The Monday Roundup: SF’s corral colors, the myth of distracted walking & more

Posted by on April 4th, 2016 at 9:36 am

New Mural Painted in Bike Parking Corral | March 28, 2015

SF’s newest attraction.
(Photo: SFMTA)

Here are the bike-related links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Colorful corral: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency gets artistic.

Walking myth: The claim that distracted walking accounts for 78 percent of U.S. pedestrian injuries (published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2013 and repeated many times since) is complete baloney.

Billion-dollar fences: In maybe the most anti-freeway speech ever given by a U.S. transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx drew on his own childhood to condemn the ways excessive freeway-building has divided cities. He added a wish that the presidential race might touch on this issue “at some point.”

Perspective swap: A Brazil educational program put bus drivers on stationary bikes as buses blew past to help them understand what it feels like.

Saving bike shops: One entrepreneur says struggling shops need to save themselves.

Gated cities: The “urban revival” hasn’t been about population returning to cities. It’s been about rich people returning to cities.

Suburban bust: In Northern Virginia’s long-thriving Fairfax County, residents are going gray, infrastructure bills are coming due and leaders are nervous.

Quicker changes: The NYC policy director behind Times Square and other fast, cheap projects has written a guide for cities that want to create such programs.

Autonomous cars: If self-driving cars end stoplights, Vox speculates, that could actually be really bad for everything else on streets.

Bike-share investigation: The City of Seattle has hired an outside lawyer to investigate Transportation Director Scott Kubly’s decisions around the Pronto bike share system.

Vision Zero journal: NYC’s main advocacy group released the first issue of an “international journal of traffic safety innovation.”

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Slow trains: The United States trails Turkey and Uzbekistan in a new ranking of high-speed rail.

Robots vs. messengers: Cyclist.co.uk raced a profesional courier against a guy with a Garmin.

Advocacy investment: Carlton Reid says the bike industry needs to do more of it to create new customers.

Jane Jacobs: The 20th century urban critic was right about what makes cities great, a study found.

People on bikes: Burundi.

Belgian fatalities: Two Belgian athletes died while biking last week.

Bike mayor? The frontrunning candidate for mayor of London has big promises on biking and an auspicious name.

And for your video of the week, it was only a matter of time — a matter of the calendar, to be specific — before Google Netherlands introduced the self-driving bicycle:

If you come across a noteworthy story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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Dan A
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Dan A

I beat Adam H.

Adam
Subscriber

Good job. Here’s a cookie. 😉

are
Guest

i am blocking cookies

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

That won’t happen often.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Distracted Walking” = the new “Jaywalking”.

“HEAR YE, HEAR YE! MAKE WAY FOR DRIVERS! ALL WHO ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF CARTOPIA DO SO ON PAIN OF DEATH! OR A $50 FINE. OR 15 DAYES IN THE DUNGEON!”

SE
Guest
SE

>>Walking myth: The claim that distracted walking accounts for 78 percent of U.S. pedestrian injuries (published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2013 and repeated many times since) is complete baloney.

your characterization of “complete baloney” is complete baloney in my experience. We have no way to know exact percentages, but it is fairly common.

Get out on your bike downtown and report back.

9watts
Guest
9watts

That is a particularly weak rebuttal or attemp at rebuttal, SE. The issue is about injuries related to distraction, not what Michael might see if he were to bike (more?) downtown as you suggest. Presumably what he would see downtown are pedestrians using their devices, which may be annoying to witness, but is not the same thing as injuries, much less injury statistics.

I, for one, enjoyed that Streetsblog takedown very much. We meed more of that kind of careful investigation.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Really, pedestrians do have some responsibility for their own safety, if drivers aren’t supposed to be using their phones will operating in traffic, it seems only reasonable to expect the same from pedestrians when they are in the ROW; vulnerable user status doesn’t give pedestrians a license to do unnecessarily risky things in the ROW any more than motorists.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Buzz,
I don’t think anyone here is defending pedestrian’s rights to do stupid distracted things in traffic. But we were discussing mendacious and politically transparent statistical claims about the causes of pedestrian injuries.

But at the end of the day, the problem with most of these behaviors only arises when you add a car into the mix. This is I think always good to keep in mind when we wag our fingers at so-called vulnerable road users.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

¥ou nailed it. 100%

9watts
Guest
9watts

“vulnerable user status doesn’t give pedestrians a license to do unnecessarily risky things in the ROW any more than motorists.”

What does that even mean? What is the source of the risk? Does this risk exist in the absence of an automobile driven at speed and by someone who is attentive? There are many types of humans who may or may not be distracted but whose ability to judge the movement and speed of the autos around them is limited (children, older people, those in wheel chairs, the blind or deaf, etc.). I think we should hold those in cars to a standard of behavior that allows those categories and others not enumerated to be free of injury or death. Period.

Once we’ve achieved that I think we can get our dander up about careless pedestrian behavior.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

The source of the risk is doing something distracting that reduces your awareness of risks.

9watts
Guest
9watts

An interesting definition but one that suggests the (transportation) world is flat, that we’re all equal participants.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

No, I realize that everyone wants special treatment, whether they are a motorist, a cyclist or a pedestrian.

Maybe none of this will ever work out in the gilded age of selfishness we’re living in, eh?

Derp
Guest
Derp

Is that ultimately the crux of the problem? A philosophical need for fairness to people regardless of their impact? This is the point where I feel like your treating a transportation mode like an actual individual. This has nothing to do with “Joe” getting special treatment over “Linda”. Cyclist, pedestrian, and motorist are not fixed people. They’re just action-dependent nouns and I am any of those throughout the day.

Wanting special treatment would be the logical equivalent of living in an M.C. Escher drawing.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Is special treatment wanting her to leave it in the purse while driving?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“Really, pedestrians do have some responsibility for their own safety, …” buzz

Definitely…people on foot, using the street where motor vehicle and other vehicles are in use, have some responsibility for their own safety. It’s a brief reference, but from the Oregon statutes via oregonlaws.org:

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.005

Introduction to, and training for safe use of the street on foot, is informal and coincidental at best. How well do people walking along or across streets, understand the hazards posed by other uses of the street taking place where they will be walking. Difficult to say with much certainty.

My personal feeling, while walking and watching people ahead of me, cross the street, is that many seem to be quite oblivious as to what precautions they could and should be taking to protect themselves against the hazard presented to them by motor vehicles; on crosswalks, apparently without looking before proceeding, many people will walk right out in front of motor vehicles still approaching the crosswalk, without pausing to be certain the vehicle actually will stop before colliding with them.

Whether the numbers claimed in the referred to journal are accurate or not, is beside the far more crucial to recognize reality that many people using the streets on foot, may not be doing all they should reasonably be doing to protect their safety during that activity.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Many people will drive into a green light without pausing to see whether the other approaching vehicles are stopping at a red.

More people should signify their intent to cross by extending their 1000lb boulder into the roadway. This would adjust driver behavior and educate them about crosswalk law.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Sorry…not getting what point you’re trying to make with mention of boulders. What that reference has to do with people crossing the street on foot where motor vehicles are in use, you’ll have to explain more clearly.

soren
Guest
soren

Sure…pedestrians should watch out for other pedestrians and especially older, younger, or differently-abled pedestrians. However, a person driving should always assume complete responsibility for their actions because they are the ones *choosing* to operating dangerous machinery in a public area. I strongly believe that in any collision with a pedestrian, the driver (or cyclist) should always be assumed to be at fault (strict liability).

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…a person driving should always assume complete responsibility for their actions…” soren

People driving, rightfully are obliged to accept responsibility for their actions while driving. It’s not reasonable for people driving, to be obliged to take responsibility for the actions of other road users, regardless of how the other road users are using the road. Unless of course, they have control over the actions of the other road users, as in for example, an adult escorting someone across a street. People driving, don’t have control over the actions of unknown other road users.

The concept ‘Strict Liability’, is not an assignation of fault or guilt, but instead is merely a means of determining responsibility for collisions and consequences of collisions that occur.

I’ve yet to acquire what I feel is a satisfying understanding of what ‘Strict Liability’ entails, but from what I’ve read about it, something I feel fairly certain of, is that it doesn’t ‘assume’ people driving are responsible or at fault for collisions involving vulnerable road users.

Rather, the concept may ‘presume’ people driving, are responsible in such collisions. That is, ‘presume’ in the absence of evidence given to the contrary, should the person presumed to be liable, but whom has good reason to believe they should not be held liable, can manage to produce proof that the other person’s actions, which the person driving has no control over…was the major contributor to the collision having occurred.

Society should want streets that are safer for everyone to use, regardless of their mode of travel. We of society would be making a mistake though, to use laws against certain road users, to alleviate responsibility of other road users for their own safety. All road users have some responsibility for protecting their own safety.

Adam
Subscriber

The ROW includes the sidewalk, so a person should not be using their phone on the sidewalk either?

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

not my intention but perhaps not, distracted pedestrians on the sidewalk are at the very least being rude to other pedestrians.

F
Guest
F

It’s not illegal to be rude, and I wouldn’t want to live in a society that legislates acceptable behavior to that extreme degree.

Mao
Guest
Mao

Well I saw two peds walk right into each other and fall down. It was pretty funny.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“careful investigation”

What’s that? Does it take more than 140 chars?

soren
Guest
soren

I love “jaywalkers”!
Just imagine how much safer our streets would be if they were filled with jaywalkers instead of dangerous heavy machinery operated by people who are distracted, incompetent, or even occasionally callous to the safety of others.

shirtsoff
Guest
shirtsoff

I thought I was the only one who felt this way about jaywalking, soren. 🙂 Jaywalking *is not* the problem.. it’s the very presence of motorized machines in the thousands of pounds that leads to injuries and death.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Distracted walkers have an impact on other mode users though.

Much of our experience in commuting is based upon prediction and expectation…what the other person will do in a given situation.

Distracted people show no situational awareness and it is more difficult to predict what they will do. This causes the system to be less efficient and these variables increase the chances of accidents/crashes because of the variability it introduces in the system

So they may not hurt themselves, but I suspect they are the cause of other incidents.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“these variables increase the chances of accidents/crashes because of the variability it introduces in the system”

I’m no fan of distraction in traffic of any flavor, but Hans Monderman would disagree with your statement above 100%. His whole approach was premised on the salutary effect of increasing uncertainty, of removing signage which he felt lulled participants into a stupor that was anything but safe (for all).

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

“I suspect” is typically followed by unsupported garbage, and I see that you delivered on that.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I don’t think your or anyone else calling middle of the road guy’s,or anyone else’s opinion “..garbage…”, is appropriate here. When someone writes ‘I suspect’, opinion is generally what they’re expressing. If you have some idea of substance that contrasts with the idea he’s posed, I’d be willing to read and think about it.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Bringing up the idea of efficiency when we are discussing road fatalities, particularly when someone insinuates that the pedestrians are at fault, when the data indicates the opposite, is offensive garbage. I’m sorry I didn’t elaborate in my original post.

People are dying on our roads because of dangerous and distracted driving.

People are dying on our roads because of dangerous and distracted driving.

People are dying on our roads because of dangerous and distracted driving.

Everything else is a distraction from the issue.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

And…people also are dying on our roads in part because of dangerous and distracted use of the street when walking…or biking…or skateboarding, etc.

After having read it, I don’t much care what the streetsblog article has to say. The blog writer seems happy to have uncovered mistakes made by some people interpreting and passing on some study data. Good for him.

Doesn’t change the more important, simple first hand observable fact that people on foot, knowingly walking in traffic situations where motor vehicles are in use, will frequently walk right out in front of moving vehicles without using due care to be certain the people operating the motor vehicles actually will, or are even able to stop before a collision occurs. Sometimes when they’re doing so, they get hurt or dead, and that makes their actions at least, a contributing, indefensible action, a factor to the occurrence of the collision, if not its cause in a major way.

Didn’t seem to me that ‘middle of the road guy’ was disputing the streetsblog writer’s claims made in his article. If it’s true he wasn’t, your referring disparagingly to his comment was unjustified. And if true, it rather seems that bikeportland would have been fair to delete your disparaging remarks.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Ten more thumbs

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Your response sounds like you feel people on foot, in other words, ‘pedestrians’ can do no wrong with regards to use of the street where motor vehicles also are in use. While that idea may appeal to some, it isn’t the reality people using the street have to deal with.

People using the street on foot have an obligation to do so in a safe manner, accordingly taking into consideration other types of traffic also using the street.

In collisions involving people on foot and people operating motor vehicles, the fault or cause of the collision is not necessarily due exclusively to the person driving, the infrastructure, trees, signs, other cars, etc; actions also, of the person or persons on foot, also may have contributed to the collision having occurred.

soren
Guest
soren

“This causes the system to be less efficient…”

Our system suffers greatly from a brutal focus on efficiency at the expense of safety.

For example, when I drive ~20 mph in a 30+ mph zone other drivers often pass aggressively, honk, or even curse at me for not driving at (or above) the “speed limit”.

are
Guest

it is true that throughput has an inordinately large place in the minds of planners, but the thirty in a twenty thing has not much or anything to do with efficiency, unless maybe the lights are timed to thirty.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s kind of laughable that our current transportation system can be considered “efficient”. We only think of speed, and give no consideration to the size of the vehicles. The reason cars need to go fast, is because they take up such an absurd amount of road space. If you have a 20ft wide roadway, you can fit:

1. 2 car lanes or two transit lanes. Transit lanes can move several times the number of people using the same space, but transit has obvious point to point limitations.
2. 4 bike lanes. If the cars are going 30mph, and the cyclists are going 15, you can move twice as many people by dedicating the road to bike lanes. If the cars are going 60mph, the two options have similar throughput.

Extrapolate this to the city level, and you can see why we have so much traffic, and why drivers have to go fast.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Why waste space on cycle lanes when you could fit a much higher density of pedestrians in the same space?

I think speed, comfort, and cargo capacity are legitimate facets of “efficiency”.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The vast majority of vehicles on the road are only transporting one or two people. That isn’t very efficient use of a 4-6,000lb vehicle. And yes, it is pretty obvious that people prioritize comfort in this country. Just look at our obesity rates.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Electric velomobiles. Too bad we don’t design bikeways for 30mph.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If efficiency were defined solely as “energy consumed per mile traveled” I’d probably agree with you.

derp
Guest
derp

Is there a casual definition or even an official transportation definition that is using “comfort” as a component? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it seems like quite the mutation. I figure people would just throw comfort in there because it’s politically more feasible to argue for that under the guise of efficiency, but they actually believe it too? Basically how “safety” can really mean “comfort” in the vulnerable user-advocacy world. I mean, where would the chips fall if we didn’t have all of these words to manipulate? Can’t have that.

soren
Guest
soren

comfortable => safe and low stress.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I suspect they are the cause of other incidents.” motrg

When you write ‘distracted walkers’ that to me means people crossing the street or walking along it, doing things to the exception of watching for traffic as required of them as part of their personal responsibility for watching out for their own safety…and that of other road users.

I think it’s true that people using the street on foot and not holding to their accompanying responsibility for their part in taking care of their own safety, are potential contributors to collisions and whatever results from them; ’cause’, is a more complex dynamic…to collisions, it’s likely that ’cause’ of collisions, generally involves more than a single factor. Recognizing what they are and adjusting for them is a way to help avoid collisions.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

TriMet should take a cue from that Brazilian bus driver training program, PPB officers would probably benefit as well.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

for that matter, so would every motorist taking a driving class or test.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I dare someone to sit on the bike while a texting driver does that..

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

I enjoyed the terrified looks on the stationary bike riders far too much to be socially acceptable.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

How many drivers would pursue a cycling certification/endorsement if it got them some priority treatment at the DMV and/or reduced insurance rates? Imagine something like driver’s ed on a bike, similarly accredited and recognized in law. (Trikes, electric assist, and other tech could certainly make this rather accessible to all ages and abilities.) Getting a vast majority of drivers exposed to that perspective (and the actual rules) would solve a lot of problems. It should be mandatory for heavy vehicle licenses. How about making it a part of public education for 10yo kids, perhaps reducing some of the problems with reckless young drivers by giving them ~6 years experience in traffic before they get in a car.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

No brief bio of the writer at the bottom of the article…Michael, is this you? :

http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/new-report-a-nine-ingredient-recipe-for-fast-flexible-changes-to-city-stree

Curious about what are the details and procedures suggested in the referred to guide. Even a years advance planning, implied in the article as being short term, before project realization seems way too long, and unnecessarily long for some road and traffic situations in need of adjustment, now.

Before and after pictures of NYC’s Delancey St transformation are an amazing improvement. Given the example of how Portland has been addressing the issue of houseless people, there’s cause to wonder whether such a transformation to similar street situations here in Portland, would have people using them for camping.

The concept of Quick Change to established to existing street infrastructure as a means of better exploring what works and what doesn’t, seems increasingly relevant as population grows, and need for use of the street increases accordingly.

It can be very frustrating, talking to city officials, planners and engineers about ideas for modification of plans they’ve drawn up and set in motion, and coming to realize they are resistant to alterations because of the extensive time, money, and red tape they’ve had to go through to get to the point they are in the project. Ideas and procedures, quicker, easier to try out and change back if they don’t work, and that cost a fraction of the money a long term project would, seems to me as though they would be a very appealing…if more people understood them better, supported them, and encouraged their use.

Caitlin D
Subscriber

Ooh, I love that beautiful bike corral!

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

Here’s one more for the Monday Roundup:
OSU Cycling Club racer Randy Fox dies in race in Washington.

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2016/03/oregon_state_doctoral_student.html

Paul Hanrahan
Guest
Paul Hanrahan

I don’t believe that video. I think it is a hoax. Available April 1, get it?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I think that was strongly hinted at in the summary 🙂