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US Cities Are Becoming More Dangerous for Cyclists and Pedestrians (theconversation.com)
220 points by kirion25 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 256 comments



Having recently moved to Florida from Sweden, I was shocked at how biker/pedestrian hostile it is here. I naively thought I'd be able to live a more active lifestyle because of the nicer weather, but instead I'm driving a car everywhere as I wouldn't feel safe on a bike.

It seems to be a pretty vicious cycle of the infrastructure being hostile to biking so nobody does it, nobody is biking so the roads are optimized for driving.

I've lived here for little over a year now and I've been _almost_ hit a couple of times while crossing the road at the crosswalk, and a few times at parking lots with drivers not looking back before reversing. I've also seen a dead cyclist in the intersection just outside my apartment complex :(


Florida is a perfect storm of retirees who should have had their licenses revoked years ago, car-centric exurban non-planning, big trucks as culture, and weather so hot and prone to unexpected storms that few people cycle for anything other than recreation and thus most riders are seen as ridiculous wannabe racers, or just some drunk who lost their drivers' license. Everything is spread out and connected by 6-lane divided highways with bike lanes "generously" thrown into the shoulder by FDOT, and everyone is distracted by their phones because they're bored because they spend enormous amounts of time sitting in traffic.

I lived in Florida for most of my early life, was car-free for a lot of it, and don't miss riding there at all. The cycling community in Miami used to joke that in the rest of the country, you ride like you're invisible - but in South Florida, you ride like the drivers can see you and are actively trying to kill you. Stay safe.


Native and lived in Florida most of my life as well. Everything you just said was true. There was a guy in my hometown, very well known surfer who was killed by a speeding car simply while waiting to cross the street. We have ghost bikes everywhere as well.


Florida is rated the most dangerous state for pedestrians.


The video in the OP says it's Arizona. Or maybe more are killed there while more are simply maimed in FL.

Much of the problem isn't snowbirds. It's the low rate of prosecution for vehicular manslaughter. Southern states seems especially tolerant of driver irresponsibility, perhaps because the victim is perceived as 'an outsider' -- i.e. not someone cluelessly driving a giant SUV.


Other states might be more dangerous if you take into account incidents that don't result in loss of life, but Florida has the highest rate of fatalities per 100k people.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article224923045.html

"Walking may be hazardous to your health. In Florida, the risk of fatality on foot is significantly higher than in any other state.

Nine of the 20 deadliest U.S. cities for pedestrians are in Florida, with Orlando ranked as least safe and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolis ranked No. 14 in the 2019 “Dangerous By Design” report from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition."

If you like walking or biking, don't move to Florida.


No walking is NOT hazardous to you health, even if there are 10 times as many pedestrians deaths in Florida compared to Sweden it will still be a net positive to have people walking around.


>Southern states seems especially tolerant of driver irresponsibility

If you're white, perhaps. As a matter of public policy, this form of institutional racism is a way more effective way of producing a desired outcome: coming down hard on people of color while letting white people off easy. The incidence of fatal escalation of routine traffic stops is way higher with people of color.


What is a "ghost bike"?


A bike, often painted white, placed to remember a person killed while biking on that spot.


> Florida is a perfect storm of retirees who should have had their licenses revoked years ago

Ha, that is so true – I live in a town with average age of 55, and indeed, a lot of people drive the way they would not get the license under any circumstances. I was at local DMV, and there are bunch of (old) people who moved here recently, and they need to get a new license. They don't have to pass a drive test, just a knowledge test. Still, they fail at least several times in a row (I heard about 5+, 3+ attempts).


Texas is the same or worse. Much of the postWW2 US is the same actually.


An old lady looked at me straight in the eye while not slowing down her car and I jumped at the last moment. There is a video of a cop car hitting a cyclist and then arresting him for their mistake. I've lived in places where there are no sidewalks whatsoever. Basically you can either drive a car or sit at home. Most US city infrastructure and most drivers are not fond of pedestrians and cyclists.


Another anecdote about Florida: I bike almost every day during good weather in Chicago and though I know it isn't the safest activity, I've never had a serious incident. I traveled to Florida last Fall and was struck by a car on my very first bike ride there. I was on a dedicated bike path that was separated from the road by a grass strip and was hit by a car turning into a driveway. It was 11am on a sunny day, but the person didn't see me. (The person was not elderly, so I believe he was probably distracted by his phone.)


I'm guessing the driver faced almost no penalty for running you down. That's the main reason this problem persists, IMHO, no serious consequences for the cretins.

Go to jail or lose your license for a year plus impound your car -- only that kind of response will save pedestrian lives.


In the US it is interesting to compare the AAA to the NRA, in terms of the amount of lobbying they've done over the decades to avoid serious repercussions in driving accidents and as much as possible shift blames to pedestrians, including the long interesting weird history of creating the "crime" of jaywalking.

https://www.salon.com/2015/08/20/the_secret_history_of_jaywa...


Normal people would feel bad for doing this though and try to avoid hurting people, wouldn't they? Or am I the strange one here...?


You were on a glorified sidewalk. This is why separated facilities with grade crossings are dangerous because you exist outside the cone of attention of cagers who aren't expecting a 20MPH+ vehicle on the sidewalk.


>separated facilities with grade crossings are dangerous

On the whole they are much safer.

https://library.swov.nl/action/front/fulltext?id=340421


>grade crossings

Grade crossings are everywhere in the Netherlands, but bikes have the right of way, and drivers and pedestrians don't, and that's also how the justice system judges things.

In most US states afaik, the legal incentives are definitely not there to care about bikers.


Cars turning right across another lane of traffic (the bike lane) is the problem. It's just a very accident-prone way to arrange the lanes.

The reality is in America drivers are not accustomed to bikes passing them on the right when they are turning right. It certainly wasn't part of anything I learned in driver's training (though that was quite a while ago). I honestly could not tell you who has the right of way in that situation. Might vary by state.

So if you're cycling in America and you don't want to get hit, pay close attention to the cars on your left at crossings. Assume they don't see you. In fact as a general rule, assume the cars don't see you.

That's the main reason I rarely cycle in traffic. Too risky, and right-of-way or not, if a car hits a bike, the bike loses.


> The reality is in America drivers are not accustomed to bikes passing them on the right when they are turning right. It certainly wasn't part of anything I learned in driver's training

In modern Oregon's DMV driver's book they specify this case and tell you that they have the right of way, they also include this question in the test. Not sure how it helps on the roads to cyclers, but at least they teach about it.


Cyclists in a bike lane in Oregon always have right of way, meaning right-turning cars must yield to approaching bikes before turning, with one GIANT caveat. Judicial rulings have come down stating that the bike lane does not continue into an intersection since there is no paint delineating the bike lane. The one part of the road where a cyclist is most vulnerable to getting hit is also the one stretch where a cyclist has no legal protection. It's madness.


The easy solution seems to be to just paint the stripes through the intersections. There's no good reason not to.

Compare it to NYC's efforts here where they've intentionally been adding a lot of stripes into intersections for traffic calming reasons alone to force drivers to pay more attention to their overall surroundings, especially on dangerous left turns.

https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/pedestrians/left-turn-tra...


> Cars turning right across another lane of traffic (the bike lane) is the problem.

It may vary by state, but at least here in Iowa cars are supposed to merge into the bike lane (as far as possible) before turning right, not turn across it. This is the same as any other situation where you have two lanes of traffic going the same direction—you start your right turn from the rightmost lane. Bikes are expected to pass turning cars on the left in the regular traffic lane, not on the right.


>Having recently moved to Florida from Sweden, I was shocked at how biker/pedestrian hostile it is here.

Sorry if this sounds rude, but this was a surprise to you? I thought everyone in Europe realized how bicycle/pedestrial-hostile US cities are. Did you not come here first to check things out before committing to a cross-Atlantic move?

And seriously, Sweden is one of the top countries on the quality-of-life indices. The US is definitely not. Why would you leave there to come here? That's like me leaving the US and moving to El Salvador, thinking it'll somehow be nicer. (This is a valid comparison: compare the murder rates of Sweden vs. US to US vs. El Salvador.)


>Sorry if this sounds rude

It does, a little bit, but that's ok.

No, it wasn't a surprise that it wasn't as bike friendly as Sweden. My comment was I was shocked at how extremely hostile Florida in particular was. I hadn't been to Florida prior to moving here. I committed to move away from Sweden because my wife couldn't stand it any more, the social aspects of Sweden are not all that peachy. It's really hard to break through the social barriers and make friends there. I had visited other parts of the US which I really did like, but we ended up here for work. We'll spend a few years here and then leave for some greener grass.

Having gone on some road trips my observation is it varies a lot by state. Tennessee is one of my favorites down south and D.C metro area is quite nice if you avoid the city center.


Ex-Floridian here. I spent my formative years there. No amount of research could have prepared you for our hostility towards bikers. In my youth we'd actively try to mess with (shout at, drive obnoxiously close to, etc..) bicyclers for having the arrogance to (a) exist, and (b) use our roads.

If we saw a biker out and about, it was pretty much guaranteed that they'd get a finger as I rocketed by in my car. This was just a thing that everyone did. I don't know why we were so self-righteous and angry about road usage.

As what is surely punishment for my past sins, I now commute via bicycle every day now. Even in a 'bike friendly' city like Seattle, I still get cars that play the "I'm gunna clip you!" scare game that I used to do to others as a teenager. Young me was a huge moron.


>Tennessee is one of my favorites down south and D.C metro area is quite nice if you avoid the city center.

Tennessee is not at all bike-friendly, and pay there is generally very low.

What's wrong with the city center in DC? The city center is mostly very gentrified and rather expensive, particularly on the west side. Stay away from the southeast part at night though, but most other parts are pretty good.

>I committed to move away from Sweden because my wife couldn't stand it any more, the social aspects of Sweden are not all that peachy.

Are you and your wife native Swedes? I could see non-natives complaining about not fitting into a place like that, but if you grew up there it should be different.

Did you think about moving to other European countries? If you're looking for something friendlier than Sweden but still liveable and bikeable and pedestrian-friendly and with a social safety net and low crime, there's lots of options in the rest of Europe. Why would you want to move instead to a country where there's more guns than people and you have to worry about being killed either by criminals or in a car wreck?


Can you elaborate on what you mean about the social aspects of Sweden not being peachy? Many people in the US describe Sweden as a utopia for Americans looking for a new foreign country to call home... any input on that sentiment would be appreciated.


My wife is American, she came to study in Sweden, I'm a native. She lived in Sweden for 7 years and was struggling to learn the language, people are very insistent on speaking English if they hear that's your native language. That's nice and all, but it makes it hard to fully become part of society. The biggest issue is the individualism bordering on egotism, people just don't want to deal with strangers.

Being half-Spanish I often compare to that culture. Over there you'll see kids, teenagers, adults and old people hanging out in bars together at 1am on the weekends. Over in Sweden you're supposed to stay locked up in your apartment after 6pm once you're past your 70s.

If you're seriously considering moving away from the US I'd suggest looking at Norway, which seems like a much friendlier place to me.


You do not talk to others in public. You do not meet new people at the gym, at bars, at anywhere. If you are lucky you work in a small startup-office where employees go drink after work on fridays and where you can get to know them.

American tourists can be heard over all other sound in the metro- and trainstations in Stockholm because the natural level of noise-making is so different.


How do people meet other people to date then?


I don't actually know, but I'm going to hazard a guess that it's the same as in the US: dating apps. How else could you possibly meet people to date? This isn't a joke question, because I honestly have no idea.

The standard ways of meeting partners, according to surveys, have been: school, work, church, friends, family, bars, online. School isn't possible if you're not a student any more (i.e., most everyone over 25), work is generally frowned upon and pretty limited unless your workplace has a lot of turnover (which is bad for other reasons!), church isn't useful if you're not religious (as is the case for Sweden I'm sure), friends and family have limited social circles of singles, and bars are a great place to meet alcoholics. The surveys I've read for dating in America have shown that all these methods (except maybe school) have been declining for a long time, while online has become the #1 method.


To be fair I think it is worse these days than it could be. Over the last 50 years or so Sweden developed a form of egalitarian individualism, which has made social interaction a bit peculiar. But today there is rising inequality which has turned some of that individualism into egoism. At the same time there are a lot of people moving in or out of cities, breaking up friend groups and leaving small towns to their faith. Swedes do quite well socially when it comes to things like non profit clubs. Now everyone is trying to be "international" which most Swedes aren't good at as they are far too concerned about what other people think.


I think people keep 2 compartments in brain and never let them interact. E.g. when it comes to salaries it goes like why the hell European/ canadian companies do not pay like US companies. And when it comes to personal life or health they go like why is US so hostile for health care, vacations.


While your first paragraph is apposite to the post:

> Sorry if this sounds rude, but this was a surprise to you? I thought everyone in Europe realized how bicycle/pedestrial-hostile US cities are. Did you not come here first to check things out before committing to a cross-Atlantic move?

surely the proper answer to:

> And seriously, Sweden is one of the top countries on the quality-of-life indices. The US is definitely not. Why would you leave there to come here?

is "none of your business", and the answer to:

> That's like me leaving the US and moving to El Salvador, thinking it'll somehow be nicer.

is that the grandparent didn't say he or she expected the US to be nicer than Sweden, only implied an expectation that it would be less cyclist-hostile than it (the US) actually is.


The US dwarfs Sweden in size and cultural diversity. There are many places to live in the US that are as nice or nicer than Sweden. There are many places that are not.


There is no place in the US that beats Sweden on metrics like quality of life and healthcare affordability. These things are nationally driven, and there are no US states with socialized healthcare.


Life quality for none-Swedes is anecdotally not that great, at least not according to the Americans I got to know in Sweden.

Yes, the fact you won't be financially ruined by health issues is nice. The wait times and quality of care in Sweden left some to be desired.


IMO most people would not consider healthcare affordability as a factor in where they want to live, or even a major factor in their quality of life. NYC (as one example) is famously expensive across the board for all types of insurance, healthcare, housing, food, etc. but still has hordes of people who want to live there.

As an aside - New York State did launch a universal healthcare program recently, and I believe Colorado has something in the works on that front too.


New York City recently launched a health insurance program that seeks to cover everyone in the city and offers low-cost options. It's not, however, a single-payer program. [0]

New York State does not have any statewide health insurance program yet, universal or otherwise. However, the New York Health Act (which would create a statewide single-payer insurance program) has passed the State Assembly four years in a row and stands a good chance of finally passing the Senate this year as well. [1]

[0] https://cityandstateny.com/articles/policy/health-care/bill-... [1] https://www.nyhcampaign.org/


Thanks for the clarification - I live here but haven't been keeping up with it recently.


> there are no US states with socialized healthcare.

So, not MA then? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_health_care_refo...

Or Vermont, temporarily: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermont_health_care_reform


Sweden probably has a slightly undeserved reputation in this area. These days mainly the financing is socialized, which is still something. The services themselves are privatized. So the quality can vary wildly depending on location and provider. Or even almost randomly. It is more similar to a capitalist system in that regard. I think maybe Norway or Finland might be better examples of countries offering egalitarian service today.


I've heard this pretty often, and intuitively it sounds like it might be true. However, do you have any references about that?


Are you asking for a reference that the USA has more diverse demographics than Sweden? That's gonna be a lmgtfy.


The US is a huge country and has a broad range of pedestrian/cycle-friendly infrastructure — Florida in particular is among the worst.


I think you're really whitewashing things. A better description would be that the US is a huge country with a few, select metro areas that are pedestrian/cycle-friendly (and even then, only in certain parts), while the vast majority of the country is very unfriendly to them.


I never claimed the majority of the US was great for bicycling; just that Florida was exceptionally bad. I think maybe you read more into that statement than was actually present. (I think I understand the confusion — I intended to say there was a broad range of infrastructure friendliness.)


Florida has pretty bad drivers. They are the 8th worst state according to this list: https://smartasset.com/checking-account/states-with-the-wors...

I think it's because it's a state with a lot of transplants (such as yourself) so you have a big mix of driving styles all interacting and they sometimes clash.


I've also lived in Spain for a short time, which isn't exactly known for their great drivers. Central Florida is worse by miles. People stare at their phones while moving (at a light is bad enough, but at least you won't hit anyone), they drive with about a car's length of distance while going 45mph, shifting lanes without using their signals and other crazy shenanigans.

I'm just astounded by the complete disregard for other humans while they're in their cars. This is one of the biggest reason me and my wife are looking to resettle elsewhere in a couple of years.


> they drive with about a car's length of distance while going 45mph, shifting lanes without using their signals and other crazy shenanigans

this shit happens everywhere


It's worse in some places than others. Oregon, for instance, is famous for its drivers being too polite.


That's Washington. Oregon drivers are aggressive like Californians, don't signal, but then drive ungodly slow just like the overly polite Washingtonians.

An Oregonian will cut you off without signalling, then drive 52mph.


Nah. It's definitely worse in some places than others. In Michigan, people would go 80-85 mph with 1-2 car lengths between them. California is notorious for not using turn signals before lane shifts (and my experience matched that reputation). I would say both of these experiences are quantifiably different from my experience driving in Washington (though I do not have such numbers).


There's two kinds of "bad" drivers. There's "the insurance company does not like it when you drive this way because you will likely cost them money" bad drivers and there's "legitimately doing a poor or ineffective job at accomplishing the task of driving". Weaving through traffic at +20 and passing on the inside in a rotary are examples of the former. Paying more attention to your phone than to driving is an example of the latter.

Florida by nature of it's popularity with tourists and retirees has a lot of the latter. Most people drive about average. When the local average is dragged down by hordes of tourists and retirees even the people who wouldn't otherwise drive that way do so because it's what's normal around them.


Huh? Insurance companies and the law have similar goals w.r.t. preventing personal injury and property damage. I'm not sure how you define a 2nd kind of bad that isn't just some subset of that.

Weaving through traffic at 20 over the speed limit and making illegal and surprising passes is an example of something insurance doesn't like, and doing a poor/ineffective job of driving.


There's a tonne of tourists driving in Hawaii, and yet, I've never had that bad an experience driving there.

Actually, that's not true. Highway 360 on Maui (The road to Hana) was the most terrifying driving I've ever seen, but that is due to the state of the road, and the familiarity (and lack of interest in spending more time then they have to on it) of the locals.


That's not why. I live in the DC area, and everyone here is from somewhere else (many from outside the country). People are still much more polite here, and it's much more pedestrian-friendly than in other metro areas, particular Florida.


Planners often cite the lack of cyclists as an excuse not to create bicycle infrastructure, and fail the acknowledge the reason is due to the danger, rather than the desire to bike.


Also, a lot of the existing bike infrastructure is just awful. They put bike lanes next to parked cars, paint sharrows instead of building real bike lanes, and pedestrian islands on roads with no bike lane, that make passing cyclists safely impossible.


> I naively thought I'd be able to live a more active lifestyle because of the nicer weather, but instead I'm driving a car everywhere as I wouldn't feel safe on a bike.

It is super ironic, I agree. USA has a lot of room for activities, but the irony is that you have to _drive_ to them. Yes, you have to drive somewhere first, and when do what you want. Wants to run? Well, big chance you need to drive to some park. Wants to cycle? There is a chance you don't want to do straight from your house (like I have to go on a highway, which is not the best idea to cycle on).

> I've lived here for little over a year now and I've been _almost_ hit a couple of times while crossing the road at the crosswalk, and a few times at parking lots with drivers not looking back before reversing.

In USA, I recommend to walk in the middle of the parking lot (always!). This way you'll have time to react to any hazardous situations. Yes, some might honk at you, but better safe than sorry.


I have a personal conviction too that anywhere in South Florida which figures out how to change focus to walking/biking safely will reap very nice appreciation in real estate and taxes.

Yes, the weather is very hot, but the issue is not the heat but the fact everything is so far away and there isn't a safe way either-way of getting there without a car.

I'm a fan of how I understand Japanese zoning works + some of the stuff they're trying in Spain to ban cars in some areas.


St Pete is bike/pedestrian friendly relative to other parts of Florida, and I think it's getting better. I actually think that is one reason why the area has been growing so much over the past decade. There is actually a bike trail [1], which was made by paving over an old railway track. I used to take that trail to bike to downtown, and it was extremely safe.

In contrast, I now live in a newer FL city on the Space Coast that is currently booming. Seeing all of the car-friendly development makes me cringe. Nothing is in walking distance. Traffic is terrible. A man backed into me at a stoplight. I have to take a shuttle from my company's parking lot to my building because we have to accommodate so many vehicles, despite the fact that many employees live within an acceptable biking distance.

[1] http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/


What kills me isn't just the stuff that people are complaining about in the U.S. regarding existing conditions...

It's that new development isn't, and I hate to use this word, progressive. Don't people WANT to be able to walk around, sit outside and so on, get to work quickly, etc. How can the answer to that be no?

The obesity epidemic is extremely tied to this misguided way of continuing to build cities.


It's a reinforcing feedback loop: new cities are developed to accommodate cars -> more people own/drive cars because of the city's design -> repeat.

It's a type of trap that leads to these undesired effects. I do not see much changing until self-driving cars change the dynamics of how US society thinks about cars and transportation.


https://www.thevillages.com/

Of course that's only available to Boomers. "We've ruined most of society; let's find a place we haven't touched in which to hide from the consequences!"


The city of Miami Beach (not the city of Miami on the mainland) really does try, and I think they're doing a lot right - decent transit as a side effect of a tiny geographical area, lots of emphasis on walking and cycling and having a healthy populace, progressive environmental policies, etc... but they're a relatively tiny and extremely expensive locale, so their successes aren't exactly broadly enjoyable.


Probably the best place to cycle in South Florida. Then again, it is a true urban area and very walkable.


You would have been better off in California or anywhere out west actually. The humid weather alone makes Florida not a great place for cycling, and the culture dooms the rest of any aspirations.


I moved from The Netherlands to the USA then moved back to The Netherlands. Part of the reason for moving back was exactly this.


" I naively thought I'd be able to live a more active lifestyle because of the nicer weather"

The Florida lifestyle is to drive from air conditioned place to air conditioned place in your car. I am exaggerating but you should try ORegon or Washington for a more active lifestyle.


>The Florida lifestyle is to drive from air conditioned place to air conditioned place in your car. I am exaggerating but you should try ORegon or Washington for a more active lifestyle.

On the coasts people are very active. True the median age is much higher however they usually move to the coast to enjoy being outside year round.


West coast is not so active and I lived there a long time. Can't speak for the east coast though.


Also, California has many good places to be active if you like the FL heat but not the humidity.


Born and raised in northern FL, fled north to escape all this and more the second I graduated college.


Did you research the weather before moving to Florida? The majority of the year it is oppressively hot and humid. Nothing a Scandinavian is even remotely used to.


thank the State DOT.


The DOT is part of the state government, and as such responds to the voters. This problem is caused by the residents of Florida ultimately.


This article fails to mention one of the biggest factors, which is the increased prevalence of SUVs and Trucks. These oversized vehicles have higher grilles and increased mass. The higher grille means injuries that on a car would have been a leg injury where the pedestrian ends up on the hood are abdominal injuries where the pedestrian can be pushed under the vehicle. The increased mass also means longer stopping distances.

Source: https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2018/06/28/suvs-killi...


When I moved to Texas I did not anticipate this. As a cyclist, I will definitely keep the types of vehicles in mind when choosing a place to live from here on. Texans do worse, as "grille guards" are particularly common: http://www.frontier-gear.com/products/grille-guards/

When I first saw one of these I thought it was something out of Mad Max. The vast majority of these people don't need these grille guards as they don't work on a farm or anything similar. My guess is that they are bought to make their truck or SUV look tougher.

In contrast, I grew up in a rural area where grille guards might be useful and I never saw them. Big trucks don't seem to be as common as here either.


I grew up rural Wisconsin, and moved to, and lived in, Houston for about a decade or so. It's funny you should mention how no one where you grew up has those trucks, because this was my exact same experience. Initially, I just thought that everyone in Texas was just WAYYYY more wealthy than people in Wisconsin. Then I realized, down there, it's just the culture. Whether they have money or not, they will get a giant truck or suv, even if they don't need one.


Even Austin, the most liberal of Texas cities, is horrible.

A friend of mine, who is a bike-trail advocate, was intentionally hit by the car behind him while he was stopped at a red light waiting to make a right turn. He said he waited a bit too long, the car behind him honked impatiently first, then bumped into him. He fell to the side and bruised his leg, while the perpetrator non-nonchalantly drove by, made their right turn and drove away.


I live in Austin. Sorry to hear about your friend. Can't say that I'm surprised.

Austin seems to be full of people who are happy to give cyclists lip service, but once they have to wait more than 5 seconds for a cyclists, they could hardly care less about them.

I was assaulted by a road raging driver, and to their credit the police made a token effort. Even took my statement. But they made no effort to arrest the guy as far as I can tell. Wasn't difficult for me to figure out where the guy lived, so all I can figure is that the police never bothered looking at all.

This is the most significant reason why I don't intend to stay in Austin.


The source is a long human interest piece; it's tough to figure out what actual statistics they are citing or making claims based on. Here's what I've teased out:

> That report also noted that SUVs and trucks were involved in a third of pedestrian injuries but 40 percent of deaths.

(I.e., slightly disproportionately more likely to kill in a given collision.)

That said, the number of deaths is about 4% of the total number of traffic-pedestrian crashes that go to emergency rooms. The number does not include anyone who went to urgent care, nor people who walked away.[0]

If 100% of SUV/truck drivers could switch to car-class automobiles, we'd expect to reduce pedestrian deaths about 359 (of 5376). It's something, but (1) difficult to imagine how we get there, and (2) definitely a minority fraction of 5376. I'm not sure that supports the idea that "increased prevalence of SUVS and trucks is one of the biggest factors."

In contrast, (!)34% of pedestrians killed were drunk when they died, and (!)15% of drivers were drunk when they killed a pedestrian[ibid]. These are huge numbers! 1828 and 806 lives, respectively. We can't (and don't want) to prevent people from drinking, but maybe we can improve safety for drunk pedestrians, and figure out new ways to take drivers who have been drinking off the road.

[0]: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pedestrian_safety/ind...


Also bigger blind spots. On the bigger trucks it's practically impossible to see over the right front fender, so any pedestrian or cyclist approaching from that entire quarter - not just at intersections but even more so at driveways - will be in mortal danger.


Not just trucks; cars, too. Crash safety standards have made them impossible to see out of. I have a small hatchback from 2000 that you can see out of amazingly well, compared to my wife's 2008 4 door hatchback which is harder to see out of. Higher tailgate, higher rear 3/4. Then I bought a 2016 hatchback which was harder, still to see out of. Now we have a 2018 sedan that's virtually impossible to see out of with the rear 3/4. Mirrors are great in traffic, but it's much more difficult to be confident that you're not about to run something over in a parking lot. This is why reverse cameras are mandatory - you can't see out of cars anymore.


The NTSB does seem to be a lot more interested in the safety of the folks inside the vehicle than those outside. This same viewpoint is reflected in using road design principles that make perfect sense for the highway, where there are no pedestrians, being use inside the city where there definitely are.


I've personally advocated this position for nearly a decade now. I joke about having a Napolean complex with cars - I don't like driving anything that's taller than I am. (5'7") People often are confused by that comment, so I elaborate: When I'm up that high, I feel like I could run over a small child and not even feel it. Most of the people I mention this to feel more safe sitting higher in their car than other drivers, and don't see where this escalating arms race is going.


It's not the bumpers. Bumpers haven't moved much since the 90s. If anything they've moved up a little on cars and stayed static on everything smaller than a 3/4 ton truck. It's the hood/grill styling that's changed. Every SUV these days has a tall grill and hood. Even cars have become taller. It's because of the safety and fuel economy arms race. The front bodywork is one of the few things the manufacturers can sculpt however they want. The cabin needs to be deep for the crash test rating (reducing visibility in general) and the hood/windshield transition needs to be shallow for fuel economy (which has a side effect of increasing the A pillar blind spot). This is why we get vehicles with massive bulbous front bodywork. That then becomes a styling trend all in itself. Look at how the 4Runner has progressed over the years if you want a particularly ugly example.

I'd rather get hit by a 90s F-series or Miata (with the "pedestrian unsafe" folding headlights) than the modern equivalents (though the modern Miata would still be pretty tolerable).


Actually, what I've read is that modern cars are much better for getting hit as a pedestrian than those 90s small cars. Remember, Europe has very different safety regulations than the US, and manufacturers aren't going to make different cars for both markets, so because of Europe's pedestrian-safety regulations, modern cars are designed to do less damage to pedestrians when they hit them. They look worse because of the big grill (talking about cars here, not big pickups; they don't sell pickups in Europe), but it's all plastic and crumples, and it prevents the pedestrian from being picked up and slammed into the windshield, which is what would happen with that 90s Miata.


It does mention that "reducing the height of front bumpers" is needed.


New trucks are insane. You can't see a small child infront at all. Honestly I'm shocked its legal.


most of them would illegal in Europe, because of pedestrian safety.


Mass is only one factor in stopping distances. Many SUVs have more tire than they need and can stop very quickly. And some tiny/efficient cars have very light tires/brakes that mean they cannot stop as fast as they should.


I moved from the Netherlands to Canada and still bike to a lot of places. While I of course expected the lack of infrastructure, I did not fully expect the amount of hate I would be getting.

People here see you as some idiot who is playing with his toy while `serious` people are driving. They yell at you to get on the sidewalk, get off the road, that you don`t pay `road tax` (wtf), some homophobic shit. Canadians are so nice otherwise, but not on the road.


I've seen that in cities in the Midwest USA too. But in my area (not in a city) I have the opposite problem... people on the road are too nice, to the point where it is dangerous. There is bike trail I like to ride on and it only crosses one major road, but it's two lanes in each direction with a left turn lane. And I've had people stop on that road trying to wave me through, even though I have a stop sign and they don't. I am absolutely not crossing in traffic just because one person stopped, and I'm just waiting for the day when someone does that and causes a major accident.

It's safe to say that people in North America just don't know how to react to bicycles all around.


Yeah Canadian driving culture is surprisingly hostile. Even here in New Brunswick where people are stereotyped as slow old drivers that stop to let pedestrians to cross we had people openly posting on social media about wanting to crash into bikers when they put in new laws about giving bikes space on the road (put into place because of bikers getting hit.)


Canada is pretty big, what area/city?


have heard every one of those arguments, both in the city and in the countryside. here's another one: my neighbour complaining about my bike being locked to the outside of the house: "get a car like every other adult"


Toronto suburbs


Ah, Ford Nation, say no more


Weird. This article doesn't mention what (IMHO) is one of the biggest factors impacting pedestrian and cyclist safety: the ability in almost all of the US to turn right at red lights.

I live in NYC where this is illegal in the five boroughs. Weirdly I've met more than a few people who live here who didn't know this. You will come across drivers who don't know this too occasionally who'll give you attitude if you walk when you have right of way.

I've visited the Bay Area a lot and honestly I'm terrified of being a pedestrian or cyclist there. When a car hits a red light and wants to turn right the driver will naturally just look left for oncoming traffic. In doing so they'll not be able to see pedestrian coming from the right who might need to cross the road there and they seem more oblivious to cyclists coming from the left.

Couple that with roads that are typically much wider and you feel like you're taking your life in your hands every time you cross the road. In Palo Alto there's a crosswalk across El Camino where it's 6 lanes (IIRC). Not in a million years could you convince me to use it. You just don't know how drivers are going to react. Will they see you? Will they stop for you? Who knows? It's better to cross where there isn't one so you can predict car movement.

I don't know how the US ended up with this turning right at a red light rule. I haven't personally been in another country where this is the case. But I can't think of a more anti-pedestrian and anti-cyclist rule than this.


It's the opposite way round - I think it's the Coriolis effect - but you can turn left on red in at least some parts of Australia.


It's not comparable. A right turn on red is allowed at traffic lights in the US, unless signposted otherwise. A left turn on red is disallowed at traffic lights in Australia, unless signposted otherwise.

I think the latter (default disallowed) is safer, because the sign permitting turn on red states that the turn is only permitted after stopping. On the other hand, drivers in the US blow through their right turns on red, usually not stopping, and with impunity.


Thanks - that's a useful clarification. It was a while ago that I visited, and while I do drive, and regularly, I didn't drive while there.

Obviously I failed to miss this "subtlety" ;) - good evidence, as if any were needed, which of course it isn't, that drivers can't be trusted.


I nearly got hit just this morning by someone blowing through a right turn on red. If they get that close to me that I am in range to, I will hit or kick their car ;)


The reason we "ended up with this turning right at a red light rule" is simply that it is more efficient, and transportation is by definition architected for efficiency. It's the same reason we have more flashing yellow turn lights these days, because you shouldn't be stuck sitting at a red light in a turn lane when it's extremely visually obvious that there are no obstructions preventing you from proceeding.

In the world of marine navigation, baked into many rules and courtesies, is the idea that larger vessels are to be offered right of way over small vessels. Because small vessels are both more able to perceive the current situation, and more able to avoid mishaps.

Paradoxically, pedestrians often have the right of way always, despite the car being far less maneuverable, less perceptive of it's surroundings, and far more dangerous to collide with.

This negation of the common-sense logic found in marine navigation is why our streets are always reported as "becoming more dangerous".


> The reason we "ended up with this turning right at a red light rule" is simply that it is more efficient

For whom? Drivers? Is any consideration for those who cannot or do not drive to be sacrificed at the Altar of the Automobile because cars?

> This negation of the common-sense logic found in marine navigation is why our streets are always reported as "becoming more dangerous".

The major difference I find between those who pilot boats (and aircraft) vs those who drive is how serious the former take their responsibility.

I met a UPS pilot once who we got to talking to and he said that he doesn't drink anything alcoholic within 12 hours of flying. That's clearly more precautious than he needs to be but this anecdote highlights the point of how serious this guy took his responsibility.

Compare this to drivers who routinely:

- Speed dangerously

- Drive while intoxicated

- Text or otherwise get distracted by their phones while driving

- Drive in spite of medical advice to the contrary [1]

- Run red lights

- Speed up when lights turn orange (knowing they'll be red when they pass through the intersection) as some lie to themselves that they couldn't stop (as a pedestrian I can nearly always tell lights are changing because I hear cars accelerate).

- Don't maintain their vehicles

All while being at the helm of two tonnes of metal hurtling down a highway at 85mph (with a speed limit of 55mph), all while tens of thousands of people die on the roads every year in the US.

A defense of some of these is "what choice do they have (but to drive)?" Well, that's the result of a society that is so totally geared towards car ownership.

So excuse me if "efficiency" for drivers isn't my primary concern.

[1] https://www.etonline.com/driver-charged-in-death-of-ruthie-a...


I would upvote this by 1000 if I could. I lived in the bay area for 2 years, and one way streets + right on red is a recipe for disaster for pedestrians because drivers will never look to their right.

Interestingly, people in SF rarely jaywalk, and I wonder if it's related to this.


I love jaywalking in SF just for this reason. I'm usually crossing in the middle of a block. I can see all the cars and I know where they are going. Plus I wait for lights much less often.


Yep, same. I believe there's been studies on these kinds of things, like the insanity of jaywalking laws as pedestrians tend to be safest when they cross streets when they don't have right of way as they're far more likely to be aware of their surroundings and cautious, particularly when the stakes for the pedestrian are much higher than the driver (ie an accident will tend to end worse for the pedestrian than the car or the driver).


Also, the term jaywalking itself was invented by car companies to absolve drivers of the deaths they cause.


Interestingly (and obviously anecdotal) I've found the opposite has been happening in Philadelphia. And the main driving (no pun intended) factor, I think, was the introduction of our bike share program (Indego). Drivers were so much more hostile to bicyclists before these were introduced.

We now have more dedicated bike lanes, which helps immensely. We've introduced signs and indicators ("sharrows") that indicate to drivers that bicyclists have the right to use the lanes just as much as drivers. It's a noticeable difference from 10 years ago. I can't say for certain these other things would have happened without the introduction of the bike share program, but it seems to be what really changed things here.


Having lived in Philly for the last decade or so, I've noticed that it's never very dangerous to be a biker or a pedestrian here. I only know of two incidents where people I know have been struck, and usually in not too terrible ways. It especially helps that bike lanes are plentiful, most of the non-residential parts of the city are pretty damn easy to navigate, and within city limits people don't really drive too crazy.

Sure you get the one off case where people are being assholes for the sake of being assholes, but for whatever reason you can't really get away from that no matter where you are.

That being said, if you're in another car or anywhere near I76, then you better believe it's every man for himself, and may the traffic gods have mercy on you.


> Drivers were so much more hostile to bicyclists before these were introduced.

I'm not sure that driver attitudes are the primary cause of cycling deaths. Lack of visibility might be one, though.


In some places it might be. In most, it's probably distraction -- phones, eating, etc. -- or alcohol, but if those are less common and hostility is high, the latter could probably overtake.

People will pass very fasts and very close when they're angry at the cyclist for being on the road and "in their way". I've actually had someone try to run me off the road before. (I've had plenty of people try to merge into where I was, but this was someone trying to do it because he wanted me on the sidewalk "where I belonged". We stopped and argued at a light right afterwards.)

If that behavior were common, cycling would be vastly more dangerous. Maybe in Philadelphia it was.


I pretty much assume that unless I make eye contact with a driver and get some kind of acknowledgement, I don’t trust that they see me. By far the closest calls I’ve had are stop signs where someone in an SUV stops, doesn’t look right or left (or worse, doesn’t look up from their phone), and then just goes.

I also hate “share the road” situations where the right thing to do is take up the whole lane; drivers are almost religiously against this concept. Even if it’s, like, 30 yards. So you’re stuck either taking the dangerous option of treating a rough, basically nonexistent shoulder as a “bike lane”, or dealing with road rage as you occupy the full lane. I can keep up pretty well with traffic, but even so people just get angry.


this is pretty much how you learn to operate when you have a motorcycle. you are not seen unless you make eye contact and even then don't trust them. works to make a safer drive in a car.

now not to go full mean mode on cage drivers, we have our issues among riders too. I would say about every fifth new cyclist that wants to ride with us or friends; I admit to being a slacker; has to be schooled in not being a dick. No need to make the people who don't like bicycles like them less. Obey the rules, forgive, and ride.


I also hate “share the road” situations where the right thing to do is take up the whole lane;

When driving, I hate when cyclists don't take up the whole lane when they are supposed to (and where I live, they are supposed to unless there's a bike lane). It creates dangerous ambiguous situations when the lane belongs to a biker, but the biker doesn't take it. Pulling over to the side says "go ahead, and pass me" (whether it's a car or a bike). I can't tell you how many times I've seen bikes just mindlessly swerve from the middle of the lane, to outside the lane, and back, paying no attention to the flow of traffic.

I don't get angry at bikers. I get angry at anyone cutting me off or generally using the road erratically.


This is why putting up with the potential road rage is the right answer to OP's dilemma.

As a cyclist you must be noticeable and predictable at all times.

Put flashing lights and reflectors anywhere you can. Make turn signals with your hand. When you take up a lane, do it confidently and clearly communicate your intent. Take it all seriously and "officially" and drivers will be forced to pick up on it.


Yea and just to be clear, that’s the choice I make.

However, there are situations where it’s not possible, because doing the “correct thing” would be more dangerous. Hard to illustrate with words, but there are some busy roads on my commute where the bike lane merges with the full lane, and then becomes a bike lane again after a busy intersection. The problem is, if you do the “correct” thing, rather than hugging the shoulder, you become exposed to cars cutting across lanes, at high speeds, with you essentially in their blind spot.

It’s a balance - you want to be predicable and do the correct thing as much as possible, but sometimes it’s just not safe.


"I pretty much assume that unless I make eye contact with a driver and get some kind of acknowledgement, I don’t trust that they see me"

so true. After one or two close calls I'm always on my toes watching for vehicles while walking regardless of crosswalks, lights, one-way streets, having the right of way etc. Even on a sidewalk i keep an eye on traffic.


Regarding "sharrows", the alternative in my area to dealing with road rage is dealing with pedestrian rage, despite the sharrows being in a part of the city where cycling on the sidewalks is also allowed (and even preferred on certain sections of "shared road" where using the road could mean crossing traffic twice to go 30 yards).


> I pretty much assume that unless I make eye contact with a driver and get some kind of acknowledgement

1000 times this. IMHO this, and the closely related sizing up each other's expected path, is what is sorely missing in a lot of the US. One of the few times I was able to walk at a car (such that I would pass behind it) in a west coast parking lot and not have the driver stop in my way and wave me on like they did me a favor, it had a Red Sox sticker on the back.

> dealing with road rage as you occupy the full lane

Meh, free soda.


I noticed they mentioned the speed reduction "Boston, for example, has reduced the city speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 mph." Cambridge across the river followed suit soon afterward, but having lived there for decades I can't say I've noticed one iota of difference in the speed cars travel. 25 mph is still ridiculously fast in most of the tight neighborhood streets. Really the speed limit should be reduced even further to 20 mph and even 15 in some areas accompanied by much stricter enforcement. It's not uncommon to see cars hitting 40+ going down some of the straighter roads that emanate out of the major squares.

I am a daily all-weather bike commuter and to be honest have not had a problem with cars. I don't really mind the concept of SOVs- we use one ourselves; it's just that they need to be much more tightly controlled at least in these neighborhoods.


I live in a town here the main street has a posted speed limit of 25 that absolutely nobody obeys and the average speed of traffic is always around 40.

If you take a road with a "natural" speed and try to artificially restrict with a speed limit, unless you are prepared to have officers posted on that road at all times ticketing people will ignore the limit entirely and go the "natural" speed of the road.

I see it all the time, all over, especially since I live in PA where the state thinks its a really sensible idea to keep almost every highway at 55 mph no matter what. When you try to heavily constrain car speed well below the natural speed of the road people simply stop trying to obey the limit at all and go whatever speed they want.


i wish this were more common knowledge. narrowing lanes is among the best ways to slow cars down, if that's the goal.

but in many cases, that goal is missapplied to reduce accidents. accidents are typically not caused by speed, but rather distraction or anger. it hard to enforce attention and mindfulness, so we regulate speed as a (poor) proxy (partially for harm reduction, as speed increases severity of accidents), which directly leads people to wrongly associate speed as the cause of accidents.

it makes sense, for example, to reduce vehicle speeds around schools to reduce harm in case of accidents with small people. but rather than an artificial speed limit that depends on police enforcement, narrow the lanes to 8 feet and people will naturally drive 15-20 mph in those school zones without the added enforcement burden (and use the remaining road space for bike lanes).


Lower speed leads to fewer deaths; at ~18 mph almost no one dies, compared to 80% of pedestrians who are hit at 30 mph die. Your reasoning comes from another angle it might be correct but you can never assume people are attentive in traffic, neither pedestrians nor drivers, that's why you need rules and infrastructure that makes it possible to share the roads.


In California (and I believe many other states), what you describe would be considered a speed trap, and it isn't allowed. Speed limits are supposed to be set by measuring how fast people drive on the roads. If 85% of drivers go 40, then that's the speed limit. If a city/county hasn't surveyed a street recently, then an officer cannot park their vehicle and hand out tickets for speeding (though they can give a ticket if they are driving their vehicle and see someone speeding) - because that could be a speed trap.

In 2016, the speed limit was enforceable on only 19% of streets in Los Angeles due to the speed trap law. The city has made great efforts recently to update their speed surveys, resulting, in most cases, in an increase in speed limits.


The roads are engineered wrong. If you design a road for 40, then set the speed limit at 25, it's not going to work. You have to re-design the road for the 25 MPH speed limit. There are several ways to do this, and they are well known.

Of course cities are chronically underfunded for infrastructure, so this is really hard to do in practice.


The city wide speed limit was irrelevant in both cities to begin with because in 99.99% of places you couldn't get up to that speed or if you could it would be uncomfortable (narrow streets, poor visibility, etc).

Conditions where one can even go 25+ for more than a couple hundred yards are rare and basically limited to main roads in low traffic conditions (i.e. late at night). These roads already had good bike lanes and the one cyclist riding in said lane at 1am is unlikely to be bothered by the one car that's also around going 30-40 in a separate lane (or I'm not at least).


In the UK, people against 20mph limits often oppose them while claiming that they're never able to get above that speed anyway. Why are they opposing it then? The answer is simple - it's not true and on many streets you're able to drive at 30 or over (if you disregard other people's safety). I would sincerely doubt this was any less the case in the US where traffic lanes even on 'tight' streets seem to be stupidly wide. Many drivers also seem perfectly happy to break the speed limit in their desperate rush to get the back of a queue or to a red traffic light.

It's all very well having cars going at 40mph past you on a bike until the driver of one of them gets distracted or makes a simple mistake and hits you. Then you'll wish they were doing 20!


You can't just slap a 25 sign on a stretch of road where 90% of people feel like 30 is reasonable 90% of the time and expect people to go 25. Without Orwellian enforcement that does not work, not enough people will comply with the new limit. You need to make people actually feel like 25 is the right speed to go. Allowing on street parking on one side (less space for lanes) planting trees on the sidewalk (visually narrower), tuning traffic lights to create congestion , narrower lane markings and all sorts of other things can do that. You can try Orwellian enforcement but that will not fly in any American city (though it may take longer to crash and burn in some cities than others).


In California, you literally can't "slap a 25 sign on a stretch of road where 90% of people feel like 30 is reasonable 90% of the time." That would be a violation of the vehicle code, which states that speeds are determined by the 85th percentile of operating speeds.


As far as "laws CA has that most places don't have" that seems like one of the few reasonable ones. (and I say that as someone who has spent way to much time reading up on traffic and vehicle speed related things). In addition to delivering reasonable speed limits in most places it prevents towns from lowering speed limits in key areas to enable law enforcement rent seeking and probably saves countless hours of arguing over speed limits in local government.


Another perspective is that "speeding leads to increased speed limit."

Generally, many streets are not designed in a context-sensitive way, but instead designed to fit the standards of a limited functional roadway classification system (arterial, collector, local). The passive safety approach of the '60s, as championed by the NHTSA, assumed that crashes are inevitable, and so the safety focus was put on preventing injury after a crash. Thus arterials, for example, have a similar design in which many roadside objects (trees, signs, lights, bollards, etc) were removed, with a "soft landing" on the side. And now we have big wide straight streets that, in their design, encourage us to drive faster.

There are extensive efforts to revise this CA law because of the unintended consequence that it makes roads more dangerous for non-vehicular travelers.


Unfortunate when that "soft landing" is a pedestrian or somebody on a bicycle :( At least the driver wasn't injured, I guess.


Once thing I've noticed is that for the large majority of US drivers, the speed limit is a very weak signal for how fast they should drive. I think the strongest signals are the driver's perceived safeness and the "flow of traffic", although the 2nd might actually just be a corollary of the 1st. If it "feels safe" to be driving 35mph, then most drivers are going to drive 35mph regardless of the speed limit.


Yeah, it's this exactly. We basically need to make our roads feel more dangerous to go fast on.


accompanied by much stricter enforcement

This is the crux of the matter. If people really thought they'd get a speeding ticket, perhaps they wouldn't speed. I live in a big city similar to Boston and I've never seen someone pulled over for speeding though. After all, what are the odds that:

1. A car speeds

2. In front of a cop

3. The cop can safely pursue the speeding vehicle in city traffic


Roads need to be redesigned so that going fast feels dangerous. Until then, there's no way to enforce it enough to actually change driver behavior. The US loves its wide roads that you can feel comfortable doing 80 on... until it starts to build narrow little shared streets people won't slow down.


That's why in my area (outside Philly) speedtraps require at least two cops: one to gun you down and a second 100 feet down the road to wave you over.


>much stricter enforcement.

I believe enforcement of moving violations in the Boston metro is impossible. It is impossible because there is not enough room for an officer in a car to pull a vehicle over while simultaneously keep traffic moving at a reasonable speed. The police have purposely chosen to not enforce moving violations in order to prioritize traffic.


In Chicago they've reduced the speed limit on one of the most frequented bike routes to 20 mph in some areas but its had perceivably no effect. My perception is that cars still average 25 to 35 mph through these areas and I've yet to ever see someone pulled over for speeding.


I’ve noticed that many new road projects near me haven’t included pedestrian crossings. Or, when included, the pedestrian crossings have been poorly-designed.

A view of a map of recent pedestrian deaths [1] seems to confirm this. Many of the deaths seem to be on major roadways that separate two densely populated areas. And, I’ve personally witnessed many more people crossing highways, lately (sometimes, even mothers with small children walking on the shoulder!)

Unfortunately, as the authors research shows, many deaths are in low-income areas. I suspect that low-income people aren’t well-represented when these roadways are designed. And, in particular, two new interchanges near me (that also lack pedestrian crossings), were also known to be areas where many (generally low-income) pedestrians cross, but none of those residents were at any of the planning meetings.

[1] http://www.governing.com/gov-data/transportation-infrastruct...


They're doing the opposite here, putting up dedicated stop lights at "troublesome" crosswalks because nobody, ever, stops for people in crosswalks. Well, aside from the 15mph crosswalks they have around schools where everyone stops because the police like to hide around those.


The safest infrastructure are ones that split pedestrian / bicyclist / motor traffic as much as possible, for obvious reasons. But that infrastructure has fallen out of favor as of late. "Complete streets" are the new fashion trend, and are significantly more dangerous, by combining these forms of traffic altogether and just sort of hoping it all works out.

But, "complete" streets are super cheap, and give the illusion of improved infrastructure, so the trend will likely continue for the near future -- further increasing accidents as it does.


In my opinion isolating separate transportation modes is only good if it is complete isolation but that's never feasible in a city. Too expensive and space-inefficient to make every intersection collision-free for cars, bikes and pedestrians.

If you separate cars, bikes and pedestrians most of the time but their paths cross at intersections then you have a problem because drivers might not expect a sudden bike lane out of nowhere. It's better to have the bike lane on the street so that cars see it all the time. This makes them drive slower and more carefully because they expect bikes to show up there.

I don't have data to back this up although I vaguely remember reading about it in "Streetfight" by Janette Sadik-Khan. If I recall correctly introduction of unseparated bike lanes in New York City didn't increase bike fatalities despite increasing the number of bikers and it also decreased number of pedestrian fatalities thanks to cars driving slower because of bikes. Of course the article shows that now the pedestrian deaths increased so it might have been a premature conclusion on Sadik-Khans part.


Of course drivers in cities do expect 'bikes coming out of nowhere' because, unless you literally separate bikes with a 6ft wall, you can in fact still see them despite there being kerb-separation in place. At car/bike junctions with poor visibility the same interventions are available as for car junctions with poor visibility.

If you've ever seen a mangled barrier by the side of a road, you'll understand why encouraging humans into the road as a traffic calming strategy is rather problematic.

Enlightened cities such as those in the Netherlands tend to take a risk-elimination approach - residential streets will be designed to keep speeds low, and neighbourhoods designed so that through-traffic doesn't try to take shortcuts along them. This makes it safe for cyclists to use the roads without special infrastructure. Only busier main roads have infrastructure. This is hard to imagine in the US where many cities in the US seem unfamiliar with the concept of any road not being a busy main road!


Where I live (Poland) it's not uncommon for a bike lane to be effectively a part of the sidewalk with trees and parked cars between the sidewalk and the road so it's not that obvious if you're visible to drivers or not.

I agree that putting unprotected humans on the road should happen only after other traffic calming measures have been put in place.

Regarding your last remark. There are basically two styles of bike infrastructure. You described the dutch way quite well. But there is also a Copenhagen style of bike infrastructure where it's directly by the road. Sometimes separated by the curb but still on the road. https://goo.gl/maps/QWTfALXSbsj

I won't judge which style is better. It probably depends on the city.

More about differences between Amsterdam and Copenhagen styles https://robertweetman.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/amsterdam-vs-...


”but their paths cross at intersections then you have a problem because drivers might not expect a sudden bike lane out of nowhere.”

If you design your intersections correctly, cyclists do not appear out of nowhere, they always intersect at right angles with the car lane (https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/junction-desig...). That hugely increases visibility of cyclists for car drivers and vice versa, and makes eye contact possible.


> but that's never feasible in a city.

That's kind of funny to hear, because I was going to use real-world Chicago and Seoul as practical examples of this already existing in cities today.

Chicago Loop has a dual-layer approach (where faster moving cars are on the ground floor, but a "second street level" is directly above them, for pedestrians + buses). It's not an exact match (cars can drive on both levels, those lanes should all exist on one level), but it's pretty close to this idea already in practice.

On the opposite side, Seoul has a "pedestrian highway" slung above 8ish lanes of car traffic below, which is a cheaper (although less effective) version of the same idea.


Paris has it pretty good in the central areas. Wide roads with (outside in) footpaths, cycle lane, road, then a central section with tram, trees and garden or parking. Having massively wide roads helps.


The current traffic system is the best known way to share the roadways among different types of vehicles, all subject to the same rules. Trying to construct a set of grids for different types of vehicles which interact at certain points is silly, consider what happens when new types of vehicles come into being, like electric scooters, are you going to construct yet another "independent" grid for them?


I agree with you. I'm not in favor of separation precisely because it's unrealistic in the city.


Plus, separating all of this infrastructure takes space, which in turn makes everything less walkable. In cities, there really need to be fewer car lanes for it to work.


>The safest infrastructure are ones that split pedestrian / bicyclist / motor traffic as much as possible, for obvious reasons.

Can you provide a source for this? (especially concerning the separation of bicyclists and motor traffic)


> Can you provide a source for this? (especially concerning the separation of bicyclists and motor traffic)

https://rspcb.safety.fhwa.dot.gov/Dashboard/Default.aspx

USDOT routinely finds freeways to be the safest roadway for all involved each year (lowest number of ped/bike/car fatalities), since it separates traffic modes.

Pedestrians and bicyclists go over/under/beside it on dedicated infrastructure, they are never on it. And similarly, cars are never on the dedicated ped/bike infrastructure, so collisions are effectively impossible from either side, due to physics.


If you completely separate two things they can not collide.


True, but it's not feasible to separate the traffic completely. Every intersection would have to be collision-free for cars, bikes and pedestrians. How much money and space would that require?


There will still be bike-bike collisions, also exclusive roads for bicycles are usually of low quality not up to engineering standards for roads, they will be full of dirt, unmaintained, with potholes. Most bicycle accidents are not even collisions with cars. The truth is, it is more convenient for motorists to remove cyclists from the road so they have them all exclusively for them, that is just not fair nor safer.


> There will still be bike-bike collisions

These are both more rare than car-bicycle collisions and less likely to be injurious.

> also exclusive roads for bicycles are usually of low quality not up to engineering standards for roads, they will be full of dirt, unmaintained, with potholes

Citation needed? The main problem I've experienced on bike paths is tree roots. Roads for bikes don't wear out particularly quickly, because bikes don't make anything like the kind of wear and tear on roads that cars or especially larger vehicles (buses and trucks) do. Road wear is proportional to weight squared.

> Most bicycle accidents are not even collisions with cars

What are they collisions with? Do you think bike-bike, bike-ped, and bike-fixed object collisions combined are more frequent than bike-car collisions? I don't have numbers on this one way or another. To provide some color, motor vehicle-fixed object collisions are about a third of all motor vehicle crashes[0].

Additionally, 95% of cyclist collision deaths are definitely car-bike collisions[1]. So even if they are not the majority of collisions, they must be disproportionately deadly and worth consideration anyway.

[0]: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/... p. 18 (table 5(b)).

[1]: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/... p. 5-6.


No, cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles: http://www.johnforester.com/


No, the safest option is to separate cycle lanes from roads altogether, as is evidenced by the significantly lower death toll per km that e.g. the NL and Denmark have compared to the US [1]. In those countries, cyclists almost never share the road with car drivers.

In roads that are not designed for cycling (where cyclists have to share the road with car drivers), perhaps it is true that they fare best when they act as vehicles. However, the safest option by far is not sharing the road with cars to begin with.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/02/24/the-mo...


You really can't compare the US and Denmark, you should pick a location and compare before and after segregation. Did it improve safety? There were plenty of bicycle trips in Denmark before cyclists were kicked off the roads for the convenience of motorists.


If it’s convenient for motorists that I get a segregated cycle lane, I’d be very happy to go along with it. Are there cyclists who don’t like cycle lanes and prefer to share with cars?


I don't like them when they aren't adjacent to the main lane. You end up outside the zone where drivers are looking for fast vehicles.

An improved shoulder wide enough to not have storm drains or debris to deal with is ideal. You can enter the roadway proper as needed to take the lane or prepare for turns like every other vehicle. You don't get abuse from ignorant drivers who expect you to stay in your designated space.


As a recreational cyclist, I wouldn't like dedicated cycle lanes that had a too-low (and enforced) speed limit, for example.


I do, I have been driving my bicycle to work for 12 years now. Not only I prefer regular roads, which are much better, whenever there is a segregated lane I avoid it. It is very obvious what segregation is for when you get hostile behavior on the part of motorists when you ignore the cycle lane and they complain that you don't use it.


Someday you will be old, unable to accelerate like a car and keep up with traffic, and you will instead wish that you could ride on the sidewalk. Part of the reason why bicycle use is unusual is that very few people can ride well enough to be out in the road.


How old do you think I am? What do you mean by keeping up with traffic? when I go uphill I do not ride as fast as cars by all means, that doesn't mean I can not use the road. If a faster driver comes behind me he either: 1. slows down and waits, 2. passes if it is safe to do it. The good thing about the road system is that it allows for vehicles of all types and speeds. Can't you drive your car in a road where there are ferraries and big trucks? Learning to ride well is easy, it doesn't requiere superhuman skills. Building separate infraestructure does not help to learn to ride, quite the opposite it encourages people to think that bicycle drivers are inferior and incapable of learning, it creates the Cyclist ghetto.


I assumed that you are nearly fit for the Olympics, probably around age 30, because riding slower than traffic would be extremely rude. Most of us are not so athletic, and we don't wish to be extremely rude.

It's like taking a Ford Model T down the left lane of an interstate highway with an 80 MPH speed limit, or like taking a horse-drawn carriage on a US highway, or like flying a WWI biplane into Chicago O'Hare airport. Sure, it is still legal to do so, but it is a terrible idea. People will rightly hate you if you do this.

If sidewalks aren't legal for bicycles, then most of us have no business using bicycles. Because of this, most people in the USA do not use bicycles, and the situation won't be changing for as long as the law prevents sidewalk usage.


>cyclists almost never share the road with car drivers

That's not true...there's plenty of shared road. Drivers are more cautious and aware, but it's not all separate pathways.


Shared road is getting increasingly rare, though. Except in 30 kph zones where cars have to go slow anyway.

When I was a kid, there were still plenty of 60-80 kph roads where bikes had to ride on the right side of the car lane, but almost all of those have separate bike lanes or bike paths nowadays.


This is plainly wrong. The biggest threat to a biker is being hit by an automobile. If that biker is in a lane completely away from automobile traffic, that threat vanishes.


Being hit how? What type of accidents are more likely to happen? A bike path with no interaction at all with cars will of course prevent any bike-car collision, there will still be bike-bike collisions and other types of accidents (the majority of bike accidents are not car-bike collisions anyway). That kind of exclusive bicycle path is delusional anyway, specially in a urban settings, where you always have to interact with the regular roadway. And it is there, in those interactions where most bike-car collisions happen, in fact most collisions in general happen in intersections. Segregating by vehicle type only makes intersections, which is were accidents happen, more complicated. It makes no sense to have an exterior lane being a thru lane when the adjacent lane is allowed to turn right, that is a contradiction to traffic engineering principles and it is what many bike lanes do.


> Being hit how? What type of accidents are more likely to happen?

95% of bicycle deaths are a result of motor-vehicle bike collision, and the vast majority of collisions are between the front of the motor vehicle and a bicycle.[0]

> there will still be bike-bike collisions and other types of accidents

Sure, but these collisions are far less deadly and injurious. Exchanging car-bike collisions for bike-bike collisions is a good tradeoff from a public health perspective.

[0]: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/...


No, what is good for a public health perspective is to avoid collisions (and falls which is the #1 accident with bikes). It is quite easy to avoid car-bike collisions, in fact car drivers are far more predictable than ignorant cyclists. Of course in order to do that you have to know what the most frequent type of car-bike collisions are, guess what? they are not cars hitting a bicycle from behind, they happen in intersections due to crossing traffic and bike segregation only increases them by making intersections more complicated.


Your argument hinges upon the notion that separated grades increases incidence of car-bike collision per capita. I concede that if that that core fact is true, you're correct — separate grades would be worse from a public health standpoint.

So, do you have evidence for that central claim, or is it just speculation?


Segregated bike paths, at some point, have to intersect with roads and driveways. So you can never eliminate the risk of accidents.

I can’t find any hard data on this, but from what I can see online (and my own experience riding in the road), the most common types of accidents are when cars are turning, and fail to yield to a cyclist. Being rear ended or sideswiped seems to be much more rare than accidents where the car is turning and doesn’t see the cyclist.

For example, a cyclist is riding in a bike lane, and a car is turning left into a driveway. The car is looking for oncoming traffic in the road, so the cyclist is most visible in the road or bike lane, where the driver is expecting fast moving traffic to be. If we build a segregated bike path, cyclists will be much less visible, and it’s more likely that a driver will fail to see them when turning.


Forester is widely discredited.


Thanks to his book I've been riding safely for 12 years, only those who did not make the effort to learn discredit him.


What, you don't like to share a narrow lane with no shoulder right up against a concrete barrier that you'd better not go over because the other side is a 20 foot drop down to train tracks?

https://i.imgur.com/0cxvaJM.png

At least they put up a no parking sign.

EDIT: Not to mention this photo shows the one and only bike symbol on the block. Given how worn off it is I assume most drivers have no idea this is the "bike route."


heh a couple summer's ago in Dallas i got hit by a police officer while crossing the street. Ironically, while he was on his cell phone. I had to do the whole ninja-roll thing over the hood and on to the pavement. Came out of it with only a sore wrist and a funny story for the conference call i was late to.

a buddy of mine grabbed a guy and pulled him out of the way of a city bus. The guy had the light to cross and the bus was making a turn while watching for traffic and not people. My friend saved a life that day.

while crossing a fairly busy street, again in Dallas, a girl about 10 feet in front of me got completely leveled by, yet again, a car turning right watching for traffic and not people. She was not ok.

Dallas isn't that friendly to pedestrians


Honestly I think right turns on red should be illegal at more intersections for this reason. At least busier ones. It's these cases where a right turner has to carefully watch for oncoming traffic that pedestrians are exactly opposite of where they're looking. God forbid you're trying to cross from the same side of the street as the right turner.


NYC outlaws rights on red unless otherwise posted and it makes life as a pedestrian so much better.


Neither pedestrians nor drivers follow traffic laws in NYC. "Go when you can, don't hit anyone" seems to be the only "rule" anyone follows. I'm continuously surprised at how well it works.

In a year of walking around midtown, I've only seen one person hit by a car and it was very much the pedestrians fault fault. They walked out from behind a hot dog stand into the street, not at a crosswalk.


It's a shame that NYC drivers never seem to follow this. I see even commercial vehicles like trucks regularly turn on red.

Although, I suppose the situation would be even worse if it wasn't outlawed...


This isn't true. I don't think I've ever seen anyone try a right on red in Manhattan and while I'm sure it happens occasionally in the boroughs I really don't ever see it. Not sure what you're talking about


Honestly not sure what to say, I see it constantly in Manhattan, as a pedestrian.


Exactly. A lot of drivers seem to think that right-on-red gives them the right of way over pedestrians crossing with a walk light and it doesn't. I've been hit once (fortunately not seriously) and honked at many times while crossing a street on foot completely correctly.


People just need to learn to check their right side mirror before turning.


Here's the thing drivers - if you turn right and don't check over your right shoulder for the bike or pedestrian, then one day you will be that guy that kills somebody. Its just a matter of time.

Always, always glance over your right shoulder when turning right.


I'd go further and say that you should always keep track of cyclists and pedestrians you see before the intersection. If you don't know where they went, assume they're in your path. Case in point: I was coming up to an intersection, right-turn indicator on, cyclist comes blasting through in the right as the the light turns. He's lucky I was the first in line and had noted his position two blocks before, because I guarantee that with any other driver in front he would have earned himself a Darwin Award.


This is one of those things that makes it difficult to replicate the traffic safety of the Netherlands elsewhere...drivers are just way more aware of and respectful of cyclists in their environment. It's cultural.


Urban cyclists in USA learn to be hypersensitive to this situation. If the car is approaching the intersection and does anything to make a turn seem possible, don't pass on the right. Take the lane behind the car and be ready to pass on the left, between lanes. Lane-splitting by a cyclist is a totally normal maneuver. In stopped traffic, it is strictly better than riding on the right. In slowly-moving traffic, it's often better.


All true. But I was thinking of the kid on a skateboard or bike, or even a jogger, on the sidewalk.


Wow! OK so Today I Learned: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turn_on_red

Turning right on a red light is prohibited in many countries, unless indicated by a separate, arrow-shaped (green or orange) light. Surprised to learn that it is however allowed in most of the USA.


Even less common knowledge, it’s not just right on red, it’s turning any time you wouldn’t cross a lane going an unrelated direction.

To wit, left turns from one one-way street onto another one-way street are also allowed on red (if you’re not in NYC).


I moved from Dallas to Minneapolis and was certain I would feel safer walking and biking because of it's reputation as a bike friendly city. In Dallas, it seemed somewhat understandable to me for drivers not to except to see pedestrians and bikers because there just aren't that many of them - the city is so spread out. But the drivers in Minneapolis are straight up entitled, aggressive, and dangerous in high foot traffic areas. Right turn on red and and stop signs are treated as roll throughs, and only if there isn't oncoming traffic. I felt safer as a pedestrian living in NYC than I have in either Dallas or Minneapolis.


> But the drivers in Minneapolis are straight up entitled, aggressive, and dangerous in high foot traffic areas.

I’ve had a similar experience since moving to Pittsburgh, I see drivers lose it and freak out at pedestrians in high foot traffic areas. Midwest drivers need to chill!


>heh a couple summer's ago in Dallas i got hit by a police officer while crossing the street. Ironically, while he was on his cell phone.

did the officer get disciplined for this?


I have personally noticed some unintended consequences due to modern auto design. The more steeply sloped windshields for better aerodynamics mean that in most cases a pedestrian can no longer see where the driver is looking. All they see is a reflection of the bright sky. The greater tendency to have smoked windows to the sides and rear just makes things worse.

The flatter angle of the front A-pillars also increases the size of the blind spot[1]. A-pillars have to provide rollover protection these days and as a result have to be somewhat wider to produce the required strength.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_blind_spot#Effects_of_...


It’s much harder to know where the car you are driving ends too. With bonnets that slope away at an increasing gradient you can’t tell. In older cars you could see the front of the vehicle you were driving. I also find my view obstructed by the wide A pillars, particularly on winding roads.


There's a great, if a bit cheesy video from FortNine [1] on why motorcyclists can be basically invisible to even cautious drivers due to the way our brain processes information, and I think the same thing would apply for bicyclists. When I'm on my bike (of either type) I assume nobody sees me and act accordingly.

For cyclists and pedestrians to really be safe we need to design our road infrastructure to counteract those issues from the start. I visited Copenhagen a few years ago and biked everywhere, and it was a real eye opener how safe and easy it was compared with my home in Chicago.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x94PGgYKHQ0


I don't understand why anyone ever though walkways, bikeways and driveways should intersect without strict rights-of-way, or run parallel without actual barriers between them. In low traffic areas, fine, practicality wins, but the 8-lane roads from a decade ago have turned into 8-lanes with motorcycle lanes between them (sometimes only imaginary, but still legally real), bike lanes (sometimes not as the outer-most lane), and mid-street pedestrian crosswalks that have very confusing, seemingly optional, signaling. People sucked at driving under far simpler conditions. They still suck just as bad and new obstacles and distractions keep being introduced. Strict separation is the only sane option.


What I find absolutely INSANE about American traffic signals is that they're built on the assumption that drivers will turn-on-red while the pedestrian walk signal is active.

This causes so many unnecessary conflicts. At best, you get a nasty look from an impatient right-turner who has to slam their brakes to avoid hitting you. At worst, you get killed for obeying a traffic signal.

Similar with left turning. Why don't all high-volume roads have dedicated left turn arrows? If a driver misjudges the speed of the next car, you can bet they'll choose to follow through with the turn and hit a pedestrian rather than getting hit by a car going through a green light.


The best tell of the US bike infrastructure being a joke is that local governments have the audacity to put some paint on a 45MPH road, and call it a bike lane. No separation, no barrier, just cars whizzing by at 45+, next to a cyclist going 15. And the bike lanes sometimes suddenly disappear, making bikers dismount or merge into fast traffic. No, thanks. I'll take the sidewalk that's empty 90% of the time.

Even in rare places where signs say "bikes may use full lane", I've been near ran over by cars angrily speeding past me.


Chicago is a super bike friendly city:

https://www.bicycling.com/culture/a23676188/best-bike-cities...

Source: I live in Chicago and ride a bicycle when it is nice out.


However, most of the bikers are terrible and enforcement of safety and traffic laws on them is non-existent.


No (edit: quantitative, you'd think that stipulation would be obvious because we're on HN) mention of increase in popularity of cycling for one's commute (seems to be up year over year in my unscientific observation)? I even skimmed the linked articles and they also seem to only be counting deaths, not deaths per anything. That doesn't tell us anything useful. This entire article is hand-wavy.

I'm sure if everyone who currently rides a bicycle to work went out and started commuting via skateboard tomorrow we'd have a heck of a lot more skateboard fatalities.

Also worth mentioning that this is an op-ed so it is not subject to normal journalistic standards (however low they may sometimes be).


3rd paragraph:

> More people are being killed because cities are encouraging residents to walk and bike, but their roads are still dominated by fast-moving vehicular traffic. As my research has shown, this shifting mix can be deadly.


I think the increase in the number of pedestrian deaths is also caused by the increase in the number of SUVs/CUVs and an increase in the size of cars generally speaking. Bigger cars -> more pedestrian deaths looks like a decent enough "correlation is causation" for me.


Pedestrian deaths have increased by a lot more than cyclist deaths, I don't think the number of pedestrians has significantly changed.


> No mention of increase in popularity of cycling for one's commute

It's right in the introduction:

> As cities strive to improve the quality of life for their residents, many are working to promote walking and biking

[...]

> More people are being killed because cities are encouraging residents to walk and bike


The Netherlands dealt with this decades ago with a "stop murdering our children" movement. It worked. It should be replicated.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2013/02/20/the-origins-of-hollan...


The article only gives a passing mention to distracted driving but I really think it's what's driving the dramatic increases over the past decade much more so than vehicle design or social attitudes. Around 6 months ago I started driving a truck, offering a much higher vantage, sitting in traffic I'd say > 60% of people are actively on their phones at any given time. It's an epidemic and I'm not sure what the fix is - maybe treating it more like DUIs?

The city of Austin just had a bus driver kill a cyclist a few weeks ago who was later found to have been texting and driving a city bus.

We know that drivers on phones rely primarily on their peripheral vision to spot other vehicles, but it's very easy for a pedestrian or cyclist to slip through that.


Well, in the US cars _always_ have the right of way (technically, it is illegal, but who cares, drivers think they are entitled to it).

So, nobody stops for you at pedestrian crossings, unless you already are walking on it (and you can even feel their frustration), everybody pulls ahead on the pedestrian crossings at intersections, thus making it dangerous for people, who have to slide around. And the turn on right, yes, mentioned here before – same thing, people pull forward too much, plus don't wait for people to cross fully (again, illegal).

Looking at all of it, I am curious why can't they put police behind crosswalks and just fine everybody with such behaviour? Drivers will learn their lessons really quickly (everybody understands fines and money), and this should improve situation drastically.


> Well, in the US

Parts of the US. Where I live if you pause near the edge of a sidewalk for too long cars will just start screeching to a stop and waving for you to cross. To the point that it's a problem.


I was the co-captain of my college cycling team. I still find certain open roads in Southern California reasonable, but I find myself more and more concerned about the other traffic on the road. I am a physician in no small part because I got hit by a car while riding my bike, and my surgeon was exceptionally gracious, letting me scrub in on surgeries during my convalescence.*

------

* Unrelated footnote: This was before HIPAA. I very much wonder if my kids would be afforded the same opportunity today.


Manhattan definitely has this problem. It's a pedestrian city where most people walk and take the subway everywhere. Meanwhile, there's a ton of cars everywhere, mostly Ubers and people driving through to get to New Jersey, that act like the whole island is their personal highway. It's super dangerous, like putting a gun range in the middle of a playground.


Walking terrifies me. I'm not exaggerating. I do hours of high risk activities every week, and nothing terrifies me more than walking.


I don't care what the law says or what anybody thinks; if there is an empty sidewalk I'm going to bike on it rather than put myself at risk on the road.


More dangerous... god, better not set a foot into this country again :)


I worked at a personal injury law firm in LA and the number of calls we got daily regarding bicycle collisions was disturbing. I knew I would never ride a bike or a motorcycle in LA. It wasn’t a matter of if you got hit but when.


Why the article doesn't mention of distracted and inattentive pedestrians? It might be possible that the sudden increase in deaths is due to the rise of handheld distractions.

Also the same could be true of drivers and cyclist using their handheld.


Why on earth would it mention that? When were you last grievously injured by an inattentive pedestrian?

The ultimate cause of these deaths is principally in the tons of metal propelled to abnormal speeds by engines that could just as well serve the power needs of an entire row of houses. If your traffic policy doesn't realize this basic fact and instead prefers to make worthless publicity campaigns appealing for "everyone to pay attention", it is not rooted in evidence and doomed to fail.

Imagine every day we had 10+ planes crash, killing everyone inside, and we collectively shrug our shoulders, make tactless comments along the lines of "if it goes up it's gonna come down" and put up posters for plane construction workers to pay more attention putting the rattling cans together.


It doesn't mention distracted and inattentive pedestrians because that is not an important factor. From the article:

>Most pedestrians and bicyclists are killed or injured while they are obeying the law.


"Obeying the law" is irrelevant. It's not illegal to use a phone while walking, like it is while driving. The statement in the OP could be 100% correct and still not address the issue of whether distracted pedestrians are contributing to their own injury statistics.


It sure is important when death is on the line. It's no consolation telling St Peter "But I was within the law!"

It's risky out there. Everybody, please keep your heads up!


Also don't dress too provocatively, or you'll be asking for it.

... Oh, wait, we're victim blaming about something else this time?


Didn't go there. Just encouraging people to ride defensively. Righteous indignation doesn't pay any hospital bills.


It doesn't matter if you're right when you're dead.


But it does matter who is right when determining who is wrong...


That only helps in punishing the wrongdoer. If you can avoid being a victim in the first place, yes, the wrongdoer will get away with doing something wrong (though much less wrong than if you succeeded in becoming a victim; e.g., he's guilty of running a red light rather than running a red light and causing a crash that resulted in someone's death), but the price you pay for making the wrongdoer guilty of a greater crime (homicide) is your life. Is that really worth it?

The whole right vs. wrong thing is only useful in assigning blame when something really bad happens, and society wants to punish someone to achieve "justice". But having justice isn't really useful if you're dead, and not really worth it IMO if you're maimed for life. It's better to avoid the whole incident in the first place. "Justice" is nothing more than a concept society created to prevent people from seeking personal vengeance.


In the end though, Homer Simpson is still a bad safety supervisor. Just telling people to "Safen up!" is pointless and in this case is a way of distracting from an important truth ... that the problem here is cars and their drivers, not the pedestrians and cyclists. The legend of the reckless everyone else but drivers is less accepted these days and people tend to get called on it.


I'm not disagreeing that cars and their drivers are the real problem, but this whole thread is about someone saying that pedestrians and cyclists need to watch out for cars, even if they're in the right, and someone else calling this "victim blaming". Call it what you want, but it doesn't matter if you were completely within the law when a car hits and kills you: you're still dead!!! Getting on some high horse about the car driver being "wrong" isn't going to bring the pedestrian back to life.

And sure, maybe (maybe) the legal system will penalize the driver, but is it going to change anything? No, because our society has decided that cars are more important and we're not going to curtail our usage of cars at all, and accidents like this are unavoidable because of the nature of cars and ever-increasing traffic. If we built more trains/subways to take the load off the roads, we really could reduce the cyclist/pedestrian fatalities, but the US isn't going to do that; it's proven that it's completely incapable of building new public-transit infrastructure.


> And sure, maybe (maybe) the legal system will penalize the driver, but is it going to change anything? No, because our society has decided that cars are more important and we're not going to curtail our usage of cars at all, and accidents like this are unavoidable because of the nature of cars and ever-increasing traffic.

Yes, this is the problem that is being discussed -- and the problem that we really need to solve, for a host of reasons ranging from public health to climate stability -- and it is a distraction from discussions of this problem (and also, condescending and unnecessary advice) to suggest that the victims of reckless motorists try harder to not be victims.


"Adding to the dangers are distracted drivers and pedestrians and the introduction of electric scooters. Some observers also believe an epidemic of narcissism is causing more aggressive driving. "

This is linked in that passage: https://theconversation.com/the-value-of-unplugging-in-the-a...


> Why the article doesn't mention of distracted and inattentive pedestrians?

I don't know what you mean - it shouldn't matter how distracted and inattentive a pedestrian on the sidewalk is, because the cyclists shouldn't be in the same space as them in the first place.


Clearly you haven't visited the Netherlands.

Distracted pedestrians (and cyclists!) is a significant problem.


this shouldn't be downvoted. I've sat a green light while a pedestrian walked right out in front of me without even looking up from their phone. They only realized what they did in the middle of the road and then darted back.


Absolutely correct. On the other hand, if the pedestrian had the green and got hit, the fact that they were looking at their phone wasn't the problem. We need to differentiate between two separate scenarios.


Pedestrians dont weigh 4000 pounds and move at 40 miles/hour, for starters


In the Bay Area it's popular for cyclists to bike on narrow, winding, steep roads with no shoulder like Sand Hill Rd. or Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Regardless of how you feel about bikes the conditions are inherently unsafe for bikes and cars and there are multiple annual fatalities.

I can't think of another form of exercise where a participant puts themselves and non-participants in legal danger.


While I totally understand your point, I think that the cyclists are not the ones putting themselves in danger. They have every right to use the road safely. The danger is caused by the divers.

There are many reasons for this but the most common is not taking sufficient separation from the cyclist when passing them. Here in Spain is 1.5m but you don't usually see many cars so close.


Biking on a windy road with no shoulder is like swimming in a harbor. If you turn a blind corner and there's an oncoming car and a bike in your lane you need exceptional reflexes to avoid and accident.

Most roads were designed for cars not bikes. I'm all for bike Lanes, but there should be a minimum speed limit on roads too. It's similarly not safe to be going 5mph on a 35mph road.


When going around a blind corner you have to reduce speed enough to be able to stop quickly or avoid any obstacles. This is just basic defensive driving. It's not about bikes; deer, fallen tree branches, and stalled cars are common on those roads.


Exactly. There's a reason that curve is marked 25mph (or 15mph even). It's not that a modern vehicle can't negotiate the curve safely above that speed, it's that you can't see far enough ahead to safely stop for anything that might be on the road ahead. Pedestrian, cyclist, or 10 ton boulder.


s/exercise/transportation/


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