“Make drivers stop hitting them”

Again and again, the default position is that people on bikes, or foot, or mobility scooters should take steps to avoid cars and other vehicles. It’s all about being safe, being seen, wear a helmet, high-viz (which works so well), maybe we need safer bikes with roll cages?

It’s a load of raiméis. The driver of a vehicle gets a free ride – don’t worry, everyone else will look out for you! They’ll make *sure* you will see them! How the hell does that work? Letting drivers, who are licenced and meant to be responsible for the vehicle they are controlling, defer responsibility onto others is ridiculous. Imaging someone running around with a knife, and the response was to advise everyone to wear a stab vest and to be careful around the knife-holder? That’s the current state of road safety.

..Don’t make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them. – The Washington Post.

Here’s why the auto industry, the insurance industry and the officials they lobby want helmet laws. First, forcing people to wear helmets shifts responsibilities onto cyclists and absolves governments from having to build better cycling infrastructure and drivers from having to obey traffic laws. “Want to be safer? We’re not gonna build any bike lanes. They take up too much free parking. Put this foam dunce cap on your head, you’ll be fine!” Done, and done.

Second, helmet laws discourage people from using bicycles for everyday transportation by making it inconvenient, and by making it seem more dangerous than it really is. In Australia, there’s plenty of evidence that helmet laws have done far more to curb cycling growth than to keep riders safer. Take a look at the bike share in Melbourne: Hardly anybody’s using it, because you’ve got to buy a helmet first. Meanwhile, in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, where lots and lots of people ride bikes, a helmeted bicyclist is about as rare as a helmeted driver here in America. And yet they seem to be managing pretty well — maybe because they’ve got bike infrastructure, and because they still subscribe to the notion that the person operating the giant machine on public roads needs to be responsible for not killing people with it.

But say you’re willing to strap a foam bumper onto your head every single time you ride your bicycle, even if you’re just going to pick up some overpriced local kale. That’s just the beginning! Because now Volvo — those endearingly safety-minded Swedes — wants cyclists to take “safety” a step further and spray themselves with something called “Lifepaint” so they glow in the dark.

This is just another way for drivers to outsource any and all responsibility for what they do with their cars to other road users. The giveaway? Volvo’s promotional video is full of testimonials, including this one from a driver:

“Putting something on that will make you scream out to drivers like me is a fantastic thing.”

What? How oblivious are you? Nobody should have to “scream out” to you to get your attention while you’re driving a car. You should already be giving it, and undividedly so.

Cycle for better health says 20 year study

Another study showing that one of the best health adjustments you can make is to use a bike as your mode of transport as much as you can.

The massive heart disease project undertaken by Danish researchers tracked for 20 years a staggering 45,000 people aged between 45 and 60 years when recruited.And the key finding to emerge was that cycling to work in middle age dramatically reduces the risk of suffering a heart attack as you grow older.Those who cycled for a total of 90 minutes per week where 24 per cent less likely to develop angina or have a heart attack.And even cycling for 30 minutes per week reduced their chances of a heart attack by 16 per cent.
The findings on cycling are seen as crucial for public health because a commute by bike is seen as one of the easiest forms of effective exercise for people of any age to build into their daily routine.
Dr Anders Grøntved of the University of Southern Denmark, who headed the study in recent years said it was clear Governments and medics needed to promote cycling more.
“Finding time for exercise can be challenging for many people, so clinicians working in the field of cardiovascular risk prevention should consider promoting cycling as a mode of transportation,” he said.
His team monitored the 45,000 volunteers from 1993 to 2013 and has only just released its findings after an extensive analysis of the data.
Of all of those in the study, there were a total of 2,892 heart attacks during the period.And the researchers estimated that at least 7 per cent of those would have been averted with regular cycling.
But for those who took up cycling in the first five years of the 20-year research period, the reduction in the incidence of heart attack was at the upper end of the range; some 24 per cent.

Source: 20-year study of 45,000 people shows just how healthy cycle commuting is – Sticky Bottle

Parking Without Thought

@ellenfromnowon has shared an excellent short video that shows clearly the difficulties faced by a wheelchair user when confronted with inconsiderate footpath parking. 

Next time you park your car, think about the impact on others. A moments’ thought could save someone else not just some inconvenience, but from forcing them into danger: like having to take to the roadway to go around a car blocking the footpath.

Design beats enforcement

Design, design, design:

Much as cyclists might like to see bad drivers punished for their distracted driving and their bike-harassing crimes, enforcement isn’t the most effective way to make the streets safer. The best way to stop “accidents” is to design better roads.

Slower cars means safer roads, and while adding speed cameras and reducing speed limits can help, nothing beats a design that stops drivers from speeding in the first place. Also, slower cars mean less injury in the case of a collision, but again, avoiding the collision to begin with is even better.

Most roads are designed for ‘smooth’ traffic flow, which means wide lanes, sweeping corners, and high speeds. And by speed, I mean inappropriate speed, not over the limit speed (although that happens a lot too). What’s an innapropriate speed? It’s a speed at which you are unable to stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Simple enough, rarely observed, largely due to high speed design and lack of emphasis on the fact in road ‘safety’ campaigns.

From Bad to Worse in Templeogue Village

Cycling through Templeogue village recently, I couldn’t help but notice (because I was suddenly *very* close to the passing cars and SUV’s on the morning commute) that the old, poorly maintained, semi-segregated cycle lanes had been removed and replaced with some advisory lanes.

Oh joy.

Now, not only are advisory lanes not advised (ho ho), they are especially bad here as the road is not wide enough to cater for two advisory lanes without a serious reduction in the number of vehicles passing through (and seeing as this is the continuation of the N81 route in from the M50 and Tallaght, that’s definitely not the case). The speed limit is the standard 50km/h. In the village there is nose-in parking which means people reversing out into the cycle lane. There are also multiple entrances to small car parks and other businesses which involve vehicles cutting across and pullout out on to the cycling areas.  I can’t understand who thought this was in any way a solution to safe cycling through the village.

Let’s take a look at the ‘advisory’ lanes in the village now, the narrowness of the carriageway and the uselessness of a painted line to provide safety is perfectly illustrated by this truck attempting to pass through the village:

Templeogue Village. I feel so safe!
New ‘advisory’ lanes in Templeogue Village

It can’t even fit in the space allocated to it without intruding on the cycling lane, no matter what the driver does. And to add insult to injury, the remaining semi-segregated lane is impossible to access from the new approach angle – there’s no drop kerb. You can see it in the above image as the red strip to the left of the truck. You’d run the risk of skidding along the kerb or worse if you attempted to access the lane. It’s now perfectly useless.

For reference, you can see the old semi-segregated cycle lanes on Google Maps, at about the same place as the photo above:

 

Google Street View of Templeogue village, Aug 2014 imagery
Google Street View, August 2014 imagery

Obviously, these were very poorly maintained. And the colouration is of no use to a blind or sight impaired walker (which is why I term this ‘semi-segregated’ rather than segregated – it’s effectively mixed with pedestrians). But from a cycling safety point of view, they were far more welcome than the current situation.

There’s no way you can point to these painted lines and say that’s safe, that’s going to enable more people to cycle, that’s there for kids to cycle to school on. It’s a mess that mixes cyclists with drivers on a very busy road that only serves to discourage anyone other than the experienced from cycling here.

A bad case

A truck passed me twice this morning (due to it getting held up in traffic), it was a learner driver and each time he pulled out and passed cleanly with a good spacing that left me feeling safe.

What a pity the goon immediately behind him in a 4×4 didn’t learn from the example in front of his eyes and squeezed past at what felt like a foot or so away from my elbow, a very unpleasant and scary distance.

Seriously, the right thing to do was being played out in front of his face. This is why proper infra is needed – some people just won’t learn.

Bike Parking

With the depressing news recently that funding has been apparently cut by the NTA for pretty much anything cycle related in Dublin, including the expansion of bike parking in the Drury St. facility, it struck me that there’s no commercial bike parking in town. Of course, the first question has to be, is there any appetite for paid bike parking in town? Or do most people kind of go, nyeh, it’ll be grand? Looking at all the railings and lampposts etc crammed with bikes anytime I walk or cycle in, you have to ask are the commercial carparks missing a trick here? 

Surely the cost per space for a car when divided into say, 6 bikes, would be reasonable enough for the peace of mind knowing your bike was both dry and reasonably safe. For example, it’s 2.70 per hour in Irish life car park for a car park space, so that’s maybe six bike spaces without trying too hard (you could put in double decker bike parking to get higher densities). At that price, it works out to 0.45 cents per hour per bike. Seems reasonable, even if the owners raised that to allow for only 5 bikes per space, that’s still only 0.54 cents per hour. 

So, has nobody thought of this? Or maybe it’s not that simple. Certainly sounds that simple. 

Edinburgh school parking ban encourages walking – BBC News

Good news from Edinburgh:

A pilot scheme to ban parking outside primary schools in Edinburgh has led to an increase in the number of pupils walking to school.
Evaluation of the School Streets scheme also showed lower vehicle speeds on surrounding roads and a reduction in the number of cars around schools.
A report to the city council’s transport and environment committee recommended making the pilot permanent.
The Living Streets Scotland charity wants it rolled out nationwide.

Source: Edinburgh school parking ban encourages walking – BBC News