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Archive for September, 2019

To celebrate Pedestrian Safety Month, the California Office of Traffic Safety has sent this out on their Twitter feed:

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This messaging makes clear that cars are the top of the pecking order. How about instead they flip it around to say: “Driving around? Think two steps ahead, and drive the way you would want to act if you were walking.”

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This is ridiculous. Here are back-to-back NTSB tweets giving contradictory messages on autonomous vehicles. One says they are good, the very next warns against overreliance.

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When a train hits a truck in Japan

We can’t have light-weight trains in America. Why there are grade crossings…just imagine the carnage if a light-weight train were to hit a large truck!

An express train collided with a large truck on Thursday in Yokohama, killing the driver of the truck and injuring 33.

The accident occurred at around 11:40 a.m. at a crossing on the Keikyu Line between Kanagawa-Shinmachi and Nakakido stations. The first three carriages of the eight-car special rapid train, which was carrying about 500 passengers, derailed and the truck — which police believe was caught on the tracks before the crash — caught fire, authorities said.

The man killed in the accident, Micho Motohashi from the city of Narita, was a 67-year-old driver of the 12-ton truck. A train driver and 32 passengers sustained minor injuries, police said.

Train operator Keikyu Corp. said the train, running from Aoto Station in Tokyo to Misakiguchi Station in Kanagawa Prefecture, was traveling at 120 kph right before it applied an emergency brake prior to hitting the truck. The truck was dragged 60 to 70 meters upon impact.

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When VP Pence met the mayor of Reykjavík on this 7-hour-layover in Iceland, he brought along an armada that included dozens of armored SUV’s, three CV-22B Osprey, two C-130 Hercules, a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, and even a B-2 bomber.

The mayor of Reykjavík arrived on a bike:

“I’ve never met a Mayor on a bike before,” said the chief of US security matters at Höfði, after asking U.S. embassy staff three times whether I was (really) the mayor of Reykjavík. “First time for everything,” was [my] natural response.

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This past week, Berkeley police were out in force writing $250 tickets to cyclists for rolling stop signs on Milvia and the Ohlone trail. For those who don’t know Berkeley, these are the two of the safest places to walk or ride a bike in the city.

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In a Tweet, Berkeley Mayor Arreguin denied responsibility for the crackdown. As he pointed out, it is actually city policy to use limited police resources on dangerous driver behavior.

But the Mayor and Council are not exactly blameless here. This crackdown is the result of a state grant City Council applied for. Each year the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) gives money to local law enforcement to conduct these kinds of stings. As one of California’s most dangerous cities for bikes/peds, Berkeley routinely receives OTS grant money. Apparently, one condition of the OTS grant is that recipients conduct targeted enforcement against bikes/peds. Berkeley and other cities have regularly used OTS funds for this purpose.

So in accepting the OTS grant, it was inevitable cyclists and pedestrians would get caught up in a dragnet, and many on the Berkeley City Council surely knew this because they’ve heard complaints about it before. One year in particular stands out, when an OTS-funded jaywalking sting was conducted near UC campus. Quite a number of UC students attended a City Council meeting that evening to vent frustration at the exorbitant fines.

The OTS is one of those highway agencies few have heard of, but which desperately needs reform. The OTS promotes outdated safety advice bordering on victim-blaming. OTS admonishes pedestrians to wear bright colors and carry flashlights. Bike helmets are heavily promoted, and the OTS warns against distracted walking. So it is not surprising that OTS traffic safety grants would fund some dubious enforcement strategies. Cities that want to promote bike/ped travel should avoid OTS grant programs.

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