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Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

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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The GHSA just tweeted this:

There is a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the fact that this report was put out by the automotive industry. The report actually found that countries with the lowest helmet use (Netherlands, Denmark) were much safer for cyclists compared to countries with high helmet use (UK). Based on that, one would conclude helmets provide no benefit. Tanya Mohn, who is a self-described travel blogger, somehow misconstrued this as saying helmets save lives. The policy “experts” at the GHSA then retweet Mohn’s posting to its audience.

So this is the state of our discourse today — though given GHSRA’s history of promoting helmets over bike infrastructure, none of this comes as a surprise.

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Nobody could have predicted:

Seattle police have written a decreasing number of citations under the county’s all-ages helmet law, even as bikeshares like Lime and Jump arrived in recent years. However, of the citations the police have issued since 2017, at least 43% were given to people struggling with homelessness, according to an analysis of court records by Crosscut. Since 2019, that number was 60%. The total is almost certainly an undercount.

Even Dr. Fred Rivara, UW Medicine’s chief of general pediatrics, who has become an outspoken advocate of wearing helmets, questions the law’s efficacy. “I still firmly believe in the importance of helmets,” he said. “Whether having a law enforced now would help to boost that, I don’t know. It’s an open question.”

Dr Rivara is, of course, obscuring his role in promoting helmet legislation:

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Over the past decade, NSW police doubled the number of fines handed out for riding without a helmet, and the cost of the fine increased by more than 700%. That is one of the conclusions of Dr. Quilter (Policing mandatory bicycle helmet laws in NSW: Fair cop or unjust gouge?). Dr. Quilter also found the helmet law was disproportionately used against cyclists in low-income areas and youths:

“We were seeing people with $10,000 to $50,000 worth of fines,” Dr Quilter said. “In some cases, a huge amount [$5000-$12,000] worth of fines were bicycle offences alone. Some people got 10 fines in one interaction.” Sometimes fines were given to a child riding both to and from school on the same day, she said.

Bike fines have become the “quickest and easiest route” to a search and the “socio-economic litmus test” of policing as they disproportionately hit those in lower-income areas, Redfern legal centre police accountability practice head Samantha Lee said.

Often for a young person, a bike is their only mode of transport, and if they get stopped for riding on the footpath, asked why they haven’t got a helmet, that escalates into a search and they may get annoyed and swear. “It leads to the trifecta,” Ms Lee said. “Fine for not wearing a helmet, fine for offensive language, and then fine for resisting arrest.”

Meanwhile, there is not much policing of actual hazards:

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Sacramento St in Berkeley is currently under construction for what is described as a “complete streets” project. Here is the existing conditions:

As you can see, this is an extremely wide 4-lane arterial running through a residential neighborhood. The roadway has very low traffic volumes, leading to speeding and dangerous passing. The obvious solution would be a road diet to reduce speeds and space for buffered bike lanes (or perhaps even cycletracks). Instead, the city is only proposing to put in some new intersection treatments without doing any lane reductions or other measures to reduce speeding.

Let’s compare to a very similar project going on along Oakland’s 14th Ave. Here is the existing road configuration, which as you can see is also a 4-lane residential arterial:

Given the similarity of the two streets, one might expect these neighboring cities to implement similar solutions. But aside from the intersection treatments, the approaches are quite different. Berkeley is not adding bike lanes and will maintain its street as a dangerous high-speed thoroughfare. Oakland is doing a full road diet to calm traffic. Thus, the Oakland project is complete, the Berkeley one is not. The sad thing is that the Berkeley project sits directly outside a BART station and connects to a popular bike trail. The top community concern in meetings was slowing traffic, so how did Berkeley end up doing the bare minimum?

Oakland 14th Ave road diet
Berkeley “Complete” Streets project

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