Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bicyclist fatalities report (not detailed enough to be useful)

The problem with the report, Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety, from the Governors Highway Safety Association, which found a 16% increase in bicyclist fatalities from 2010 to 2012, is that it doesn't distinguish between urban, suburban, and rural spatial conditions.

Data at the state-level doesn't say enough to be actionable, although the report does say that since the 1970s, urban bicyclist fatalities have increased from 50% to 69% of the total.

For example, bicycle sharing could be a factor in the rise, although according to Reuters ("After 23 million rides, no deaths in U.S. bike share programs") there haven't been fatalities associated with the introduction of bicycle sharing in the U.S.

For example, it would be very interesting to calibrate bicycle accidents and deaths against the recent Census report, Modes Less Traveled—Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008–2012, that looks at the rise of bicycle commuting in the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

By looking at the data at a more granular level, it's possible to make more focused recommendations that can have some impact.

As an example, the Boston Globe recently did a study, "Bike fatalities rise in Greater Boston’s suburbs," of all bicyclist accidents across the state, by town or township.

For what it's worth, while I do think it's likely that as bicycling for transportation increases, as a percentage of rides accidents will fall even if there is an increase in accidents/deaths, I can understand there being an increase in accidents and deaths because most motor vehicle operators have limited experience driving around bicyclists, and/or in center cities, and a preponderance of regular bicyclists are in center city locales.

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At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

while I also think it is true that cycling will get easier th emore people engage in it- this is and should NEVER be an excuse not to build separated protected bicycle tracks where cyclists are not forced to "share the road" with motor vehicles. As for Vehicular Cycling- one can only hope that the emphasis on this horrible practice soon ends. It is barbaric and discriminatory and exemplifies the worst aspects /practices of the right wing.

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

I think washcycle did a good break down of this report.

Not including non-motor vehicle/bicycle fatalities is a mistake. Also not including injuries, which is a bigger problem than fatalities.

I'm a strong believer that biking while drunk is not a bad thing.

Not sure how you would test thing, but mandatory light laws would be far more effective than mandatory helmet laws. Honestly, if you get hit by a car a helmet isn't going to help. If you do an endover a helmet is very useful.

The biking lobby needs to move away from the dangers of biking -- there isn't much -- and move to a more positive message. I understand that part of the reason you get bike lanes is the danger caase but there are positive improvements for drives when you have a proper bike lane.

We all could use better paved and maintained streets. In 2 of my 3 accidents the road condition was a major factor.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I argue that on "urban styled bikes" that lights should be OEM, mandatory. But the CPSC regulations concerning bikes are very weak. Plus, Bicycle shops are against because they don't make that much money selling bikes, but they do on selling accessories.

wrt helmets vs. lights, I don't think it should be either-or, just because I think my cranium is worth a dose of extra protection. In any case, as Washcycle has written about extensively, the research on the efficacy of helmets isn't very good.

2. wrt "bike lanes," when I worked in Balt. County, they had/have a great "neighborhood traffic calming" program that does street redesign techniques much better than merely than adding a bump on the road.

I said, bike lanes and bike boulevards are merely "applied traffic calming" and "an extension of the great work you are already doing..."

e.g., one of the traffic calmed streets in Cockeysville looked like a bike boulevard in Berkelely. It was very well done.

(ANd they are doing a bunch of what I recommended, which still shocks me...)

3. I think the big thing is to differentiate between urban, suburban, and rural conditions.

But, in the Balt. County plan draft, maybe it isn't all that different, it's about scale and opportunity for trip capture (e.g., the MoCo bike heat map).

I defined 5 scales for planning bike infrastructure, although now I'd say there are 7. (Below, points 5 and 7 are "new", differentiated out from points 4 and 6 with separate emphasis rather than being subsumed.)

Unfortunately, this framework was excised from the plan...

1. one mile radii from schools and transit stops.

2. three mile radii from "town centers"

3. along corridors connecting town centers (e.g., on Rockville Pike you have Bethesda, White Flint, Twinbrook, Rockville).

4. between/across/connecting corridors

5. county bikeway network (of shared paths and cycletracks)

6. connections between jurisdictions

7. metropolitan bikeway network

That pretty much covers it.

In rural conditions your big treatment is wide shoulders + not having rumble strips, and dealing with tourism. Talbot County in MD is particularly good with this.

But many MD counties do a great job promoting bike tourism.

A MoCo colleague calls MoCo the ATM for Maryland and he argues that those great wide shoulders on state roads out state are paid for by MoCo...

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

... when we were trying to be big in the bike share space, I wanted to add rim lighting. There's a contraption that does this...

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anne Lusk's Bicycle City concept needs to be tried out somewhere. This is an excellent idea and its time has come.


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