Category Archives: traffic safety

Leadership

‘I started to take a deep interest in not only transportation but land use plans’ –Secretary Foxx

’embedded in our infrastructure are the values of past eras that accepted disconnections, that accepted a view of our country of folks that are in, and folks that are out, and I think we have to have a different idea of our country in the 21st century’  —Secretary Foxx

Or watch the video and view resources on the Ladders of Opportunity website–

https://www.transportation.gov/opportunity

Kalamazoo Strong

“This is about the healing process.”  –Rider from Kalamazoo

“The roads are back to being ours again…this ride is tremendously energizing. ”  –Rider from Kalamazoo

The cycling community is amazing.  700 cyclists gathered in Kalamazoo to finish the Tuesday community ride.  This is one of the most courageous things I’ve seen, to direct the energy toward peace and healing, and to pull the community together for proactive solutions.

‘We didn’t ride with Lance.  Lance rode with us tonight,’ said a Kalamazoo cyclist.

Story here:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/lance-armstrong-rallies-kalamazoo-cycling-community-after-tragedy/

Building Community Through Safe Routes To Schools

Most people are worried that kids are going to be worse off than their parents…politicians have simply not paid attention to the best interests of kids…it is all short term decision making.
–Jim Steyer, from Common Sense Media, on Charlie Rose

Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) is a great investment in kids, and the benefits extend beyond healthy commutes to school.   This report from the National Center for SRTS documents how safe walking and bicycling strategies for kids can catalyze community-wide changes.   The report lists five opportunities SRTS presents for extending the benefits of healthy transportation.

Mai flowers one

  • SRTS provides a logical starting point for innovative infrastructure to improve driver and pedestrian safety behavior at crossings.
  • SRTS programs create opportunities to try behaviors and inspire community-wide change.
  • SRTS initiatives serve as starting point for using bold ideas to tackle difficult safety issues like speeding.
  • SRTS creates safe networks for walking and bicycling.
  • SRTS attracts a robust base of support by promoting broader community benefits.

from 5 Ways SRTS Can Help Advance Youth Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Beyond the Trip to School 

Mai flowers three

Working with school age youth and their families provides a tremendous opportunity to listen to community issues from neighborhood-level perspectives.  It helps prioritize the safety of all street users and balances walking and bicycling considerations with motorized travel.  “SRTS programs bring together diverse people around a common cause: to improve the safety, health, and well-being of all children and their families.  They have helped improve local air quality; increase children and families’ physical activity levels; improve students’ academic achievement and reduce the number of days they are absent from school; reduce school transportation costs; and address the presence of street crime and violence in communities.”
(from Creating Healthier Generations)
 

Mai flowers two

Southwest Bike Initiative is happy to be partnering with ABQ Public Schools on SRTS!

Resources:
National Center for Safe Routes to Schools:  http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/
direct link to the report report from NCSRTS:  Advancing Safe Walking and Bicycling for Youth
Post photos:  from the phone of Sansai Studio, Spring bloom at the University of New Mexico

The Quiet Catastrophe

Door to Door by Edward Humes book cover“He ultimately makes clear that transportation is one of the few big things we can change—our personal choices do have a profound impact.”  —book review of Door to Door

Edward Humes has a book out today called Door to Door. The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation.  There’s an essay introducing the book in The Atlantic.  A main theme is the high prices we are paying for cars.  Knowledge about the cost of cars is critical to understand, yet somehow it alludes our conscious grasp.  Jim McNamara, a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, says the car problem is “massive but diffuse. Whether it’s climate change or car crashes, if the problem doesn’t show itself all at once—as when an airliner goes down with dozens or hundreds of people on board—it’s hard to get anyone’s attention.”
Here are some quick facts.

  • since 9/11 more than 400,000 men, women, and children have died on America’s roads
  • California Highway Patrol spends 80% of their time responding to car crashes
  • MIT calculates that 53,000 Americans die prematurely every year from vehicle pollution
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 39
  • each week car crashes take American lives at a rate equivalent to four airliner crashes

What do we do?  Change our perspective on driving.  Status quo fixes like adding traffic lanes “only attracts more cars.  It’s called the rule of induced demand and it’s like trying to solve overeating by loosening your belt,” Humes writes.  We can start by taking driving more seriously. Gone are the days when driving seemed carefree.  Building local scale economies for food and energy and simplifying our lives helps.  Think of this as opportunity for innovation.

Resources:  Edward Humes’ website has several press releases on his new book.
http://www.edwardhumes.com/
Facts and quotes for this blog post are from:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/absurd-primacy-of-the-car-in-american-life/476346/
https://hbr.org/2016/04/why-the-future-of-e-commerce-depends-on-better-roads

the good outing we had Sunday at Golden Open Space stays with me for days

good outings, like Sunday’s walk at Golden Open Space, stay with me for days.  Still snow on the Sandias

CenterLines, the Active Transportation Digest

CenterLines, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking’s biweekly news bulletin, covers current developments in the world of active transportation in North America.  It’s a one stop source for all things bicycling and walking and more.  If you’re just beginning to investigate active transportation, an experienced professional, or somewhere in between, CenterLines is a smorgasbord of opportunities, ideas, and ways to make new connections.  It covers research, policies, events, conferences, job listings, trainings, news and ways to get involved.  Here are a couple content examples from the most recent CenterLines issue published on March 23.

* Health Impacts of Active Transportation in Europe
This study measured the health impact of increased bicycling and walking in six European cities.  Increases in cycling to 35% of all trips improved health the most of all the scenarios analyzed in the study.  The research team concluded that “Increased collaboration between health practitioners, transport specialists and urban planners will help to introduce the health perspective in transport policies and promote active transportation” for substantial benefits.

* The International Mtn. Biking Assocation (IMBA) World Summit is in Bentonville, AR
November 10-12, 2016 Arkansas welcomes the IMBA summit, which gathers together mountain bikers, public land stewards, the business community and advocates of all kinds.  I was just in Arkansas visiting my grandmother and it is an incredible place to bicycle (blog posts here).  When IMBA came to Santa Fe in 2012 the local scene “got discovered.”  Certainly Northwest Arkansas will experience a similar recognition for their beautiful countryside and the way local communities have wholeheartedly embraced cycling as a way to explore the Natural State.

*CenterLines has a Quotes R Us section.  “Our ultimate goal is to improve the economic and environmental health of American communities and the personal health of the people who live there.  To achieve this, we will reconnect America with trails in the same way that railroads once connected people and places.”  –Keith Laughlin, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy President

CenterLines is free, published online and open to the general public.  It is a good place to start and come back to when you want to grow your understanding of the quickly expanding frontiers of the active transportation world.  The presentation is not flashy, but the content is deep, diverse, and leading edge.  The National Center for Bicycling and Walking is my Bike Org. of the Month for March 2016.  Keep up the important work that you are doing.  Arigato.

benches

Spring bloom outside of Mesa Vista Hall on the main campus of UNM in central Albuquerque

Walking for Health and Designing for People

“We started with a hundred idealistic cyclists…then we evolved because we found common cause with walking: streets that are unsafe for biking are also difficult to cross for pedestrians.”  —Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place  meets next in Vancouver, BC, September 12-15, 2016

“Transportation engineers are spending millions on developing automated people-mover systems.  But the best, by far, is a person.”
–William H. Whyte, City: Rediscovering the Center

Walking is the universal and essential means for human mobility.  America Walks is an advocacy organization working to improve walking.  They are accepting applications for Walking College 2016 to train community advocates.  This is a winning strategy for implementing policies linking health and transportation together.  Social change occurs through community networks at the local and grass roots levels.  Walking College helps graduates to cross pollinate dialogue in public health, planning, transportation, and education, based on community needs, and reach across scales to achieve local, national and global coordination.  Here are particular skills one may acquire at Walking College, according to their website.

The curriculum has been designed to nurture the development of the “hard” and “soft” skills that are necessary to become effective change agents.

“Hard” skills include: 
The science behind the benefits of walking
Ability to evaluate the built environment, master the public policy process, and understand how projects can be funded with local, state, and federal dollars
Knowledge in specific campaign areas, such as access to transit and “Vision Zero”

“Soft” skills include:
Communications, relationships, and building trust
Fostering a local advocacy movement with diverse stakeholders
Engaging effectively with decision-makers

See more at America Walks

Resources:
America Walks Federal Policy Position Paper
http://americawalks.org/federal-policy-position-paper/

At the Margin of Safety

“The only problem with the law is that nobody but cyclists know it.”  –Steve Tilford

One of the more discouraging aspects of bicycling is the too-close pass.  Unsafe passing is always physically scary but it can be especially tough mentally when it’s intentional.  I saw this comment on Steve Tilford’s blog:  “I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I’ve had people yell single file to me.  Probably 1000’s.”  For people to flourish on public roads, to make them healthier roads, we have to target threatening, intimidating and irresponsible behaviors.   We are advancing civil rights in many social areas, why not transport?  We all know that mobility is fundamental to American identity, we are a people on the move.  This song reminds me of these bicycling times, “not the best of times but they’re the only times I’ve ever known”.

kimo tickets

The hardest part of the violence I’ve witnessed (first hand and through story) is the damage it does to people and communities.  Perfectly healthy well adjusted people saying I’m not sure if it is worth it if I can’t stay safe out here cycling.  Tilford has another post about the upsurge in gravel road riding, in part driven by the desire to avoid motorized traffic.  I would say the majority of bicyclists prefer mountain biking simply because it feels safer.  There are positive drivers for off road cycling–the beauty and solitude backcountry affords, the intimate contact with the textures of raw earth felt through your tires, the technical challenges–but much of it is driven by avoidance, people who just don’t want to deal with the chaotic behavior on roads.  People want to support bicycling for all good reasons, begin by enforcing safety on the road.

Sunset last evening

The best address I’ve read for this was produced by the American Psychological Association’s “Task Force on Reducing and Preventing Discrimination Against and Enhancing Benefits of Inclusion of People Whose Social Identities Are Marginalized in U.S. Society”.   They did this report called Dual Pathways to a Better America  that is really succinct and universal.  The premise basically is that promoting diversity is the proper anecdote.  The bicycling community is well aware that acculturation to bicycling–when it is naturalized and people become accustomed to it, and most people do it at one time or another–disarms that “otherness” and creates a normalcy, helping us connect as humans.  “Discrimination, stereotyping and bias generate exclusion and marginalization for certain groups and wrap a blanket of inclusion, security and opportunity around others…Irrefutable psychological evidence supports the understanding that everyone is affected by systems of discrimination, and when these systems are challenged, the eventual acceptance of and support for social diversity is exponentially healthier for everyone” (APA report, introduction).  The intolerable part about biases in transportation (including the conception of privilege) is that human life is in the balance.

I’ll be writing a lot about this, but for now, there’s an important quote here from the FHWA approach for accommodating active transport:

“There is no question that conditions for bicycling and walking need to be improved in every community in the United States; it is no longer acceptable that 6,000 bicyclists and pedestrians are killed in traffic every year, that people with disabilities cannot travel without encountering barriers, and that two desirable and efficient modes of travel have been made difficult and uncomfortable.”

Crest arrow

This FHWA document is insightful and thorough in its evaluation and disruption of the status quo, and recommends good changes.   This is a call to action that takes responsibility and changes attitudes.   The Vision Zero framework, one that approaches every traffic injury as preventable, is helpful moving forward.  “Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority” is principle number one.  If we change our attitudes and make people the priority we win, and the world and the roads connecting it will be a better place, good times to come.  Then the stories we write about the road, our hopes and dreams, will help to move us forward.

Cultures of Responsibility

This article by Robert M. Shanteau, Ph.D., P.E., Registered Traffic Engineer, is an excellent resource.  It is a long one but one you can go back and reference time again.  It is pretty cutting edge so it has taken my mind a while to catch where he is going with this history lesson:

http://iamtraffic.org/equality/the-marginalization-of-bicyclists/

Shanteau’s educational piece is good background for this story.   A cyclist was pulled over and ticketed for impeding traffic.  The video clip from the patrol dash cam shows how it unfolds.

Basically the Officer thinks the bicyclists should be riding at the edge of the road, not on it.  He says repeatedly to “stay out of the road”.   This fundamental confusion has a lot to do with the way the traffic laws are written.  In all 50 States bicyclists are required to follow the same laws as other drivers.  This includes the right to use the travel lanes, and associated duties (signaling turns, yielding before moving laterally to change lanes, respecting first come first served).  That’s all good.  The general law for slower moving traffic applies, slower traffic stays to the right.  The confusion comes from the “Far to the Right” law added to control bikes.  It creates a rule that designates bicycles as a second class user.  This creates conflict and confusion, and puts bicyclists at risk for the convenience of motorists.  The Far to the Right law is detrimental to road safety because it confuses the principles of traffic law and creates uneven treatment.  Dropping Far to the Right would let the regular rules of the road prevail and the sharing concept would be clear and explicit.  Bicyclists have a right to the road just like the drivers of other vehicles.  It is not an exception, or a special case.  It is the rule.  Start there and ride to the right as safe.  When moving slower than other traffic, drivers keep right as they judge safe and appropriate.  Bicyclists have to position themselves for safety.  Respecting bicycle traffic is a precondition for guiding safe traffic behaviors.  A good sign for this stretch of road would be:

bikes may use full lane

That makes everyone’s responsibility clearer.  It is safer that way.   Easier on everyone.

References:
Text to the video is here:
http://www.bikelaw.com/2016/02/04/biker-obstructing-traffic-nope-roll-the-videotape/

The League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling Quick Guide is an excellent resource

Resources Focused on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

Here are a trio of resources for improving roads.  These are good tools for connecting communities together around caring for safer roads.  Now’s the time for responsible action.

Safer People, Safer Streets: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative  by the USDOT
Everyday Counts
initiative by the FHWA Center for Innovation
FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), America’s five year transportation bill

In December 2015 Congress passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), a five year bill that increases funding for bicycle and pedestrian safety education, awareness, and enforcement. The FAST Act allocates additional funding for the purpose of decreasing pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and injuries that result from crashes involving a motor vehicle to States where the annual combined pedestrian and bicycle fatalities exceed 15 percent of the total annual crash fatalities in the State.  Of 20 States eligible for this additional funding, 6 are in the Southwest U.S., AZ, CA, UT, NV, NM, and TX.  Funding may be used for “training of law enforcement officials on State laws applicable to pedestrian and bicycle safety; enforcement mobilizations and campaigns designed to enforce State traffic laws applicable to pedestrian and bicycle safety; and public education and awareness programs designed to inform motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists of State traffic laws applicable to pedestrian and bicycle safety.”

The road diet program in Everyday Counts helps reconfigure roadways to encourage or accommodate a wider array of transportation modes.  It simplifies operation and helps to calm traffic, making it a more inviting place for everyone.  Crashes are reduced by 19 to 47 percent.

The Safer People, Safer Streets initiative has a family of programs including the Mayors’ Challenge, Road Safety Assessments, and Road Safety for Transit Patrons.  I’ve participated in two Road Safety Assessments in New Mexico and hope to do more and apply our knowledge.

There is also a Focused Approach To Safety program where eligible States may receive “technical assistance such as data analysis and action plan development from initiation to implementation; training and associated materials in a variety of formats, including classroom-based workshops or online webinars; support for a wide range of analysis tools and countermeasures”.  New Mexico is a focus State for pedestrian and bicycle safety.

statemap_fas2015

Looking forward to keeping you updated as we work with these programs.

Riding for Nathan

Last Saturday Nathan Barkocy’s family, friends, teammates and the community gathered for a bicycle ride on the Bosque Trail.   We rode together to rally for his full recovery.  Nathan was injured just over a week ago when a motor vehicle collided into him.  Nathan is struggling for his life.  The Albuquerque Journal published this news story on the collision and Nathan’s life.

Ride for Nathan long train

Ride for Nathan pacelining

Ride for Nathan bike train

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the ride I moved up along the left side of the group.  I wasn’t sure why as I’m usually content to sit at the back of a group.  I guess I wanted to get a sense of who was on the ride and visit with various people.  There was a place next to one rider and I pulled alongside.  It was Earl.

Ride for Nathan Mr. Gage

Ride for Nathan Earl

I like riding with Earl.  We talked and caught up and worked together to safely pass pedestrians and slower riders.  We glided in each other’s slipstream to close gaps.  What a naturally gifted rider.  We shared stories of how we fell into bicycling.  How it fit us.  It just clicked.  The world speaks in whispers.  We marveled at the excitement and joy bicycling funnels into our lives.

Ride for Nathan all together

Ride for nathan big group

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about 500,000 injuries per year are caused by distracted driving of motor vehicles in the United States.  Every day about 10 people are killed and over 1000 people are injured by distracted drivers.   There are three main types of distraction.  Visual: taking your eyes off the road.  Manual: taking your hands off the wheel. and Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.  Every road user is at risk from distracted driving.

Ride for Nathan the card

Ride for Nathan flag

Nathan’s team did a wonderful job organizing the event.  They had a huge card we all signed and we mixed afterwards and talked.  In this country and world we can’t afford the price on human life and dignity to have random and senseless violence happening to free souls pursuing health and happiness and working toward their dreams.  This problem is worth paying attention to and preventing.  We must band together as a community of drivers and change our driving behaviors so driving responsibly is the norm, and nothing less is accepted.  With power comes more responsibility.  Exercising a responsible freedom gives everyone a chance to thrive.

Resources:
Nathan’s team:  https://www.facebook.com/juinorcyclingteam/?fref=ts
Nathan’s caringbridge site:  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/nathanbarkocy
CDC resources on distracted driving:  http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/
The USDOT’s distracted driving page:  http://www.distraction.gov/
The NHTSA site on driving safely:  http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety
USDOT’s bike-ped safety initiative:  https://www.transportation.gov/safer-people-safer-streets
Context Sensitive Driving https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/learning-from-trails/