC. I slowed to allow a car to go, and a bike behind me just blew through. Somehow I felt like the chump too. While I don't think it's really the majority of cyclists, it probably is enough that most drivers have to act as if the cyclist will run the sign--otherwise they'd risk a collision.

by DE on Feb 6, 2014 3:17 pm • linkreport

@Chris, on class:

It’s actually worse than you think. Yes, some drivers imagine their cars render them more important. Consider the poor soul who declares, “I’ve saved my whole life to buy this car, so I'm not going to change my view!” (This sad situation was actually voiced at AIA in Denver last summer.) The new social order -- however we call it -- must be horrifically upsetting to that person's worldview. Likewise, the notion of the suburbs, as a life dream for the kid who grew up in a segregated, mid-century inner-city: when that person bumps into the reality that many Washingtonian prefer a livable, walkable city, it must amount to an unbearable downer, and a completely unfair switch.

To someone operating under unskeptical acceptance of older generations' outdated aspirations, the sight of a bicycle on a city street will be an affront.

This too shall pass.

by Sydney on Feb 6, 2014 3:21 pm • linkreport

Another Nick,

A: unsafe behavior is unsafe behavior. We shouldn't be unsafe.

B: But I think when someone who wonders why cyclists "never" stop at stop signs they may not realize that once you're on the bike, you pretty much don't need the stop signs.

When you're on a bike, you're much more aware of your surroundings and likely approaching that stop sign slower than the car anyway. I've notice that I can spend more time coasting through an intersection than a car that pulls up quickly, brakes, and then proceeds through.

This is well known and this is why some places (like its namesake) have instituted "Idaho Stop" laws.

C: Other evidence includes the fact that when you're in completely pedestrianized/bike friendly environments, the need for traffic control devices go away. The more cyclists and walkers we'll have, the less need we'll see for traffic control.

D: Again, this is not saying that there shouldn't be rules or that cyclists should be reckless. Just that its different when you're in the seat and I don't think enough people realize that.

by drumz on Feb 6, 2014 3:27 pm • linkreport

@drumz

But I think when someone who wonders why cyclists "never" stop at stop signs they may not realize that once you're on the bike, you pretty much don't need the stop signs.

That's probably true, but there are also plenty of places where even in a car you don't need the stop signs. They are there for other purposes, such as traffic calming and creating a mechanism by which cars are guaranteed to yield to pedestrians. Bikes may not usually need the former, but the latter is an issue: I recall being at 35th and N, and the car southbound on 35th stopped in order to let me cross to the east side of the street. The cyclist who was closely following the car, coasting downhill, decided the he pretty much didn't need the stop sign because he was so well aware of his surroundings. Except he didn't see me and ended up being coming literally less than a foot from plowing into me at full speed. Never looked back, either.

by Dizzy on Feb 6, 2014 3:38 pm • linkreport

Bottom line: people do not like being obstructed, whether on the road...on the Metro...or in just about any other situation. Nothing surprising about that.

Exactly. I do think that people tend to act out about it more when they're behind the wheel of a car, though. Not sure why, maybe it's the ability to de-personalize when there's a physical barrier, maybe it's the ability to speed off afterwards, maybe it's the fact that 150 cubic feet worth of half a ton of steel is more prone to have things get "in the way"... I also hear that bulls have a difficult time navigating china shops. But I digress.

It's not only at bikes and pedestrians. I live on a one-way residential 25mph street in Old Town with two lanes going in the one direction. There is on street parking on both sides. The right lane has "sharrows". I get tailgated and honked at when riding a bike in this lane, even though there is another lane immediately to the driver's left.

I also get honked at when I've slowed down/stopped to parallel park a ZipCar to drop off whatever it is I needed to get. My friends and taxi drivers have been honked at for stopping to let me in the car. Some people are just selfish jerks and don't like not getting their way 100% of the time nothing's going to change that, so the best bet is to just ignore their wrath. I usually wave and say "you too!"

@AnotherNick--

Yeah, I get that and there is certainly some stop-sign running in Old Town--but I personally don't do it either (when there are cars in sight--I'll admit to only yielding at an empty intersection), and I have noticed an uptick in others obeying the stop signs as well--I'm usually clustered at stop signs alongside them.

There definitely are those who just blow through the stop signs (sometimes passing the cluster of us stopped) and it drives me just as crazy as it does drivers and pedestrians. Which in turn drives me just as crazy as drivers who don't come to a stop before turning right on red and who don't use turn signals at intersections. Those examples are just as scary and unpredictable as stop sign runners, but with higher stakes as a cyclist/pedestrian. But the stop sign blowers aren't all cyclists just like many if not most drivers do actually stop at red lights before turning. But the ones that don't make it awful for everyone.

by Catherine on Feb 6, 2014 3:39 pm • linkreport

Agreed, drumz, but when doing an Idaho stop, a cyclist shouldn't abuse that and take the right away from a car already at the sign. I know you're not advocating taking the right of way, but I think it's important to note.

Also, when not coming to a complete foot-down stop (I do a sort-of trackstand), drivers may not know that I'm slowing for them, so I often try to get them a little wave through. This is just me.

by DE on Feb 6, 2014 3:39 pm • linkreport

DE,

If a car has the right of way then a cylist not stopping is breaking the law (and acting unsafe) per the rules of an idaho stop anyway.

Dizzy,

Yes, I definitely don't want to imply that cyclists should behave lawlessly or that we shouldn't rules on our trails and such. And I think politically and practically, cycling and walking should be allied together in most things.

BUT, I do think that when someone who primarily drives expresses that they don't understand why a cyclist seems to ignore stop lights and stop signs I think they're simply ignorant of what riding a bike in a city is actually like.

I don't mean that pejoratively, indeed, I'd offer to take anyone on a ride along to see what's up. Most people I think would immediately soften in their thoughts about all this.

by drumz on Feb 6, 2014 3:52 pm • linkreport

My car validates me as an adult and proves my worth to society.

by duncan on Feb 6, 2014 3:52 pm • linkreport

Thing is, these issues all become radically apparent once you actually hop on a bike and use it to actually get somewhere.

Which is why biking is going to get so much better after the terrorists pull off an EMP attack on the US.

by David C on Feb 6, 2014 3:53 pm • linkreport

I'll go through long stretches where the motoring public and I get along fine. Then I'll have a week where twice a day for a whole week, someone will honk at me, try to cut me off, buzz me or otherwise act obnoxiously and irresponsibly.

It's important to recognize that this minority is not representative, no matter how memorable those interations are. It's also important to remember that there is essentially no legal reason to use a car horn other than in the case of an emergency, and accordingly if you hear someone behind you honk, the only thing to do is to slow down. A lot.

by Crickey7 on Feb 6, 2014 3:57 pm • linkreport

Thing is, these issues all become radically apparent once you actually hop on a bike and use it to actually get somewhere.
Which is why biking is going to get so much better after the terrorists pull off an EMP attack on the US.

I'm taking this and going to write a novel that will make critics call me an "eco-friendly Tom Clancy".

by drumz on Feb 6, 2014 4:11 pm • linkreport

This is an interesting perspective, and it's even more interesting to contemplate that just about 100 years ago the social order was the reverse. In "Fighting Traffic," Peter Norton writes:

"City people saw the car not just as a menace to life and limb, but also as an aggressor upon their time-honored rights to city streets. 'The pedestrian,' explained a Brooklyn man, 'as an American citizen, naturally resents any intrusion upon his prior constitutional rights.' Custom and the Anglo-American legal tradition confirmed pedestrians' inalienable right to the street. In Chicago in 1926, as in most cities, 'nothing' in the law 'prohibits a pedestrian from using any part of the roadway of any street or highway, at any time or at any place as he may desire.' The most restrictive interpretation of pedestrians' rights was that 'All travelers have equal rights on the highway.'

"Conversely, the motorist's claim to rights in the streets at the expense of pedestrians was very hard to make. By law and by custom, all had a right to the street, and none could use it to the detriment of others' rights. In 1913 the New York Court of Appeals observed that it was 'common knowledge' that the 'great size and weight' of automobiles could make them 'a most serious danger,' and so the responsibility of preserving the safety of the streets lay overwhelmingly with motorists. In New York City's traffic court in 1923, a judge explained that 'Nobody has any inherent right to run an automobile at all.' Rather, 'the courts have held that the right to operate a motor vehicle is a privilege given by the state, not a right, and that privilege may be hedged about with whatever limitations the state feels to be necessary, or it may be withdrawn entirely.' The law would not deprive pedestrians of their customary rights so that motorists could roam at will in cities."

[Pages 66-67] I know that's a long quote (and it could go on for longer), but it's just to illustrate that "complete streets" is not some new idea -- it's really a very conservative, traditional idea that is being resurrected in order to combat the many injustices inflicted by the automobile era.

by Eileen on Feb 6, 2014 4:18 pm • linkreport

@Eileen +1

Today's social order is exacerbated by the fact that most people in positions of power now use automobiles exclusively - with some noted exceptions - and do not empathize those who do not drive.

I totally agree with that more traditional sentiment. The street belongs to everyone.

by dc denizen on Feb 6, 2014 4:53 pm • linkreport

Like others, most of my experiences interacting with other drivers are pleasant, but sometimes there are just situations that leave me confused. I once attempted to turn left from Columbia Road onto northbound Adams Mill Road, NW in Adams Morgan and got into the left-turn lane behind a car. The light turns green and the car in front pulls out into the intersection and waits for through and turning traffic to clear before turning, so naturally I wait behind him. Finally, car in front makes his turn and then I make mine.

I thought everything had gone off without a hitch, but as I rode by, the car at the front of the light on southbound Adams Mill rolls down her window, points at me and calls me a jackass.

I'm speechless as I wonder what the hell I possibly could have done. There were no cars behind me, southbound Adams Mill/18th still has a red, and I made a legal left turn.

Some people are just mean!

by Greg on Feb 6, 2014 5:23 pm • linkreport

@renegade09 -Re: Complete Streets policies (CS). I agree. The main limitation to CS is that the agenda for CS is determined by the need to update roads for cars. It is not an agenda that prioritizes non-car travel.

CS does not allow money to be used for improving pedestrian or biking (or transit) facilities separate from re-doing the road for cars. For instance, filling gaps in bike lane/track facilities to complete a network for bikes can not be funded using CS UNLESS the road for cars adjacent to those bike tracks are being updated. Thus CS just perpetuates the status quo addressed by this article.

CS says "if the road [for cars] is being updated THEN facilities for other users should be addressed". Its a step in the right direction but its weak, imo and the "...for other users" part is in-enforceable.

A truly status quo diverging policy would be: "Complete a transportation network for bicycling and walking regardless of whats going on in the road for cars while prioritizing transit over cars".

by Tina on Feb 6, 2014 5:24 pm • linkreport

Bike policy and treatment of bikers is a housing issue masquerading as a transportation issue. These drivers bought homes in the suburbs (or west of the park) under certain assumptions about how their lifestyle choice would be privileged and how they would be able to get in and out of the central business district. Folks like us that want to live in the urban center, work in the urban center and walk and bike for leisure, to run errands and commute to work, challenges that privilege. Of course, like a lot of privileges in our society, the car bias is invisible and assumed before any policy arguments are made or entertained.

This is why I think views on things like bikes should in fact be a huge factor in deciding who to vote for. Seems minor to some, but behind it is a whole set of assumptions.

by 11luke on Feb 6, 2014 5:30 pm • linkreport

Thanks for further comments. Some replies:

Renegade: The peds, transit, bikes, cars priorization comes from a presentation on the Alexandria complete streets policy. It makes sense to me in terms of general priorities for DC, Arlington and Alexandria, where many agencies are working, through Transportation Demand Management (TDM), to make sure that population increases do not mean car-population increases. However, I do not know if this priortization is universal.

For the core of the DC area, the future is transit, which won't work if people can't walk to transit. Bicycles are a huge plus but not required in a cold, hard, logic sort of way. Cars come last because, the entire TDM system is geared towards making them as irrelevant as possible.

Richard: I agree that some roads, especially neighborhood roads, do have a lot of low speed traffic. However, I see plenty of the opposite as well. As you know, the old social order is strongest where street design broadcasts that it is so.

DaveG: I wish people would be better behaved in wet conditions as well. Unfortunately, some drivers seem to react to rainy days as if the rain is attacking them and they have to fight back by driving aggressively.

Another Nick: As more people ride, they tend to become better behaved. A recent study in NYC showed this effect. I personally think that it this is a matter of an evolving social order for bicycling. Whereas an old rule was "ride as though you are invisble" (I used to hear this all the time) the corresponding new rule is "ride predictably."

Chris et al.: I've thought class was an interesting subject ever since reading a 2008 article in Bicycling magazine, "Broken." The stories therein made it clear that, in court, "driver" > "cyclist" > "drunk driver." I put the categories in quotes becuase it holds when all people in a crash are sober, but one has a record of drunk driving.

DE et al.: The over-use of stop signs to slow car traffic has had the unintended consequence of teaching cyclists to "safely" roll through them. When it comes to street design, we can do better. I do the wave-through thing as well, to get drivers to move on their turn.

"I do think that when someone who primarily drives expresses that they don't understand why a cyclist seems to ignore stop lights and stop signs I think they're simply ignorant of what riding a bike in a city is actually like"

Or they are cranky over loss of privelege and probably don't even realize it.

David C: I am not in favor of the EMP thing. I'm too attached to my electronic gear.

Tina: In most places "the road ... being updated" occurs on a repaving schedule, which is about 10-15 years. If the CS policy were followed very slowly, but was actually followed, the entire city would be transformed in 10-15 years. That's better than most cities are doing now. In Alexandria the city staff is using CS funding to respond to streets and intersections not on the near-term repaving schedule, based on data and citizen input.

11luke: I agree on the voting thing. How politicians interact with these changes is an interesting subject. While a majority (at least in NYC and the DC area) favors bike lanes, and a national majority sees that the future is in transit (as reported by McCann), the loudest voices are those who are losing privilege.

Loud voices confuse politicians at times; some mistake the noise for a majority. Former Congressman Steven LaTourette famously did this and then quickly became a staunch supporter of bicycling when his peeps spoke up. Sadly, loud voices almost always and frighten politicians, even those that "get it."

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 6, 2014 5:56 pm • linkreport

"But I think when someone who wonders why cyclists "never" stop at stop signs they may not realize that once you're on the bike, you pretty much don't need the stop signs. When you're on a bike, you're much more aware of your surroundings and likely approaching that stop sign slower than the car anyway"

I find this to be a persistent yet completely subjective falsehood in defense of bikers doing what they please. So we let the people who think they are "aware" enough ignore whatever traffic laws they like?

Considering the majority of cyclists I see on DC streets every day have the ever present white ear buds planted firmly in their ear, the "bikers are more aware" canard is little more than meaningless supposition.

My car has a omnidirectional array of radar and laser detection system that warns of vehicle, bike and pedestrian proximity and even applies the brake should the warnings to the driver go unheeded. I also drive approximately 30K miles a year, and have for a decade and never once have been in an accident. Do these factors make a better, more "aware" driver that then allows me to choose what stop signs and red lights I want to obey? Of course not.

The standard traffic laws aren't in place for drivers like me, or bikers like Drumz, they are there to protect us from everyone else and predictability by everyone following all the same rules is the only true way to maximize safety for everyone. Otherwise, the roads turn into a rehash of driving in Athens Greece in the 80's. You think its bad now, it was positively Mad Maxian then.

Lastly, the Idaho stop. The Idaho stop has been in existence for 30 years and has yet to make it outside of Idaho, and worse yet the law is slowly becoming more restrictive to bikers in the state. The Idaho Law originally allowed bicyclists to treat stop signs and signals identically, yet in 2005 the signal rules in Idaho were modified, such that bicyclists may still choose to yield if turning right, but must come to a hard stop before proceeding.

The biggest city in Idaho is 1/3rd the size of the District of Columbia and 1/5th the population density. If the Idaho stop does make it out of Idaho, it certainly isn't going to make it to places like DC, and for good reason.

by Idaho on Feb 6, 2014 6:42 pm • linkreport

@JK- In most places "the road ... being updated" occurs on a repaving schedule, which is about 10-15 years.

...and that is exactly my point. The bicycle/ped/transit infrastructure in CS is beholden to the agenda for re-paving roads for cars, thus the car-as-transportation-priority is maintained.

CS fails in places where ped/bike infrastructure improvements could be significant for transportation those modes yet those improvements aren't funded and instead any improvements that are made for bike/ped are beholden to the agenda for re-paving roads for cars.

There are plenty of places where there are gaps in networks for bike/ped transportation that are not adjacent to roads or are not on the road re-paving schedule.

CS places roads for cars as the priority and that priority drives of the agenda to get any improvements for bike/ped.

Thats the weakness of CS from the perspective of creating whole networks of infrastructure that can be used as transportation by biking and walking.

by Tina on Feb 6, 2014 6:52 pm • linkreport

I would like to challenge the notion that a "Complete Street" puts automobiles last. Even with a complete street, the majority of its space is dedicated to cars, both for travel and parking, and most of the monetary investment and maintenance will still go to the asphalt pavement, signage and traffic controls. The car is still the fastest and most space consuming item on these streets.

This is meant to counter the notion by some that the complete street is a war on cars. The complete street is merely bringing a closer balance between the different modes as opposed to the completely car dominated of roads adopted by traffic planners and engineers in the past.

by Chris Allen, PE on Feb 6, 2014 7:12 pm • linkreport

Idaho: Relatively few cars have the level of sensing that you discuss.

The iPod headphones are terrible at isolating noise from the outside. The volume has to be harder to hear the melody, so people crank them up above safe music levels and into road noise levels.

The headphones are much less effective than engine roar, sound isolation, and radio noise that a driver might face. This to add to glare effects, columns placed so I have good visibility on highways, and mirrors that are not usually checked for cyclists.

While I am also skeptical of the Idaho stop at signals your awareness is much overstated. When I run, pedestrians and cyclists always notice me. Drivers I have to watch out for, even when wearing reflectors.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 6, 2014 7:17 pm • linkreport

Considering the majority of cyclists I see on DC streets every day have the ever present white ear buds planted firmly in their ear

Well, that's a dubious statistic. How many cyclists did you count and how many of them had earbuds. Regardless, a study in Australia showed that cyclists listening to ipods still hear better than drivers listening to nothing. The whole article is good and should set your mind at ease on this issue.

Do these factors make a better, more "aware" driver that then allows me to choose what stop signs and red lights I want to obey? Of course not.

Agreed.

The Idaho stop has been in existence for 30 years and has yet to make it outside of Idaho,

Not true. Paris, and other cities in France, allow cyclists to run red lights. Many states have dead red laws, and in DC cyclists can ignore red lights if the pedestrian light is green.

The Idaho Law originally allowed bicyclists to treat stop signs and signals identically, yet in 2005 the signal rules in Idaho were modified, such that bicyclists may still choose to yield if turning right, but must come to a hard stop before proceeding.

That's incorrect. I'll quote Rick Bernardi. "As originally written, the law allowed cyclists to roll through red lights if they were making a right turn, or a left turn onto a one-way highway; Idaho law enforcement officials felt that the law needed to be clarified in regards to a cyclist’s duties when proceeding straight or turning left through an intersection controlled by a red light. The Idaho legislature agreed with law enforcement, amending the statute to specify that cyclists must stop on red and yield before proceeding straight through the intersection, and before turning left at an intersection."

The biggest city in Idaho is 1/3rd the size of the District of Columbia and 1/5th the population density.

So what? How is the size of the city or the population density relevant? Does that mean we could safely institute it in 1/3 of the city if it closely mimics the population density of Boise? Like Ward 7 and 8 maybe? Is there something magical about these facts that makes red lights or stop signs work differently?

If the Idaho stop does make it out of Idaho, it certainly isn't going to make it to places like DC, and for good reason.

What would that good reason be, because I can't think of one.

by David C on Feb 6, 2014 8:16 pm • linkreport

Neil

"your awareness is much overstated". So is the average cyclists.

David,

We are saying the same exact thing. The Idaho law was made MORE restrictive to cyclists in Idaho in 2005, 23 years after its passing in Idaho.

And thanks for verifying that the Idaho Law hasn't made it out of Idaho. Claiming it has by saying select portions of it show up in one or two cities around the world is like saying because I know 3 Mandarin curse words, that I am fluent in Mandarin. Not even the Netherlands, the most bike friendly place on planet Earth has adopted the Idaho law.

Why is population density or size relevant. I don't know, ask every city in the US outside of Idaho and around the world thats bigger than Boise (should be a few thousand cities) why it hasn't adopted the Idaho stop and get back to us.

I also see you keep your own cycling blog, and from what I've read on it, you are the cycling equivalent of Lon Anderson...vehicles are always at fault and nothing any cyclist could do could ever be wrong. Perhaps you should occasionally evaluate things from a pedestrian or vehicle point of view, just like Lon should occasionally evaluate things from "not" behind the windshield.

by Idaho on Feb 6, 2014 8:48 pm • linkreport

"CS fails in places where ped/bike infrastructure improvements could be significant for transportation those modes yet those improvements aren't funded and instead any improvements that are made for bike/ped are beholden to the agenda for re-paving roads for cars."

Tina: IMO, CS fails where there is not an active group of advocates working to change the culture and demand more effective streets. CS provides a minimum level of action (and allows too many excuses for inaction), but does not limit action. As I said above, in Alexandria CS improvements are happening on roads not being repaved. Finally, I am mystified by your term, "repaved for cars." If repaving means that a street will be re-striped for improved biking, walking and transit, it is being repaved for everyone, not just car-drivers.

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 6, 2014 9:01 pm • linkreport

"I also see you keep your own cycling blog, and from what I've read on it, you are the cycling equivalent of Lon Anderson"

Idaho: This is not an accurate description of the Washcycle blog. Polarizing comments such as this do not help.

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 6, 2014 9:04 pm • linkreport

We are saying the same exact thing. The Idaho law was made MORE restrictive to cyclists in Idaho in 2005, 23 years after its passing in Idaho.

No. That's what you're saying. What actually happened was that the law was unclear on cyclists going straight or left, so in 2005 they clarified it to specifically say what they have always intended.

Why is population density or size relevant. I don't know

Well, if you don't know, then why bring it up?

It seems odd to act like size and density matter, since it is largely affected by where one draws lines. We could draw lines within DC that would create a city of equal population and density to Boise and then, by your logic, that place would be ideal for the Idaho stop law. And there is no reason to believe that size and density have any effect on bike safety at intersections. At what density or size does the Idaho stop stop working exactly? This is just a nonsense distinction without relevance. It's like saying that the Idaho stop won't work in DC in the same way that it does in Boise because Boise starts with the letter B.

The reasons that efforts to pass the Idaho stop in Oregon, Washington and California have failed have had nothing to do with the size of cities in those states or with population density. It has failed mostly out of unjustified fear, a misplaced sense of fairness and garden-variety anit-bike attitudes.

you are the cycling equivalent of Lon Anderson...vehicles are always at fault and nothing any cyclist could do could ever be wrong.

Well, if I'm going to defend myself, I'm going to need some examples. Otherwise that is just an accusation without evidence. Like me saying that from your word choice its clear you're the Jerry Sandusky of GGW commenters. So, cough up some evidence or apologize.

by David C on Feb 6, 2014 9:18 pm • linkreport

"I would like to challenge the notion that a "Complete Street" puts automobiles last. Even with a complete street, the majority of its space is dedicated to cars, both for travel and parking, and most of the monetary investment and maintenance will still go to the asphalt pavement, signage and traffic controls."

You are probably right about the implementation in the current political environment, but the complete street concept is dedicated to making streets that are as attractive for walking, transit and biking as they are for driving, if not more so. In cities, the future is in the those first three, which support each other. Private cars just get in the way, IMO.

Nevertheless, complete streets advocates currently spend lots of effort to pony up study after study showing that complete streets do not reduce automotive throughput. I will be very glad when we reach a tipping point on this and no longer have to promise not to reduce the number of cars being moved around (at present we mainly seem to change mode share by avoiding increases in cars while everything else rises).

This question of balance is further confused by the fact that cars are, perhaps, the lowest-capacity form of transportation ever to see widespread use. Even if the majority of the space goes to cars (shared with buses and, on residential streets, bicycles), there are already documented streets where bicycles carry more people than are carried by cars. In other words, cars may get most of the space but they will not always deliver most of the people (In DC, cars still have a plurality). Someday we will recognize that cars are, generally, a silly waste of valuable land.

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 6, 2014 9:22 pm • linkreport

You should carry mace for people who pull alongside of you and start lecturing you. I live for that moment and it will happen soon.

by NE John on Feb 6, 2014 9:24 pm • linkreport

NE John, I know you're just kidding, but just in case, that would be assault and you could be arrested for it (and, IMO, you'd deserve to be). There's nothing wrong with the old tried and true finger. It was good enough for Caesar, so it's good enough for me.

by David C on Feb 6, 2014 9:40 pm • linkreport

Yea, jk

by NE John on Feb 6, 2014 9:42 pm • linkreport

"The reasons that efforts to pass the Idaho stop in Oregon, Washington and California have failed have had nothing to do with the size of cities in those states or with population density. It has failed mostly out of unjustified fear, a misplaced sense of fairness and garden-variety anit-bike attitudes"

Not that I have a dog in this fight, but considering the 3 places you just mentioned happen to be the most biker friendly places in the states, I don't think you can chalk it up to simply "anti-bike attitudes" when they've already gone out of their way to be the most biker accommodating places we have. You seem to think the idaho stop can work anywhere. Fine, thats your opinion but perhaps you could consider that maybe you are wrong if after all this time, and all the effort to change that, it still hasn't been adopted anywhere.

I mean, in a 10 year period we went from zero states recognizing gay marriage to 14 of them doing so, and I think most would agree that on a legislative level, passing gay marriage laws is fr and away more troublesome than passing what you maintain is bike rules that work everywhere.

by MCW on Feb 6, 2014 9:44 pm • linkreport

This struck me as quite the head-scratcher. After all, isn't the speed limit an upper limit?

Not a head-scratcher at all. The driver would be equally upset if you were a car traveling at 10mph ahead of him on that same road.

by Tyro on Feb 6, 2014 9:56 pm • linkreport

I don't think you can chalk it up to simply "anti-bike attitudes" when they've already gone out of their way to be the most biker accommodating places we have.

The cities are. The states, not so much. There are some legislators from the rural parts of those states who pull out the old "why should we do this when cyclists don't follow the law." They're a minority, but it makes up part of the opposition.

by David C on Feb 6, 2014 10:19 pm • linkreport

perhaps you could consider that maybe you are wrong if after all this time, and all the effort to change that, it still hasn't been adopted anywhere.

I'm absolutely willing to consider it. But there is no data that supports that claim. Nor is there even a theory as to why it would be wrong in some places. So if you want me to consider it, I'll actually need SOMETHING to consider. Something more than "Idaho is not identical to DC. Their football fields are blue."

I mean, in a 10 year period we went from zero states recognizing gay marriage to 14 of them doing so, and I think most would agree that on a legislative level, passing gay marriage laws is fr and away more troublesome than passing what you maintain is bike rules that work everywhere.

True. But the gay marriage movement started in the early 70's. Bike advocates didn't start promoting the Idaho stop until the early '00s. [In Idaho, the law was actually opposed by the League of American Cyclists and other bike advocates]

by David C on Feb 6, 2014 10:33 pm • linkreport

Why "... and cyclists"?

by Steve K on Feb 6, 2014 11:35 pm • linkreport

I actually think cyclists (and runners!) should refrain from headphones as well.

I don't think that has anything to do with what one should do at stop signs though.

I'm glad cars are getting safer. And I am glad for drivers aware of their surroundings. I never said cyclists are wholesale more aware than drivers. I did say that someone who hasn't tried riding a bike in a city before will likely become aware that riding a bike is a completely different experience from driving a car, even if te rules governing both are the same.

Also if all the bad drivers immediately switched over to being bad cyclists then road safety would increase immensely anyway. Way more than if all the perfect law abiding cyclists started driving instead.

by Drumz on Feb 6, 2014 11:38 pm • linkreport

And the whole argument about how cyclists must obey laws because everyone should lest there be anarchy is bunk.

This very article's thesis counters that. The expectations for cyclists is hardly ever based on the actual traffic laws.

When cyclists have the law on their side they still can't win and when it's suggested that the law be changed they get scoffed at because "they don't follow the law anyway".

To argue the tautology that says "cyclists stay safe by obeying traffic laws because obeying traffic laws keeps cyclists safe"ignores the actual experiences of cyclists. To remedy that I'd say to get out and ride.

by Drumz on Feb 6, 2014 11:48 pm • linkreport

@KS, I agree that CS provides a minimum level of action (and allows too many excuses for inaction), and [it] does not limit action.

Re: If repaving means that a street will be re-striped for improved biking, walking and transit, it is being repaved for everyone, not just car-drivers.

And that is exactly the limitation, that improving infrastructure for bike/ped/transit is dependent on the agenda for repaving the road for cars. Yes, for cars, because in your example, e.g. striping for bike lanes, does not need to wait for road repaving, Striping for bike lanes can be done anytime. The only reason to wait is because the agenda for work on that particular stretch of road is determined by when the road needs repaving for cars. Why tie it together like that?

Additionally there are lots of infrastructure improvements to be made that are not connected to roads, like missing sidewalks, hawk signals, gaps in trail networks, etc.

Look, I said CS is a step in the right direction and its better than not having CS. I'm pointing out its weaknesses. Why should basic transportation infrastructure be dependent on activists?

Biking and walking are basic transportation.

When this is recognized fully by DOTs then the status quo of cars-first will be challenged.

by Tina on Feb 6, 2014 11:52 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy +1 (×many)

by Dennis Jaffe on Feb 7, 2014 7:41 am • linkreport

The author mixes apples and oranges. Driving below speed on the Beltway is a danger to other drivers, especially if done outside the right lane, because it forces other drivers to make sudden lane shifts. Nor does the sense of entitlement belong only to drivers. What about bicyclists who think it is OK to swerve from sidewalk to road and ignore stop signs or pedestrians who who cross in the middle of the road instead of the crosswalk? Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter what the mode.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 8:09 am • linkreport

Bad behavior by a cylist is far less risky than bad behavior by a driver.

So it's natural to expect or require drivers to maintain a little more responsibility.

Also, sudden lane shifts are the fault of the person who absolutely must get out from behind the slower driver. That's not the slow driver's fault.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 8:13 am • linkreport

Most of the recent pedestrian deaths in Montgomery County have resulted from pedestrians crossing the streets outside the crosswalk. I can't recall a single prosecution of the driver.
As per your other comment many jurisdictions instruct slower drivers to keep to the right.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 8:41 am • linkreport

@woody,

Thank you for illustrating the exact attitude of the social order and status quo described by the author.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 9:00 am • linkreport

So? Most roads in Montgomery County are also extremely inhospitable for pedestrians.

And 25% of the peds killed in MoCo were killed while standing on the sidewalk. That's outside of the crosswalk I guess but forgive me if I don't blame it on the person who simply was trying to get from A to B by walking.

We don't prosecute drivers because our laws are written to favor drivers. The only exception is when someone is drunk. If the game is rigged, why play at all?

It's pretty telling that MoCo (and many other jurisdictions) when the only response that the police chief can think of re: pedestrian safety is that people should wear brighter clothes. Because that's the thing that'll help them when someone who can't control their vehicle drives up on the sidewalk.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/17785/montgomery-police-blame-victims-for-pedestrian-deaths/

http://www.actfortransit.org/pedestrians.html

And just because there is a general requirement for slower traffic to keep right doesn't mean people on the left are obligated to go as fast as possible. It's the passing lane, not the speeding lane.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 9:06 am • linkreport

Your sample size for the 25 per cent is three. Hardly convincing. I've included a link to the county website for a broader overview. Here is what is accurate: Most auto-pedestrian collisions are the fault of the driver; most of the deaths occur at nighttime and are the fault of the pedestrian. So there is plenty of blame to go around.
It is not helpful to say that drivers are more responsible than others. We need to educate drivers AND pedestrians about pedestrian safety.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 9:26 am • linkreport

@woody-the attitude that the onus for being careful not to kill others with their 1 ton machine is equal to that of people walking is morally bankrupt.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 9:31 am • linkreport

At the end of the day, I dislike the social order of our streets. But I console myself with how much more simple, easy and happy my life seems to be than that of all the people I see in their cars as I walk to the Metro to go to work or breeze around my neighborhood on my bike for errands. Just this morning, as I strolled towards the Potomac Avenue Metro station, happy and calm as can be, enjoying a chilly but sunny morning and getting more exercise than many of my fellow Americans will get all week, the drivers of the cars backed up at the lights all seemed incredibly tense and unhappy. (Oh, and they must all also have very important jobs, tied as they were to their phones.) Indeed, most of the time when I catch a glimpse of a driver's face, they usually appear tense, angry and unhappy. Oh, and many of them look like they would definitely benefit from more exercise. On top of the benefits of less tension and anger, greater happiness and superior fitness, my car-free household is laughing all the way to the bank by foregoing the expenses (not to mention the endless hassles) of car ownership. And, adding insult to the perceived injury of drivers, the social order of the streets is changing in our favor, albeit ever so gradually.

So, I'll give drivers their righteous indignation on the comments section of this blog -- it's the least I can do for those poor souls.

by rg on Feb 7, 2014 9:33 am • linkreport

Drivers operate a multi-ton vehicle capable of going over 100 mph. Why shouldn't they have more responsibility to operate safely? Plus, its hard to figure out who's at fault when one of the aggrieved parties is dead.

Even Montgomery's website talks to drivers more about being responsible than they talk to pedestrians.

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dot-pedsafety/blairwalkproject.html

And the blue ribbon panel also said that the problem lied in the way streets were designed, not the way pedestrians behaved.

http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/home/pdf/ped_init.pdf

And still to think someone more or less deserves to die because they're crossing the street outside of the crosswalk (and thus "breaking the law") doesn't really cut it for me.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 9:34 am • linkreport

@rg :-)

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 9:35 am • linkreport

Here's a gem from MPD this morning:

https://twitter.com/DCPoliceDept/status/431763298619363328

"BE VISIBLE/Wear bright colors when walking/cycling in daytime & at night, wear light-colored clothing and/or reflective clothing/vest."

Thanks. Just put more onus on people walking why don't you.

by MLD on Feb 7, 2014 9:59 am • linkreport

@Idaho -

'Considering the majority of cyclists I see on DC streets every day have the ever present white ear buds planted firmly in their ear, the "bikers are more aware" canard is little more than meaningless supposition.'

Are you saying that, by definition, someone using ear buds is automatically not as aware as aware of traffic as they should be? That normal hearing is, or should be, a requirement for walking, bicycling and driving?

by DaveG on Feb 7, 2014 10:03 am • linkreport

Most auto-pedestrian collisions are the fault of the driver; most of the deaths occur at nighttime and are the fault of the pedestrian.

So when pedestrians survive and are able to tell their side of the story, drivers are most often found to blame. But when the pedestrian dies, and thus we only have the driver's side of the story, the dead pedestrian is most often blamed.

What lesson do you think we should draw from this?

by David C on Feb 7, 2014 10:07 am • linkreport

If bright colors are so important to the safety of the victim of an accident, why don't they recommend only driving cars that are light colored?

by engrish_major on Feb 7, 2014 10:08 am • linkreport

"Striping for bike lanes can be done anytime. The only reason to wait is because the agenda for work on that particular stretch of road is determined by when the road needs repaving for cars. Why tie it together like that?"

Tina: It depends on context. In Alexandria, "tie[ing] it together like that" was a big step forward. Before the complete streets policy was adopted, very little was done because the people in charge didn't think it was much of a priority. The activism that led to the CS policy showed that it was a priority for many of us. That advocacy opened the door to more funding for the program and to projects not limited by the repaving schedule.

Maybe there are places where CS is being used as a roadblock ("you're just going to have to wait for repaving, sonny"), but I don't know of any places like that. Either a city is willing to allocate space to biking and walking or they aren't. Either they have people advocating for complete streets or they don't.

Another aspect of complete streets, one that has not much to do with repaving, is that sidewalks get added to adjacent roads when sites are redeveloped.

Really, I don't see the downside to CS policies, since they force action. Even if that action is only a public conversation between concerned residents and do-nothing weasels who refuse to obey the policy, that conversation may be the first step in building an advocacy group. Can we at least agree that doing something is better than doing nothing?

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 7, 2014 10:09 am • linkreport

At least in Alexandria's case it was good to have the CS law on the books. That way when people questioned "why do we need a bike lane here on King Street" advocates responded "because we passed a law saying we should, I'm sorry to anyone who thought that there wasn't any meaning behind the legislation, you'll learn next time maybe".

That said, a law is only as good as its enforcement (and we're well aware of that on this site). It might be good to start lobbying for laws that say that complete streets redesigns are now contingent on some other criteria rather than the normal re-paving schedule but I think that's worthy of a whole other post/conversation.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 10:22 am • linkreport

"We need to educate drivers AND pedestrians about pedestrian safety."

That has been tried and the rate of traffic deaths in the USA, about 90 per day, hasn't budged much. At this point traffic has been studied so much that we know what works. We just lack the desire and/or political will to do it.

First, street design that forces drivers to slow down will reduce deaths. The fatality-versus-speed curve is well established and it turns out that the human body is rated at 20 mph, about the top running speed of a healthy adult (for those of you who don't believe in evolution that's just a coincidence). Slow the cars wherever pedestrians are present and lives will be saved.

Second, study after study shows that driver mistakes lead to deaths more often than non-driver mistakes. An enforcement regime that is designed to change driver behavior would make a difference. Many other industrialized countries do this and have fatality rates 1/3 to 1/4 the US rate. We're talking 20,000 lives per year. That's a lot of 9/11s.

Instead we have a culture where everyone agrees that everyone else drives like an idiot. Seriously, surveys after survey shows that 80-90 percent of drivers believe they are above average; this is known as the Lake Wobegone Effect. To me, the Lake Wobegone Effect is a pathological collective fear-response that allows drivers to avoid responsibility for traffic violence.

The more I learn about this stuff, the less I want to drive a car.

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 7, 2014 10:29 am • linkreport

The more I bike the more sympathy I have for all those "scofflaw cyclists". On many roads in DC I am trying to defend my life as often as I am trying to simply get to my destination in a fun, healthy way. When you face hostility and literal threats to your life on a regular basis as a cyclist a "me-first" attitude is a totally understandable response. I get just as pissed off as anyone when I see a cyclist running a red light and going the wrong way in traffic. And while I choose not to do those things myself, I have broken rules when frustrated and trying to get to a safer area. If we had more complete streets and a social understanding of respect between modes of transportation, those "me-first" survival mechanisms would hopefully decrease substantially - and I've already seen them do so in the parts of DC where there are well-maintained and respected bike lanes.

by Annie on Feb 7, 2014 10:35 am • linkreport

(nitpick, the real Lake Wobegon lacks the "e" on the end...signed, a Minnesotan)

I recall the city of Minneapolis recently did a study on bike/vehicle crashes and who was at fault. IIRC, it was about an even split. 'Course, Minneapolis also just had a bike fatality this past week where the cyclist was doing everything right and got hit by a suspected drunk driver.

by Froggie on Feb 7, 2014 10:37 am • linkreport

@JK, yes I agree that CS is better than nothing. I said that already in two comments above including my first comment. I am pointing out weaknesses in CS, constructive criticism, and you keep denying those weaknesses. If the goal is a transportation network that is as fully realized for walking and biking (and transit) as the road network is for driving, then the weaknesses in CS are there and they're real.

CS does NOT prioritize non-car modes of transportation. CS relies on the agenda for repaving roads for the purpose of car travel to address the needs and gaps of the transportation network of these other modes. Sidewalks, bicycle tracks, hawk signals, improved bus stops, other facilities for modes other than driving do not need to be beholden to, piggied-backed onto, the agenda for repaving roads to address the needs of car travel.

If the non-car transportation network were a priority improvements for this network would not be welded to the agenda that addresses the automobile transportation network. Yet that is how CS is written and how it works. When the agenda for maintaining the transportation network built for cars needs work, then the other modes can get some attention.

Yes CS is better than nothing. Yes its a step in the right direction. But it has weaknesses! And CS does not prioritize non-car transportation modes! A transportation policy that prioritized non-car transportation modes would not be predicated on "when we need to repave the road lets put in the side walk". The sidewalk would be the priority, period.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 10:39 am • linkreport

yes and what @drumz said about the weakness of CS. its dependent on being enforced. In a lot of places its just a policy and not a law and its in-enforceable. Its kind of like "green-washing" to have the policy and never execute it. Its great CS worked in Alexandria to get bike lanes on King St.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

Annie, I'm not convinced that cyclists are running stop lights and signs as a survival technique. They're just lazy.

by Crickey7 on Feb 7, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

I am interested in this class issue, and on perceptions of income level and therefore the perceived importance of the user group. In a transportation report I'm editing right now, the authors state that those who bike and use transit are more likely to come from lower-income and minority groups. I think this is just sloppiness on their part, lumping to two together, but I do think that even in cities like DC, the perception is still there that if you are on a bike, it's because you can't afford a car. I am going to do a bit of research, but if anyone knows of any good studies, please toss them out.

by DE on Feb 7, 2014 10:47 am • linkreport

Crickey, I mostly agree, but I will say, for instance, that every morning in Georgetown, I jump the light to sprint past all the parked trucks before the cars can come along. I think this is a safety benefit to me and a benefit to the drivers too because they then don't have to wait for me. Other times I've just been lazy, yes (though never taking anyone's right of way!)

by DE on Feb 7, 2014 10:50 am • linkreport

@DE, there is a survey by Bike Maryland (I think?) or an official transportation planning survey by MD? that had results indicting regular bike commuters were more educated and had higher household incomes than average MD. Of course there would be responder bias ---, but still its useful data.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 10:54 am • linkreport

@DE - it was a survey by the Maryland DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. See Reports, Appendix C

http://www.remlinedigital.com/M5144%20MDOT%20Bicycle%20and%20Pedestrian%20Master%20Plan/links/bike_ped_plan/Appendix%20C%202014-01-07.pdf

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 11:01 am • linkreport

Idaho, do you or anyone else want to answer my question? -

'Are you saying that, by definition, someone using ear buds is automatically not as aware of traffic as they should be? That normal hearing is, or should be, a requirement for walking, bicycling and driving?"

This is Washington, DC - home of Gallaudet University (for the deaf and hearing impaired, although hearing people are welcome there, too), so please answer carefully :-)

Since normal hearing is not (nor should be) a requirement for safe walking, bicycling and driving, I propose that the whole ear bud thing is merely another example of red-herring, baseless resentment directed by some road users against other road users, particularly bicyclists and even pedestrians. All road users (except blind people) should be relying on their vision anyway.

by DaveG on Feb 7, 2014 11:06 am • linkreport

Thank you both for the links. Agrees with my thoughts and what I found myself. I think the authors were just being imprecise so I will query them.

by DE on Feb 7, 2014 11:09 am • linkreport

I'd question some of the assumptions that go into the conclusions that the pedestrian is at fault. If a driver is doing 25 mph down a narrow one lane street with cars on each side is following the law. A little child running into a street is "at fault," when he gets hit. But the 25mph speed is unsafe under the conditions, preventing the driver from seeing and stopping. Under common law, and some European nations, you would blame the driver for operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner. In the USA, the pedestrian is at fault.

by SJE on Feb 7, 2014 11:29 am • linkreport

@SJE -yes, and that's what's appalling about the status quo.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:01 pm • linkreport

DE: http://streetsblog.net/2014/01/24/less-affluent-americans-more-likely-to-bike-for-transportation/

There was also a study of Capital Bikeshare users that showed them to be very white, highly educated and less affluent than average. Also, Ralph Buehler (google him) mentioned in a lecture that bicycling in the USA is extremely white in terms of demographics. He then moved on to aspects of bicycling that people were more apt to discuss and everyone pretended he didn't bring up race.

That said, I get the impression there is a bicycling underclass that is racially diverse. I just don't know that it is well-studied anywhere.

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 7, 2014 12:08 pm • linkreport

Well, that's your reach for the heart example. The federal stats say 70 % of pedestrian deaths occur at night. In MOCO we have had several examples of bus passengers killed attempting to cross major arteries like Georgia at night outside a crosswalk.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 12:14 pm • linkreport

So what are the policy solutions?

A: don't walk at night. (probably not realistic)
B: Requirement for pedestrians to wear bright clothing (onerous for a basic human task, dubious effectiveness).
C: Make our streets safer by providing better light, better marked and more frequent crosswalks, longer timed ped. signals. (getting there).
D: A change in law/culture that says, yes, the person driving a multi-ton high speed vehicle that is easily capable at killing someone when traveling at a "low" speed should operate very carefully and should always assume that they're the ones mostly responsible for prevent collisions since their mostly responsible for causing harm. (Definitely hard to accomplish but we're trying).

Like David C said, when only one side gets to tell their side of the story you can get a situation where most pedestrians are at fault in collisions involving their death.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 12:22 pm • linkreport

@woody - ....bus passengers killed attempting to cross major arteries like Georgia at night outside a crosswalk.

Gee, I wonder where the bus stop was located...?

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:33 pm • linkreport

OK since no one can rebut me on the ear bud issue :-) I now ask why New York City has a law requiring bicyclists (but not other road users, it seems) to leave one ear free of an ear bud? This law presents a slippery slope to requiring normal hearing of all road users (and thus is wrong). But what if one is deaf in one ear?

by DaveG on Feb 7, 2014 12:35 pm • linkreport

@drumz - "E: use your brain when placing bus stops/designing access to bus stops"

"F: be a decent human being and think about the experience of other people trying to get to/from bus stops on busy roads like GA Ave"

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:37 pm • linkreport

c for sure. For example, take the recently installed light and crosswalk on Colesville between the two Silver Spring entrances. Plus enforcement of the laws against drivers abusing the crosswalk and against jaywalkers. And constant educational campaigns.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 12:39 pm • linkreport

Tina: Some more replies...

"Why should basic transportation infrastructure be dependent on activists?"

Because we live in a democracy and a democracy is a marketplace of ideas. Right now that marketplace is being skewed by money in politics, but that has always been the case, to one degree or another. In such a system good ideas that don't make rich people richer tend to be marginalized. For example, congressman Paul Ryan's family money comes from building highway in Wisconsin and, in Wisconsin, roads are being prioritized still.[1]

"When this is recognized fully by DOTs then the status quo of cars-first will be challenged."

Not true. A common tactic of do-nothing politicians is to talk about a problem but do nothing about it. That works (for them) because change is attractive in the abstract but scary in reality. It is up to advocates to make them put our public funding where their mouths are.

"If the non-car transportation network were a priority improvements for this network would not be welded to the agenda that addresses the automobile transportation network."

I fail to see how we get bike lanes on streets without "address[ing] the automobile transportation network."

In any case, again, in Alexandria at least, the bicycle transportation is not "welded" to the repaving schedule.

- Again, complete streets funding can be and is being used for bike and pedestrian improvements not related to the repaving schedule. A pedestrian upgrade to Mt Vernon Ave and Four Mile Rd is an example. That was a problem intersection for car-ped crashes before the upgrades. It was funded by the CS program.

- The transportation improvement program (TIP) and capital improvement program (CIP) include bike and pedestian facilites, such as bike/ped paths. Recent repaving (!) of Holmes Run Trail is an example. I'm not sure if the Chambliss bike/ped bridge fit under this program, but it certainly wasn't welded to a road repaving schedule. There is a long term list of bike and ped projects, many off road, under TIP and CIP. Alexandria BPAC[2] had a hand in setting the priorities for those lists.

- The operating budget, not tied to repaving, includes funds for Capital Bikeshare operations.

- Various grant programs fund bike and ped facilities. Capital costs for Capital Bikeshare in Alexandria is funded entirely that way. This is good for political reasons because CaBi is still seen as unimportant by a vocal minority.

[1] http://streetsblog.net/2013/04/10/in-wisconsin-driving-stagnates-highway-spending-accelerates/
[2] https://sites.google.com/site/alexandriabpac/

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 7, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

G: when presented with an issue like the fact that 70% of pedestrian deaths occur at night, consider that even if it's an issue of pedestrians being totally careless and drivers who can't prevent it from happening, that it's still an issue that needs solving and not something that we figure is best left to jokes about Darwin's law.

And of course, most pedestrians aren't irresponsible or irrational. They're just responding the best they can in a dangerous environment. All the more reason to be proactive.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

But I'm glad we can agree on C.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 12:44 pm • linkreport

@JK
"Why should basic transportation infrastructure be dependent on activists?"

Because we live in a democracy and a democracy is a marketplace of ideas.

But we also live in an economy that is dependent individuals' ability to move about, that is, on transportation. Yet basic modes of transportation -(what is more basic than walking?) are actively made difficult with barriers and gaps in the network to the detriment of economic activity.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:46 pm • linkreport

Not true. A common tactic of do-nothing politicians is to talk about a problem but do nothing about it.

This is one of the weaknesses of CS. Its in-enforceable; its a policy not a law; it allows "green-washing' wrt pretending to care about non-car transportation networks.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:48 pm • linkreport

I fail to see how we get bike lanes on streets without "address[ing] the automobile transportation network."

Paint, signs, laws and enforcement. See R St NE in DC for an example of the two former.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:50 pm • linkreport

That People for Bikes study seems to contradict some others in regard to affluence, but I think in reality it's just that they are focusing on bike commuting rather than on biking in general.

by DE on Feb 7, 2014 12:51 pm • linkreport

the proportion of funding for sidewalks, bike lanes etc is incredible small. federally it's ~<1.5 of the transportation budget.

Look, CS is s start yeah. But what the hell? there is SO MUCH MORE that can be done. Great, CS worked well in Alexandria. it doesn't in all places.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:53 pm • linkreport

*1.5%

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 12:56 pm • linkreport

@woody brosnan: "In MOCO we have had several examples of bus passengers killed attempting to cross major arteries like Georgia at night outside a crosswalk."

Which specific cases are you referring to? Thanks.

by Miriam on Feb 7, 2014 12:58 pm • linkreport

I don't relish being forced into activism in order to use the legs god gave me to walk some where, or to be confident that a cop won't assign me blame in a crash simply b/c i wasn't driving a car. it pisses me off and its a f***** up status quo.

i don't agree that CS puts walking and biking first. What puts walking and biking first are policies that put walking and biking networks first regardless of whats going on with the very well developed transportation network designed nearly exclusively for SOVs.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 1:08 pm • linkreport

re Pedestrians killed at night in MoCo crossing the road: Look at Connecticut Ave and the bus stops between Friendship Hts and Bethesda, and how many people stop for pedestrians trying to cross on the marked cross walks. When I stop for peds there I get a bunch of apopleptic drivers behind me. So, ask yourself whether the problem is pedestrians or drivers?

by SJE on Feb 7, 2014 1:29 pm • linkreport

To Miriam,

http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/21132200/pedestrian-killed-crossing-georgia-avenue-in-aspen-hill#axzz2sf6dNTDX

http://www.wjla.com/articles/2011/06/fatal-pedestrian-accident-in-wheaton-61741.html

http://anotherwheaton.blogspot.com/2013/08/another-pedestrian-fatality-more-stings.html

I am aware of another incident where a person was killed while standing in the median. And several years ago a member of my church was killed while attempting to cross Georgia to get to the church. He wasn't in the cross walk.

I was probably also thinking of Viers Mill. Here is a link to one of those stories:
http://rockville.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/another-pedestrian-killed-on-viers-mill-road

That incident highlights the importance of getting pedestrian and driver education information out in languages other than English. We have many immigrants in Montgomery County.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Teen-Struck-by-Car-in-Rockville-220706091.html

This is another Viers Mill which occurred mid-block.

Yes, drivers need to be more vigilant. Pedestrians too.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 1:43 pm • linkreport

why can't it be both? You point to one intersection. I could point to half a dozen places in silver spring where pedestrians cross streets illegally. You sound like a republican blaming Obama for everything. It is NOT always the driver's fault but sometimes it is.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 2:12 pm • linkreport

Because:

A: We often take the driver's word too easily. Most of the time you can simply say "I didn't see him" and you can walk away with maybe just a ticket.

B: In so many places we're so used to the fact that the default mode of transportation is driving that people become numb to what their vehicles are actually capable of.

So if we implemented solutions to solve both of those issues then you could actually get to the point of seeing whether the pedestrian acted recklessly or if the driver truly could do nothing to prevent the collision. As it stands now though, that process never really happens.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 2:20 pm • linkreport

So its just that when I look at the situation: poor infrastructure, unfair laws, cultural inertia, I see a very unbalanced situation. I'd like to see the situation balanced first before I dismiss a story of someone being hit as their fault for not using the crosswalk, or walking at night.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 2:29 pm • linkreport

@woody brosnan, thanks. Going through your links:

Frank Sedwick was killed in February 2013 while crossing Georgia Avenue at Heathfield Road. That's a crosswalk.

Etsegenet Hurrisa was killed in July 2011 while crossing Georgia Avenue near Regina Drive. There's a bus stop just south of Regina Drive, and there's a crosswalk at Regina Drive. But there's no median on Georgia Avenue at the crosswalk, whereas there is one at the bus stop. If you were she, where would you have crossed the street, to be safe?

Barbara Green was killed in August 2013 while crossing Georgia Avenue near Henderson Avenue. She was in a marked crosswalk.

Luis Martinez was killed in December 2011 while crossing Veirs Mill Road at a shopping center. Instead of making the crossing safe, the county has put up a fence to stop pedestrians from crossing there: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/14109/montgomery-continues-pedestrian-removal-in-wheaton/

And a 14-year-old boy was struck and critically injured in August 2013 crossing Veirs Mill Road near Bradley Road, by the Twinbrook Shopping Center. If you were he, where would you have crossed the street, to be safe?

by Miriam on Feb 7, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

Who is the "we" always taking the driver's word? If the pedestrian survives there is his word. The police adinister tests to find our if the driver is drunk and sometimes they can determne the speed from the skid marks. I was a meeting with Montgomery police officials where I asked why we don't have more charges of vehicular homicide. Their response was that the victims were usually not in the crosswalk. Again,there are lots of bad drivers who should be ticketed for violating pedestrian rights. But pedestrians are not always right either.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 2:33 pm • linkreport

"Who is the "we" always taking the driver's word?"

The same reason that many car-bicycle accidents are initially written up as being the cyclist's fault even if it actually was not - the cyclist (or in these cases, pedestrians) are often taken away from the scene via ambulance, which leaves only the auto driver to be questioned by the police. Then the report is written up, citations issued (or not), and it is considered closed unless the injured party is able to open the matter at a later time.

by engrish_major on Feb 7, 2014 2:44 pm • linkreport

Yes, that's a bad way to administer the law.

Someone not being in a crosswalk is not liscense to hit someone. Contributory negligence laws mean that even if the driver is speeding, texting, distracted, whatever all of a sudden they're off the hook because a mistake where someone is killed equals a mistake of someone choosing to cross the street in a place that they're not supposed to cross the street (nevermind the fact if the designated crossings are invisible or inadequate).

Otherwise, I'd reccomend searching through the archives here. There are LOTS of stories about this going years back.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 2:44 pm • linkreport

and "we"=society, generally.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport

"and "we"=society, generally."

Yes. There is no article that exists referencing an accident involving a cyclist that is not complete without myriad comments about scofflaw cyclists (even if the cyclist involved is completely without fault).

And this is especially absurd on top of the fact that I can't walk more than two blocks downtown without seeing multiple instances of drivers breaking the law.

by engrish_major on Feb 7, 2014 3:06 pm • linkreport

@woody-roads are designed for the maximum convenience of drivers to get through at maximum speed. this is called Level Of Service (LOS) and it has been DOT policy for decades. The consequence is that the most vulnerable road users, those walking, are extremely inconvenienced with dangerous situations, unrealistic expectations, for instance of walking 0.5 mi to the intersection and another 0.5 mi back to the same spot on the other side of the street to the bus stop/shopping center/other destination; The intersection that provides 20 secs to get across 6 -8 lanes of traffic, no island and a 4 minute wait for the next cycle, plus drivers turning into the cross walk w/o stopping. All of this design that places cars (SOVs) and drivers in the highest status and creates an expectation that all other users will get out of their way; that anyone walking, god forbid walking-is wrong and in the way. It creates in the minds of drivers a sense of self-righteous entitlement about driving. this leads to conclusions like, " person not in cross walk was killed while crossing to bus stop by driver who couldn't be bothered to look and slow down -tough shit-shouldn't have been in the road. Pedestrian fault." In the meantime its a once an hour bus and it was coming! So person crossed road to catch it instead of walking 20mins out of his/her way to the one measly crosswalk within a half mile. Then, Not even a ticket for the driver -for taking another human being's life in a completely preventable incident. Its indecent. its cruel. Its uncivilized. Its an obscene treatment of human life.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 4:14 pm • linkreport

Tina, are you serious? Do you think people drive around thinking I am so entitled to drive that I will run down anybody who crosses in my path? Who would not do anything in their power to avoid hitting someone? I had a childhood friend whose mother was devastated when a child tripped on a sidewalk and fell under the wheels of her car.
How do you expect to communicate solutions to anyone when you hold forth such a stereotype? How many drivers even know what LOS stands for?

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 4:36 pm • linkreport

If more drivers understood what usually goes on into establishing LOS maybe they wouldn't act so surprised that sometimes pedestrians and cyclists do things that seem unsafe.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 4:38 pm • linkreport

@woody- nearly every incident of a person walking being struck and killed by a driver is 100% preventable, including all the examples you provided. Be prepared to stop, look for people on the road, slow down way ahead when you see them even if you think "They shouldn't be there"! slow down in areas where you might see a pedestrian (any where in the DC metro area except interstates). indignation at the suggestion that these incidences can be prevented with drivers' behavior is a consequence of years of conditioning to think about the roads in a certain way, and to drive in a certain way -a way that places primacy of car speed and driver convenience above all other priorities including human life.

Drivers' are not totally to blame here. Road design, the dogged adherence to LOS and cultural norms about human beings walking for transportation (that its an aberration) lead drivers' to behave in reckless fatal ways.

Other western countries come at this with a different set of priorities and have much better fatality rates than the US. All this violent death is not inevitable. its by design and it can be prevented.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 4:51 pm • linkreport

yes, how many drivers know what LOS is? Exactly. Most people have no idea why they drive with the behaviors they have and attitudes they have. they just think "its they way it is" thats the definition of status quo, isn't it? accepting a situation as inevitable w/o questioning why it is the way it is and what might be done to make it better? Most crashes in which drivers kill pedestrians are preventable.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 4:58 pm • linkreport

we respond to our environment, both the physical environment and the social environment. These modifiable factors determine how people drive and how they behave toward the most vulnerable road users-people walking. Anyone who doesn't recognize his/her own trained behavior with regards to road design and driving culture is deluding oneself.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 5:04 pm • linkreport

So,Tina,we're just like Pavlov's dogs, reacting to whatever our environment throws our way. Humans are a little more complex than that.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 5:31 pm • linkreport

@woody-you say "who wouldn't do anything in their power to avoid hitting someone". I challenge you to stop the next time you're driving and you see someone clearing waiting to cross the road. I challenge you to notice how many drivers don't stop. Did you know that where ever streets intersect its considered a cross walk whether its striped or not and whether there's a light? most drivers don't know that and don't know they are obliged to stop for people trying to cross at such places. Why? Because our social environment doesn't expect drivers to know and doesn't expect them to stop and because roads are designed in a way that "tells" drivers "you don't have to stop or even slow down".

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 5:32 pm • linkreport

woody, yeah its easy to dismiss isn't it? However there is a load of research backing up my assertion: human behavior, including driving behavior, is significantly influenced by the physical and social environment.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2014 5:34 pm • linkreport

As mentioned by Eileen, Peter Norton's work and related (e.g., _Mass Motorization and Mass Transit: An American History and Policy Analysis_) discuss how what we might call the primacy of motordom was created.

To not discuss the "social order of the streets" in that context, when the social order was changed 100 years ago to give motor vehicles primacy at the expense of other modes--walking in particular--is extremely unfortunate, especially for all those readers of the Alexandria Times who aren't benefiting from this comment stream.

Culture is constructed, and the planning paradigm that we have, which privileges automobility, was constructed. It's not some "natural order," but one created to favor of particular way of organizing society.

2. And that order gets reflected here in the comment stream (as David C points out in multiple places), without people considering the underlying paradigm. It's called "bias."

So it behooves those of us who do this work to explain this paradigm and reality and point out the foundations from which the problem is derived.

3. and wrt the Idaho stop failing to pass in CA, WA, and OR, it's important to recognize that ID's small population made it a lot easier for them. In WA and OR, the rural-urban divide is pronounced, the state legislatures skews to rural control and there is specific anti-Seattle and anti-Portland bias expressed by the respective legislatures with regard to passing sustainable transportation measures of all kinds.

CA is still dominated by automobility as well, despite all the great sustainable transportation work that happens there, so it's tough to pass a state law change because bicyclists are so outnumbered by other stakeholders. Plus, CA has the added problem of the war between "vehicular cyclists" and what we might call "regular cyclists." VCs tend to dominate the relevant commissions and boards, and they vehemently argue for no special treatment for bicycling. It creates real problems in terms of support for adoption of pro-cycling policies in a wide variety of areas, not just wrt the Idaho Stop.

by Richard Layman on Feb 7, 2014 5:35 pm • linkreport

If we weren't influenced by our environment then none of us would ever slow down when it's icy. Or end up driving faster than we meant to on a wide road. Or wear a coat when its cold outside.

And pavlov's experiments were to prove you could provoke an unconditional response on factors other than environment, like a whistle. A pavlovian driver would be someone who slows down when a certain song comes on the radio rather than someone who slows down out of any risk assessment.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 5:42 pm • linkreport

Tina, once again you are changing the subject. Of course I know the law on intersections and crosswalks. Did you know that it is illegal to cross at mid-block when there intersection on either side is controlled by a light? Unfortunately a lot of pedestrians don't and I see them crossing illegally and unsafely practically every day in Silver Spring. And yes, of course there are drivers who don't stop. What you don't apparently want to admit is that a pedestrian is ever in the wrong.
Instead of showing off our remembrance of Psych 101 perhaps we can fight for real solutions. We need more sidewalks. Unfortunately, too many MOCO residents see sidewalks as "urban" and not "suburban" and oppose them.

Or you can ask the state and county highway departments to insist on medians on six-plus lane roads, like I'm trying to do as member of the stakeholder group for the redesign of Georgia Avenue between Forest Glen and 16th street.

What doesn't help is to come up with stupid theories that our road environment makes every driver a crazy person. That's not going to convince any state or local official to join your side or win over the drivers, who happen to be in the majority.
And that's my last word on the subject.

by woody brosnan on Feb 7, 2014 6:52 pm • linkreport

What doesn't help is to come up with stupid theories that our road environment makes every driver a crazy person

Well that would be stupid but thankfully that's a straw man argument.

Many roads can influence behavior that increase risk though. Things like really wide arterials and inadequate crosswalks. The fact that there may a negligent pedestrian somewhere doesn't mean there isn't a need to mitigate risk both through design and the way our laws are written.

by Drumz on Feb 7, 2014 7:04 pm • linkreport

Are you saying that, by definition, someone using ear buds is automatically not as aware of traffic as they should be? That normal hearing is, or should be, a requirement for walking, bicycling and driving?

It's not legal to drive while wearing headphones/earbuds in most states.

by Falls Church on Feb 7, 2014 8:42 pm • linkreport

Re: Idaho stop

My theory why it hasn't passed in more places is that cyclists are rarely cited for failing to stop at a stop sign. If they were, there would likely be a bigger backlash against the status quo and more pressure to pass the Idaho stop.

by Falls Church on Feb 7, 2014 8:47 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church - how does not being able to hear whatever is going on around oneself, while driving or bicycling or walking or whatever, make one a worse road user, especially when one learns to rely on their vision or other senses? Again, talk (thru an ASL interpreter if you can't sign yourself) with someone at Gallaudet about this.

Just because it's a law doesn't mean it makes any sense, or that it will hold up in court. Again with the slippery slope problem. I'm no lawyer but I foresee nothing but problems with trying to enforce these laws such as the one in NYC. What happens if some bicyclist in NYC decides to put their earbud in their one good ear but keep their bad ear free to comply with the law? Now we are getting into legislating acceptable decibel levels for any road use ... and who is going to determine that, and how?

This sounds like another of Bloomberg's, and now DeBlasio's (stupid horse carriage ban) misguided quality-of-life things.

by DaveG on Feb 8, 2014 12:15 am • linkreport

@Falls Church - sorry but I have never "heard" that before :-)) What states do this? Got a link?

by DaveG on Feb 8, 2014 12:20 am • linkreport

DaveG

Link:
http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/headsets/

by Falls Church on Feb 8, 2014 8:20 am • linkreport

DaveG

One other thing. People who have lost a sense like the deaf and blind have been shown to compensate by further developing the sensitivity of their remaining senses. Obviously, the same wouldn't hold true for someone temporarily with reduced hearing due to ear buds.

Also, it's kind of like laws saying if you have fog lights, they need to work. Not everyone has that safety enhancing feature but if you have it, you should use it.

by Falls Church on Feb 8, 2014 9:22 am • linkreport

@woody- see @drumz 7:04

by Tina on Feb 8, 2014 9:43 am • linkreport

Of course you should use it if you have it, but it should not be required by law.

by DaveG on Feb 8, 2014 4:25 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the link. From a cursory glance of the entire list, it appears that approximately half of the states and Canadian Provinces have some sort of restriction while the other half do not.

But no one here has yet answered my question. Why does anyone need to use all their hearing to use the roads safely? Actually, FC, you supported my point by saying that deaf and blind road users compensate with their other senses which is what I said earlier. In which case, why are the deaf a danger on the roads? Clearly they are not, by definition. So why are normal-hearing not allowed to do what amounts to the same thing?

I suppose we COULD go the route of Thailand which bans deaf people from driving, very wrongly so. Which would clearly include banning any use of ear buds or headphones while using a road. So why are pedestrians not banned from that by any state or province?

by DaveG on Feb 8, 2014 4:50 pm • linkreport

@engrish_major -

Generally speaking, motor vehicles usually ARE more visible at all times, as opposed to bicyclists and pedestrians. They must have their lights turned on at night, which then cover most of their fronts, sides and backs. By comparison, pedestrians and bicyclists simply are not as visible, generally speaking. To be more visible at night, they must make more of an effort, using lights, reflective clothing, etc.

by DaveG on Feb 9, 2014 8:56 am • linkreport

First, I agree with you drumz, that more drivers would have more respect if they had more experience riding a bike in mixed traffic. What a driver thinks is a safe speed and safe passing distance (from inside 1000lb of steel) can seem life threatening when you're riding (astride 20lb of aluminum).

Second, my general feeling is that we, as humans, will do things in our cars that we would NEVER DARE do on foot or on bicycles. When you encounter a little old lady walking down the street, you step aside to let her pass. That same little old lady in a car, you'll lean on the horn and peel out to get around her at the light. We feel invincible and know we don't really have to answer to anyone else. So yes, the social norms that do exist are different once we get behind the wheel.

by Zeke on Feb 9, 2014 1:06 pm • linkreport

Richard Layman: Thanks for your comment. You are correct that the historical context is important. The social order of the roads has changed before and, I gather, it was quite a big fight.

DaveG: It is important to recognize that cars have headlights, not to be visible to other drivers, but to allow drivers to see and avoid hitting things. The conceptual difference is that the former assumes cars-only on the road and/or implies that pedestrians should see the headlights and stay out of the way. The latter assumes that drivers must be prepared to react to non-lighted objects, such as pedestrians.

I strongly object when pedestrians and cyclists are told to pile on with the reflective gear. To be practical, cycling needs to be simple. A person in normal clothing should be able to simply mount a bike that has the legally-required lights built in and be on her way, no matter the time of day or the type of road (freeways excluded, I suppose, though I think many more freeways should have a parallel trail such as the Custis Trail in Arlington).

by Jonathan Krall on Feb 10, 2014 12:39 am • linkreport

@DaveG:

I'm deaf. I have no problem with prohibiting the use of earphones, earbuds, etc. while driving an automobile or riding a bike.

I think the issue is not that these things impair hearing but that what is playing on them _distracts_, as simple absence of hearing does not.

Prohibiting earbuds while driving or riding isn't requiring people to use hearing, it's forbidding a particular _misuse_ of hearing. While I'm not capable of that myself, I'd definitely prefer that those who are refrain from it.

by A Streeter on Feb 10, 2014 1:56 am • linkreport

OK so now we are getting into determining whether what's playing on your device is distracting or not? Didn't they used to say that about rock n' roll by calling it a corrupting influence, etc?

I'm sorry but I don't see how using earbuds constitutes "misuse of hearing" (don't tell me what to do with my hearing) nor how you can demand that others refrain from it.

Again, everybody, to restate my simple question: How does not being able to hear whatever is going on around oneself, while driving or bicycling or walking or whatever, make one a worse road user, especially when one learns to rely on their vision or other senses?

You can't have it both ways...it's OK for the deaf to not hear, but it's not OK for the hearing to be censored in what they listen to. Which is it?

Oh and you're forgetting to prohibit the use of earbuds, iPods, etc. for pedestrians. How many times has a collision or near-collision occured involving pedestrians because of that? Let's ban that, too!!

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 8:23 am • linkreport

@A Streeter -

You can't have it both ways...that it's OK for deaf road users to not hear yet hearing road users are not allowed to listen to the radio or other devices.

i.e. you haven't answered my question, either: how does not being able to hear whatever is going on around oneself, while driving or bicycling or walking or whatever, make one a worse road user, especially when one learns to rely on their vision or other senses?

Is hearing required to be a safe road user, or not? Which is it?

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 8:29 am • linkreport

@DaveG

I'm pretty sure he explained exactly why it's OK to "have it both ways." The issue isn't the hearing - it's the distraction from music or whatever piped right into your ears.

Hearing is not required to be a safe road user - he says that "the issue is not that these things impair hearing." The issue is that they distract.

by MLD on Feb 10, 2014 8:32 am • linkreport

Does music playing inside a car distract any less?

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 10, 2014 8:35 am • linkreport

I agree, Neil. Or listening to the news or whatever, in a car or outside...maybe classical is less distracting than other forms of music? Who knows?

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 8:53 am • linkreport

@Jonathan Krall -

So visibility to others is not a reason why motor vehicles have lights on at night? (This helps during the day, too). No one is saying that motor vehicles rule all just because they must be lighted at night.

No one is saying that pedestrians or bicyclists MUST wear lights or reflective gear. I am saying that it doesn't hurt to do so and is helpful to all.

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 8:59 am • linkreport

@A Streeter - so you're in favor of discriminating against hearing people by forcing them to not wear ear buds when biking? Careful what you ask for, we'd be starting down a slipppery slope to banning the deaf from driving.

So, just how do we enforce these dubious laws that require certain road users to hear certain sounds when using a road? You can't.

Bottom line is this: When using the road, plan to rely on your vision regardless of what you are listening to. Unless you are blind, of course.

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 10:12 am • linkreport

On ear buds, there is by definition a correlation between wearing them and being oblivious: Wearers are choosing to be oblivious. They don't want to hear the sounds the rest of us hear. But I think the analogy can be extended beyond that, and I say that as someone who bikes or walks whenever possible rather than driving.

On Idaho stops and the like, it's important to draw a distinction between ignoring stop signs and red lights when you have the intersection entirely to yourself (as I often do, biking home from work after 11 p.m.) and plowing through a light either oblivious to or in contempt of your fellow road users and your own personal safety. (Sorry, fellow cyclists, but the latter happens a lot. Wish it didn't, because it reflects badly on those of us who do the former out of common sense.)

by Bill on Capitol Hill on Feb 10, 2014 11:06 am • linkreport

While wearing ear buds, one has the choice to be oblivious or not. Ear buds do not make people oblivious in and of themselves. Any road user has the ability, and duty, to be visually aware at all times. What you are hearing or not hearing has no effect on this.

This is not at all like trying to text while driving, bicycling or walking. THAT takes your eyes off the road, and fingers off the wheel or handlebars where they should be.

I agree that the Idaho Stop is not a license to simply blow through an intersection. You still need to look :-) and slow down, stop or yield as needed.

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 11:23 am • linkreport

This is not at all like trying to text while driving, bicycling or walking. THAT takes your eyes off the road, and fingers off the wheel or handlebars where they should be.

Is it like being on the phone while driving/bicycling/walking? Because there is research out there that says that that is incredibly distracting - so distracting that we probably shouldn't allow people to do it.

by MLD on Feb 10, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

Of course you should use it if you have it, but it should not be required by law.

I mistyped. What I meant is that is you have fog lights, they need to work (to pass inspection in states like VA) even though having fog lights is not required. That's somewhat similar to requiring people to use their good hearing if they have it.

Actually, FC, you supported my point by saying that deaf and blind road users compensate with their other senses which is what I said earlier. In which case, why are the deaf a danger on the roads? Clearly they are not, by definition. So why are normal-hearing not allowed to do what amounts to the same thing?

Deaf are not a danger. Normal hearing people don't have the heightened sensitivity of other senses that deaf people do. Also, not being able to hear (driving in silence) is different than having music blasting in your ears which is an added distraction.

So why are pedestrians not banned from that by any state or province?

Peds pose not threat of injury to anyone (other than to themselves), unlike cyclists who can severely injure peds.

Does music playing inside a car distract any less?

The thinking behind banning the use of headsets while driving is that yes, listening to music with a headset is a greater danger than listening to music through the use of speakers. Presumably because you're less able to hear the outside world when using a headset.

It is important to recognize that cars have headlights, not to be visible to other drivers, but to allow drivers to see and avoid hitting things.

Daylight running lights exist for cars to be visible to other users of the road. Same thing regarding laws requiring drivers to turn on their headlights while operating their windshield wipers.

by Falls Church on Feb 10, 2014 11:52 am • linkreport

DaveG

Here's a link explaining that deaf people's retinas develop differently from people with normal hearing and the portion of their brain dedicated to vision is enhanced, giving them improved vision to compensate for their lack of hearing. People wearing earbuds don't have this:

the retinal neurons in deaf people appear to be distributed differently around the retina to enable them to capture more peripheral visual information. This means that in deaf people, the retinal neurons prioritise the temporal peripheral visual field, which is what a person can see in their furthest peripheral vision, i.e. towards your ears.

Previous research has shown that deaf people are able to see further into the visual periphery than hearing adults, although it was thought the area responsible for this change was the visual cortex, which is the area of the brain that is particularly dedicated to processing visual information. This research shows for the first time that additional changes appear to be occurring much earlier on in visual processing than the visual cortex -- even beginning at the retina.

The team also found an enlarged neuroretinal rim area in the optic nerve which shows that deaf people have more neurons transmitting visual information than hearing

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110601171620.htm

by Falls Church on Feb 10, 2014 11:56 am • linkreport

Presumably or not, it matters not what you hear or don't hear while using the road. It DOES matter what you see or don't see, however.

Again, FC, how exactly does being able to hear or not hear affect one's ability to be visually aware? It doesn't if you don't let it. Any person who is not legally blind can be just as visually aware as any deaf person. Perhaps some people rely on their hearing too much when using the road?

You seem to have difficulty "seeing" this :-)

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 12:02 pm • linkreport

Very good, FC. Deaf people have something called PRACTICE when it comes to that study. Something any other not-legally-blind person visual can do...

Ear buds do not stop anyone from looking around :-)

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 12:06 pm • linkreport

Any person who is not legally blind can be just as visually aware as any deaf person.

Not true. See my Science Daily link explaining the physical difference in the brains and retinas of deaf people vs. normal hearing people. Deaf people are more visually aware.

by Falls Church on Feb 10, 2014 12:08 pm • linkreport

Deaf people have something called PRACTICE when it comes to that study. Something any other not-legally-blind person visual can do.

Ok, I'd agree. A normal hearing person who muted their ears for months/years at a time until their retinas and brains developed an enhanced capacity for vision would then be as visually aware as a deaf person. Everyone else shouldn't wear ear buds.

by Falls Church on Feb 10, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport

It doesn't take months for everyone (except the legally blind) to start WATCHING what they are doing on the roads. To say that you can't be visually aware while using earbuds is nothing but a copout. As are any laws banning earbud use on the roads.

Which has been my entire point in this thread...that ear buds are nothing but a red herring when it comes to visual awareness on the roads.

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 1:18 pm • linkreport

How does not being able to hear whatever is going on around oneself, while driving or bicycling or walking or whatever, make one a worse road user, especially when one learns to rely on their vision or other senses?

It denies you auditory feedback regarding operation of the motor vehicle, mechanical failure, awareness of other road users through detection of road noise, horn honking, etc... There is some dispute as to how useful any of this is. The NHTSA did a review of the literature and found that the hearing impaired might be at a very slight increased risk of crashes.

You can't have it both ways...it's OK for the deaf to not hear, but it's not OK for the hearing to be censored in what they listen to. Which is it?

I think we can. I'm OK with allowing the hearing impaired to drive or bike - even if means marginally higher risk - because of the added mobility and quality of life it gives them. Safety is one concern, but it is not the only concern. There may be an added cost in letting the hearing impaired drive, but it is likely small compared to the benefit to society.

The same is not necessarily true of allowing someone to ride with headphones.

This law presents a slippery slope to requiring normal hearing of all road users (and thus is wrong). But what if one is deaf in one ear?

No. There is no slippery slope. We just recognize that creating laws that favor both safety and equality are complicated. We let all kinds of people drive who are not ideal drivers (the inexperienced, the old, those with less than 20/20 vision, etc), but at the same time we can ask that drivers and cyclists maximize their own ability to operate safely.

This doesn't mean I support the earbud laws. I don't know enough about the science to make a call. Cyclists with headphones can hear as well or better than people in cars, but that doesn't mean they're as safe with them as without. And not knowing of any studies that tell me the relative safety, I'm OK with legislators falling down on the side of caution and disallowing it. That doesn't mean that we have to ban the hearing impaired from driving or biking.

by David C on Feb 10, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

We have a swirling mix of issues here. What cyclists and pedestrians ought to do as a matter of safety, versus what they ought to do as a base line for traffic laws. Versus what they ought to do as a matter of allocating legal responsibility if an accident occurs. It implicates choices we make about helmets, bright clothing, etc, when we go out for a run down to the store as opposed to the epic commute through downtown traffic. GO to far in one direction, and you squelch walking and biking because it's no longer convenient. Go too far in the other, and we excuse ninja riders and joggers who are, objectively, difficult to see.

By and large, I embrace being a personal safety weenie, while opposing anything that makes riders less likely to ride or pedestrains less likely to walk, like mandating neon jackets or helmets, or even banning earbuds. As to legal liability, we need laws that set out the behavior expected when it specifically comes to points of common interaction.

by Crickey7 on Feb 10, 2014 1:54 pm • linkreport

By and large, I embrace being a personal safety weenie, while opposing anything that makes riders less likely to ride or pedestrains less likely to walk,

This is my philosophy as well. What one does to keep themselves safe at any given moment isn't an shouldn't be an argument for/against how the system should be.

by Drumz on Feb 10, 2014 2:20 pm • linkreport

It's funny. The World Congress of the Deaf says deaf drivers are safer than other drivers:

http://www.wfdeaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/WFD-Statement-on-Deaf-Peoples-right-to-drive-a-car-or-other-vehicles-updated-31-March-20091.pdf

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 3:27 pm • linkreport

Not to mention the greater employment opportunities available to deaf people who are able to drive, use transit, bicycle or otherwise get around independently, especially when they already face a number of barriers to employment (much of which can be attibuted to misunderstanding of deaf people).

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 3:32 pm • linkreport

DaveG, there is some evidence that they're in more crashes, but certainly it's disputable. As to your 2nd post, that is why no one is proposing that the deaf be unable to drive or bike, etc...In fact, you're the only person who has mentioned it.

by David C on Feb 10, 2014 4:04 pm • linkreport

I believe that in 26 countries (all in Asia and Africa) it's illegal for the deaf to drive, again due to misinformation, unfortunately. A baseless restriction.

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 4:20 pm • linkreport

Not sure how up to date this list is...it seems Armenia already overturned it's ban:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Deaf-People-Drive

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 4:35 pm • linkreport

No one on here is proposing it.

by David C on Feb 10, 2014 4:53 pm • linkreport

Nor was I. Completely the opposite...that's why I pointed out what I felt was the possibility that ear bud bans could potentially be a slippery slope towards banning the deaf from driving, which would be totally wrong.

Not sure how (or even if) you thought I was proposing anything like that :-)

by DaveG on Feb 10, 2014 4:58 pm • linkreport

Well, it could be a slippery slope to that. Or not doing it could be a slippery slope to mandatory jort laws. That's the thing about slippery slopes, you can worry about them ending up wherever you want them to.

But I doubt that any place has followed the "no ear buds while biking" to "no deaf people driving" path, or that one led to the other. If you oppose a policy, then explain why that policy is bad, don't hang it on the fallacy of the slippery slope.

by David C on Feb 10, 2014 8:23 pm • linkreport

Justifiably or not, slippery slopes are not always viewed as fallacies. This is why the US Supreme Court is so reluctant to allow any limitations on freedom of speech, for instance. That's why they let even unpopular extremists like Communists and Nazis and porn kings have their say...not that anyone else has to like it.

Why do I think any ear bud ban is bad? Because I want to be able to listen to my device, sound system or radio while I use the roads, and it's clearly not enough of a distraction to be a safety issue if I remember that I still need to be visually aware no matter what...unlike texting and very possibly phoning, too.

by DaveG on Feb 11, 2014 8:55 am • linkreport

OK I don't think an ear bud ban is justified because everyone (except the blind) using the roads must be visually aware anyway.

by DaveG on Feb 11, 2014 8:58 am • linkreport

I hate it when my posts are delayed like that LOL

by DaveG on Feb 11, 2014 10:32 am • linkreport

The fact that pretty much every other advanced economy on earth has lower pedestrian and bike fatality rates suggests that we should look at what they do. Generally, they have different infrastructure and a different balance of responsibility. Its not rocket science.

by SJE on Feb 11, 2014 12:52 pm • linkreport

@SJE- thats right. the infrastructure is the physical environment and the expectations and laws for responsibility are the social environment.

by Tina on Feb 11, 2014 12:59 pm • linkreport

Also, I think that all a ban does is scapegoat the ear buds for things it is not responsible for. "Look at those hipsters zooming around on their bicycles. Those ear buds make them visually unaware!!"

by DaveG on Feb 12, 2014 8:31 am • linkreport

As a pedestrian, I have this very night had to run off the road by a honking driver, going top speed AND accelerating, in a 30mph area.
This is not the firs time this has happened in this particular area in Brook Street, Dundee , Scotland.
I will be 74 next month and want to see it, I am only thankful I can still run! Sadly eyesight not good enough to identify fly past reg number or by God I would have reported them.
All the talk about too much cctv etc., it Iis no use when you need it!

by Elizabeth Paul on May 31, 2014 3:57 pm • linkreport

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