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Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

CA Governor Newsom vetoed AB-122, the bill which would have permitted cyclists to treat stop signs as yield. If that wasn’t infuriating enough, his veto message directly blames bicyclists for getting killed on the state’s roadways:

Veto message

Obviously, this is a gross misinterpretation of the SWITRS data. Here is what the CA Assembly legislative analyst reported:

Traffic collisions killed 455 cyclist in California between 2016 and 2018, the highest rate in any three-year period since the mid-1990s. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 27% of cyclist fatalities occur at intersections. Failing to stop at a stop sign makes up a very small portion of the number of cyclists killed every year in California. Between 2015 and 2020, 25 cyclists have died as a result of failing to stop at a stop sign. CHP data places the fault with the cyclist in 22 of the 25 cases.

So the official figures show less than 5% of bike fatalities involve a moving violation at a stop sign (which in any case would still be illegal under AB-122). And that presumes the CHP correctly assigned fault, which is often not the case.

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Texas (yes, Texas!) has passed a new pedestrian safety measure. It would actually penalize drivers who severely injure someone walking or biking:

A new safety law that is now in effect in Texas could see a driver go to jail if they hit someone walking or cycling. Senate Bill 1055 was signed into law by Governor Abbott in June, and drivers can now go to jail if they cause bodily harm to a pedestrian. The new law says drivers who cause bodily harm to pedestrians will face stiff consequences which include being charged with a class A misdemeanor and possible time behind bars.

Senate Bill 1055 was signed after a Houston mother was killed by a driver while crossing the street with her son; the driver in that accident walked away without any charges. 

“You can spend up to a year in jail. So now, we’re talking about jailtime, not a ticket where you go pay a fine. Although, there could be a fine up to $4,000,” said Sgt. Charlie Eipper of the Wichita Falls Police Department.

The real question is whether the new law will be enforced. Perhaps Texas can implement a bounty system…

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The “E-BIKE” Act would have provided a refundable tax credit up to $1,500 on the purchase of a new e-bike. Authored by Congressmen Panetta (D-Calif) and Blumenauer (D-Ore), it would have paid up to 30% of the cost of a new e-bike.

But now the bill has gone into the Legislative buzzsaw of the House Ways and “Means-Testing” Committee, and has been significantly watered down — to the point of being largely useless. The e-Bike refundable tax credit is now just 15% of the purchase price, capped at $1,500 total. And the credit phases out starting at $75,000 of adjusted gross income.

For comparison, the same bill would provide a $12,000 subsidy for the purchase of a $74,000 F150 electric pickup truck to a family with $800,000 annual income.

(For details, see Sec. 136401/136407 here)

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Biking in the Matrix

The trailer for the new “Matrix 4” film is out, and if you look carefully at the bookshelf in the therapist’s office there is a copy of “Velo City” sitting on the bookshelf. The book is a celebration of bike culture and its ongoing (r)evolution.

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At least they are being honest:

Prince Albert city council is considering a mandatory bicycle helmet bylaw focused on fighting crime as much as children’s safety. Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick, who brought the idea to council, said the potential bylaw would increase safety and help reduce crime.

“A resident in my ward brought this forward to me and said this would give the police extra opportunities or power to stop people that are on bikes [with] backpacks, etc. that don’t have helmets,” he told council. “It would give them just another avenue to make that stop in our neighborhoods, down our back alleys.”

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Well, this is not good:

President Joe Biden has nominated Jennifer Homendy to be chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for a term of three years. If approved by the U.S. Senate, Homendy will succeed Robert Sumwalt III. She has served as an NTSB member since August 2018. Homendy has more than 25 years of experience in transportation safety, including nearly two decades supporting the critical safety mission of the NTSB, according to a White House press release.

Homendy wants a nationwide all-ages bike helmet mandate, and was responsible for the helmet focus in the NTSB’s recent bike safety study.

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During the 1976-1977 drought, an emergency pipeline was put on the RSR bridge to transport water from the East Bay to Marin county. This year’s drought is even worse, and Marin is having discussions with Caltrans about possibly bringing the pipeline back. There is now a bike/ped path where the pipeline used to be:

The Marin water district is beginning to lay the groundwork for future discussions about the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge with Caltrans and the Bay Area Toll Authority. The Transportation Authority of Marin, which manages traffic congestion projects and funding, has been in preliminary conversations with the district about this, said executive director Anne Richman.

As to where the pipeline would fit on the bridge — especially with the recent addition of the new bicycle and pedestrian path on the top deck — what traffic impacts could result from the construction and where the pipeline would be located in Marin, Richman said, “All those questions remain ahead of us.”

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Perth Amboy is the NJ town where police officers swarmed a group of black teen bicyclists, arresting one and confiscating bikes. The NAACP has criticized police actions, and the encounter is being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office.

But it seems the city will be unresponsive to any investigations, as the Mayor has already put out a statement defending this city’s police force:

Caba said that the bicyclists rode through the city in an “unsafe and reckless manner” causing motorists to stop or swerve away from the group. Police stopped the group and an auxiliary police supervisor asked them to ride safely. He reminded them of the local law requiring bicycles to be registered and to display a tag.

The videos depict the interaction as professional and cordial,” Caba said. “The supervisor clearly stated he only wished to speak with the riders and police had no intentions of confiscating bikes from the riders. His actions were commendable and de-escalated any tensions that existed during the traffic stop.”

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For several decades, Australia has been under the thumb of mandatory helmet laws. Those laws depressed cycling levels and diverted resources away from actual safety measures. The one most responsible for those laws is Dr. Raphael Grzebieta, Emeritus Professor at the UNSW Transport and Road Safety Research unit. He has now been recognized as Australia’s Engineer of the Year for his work on a “road transport system in Australia that aspires to zero deaths on our roads”.

So bravo Raph! This is fantastic recognition for a lifetime’s work of…um…giving Australia one of the worst records for cycling. As for the real engineering professionals who achieved huge gains in road safety, this is what he thinks of those bozos:

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If HB2262/SB1263 passes, Virginia can be added to the list of states implementing the Idaho Stop. Called the Bicycle Safety Act, the bill would also require drivers to fully change lanes to pass bicyclists, and eliminate the requirement that cyclists ride single file. The Senate version has already passed out of the Transportation Committee:

Given some drivers’ distaste for cyclists, the most controversial component of the bill will likely be allowing people on bikes to treat stop signs as yields as long as they do so “with due care.”  Tyndall considers it a critical safety measure. “The ‘safety stop’ is the law of the land in six states now,” he said. “Delaware did a 30 month-long study before and after their law changed and found cyclist injuries at intersections dropped 23 percent. Idaho saw a 14.5 percent reduction in bike crashes. It mitigates the chances of being rear-ended [by a car].” Unlike the pioneering “Idaho stop,” Virginia’s “safety stop” still requires cyclists obey red lights just like any other vehicle on the road. Durham hopes passing the bill will allow localities to redirect limited police resources to more important issues.

State Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond — the Senate patron of the legislation — doesn’t expect any bumps along the road to passage. “I haven’t heard anything negative about it, and I don’t expect any opposition,” he said. “I don’t see why there would be any angst with bicyclists treating a stop sign as a yield sign. Who could object to changing lanes to pass? I don’t see a problem with letting people ride two abreast.”

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