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Archive for March, 2018

A NY Times editorial jumps on the distracted-pedestrian bandwagon. It argues in favor of laws recently passed in Honolulu and Montclair outlawing the use of mobile devices by pedestrians at intersections.

In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that distracted walking is a problem. Enforcing such a law would do nothing for pedestrian safety. Rather, it would be a pretext for police harassment of pedestrians.

The Times argues such laws are needed to enforce a “social contract” that everyone is responsible for their safety and regard for others. But there is no such social contract. Distracted pedestrian laws only apply to….pedestrians. Drivers are still free to use their mobile devices as they blast through intersections. Some car manufacturers, such as Tesla, even incorporate giant touchscreens in the dashboard.

The hysteria over distracted walking originates with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which speaks for state highway departments. State highway engineers have spent decades building a very dangerous transportation system. But rather than acknowledge professional blunders, the GHSA blames the victim. Pedestrians, you see, are getting killed because they are drunk and using cell phones.  For 2018, the GHSA annual report adds a new bogeyman — marijuana legalization:

Analyzing data for the first half of 2017, the Governors Highway Safety Association found a notable increase in pedestrian deaths in states that had legalized marijuana. Elsewhere, the death toll declined. It is too early for firm conclusions, but you can’t rule out that judgments are flawed when drivers and pedestrians go around stoned.

There were seven states that had legalized marijuana between 2012 and 2016 (Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington). While those states did see large increases last year in pedestrian fatalities, other factors (increasing VMT in particular) appears to be the culprit, not legalization. Except for Nevada, the legalization states still have lower overall pedestrian fatality rates compared to the national average. And interestingly, there is considerable debate within the medical community on what impact (if any) cannabis has on driver impairment.

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A spot-on comment to the NTSB

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Darren FAIL

Twitter readers are not impressed with lackluster job Cheshire Council (UK) has been doing on pothole repair:
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At its March 6 meeting, the Dublin City Council voted unanimously to deny a permit for a 220-unit apartment near the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.

The project would have consisted of 22 studio units, 98 one-bedroom units, 96 two-bedroom units, and 4 three-bedroom units. Staff recommended approval of the project, but Council members said the project was too massive and used the wrong colors (the developer offered to hire a color consultant).

This episode is serves as further motivation for the State to scale back planning control from local cities, starting with Senator Wiener’s SB-827 bill. In the meantime, housing activists are threatening to file a lawsuit against the city for violating the Housing Accountability Act.

 

 

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