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Archive for March, 2013

I thought the GOP opposed tax increases? Apparently, they make an exception for environmentalists:

Representative Ed Orcutt (R – Kalama) does not think bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have “an increased heart rate and respiration.”

This is according to comments he made in an email to a constituent who questioned the wisdom of a new bike tax the legislature is considering as part of a large transportation package.

We spoke with Rep. Orcutt to confirm the email’s authenticity and to get further clarification.

“You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car.

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Each year there are tens of thousands of fatalities on the nation’s highways. A disproportionate of those are non-motorized users — bicyclists and pedestrians. Given that the NTSB has made over 13,000 safety recommendations, you might think at least some of those would relate to the dismal state of our bicycle infrastructure, right?

A search of the NTSB online database finds hardly any mention of bike safety. I could find just a single report, which simply gives general guidance that the use of bicycles should be encouraged by the DOT and Dept. of Health. It was issued in 1972 — during the Nixon Administration.

I spent over an hour trying different keywords, but could find nothing else on bikes. On the other hand, I had no trouble at all finding reports on airplanes, trains, and automobiles.

It is ironic because the NTSB was specifically created by Congress to give outside, independent advice to highway planners. State and Federal transportation agencies have been so clueless about bike planning, you would think this would have been the one area where the NTSB outside “experts” provided guidance.

So for anyone at the NTSB who might be reading this, here are a few suggestion topics:

  1. Incorporating Dutch cycle guidelines into highway design manuals
  2. Design of car doors to reduce/eliminate bicycle “dooring” (perhaps an interlock system in the door latch that flashes the rear hazard lights for at least 3 seconds before opening the door).
  3. Improve visibility from truck cabs, so as to reduce bikes/ped collisions.
  4. Designing car bonnets to reduce pedestrian injury/fatality in a collision.

I am sure NTSB staff can think of some others — if they aren’t too busy worrying about airline baby seats.

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