Monday Roundup: Worst PSA ever, e-car greenwashing, how to save lives, and more

Welcome to the week.

I’m home from New York City and can’t wait to share the rest of the treasures I uncovered. But first, let’s get to the roundup!

Here are the best stories we’ve come across in the past seven days — all from sources you can trust.

NYC mayor pressured on protection: Just like in Portland, bike advocates in New York City are dialing up pressure on city hall to build more protected bike lanes and stop scaling back road projects to satisfy disingenuous parties. (Streetsblog NYC)

EV loophole: One thing advocates are grumbling about is NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to lift limits on the number of Uber/Lyft licenses as long as they are electric — as if simply the use of a battery makes adding all these cars to the system A-OK. (NY Daily News)

Cut through the biking data B.S.: There’s been a ton of attention on recent biking numbers and I’ve steered clear of covering it because of what bicycling data expert Ken McLeod thinks too: Our data on biking is not good, so drawing major conclusions is perilous. (League of American Bicyclists)

20 years at Ahearne Cycles: Seriously can relate so deeply to what local bike maker Joseph Ahearne shares in this thoughtful (as always) blog post about his 20 years with a torch. He’s a real one and I can’t wait to record an interview with him in his shop soon for the podcast. (Ahearne Cycles)

Road rager caught on dashcam: A Portland man who raged his truck into a parade was caught entirely on his own dashcam. (The Oregonian)

‘Promise of e-bikes in American culture’: Sorry, but I just cannot get enough of how major US media outlets are framing stories about electric bikes these days. As a real and viable substitute for cars! (Washington Post and The Atlantic)

Worst PSA ever: The best example of victim-blaming ever produced by a government agency rightfully outraged millions of people; but in the end, it was a win for advocacy because of all the negative attention it received. (CBC)

When middle-schoolers ride: Results of a new study show that middle-school aged kids (a particularly tough time of transition for some kids) can get a significant mental health boost by riding bikes more. (NPR)


Thanks to everyone who sent in links this week. The Monday Roundup is a community effort, so please feel free to send us any great stories you come across.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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9watts
9watts
6 months ago

RCMP PSA – ouch. WSBOB thought would have found a way to exonerate the folks behind that PSA.

Uiop
Uiop
6 months ago

Streets blog link is wrong. Missing link to ‘path to reducing pedestrian deaths’ article that is in the image.

Matt P
Matt P
6 months ago

Is it really that bad to remind folks walking to be a little mindful of their surroundings?

Kyle Banerjee
6 months ago

Context is chemically altered, inattentive, mentally incompetent, and outright bad drivers who simply don’t care who they hurt are everywhere. There’s no real enforcement or reasonable hope this situation will materially change. In addition, good drivers occasionally make mistakes.

Additional context is the people who need to correct their driving won’t see the announcement. For the very few that somehow do, only a tiny percentage would alter their behavior even in response to the perfect message.

Those willing to trust their safety to others should avoid active transportation whenever possible.

John V
John V
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

If you ride a bicycle on a road that includes cars, even on the other side of curb “protected” infrastructure, you’re trusting your safety to others. Don’t kid yourself, you don’t have much control over a car barreling into you.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  John V

you don’t have much control over a car barreling into you

Same is true when you’re driving.

Kyle Banerje
6 months ago
Reply to  John V

Don’t kid yourself, you don’t have much control over a car barreling into you.

Cars don’t magically appear out of nowhere, and if you see someone coming at you from the front or rear, you can plan accordingly. You normally have at least a few seconds (or much more) to react. Even when it happens suddenly, there is a lot you can do to improve outcomes even when you can’t avoid a crash entirely. And of course you can do what you can to set things up so chances of needing to do anything are minimized. That’s what defensive driving and riding is all about.

If you ride much at all, you will definitely get into situations where the control you do have makes all the difference in the world.

.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

“There’s no real enforcement or reasonable hope this situation will materially change…” Not with that attitude, mister.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

Those willing to trust their safety to others should avoid active transportation whenever possible.”

You write the darnedest things!
You realize perhaps that when you are driving down a two lane road and the person driving toward you in the oncoming lane could suddenly, for any number of reasons, swerve and plow headlong into you, right? We *all* trust our safety to others, and necessarily so. Your libertarian approach to social interactions is utterly bleak and ridiculous, and all because you refuse to acknowledge the outsized dangers that four wheels and hundreds of horsepower represent in our very cavalier, cowboy society.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt P

I think it’s ethically possible to give this kind of advice as long as it situates the advice in a context of rampant illegal behavior on the part of auto drivers. For example: “making eye contact with a driver may help you ensure that they are not breaking the law and endangering your life by texting on their phone.”

Maybe that’s a little on the nose for a PSA, and since many viewers would see this as a shaming “attack on drivers”, I don’t know if it would even change their behavior. At any rate, the Canadian one failed completely.

bjorn
bjorn
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt P

The young woman in the ad is very mindful of her surroundings, she walks to the marked crosswalk rather than crossing midblock and she activates the lights before crossing, but is still nearly hit by a guy who was focused on his phone while driving a car. The police making the PSA then said whelp they are both equally at fault, if you don’t see the problem here I’m not sure what to tell you.

Kyle Banerjee
6 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

Not sure how you get that read — driver clearly screwed up, and the ped is crossing where she should with flashing lights to boot.

But a mindful person won’t ever be surprised in the middle of the street by a vehicle that neither altered its speed or trajectory. A mindful person can safely cross a highway in the dark.

In PDX, you’ll see a lot worse driving than that — anyone that walks like that is going to find trouble.

This is exactly the sort of situation that the expression “being dead right” comes from.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

anyone that walks like that is going to find trouble.”

You are of course perfectly entitled to write such things, but I can’t help but retort that since we here are discussing a PSA that attempted to both-sides the unquestionably lopsided issue ‘finding trouble” sounds cringey, unhelpful, even clueless.

Let us assume for the moment that walking without perspicacity is in fact as dangerous as you suggest. What does that tell us about our society, about our priorities, about quality of life, about the plight of blind or hearing impaired people, of children or frail people? Are they all just supposed to stay home?! Other societies don’t treat walking that way, and in those societies (strict liability, anyone?) people walking or not in cars fare much better.

Why contort yourself? Just accept that The Problem is how lax we here treat people who drive without the necessary care?

Kyle Banerje
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

You are of course perfectly entitled to write such things, but I can’t help but retort that since we here are discussing a PSA that attempted to both-sides the unquestionably lopsided issue ‘finding trouble” sounds cringey, unhelpful, even clueless.

I don’t think anyone outside the BP echo chamber would see this as a both sides attempt.

No one implied that the driver is not at 100% fault. But this situation is 100% avoidable by either side. If only one of them would have been clueless, the other wouldn’t have even known a conflict could occur. That the kid is zero percent at fault and the driver 100% is immaterial.

Crossing a street without looking down the roads towards threats is dangerous, and managing to get into a conflict in a low traffic low speed street at a clearly marked signalized crossing is something that could happen only in Portland. Makes me shudder to think what happens if they encounter someone who blows through a red light — something anyone who’s out there will see from time to time (and something I encountered yesterday).

Working with the world as it is constitutes neither endorsement nor acceptance. People taking offense at the suggestion that people take the most basic safety precautions is exactly why cyclists in this town are regarded as a joke and why cycling continues to wither.

As far as kids and vulnerable people go, in my anecdotal experience, they use far more sense than adults here.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerje

“Crossing a street without looking down the roads towards threats is dangerous”

blind people?

How do you explain that doing this is far less dangerous in most of the countries we normally might wish to compare ourselves to?

“Working with the world as it is”

I’m all about that. But the world I live in includes people who can’t do what you keep saying they must.

Kyle Banerje
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

It’s very dangerous for blind people. BTW, actual blind people I know are very practical about this stuff. Yelling at the cars doesn’t change reality.

Everyone needs to do what they can (which varies with individual), and people who are able need to do the right thing in the moment. For example, if you see a blind or old person who’s in a dangerous situation, you go out and stop the cars — because they often won’t. I’ve had to do this more than once.

The obsession with optics of stuff that has no real impact on people driving is an outright detriment to safety. Puts energy in the wrong place while getting real concerns dismissed.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerje

“Premier David Eby said while he understands the intent of the video was to encourage pedestrians to stay alert, ‘I think the video probably missed the mark.’ … ‘The pedestrian is crossing a crosswalk and following the law. The driver is looking at his cellphone and there’s sort of an *equivalency* there in the video,’ Eby said.”

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/richmond-rcmp-criticized-pedestrian-safety-video

The ol’ BP echo chamber is just growing by the day, huh?

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerje

“Olympic speedwalker Evan Dunfee also weighed in on the matter. … ‘It’s fun to know that if I am murdered by a distracted driver while in a crosswalk that the @RichmondRMCP will blame me,’ he tweeted.”

“‘Next from the safety experts: why deaf residents should not be allowed outside,’ wrote Andy Boenau.”

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/victim-blaming-richmond-rcmp-faces-online-backlash-after-new-pedestrian-safety-video-goes-viral-for/article_71a6e4bd-1a2b-578e-8bde-bfeb31441f52.html

Tsk, tsk. I hope these two reckless tweeters are happy to know they’ve contributed to the withering of cycling lmao

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerje

But this situation is 100% avoidable by either side”

Kerry Kunsman
Jeanie Diaz
Christeen Osborn
Sarah Pliner
Adam Joy
Dave Apperson
Hank Bersani
Brett Lewis
Steven Dayley
Nick Bucher
Mitchell York
Ellen Dittebrandt

Kyle Banerjee
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Are you suggesting the driver in the PSA shouldn’t have 100% avoided a ped who was clearly visible even had they not been in a crosswalk — or that pedestrian suffering from no impediments shouldn’t have an easy time avoiding a single car on a low traffic street moving at a consistent speed and trajectory?

Regarding your list of names, these are different situations completely unrelated to the one I called out as 100% preventable.

But since you’ve brought it up, people sometimes make mistakes. For example, Hank made a mistake — I didn’t believe at first myself because I knew him as a rider (I lived in Monmouth) and thought him too solid to make such a basic error. But the person he was riding with saw it.

The habit of this environment to use tragedies as props is more than a little offensive. I should probably quit wasting my time here.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

Kyle, why are there two of you? A one-e and a two-e Banerje/e. I’m getting confused which one I’m talking to.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

Yes, people sometimes make mistakes. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to design systems where those mistakes are not life-ending?

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerje

Since road conflicts are so easily avoided, why are traffic deaths increasing in the US while they continue to fall in all other rich nations?

up-road-deaths-promo-promo-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 (1).png
Watts
Watts
6 months ago

You really need to look at deaths per mile, not per capita. Our numbers are still pretty terrible by that metric, but at least it’s a more reasonable comparison.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

We should really look at alcohol poisonings per gallon of vodka consumed, not per capita. US road deaths are inflated because we just love to drive so gosh darn much, not because a century of car-centric policy choices have trapped Americans in a hellscape of automobile dependency. How very reasonable and not at all dystopian.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago

US road deaths are inflated because we just love to drive so gosh darn much

And because our geography is different, and because we drive much more on rural 2-lane highways that are so gosh darn dangerous. They’re dangerous in Europe as well, just less heavily used.

We drive longer distances per capita, so even with equal roads and drivers, we’ll have more crashes per capita. That’s why you need to look at the per mile stats if you want to learn anything we don’t all already know.

BTW, no one likes to drive like the Germans.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m sure the fact that Americans drive longer distances per capita has nothing to do with suburban zoning, defunding mass transit, or fossil fuel subsidies.

And look! More than half of all daily trips in the US are under 3 miles! Darn that pesky geography!

https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/articles/fotw-1230-march-21-2022-more-half-all-daily-trips-were-less-three-miles-2021

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The size of the US rural population has remained fairly steady since 1960 while the urban population has doubled. Did rural highways get *less* dangerous for decades until they suddenly got *more* dangerous in the last few years (and only in the US?) Please explain.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/985183/size-urban-rural-population-us/

surly ogre
surly ogre
6 months ago

I find the RCMP message very moving. I wish the RCMP would place more emphasis on driver errors such as speeding and distraction that lead to death and mayhem. I wonder if a distracted person walking or running has ever killed someone; if any, it is clearly nowhere near the scale of destruction caused by speeding and distracted drivers. When a driver takes there eyes off the road, they cannot see the blinking lights and people trying to get their attention. The outrage expressed by the person walking and the remorse expressed by the driver has reached me and I will try to be less distracted. I already drive pretty slow when I’m not riding my bicycle.

surly ogre
surly ogre
6 months ago
Reply to  surly ogre

I agree with Watts below that the PSA presents a false choice. The PSA also presents a false sense of responsibility. Imagine a moose crossing the road. If a driver hits a moose, the driver has a pretty good chance of getting killed too. a moose may not pay attention where/when they cross a road. A moose does not wear a safety vest or reflective clothing. What is your reaction if you hear that a driver got killed as a result of crashing into a moose? “oh, what a crazy way to die” or “such bad luck for the driver,” or “that driver got what they deserved for not paying attention,” or maybe, “that poor moose! how could that driver miss something so large and so slow?” A person walking or riding a bicycle is obviously not a moose. People walking and riding bicycles are essentially butterflies and ladybugs to a car and driver. we cannot possibly win if hit by a car/truck. I agree that we all have to be careful when crossing the street. Drivers have a larger share of the responsibility because they can do more damage. They are driving a missile with 4 wheels and should be penalized/lose privilege, their license, their car, be jailed, etc when they crash into something and it’s the driver’s fault. With great power comes great responsibility…

Watts
Watts
6 months ago

Worst PSA ever

It is a hokey and probably ineffective PSA (as many are), but the truth is that if you want to avoid being struck by an inattentive driver, you have to be careful. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. Anyone who is a parent knows this well, and has given their kids the same message conveyed in the PSA. Crossing legally is not the same as crossing safely due to inattentive and careless drivers.

When I watched the PSA, it seemed pretty clear that the driver was the problem.

The article presents a false choice between reminding folks to be careful and addressing driver behavior through infrastructure and enforcement. We don’t need to choose.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Having survived decades of walking and biking in an urban area there are 3 things I simply don’t do:

Block my hearing
Obstruct my vision
Assume cars will stop at a stopsign/stoplight

I learned all of these while being lucky and not getting hit badly.

In fairness to the PSA creators, it’d be nice if everyone got the benefit of those experiences without having to be lucky enough to survive making those mistakes.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I’ve used headphones (and more recently earbuds) while cycling since the 1980s and have not experienced any perceived risk from doing so. I’d love to know what audio cues you think have prevented you from being hit…

PS: Not only do I use earbuds but I also use ANC to dampen wind and engine noise.

John V
John V
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Yeah, I agree. I tend to use one earbud on my right side instead of both, just in case I guess? As a token. But the idea that the sound of a car that’s going to hit you sounds any different from the thousands of other cars that are just driving past you just seems incorrect, and you can’t safely look behind you for every sound you hear.

I take my headphones off when I’m doing something like riding a section of Skyline or area where cars are infrequent and I might just take a peek behind me every time I hear one. And even when my headphones are on, they don’t actually block out all sound.

And not for nothing, but every single person in a car/truck is driving around in a sound proof box far more effective at blocking out your surroundings than any earbuds are, and nobody says you should drive with your window down. Something to consider about vehicle safety.

I do wonder about getting one of those little helmet mirrors. I’ve never tried one, but riding on country roads or highways make me wonder if they would be effective there.

Fred
Fred
6 months ago
Reply to  John V

I do wonder about getting one of those little helmet mirrors. I’ve never tried one, but riding on country roads or highways make me wonder if they would be effective there.

Yes – the best $12.95 you will ever spend.

Kyle Banerjee
6 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I consider my glasses mount mirror more important to my safety than my helmet. I know what’s going on behind me down to the inch. I know who’s driving what and how well before they reach me.

I know for a fact that passing vehicles aren’t going to hit me (in all the years I’ve ridden, I bailed twice to avoid drivers who weren’t watching and would’ve hit me). I often use what I know to push vehicles behind me further left.

They’re super useful for knowing who sees you, who doesn’t, who’s gonna pass and immediately turn, how to time gaps, and other useful stuff. Essential equipment if you play in traffic.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I’ve used headphones (and more recently earbuds) while cycling since the 1980s and have not experienced any perceived risk from doing so

This is not evidence that headphones are safe. It’s evidence that your perception of danger is flawed, and you’ve been lucky. I constantly alert myself to approaching motor vehicles by hearing them before I can see them. Unless you’re hearing-impaired, you can and should allow yourself to do the same. It may save your life.

John
John
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

How though? I’m already in a bike lane. To react to every car sound would require riding with my head constantly turned around.

I think it can make some sense in places without a bike lane, but for commuting in a town in a bike lane, I don’t think sound helps you at all.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

by hearing them before I can see them.

With all due respect, you may need a vision check.

you’ve been lucky.

As someone who, for decades, flowed with traffic in cities with little to no bike infrastructure, I trust my visual situational awareness far more than I trust my ability to decipher a cacophony of engine noises.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

With all due respect, you may need a vision check.

So you can see around corners? Do you have long eyestalks like a snail?

I trust my visual situational awareness far more than I trust my ability to decipher a cacophony of engine noises.

Perhaps your auditory processing of traffic noise would improve if you’d give yourself more practice by abstaining from the headphones while out and about.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

So you can see around corners?

The guys from GCN have you covered, Matt!
How to look back when cycling:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS1LSz23Cy4
(skip to 0.52)

Matt
Matt
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

In what world is “back” the same as “around a corner”? Is spacetime that warped in your locality?

Even if they were the same thing, you’re only looking in one direction at a time. Your ears can inform you about the directions you’re not looking, if you’ll let them.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Specifically two times come to mind – both where I could not see the vehicle approaching (from the left when I was crossing Walker on a green light and from the right on Lawnfield turning left off 98th place).

The revved engine alerted me to someone coming from beyond visual range.

In the Walker road incident I held despite having a green light and saw a truck fly through the red.

In the Lawnfield incident i heard the car coming down off Mt. Talbert and held – despite the guy behind me honking. I pointed up toward the blind corner just in time for a car to come down at 60mph+

The driver behind me waved in apology – inside their car they couldn’t hear that engine.

Both times I would have ended up in the path of the vehicle if I couldn’t hear.

John V
John V
6 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

That’s compelling, thanks.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

That’s a good example of a dangerous blind corner and also a very good example of why I hate biking in the suburbs. Given how many vehicles have very little engine noise I’m not sure relying on audible cues is an ideal solution for this dangerous intersection.
.
If I routinely biked through this intersection I’d turn left onto the bike lane or sidewalk, salmon for a few hundred feet, and cross when I feel it is safe to do so. Given its connection to the 205 path this intersection should have a light of some sort. The fact that it does not is really pathetic.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

224, not 205.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Since it connects the 2 I’d take either answer.

I bike in the suburbs because I live in the suburbs and work in the suburbs. A bit necessary to get from point A to point B.

bjorn
bjorn
6 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Do you drive with your windows down?

When I took a motorcycle safety class they taught us to wear earplugs to protect our hearing.

Why is the sense of sound so important for the modes that are the least likely to injure anyone, but completely unnecessary for those operating larger, heavier, faster vehicles?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
6 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

I think it’s because ears are on the side of our heads while our eyes are out front and more easily distracted – a year ago I narrowly avoided getting hit by a car at dusk that didn’t have its headlights on because I heard it before I saw it – your ears basically give you better “peripheral vision” than your eyes do.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Our eyes may be in the front but they can perceive vehicles many of hundreds of feet before they can be heard. Looking back to maintain situational awareness is not difficult at all.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Looking back to maintain situational awareness is not difficult at all.

As I get older I find that it is in fact harder for me to turn my head to look back, that my neck muscles are stiffing up. My doctor says this is common for many seniors, and many of my aged friends have the same issues. It might also be exacerbated by how we physically look at our social media, bad posture and all that.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Very good point. I stand corrected about the ease of look backs.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
6 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

Both eyes and ears contribute to your situational awareness. I run with mirrors on my trike and I still hate having my hearing impaired.

The difference between a motorcycle and a bike is two fold

  • first is the motor in motorcycle – even having a car pull close behind me covers sounds from around corners more than I like.
  • the second is airspeed/wind noise – the reason I use Airstreamz. The difference between 10mph and 20mph is really noticeable. I can only imagine 50-60 would be intolerable.

As for constantly turning my head around – my head is on a swivel as *every* vehicle operators should be. Mirror/front/left&right down drive-ways and intersecting roads.

At any intersection there are multiple threat axes – I don’t assume anything out there. Heck, even on bike paths it helps to know that that light approaching in your rearview is actually a motorcyle.

surly ogre
surly ogre
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The PSA also presents a false sense of responsibility. Imagine a moose crossing the road. If a driver hits a moose, the driver has a pretty good chance of getting killed too. a moose does not typically pay attention when they cross a road. A moose does not wear a safety vest or reflective clothing. What is your reaction if you hear that a driver got killed as a result of crashing into a moose? “oh, what a crazy way to die,” “such bad luck for the driver,” or “the driver deserved it for not paying attention”? People walking and riding bicycles are essentially butterflies and ladybugs to a car and driver. we cannot possibly win if hit by a car/truck. I agree that we all have to be careful when crossing the street. But drivers have a larger responsibility and should be penalized/lose privelege, their license, their car, jailed, etc when they crash into something and it’s their own fault. I don’t want to get killed by a driver so I cross when it is safe. Better to be wrong and alive than right and dead.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Parents also warn children to stay away from “bad (i.e. poor and minority) neighborhoods”. Should the government do that as well?

The PSA video ends with a split-screen of both the driver and pedestrian looking solemn while removing the respective “distractions” from their person: the driver sets down his phone and the pedestrian takes out an earbud and looks at it aghast.

https://richmond.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=2122&languageId=1&contentId=81511

The phrase “two-way street” implies reciprocity. The pedestrian literally becomes invisible while none of her surroundings do. The framing, as you like to say, puts more responsibility on the pedestrian if anything.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

but the truth is that if you want to avoid being struck by an inattentive driver, you have to be careful”

I will super strongly disagree. I feel you are collapsing two things here.

Jeanie Diaz?

If we are concerned about inattentive drivers (and we should be) let’s not muddy the waters with ex post facto finger pointing at others who are not breaking any laws but are just there.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Jeanie Diaz

Ok, you got me. You don’t need to be careful.

Good luck with that!

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You persist in conflating
(1) the unlimited class of possible precautions you, I, Jeannie Diaz might consider to improve our chances of surviving our badly-out-of-whack transportation system, and
(2) what belongs in a PSA (that can reasonably be assumed to reflect a policy focus that keeps in perspective the relative dangers posed by each mode, and references existing laws commonly violated/not enforced).

This conflation is at least as old as the bikeportland comments section but there is no reason to keep doing this.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

My point is that pedestrians have a fair bit of control over their own safety. It doesn’t mean that they are responsible for a tragic outcome, but it often means they could have avoided it. Even you know this to be true.

Jeannie Diaz has exactly zero to do with the matter, so I’m not sure why you keep bringing her tragedy up as if it’s some sort of gotcha. It’s actually pretty offensive.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Jeannie Diaz has exactly zero to do with the matter,”

You may think so, but the folks here who keep insisting—as you do—that pedestrians “have a fair bit of control over their own safety” to me is strange since we have so many examples of where they suddenly don’t. Where automobilists cut through all that and mow them down anyway.

Again, conflating.

A PSA is not (or in my view should not be) the place to enumerate compensatory tactics by VRUs, tactics we may engage in to try in vain to mitigate the ubiquitous menace of the automobilists-who-are-paying-not-nearly-enough-attention-to-what-is-in-front of-them. No, a PSA should be where those able to and continually causing harm are remonstrated, put in their place. But of course since our system of justice (sic) doesn’t punish people who cause such harm why have PSAs that pack a punch?

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Are you actually arguing against the proposition that being careful can help pedestrians not get killed on the street?

And PSAs are not really about “putting people in their place.”

Watts
Watts
6 months ago

 I agree that we all have to be careful when crossing the street. 

By acknowledging this, aren’t you too presenting a “false sense of responsibility”?

Fred
Fred
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

A friend just told me that he feels “like a million bucks,” so I demanded he show me the money.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago

Some of the e-bike coverage has been a little exaggerated… but the Atlantic article usefully pointed out some benefits I’ve noticed since e-bike commuting downtown from Milwaukie last year. I went from a 3-4 mile bike commute to a 7 mile e-bike commute, and I ride way more than I used to!

My previously normal winter bike-commute sequence was to dress warmly for the conditions and then end up miserably hot and wet by the uphill end of my commute, especially if I had to wear rain gear. The alternative would be to dress so that I’d be miserably cold/wet at the beginning and then hope to be comfortable at the end. Yeah, right.

The e-bike has incentivized winter commuting for me:
– on the e-bike, I’m working less hard and have a faster wind on me
– thus I am less hot and uncomfortable (sweaty) during the ride and upon arrival
– thus I feel more comfortable dressing warmly and especially wearing rain gear (it gets so freaking hot to pedal up hill in rain gear on a normal bike)
– because I can dress more appropriately for the weather, I’m just more happy to ride all year

It’s paradoxical, because riding a faster bike is actually *colder*… but as long as I have good clothing (I basically dress as if I’m downhill skiing), it’s just way more comfortable.

I think it really is some kind of qualitatively different experience. At a certain speed, even if I have to pedal to keep the motor on, it doesn’t feel like a grind.

And I don’t feel like I should put in the same wattage in that I’m used to doing in the past, and thus travel correspondingly. For one reason, my particular bike doesn’t have a powerful enough motor to give me a sensation of increased speed above my normal cruising speed. On top of that, it would feel blindingly fast, almost anywhere except for a deserted bike path with smooth pavement.

I’m guessing that such a “speed threshold” that ultimately limits my own pedal input is kinda like the way the shape and size of a road influences driver speed.

To me, that has shifted riding to work from the “exercise” column of my life to the “just getting to work” column. By replacing a grinding, rage-inducing car commute with unpredictable traffic, I am outside and getting fresh air. Sure, it’s a low-key leg stretcher, but if I want to get exercise or ride for fun, I don’t want that mileage to consist of riding the same streets all the time. I’d rather get that fun mileage in more scenic locations.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
6 months ago
Reply to  Charley

I rode my ebike for 6 months, and like you I rode further and faster. But guess what? My body got weaker and had less endurance, particularly when I would periodically switch to one of my “analog acoustic primitive” bicycles. It’s even worse with car drivers, they have issues with even walking, let alone stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks.

As the guy says in Repo Man, “I don’t drive – driving makes you stupid.” Driving an ebike makes you lazy and more likely to support conservative candidates.

TK
TK
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Driving an ebike makes you lazy and more likely to support conservative candidates.”

One of the more ridiculous comments I’ve seen on Bike Portland in a while.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I’m not sure how much of your reply is in jest.

For me, getting “weaker” isn’t a concern: I do not commute to work for exercise. I have a regular bike if I want to “go for a ride”; furthermore, riding isn’t my primary form of exercise these days, anyway. In fact, spending fewer calories commuting has allowed me to gain more muscle mass than I could earlier, and I have less problems with overuse injuries now that I’m not overtrained.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  Charley

thus I am less hot and uncomfortable (sweaty) during the ride

You could just wear less clothing if you get to hot and sweaty.

I basically dress as if I’m downhill skiing

It’s weird how many people in Portland bike in layered clothing that does not breathe well during the winter. I’d rather be a bit cold than feel like I’m dripping sweat in a sauna on the way to work.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

“You could just wear less clothing if you get to hot and sweaty.”

As I wrote before, “The alternative would be to dress so that I’d be miserably cold/wet at the beginning and then hope to be comfortable at the end.”

I’m not interested in that, as I made abundantly obvious above.

I didn’t explain why, but since you don’t seem to believe this is a valid preference: I have a physical job, as well as numerous overuse injuries. The risk of straining and re-injuring *cold* muscles at work is less preferable to me than being sweaty at the end of my commute.

Most preferable, as I explained above, is riding my e-bike and being comfortable in general.

qqq
qqq
6 months ago

I’d be fine with that video if the message were changed. The “Pedestrian safety is a two-way street” is true, but there’s some implication that wearing headphones and dark clothes are at the same level of misbehavior as driving without looking.

And clearly there are drivers out there who DO view them as equivalent.

The video would have been better if the message had been along the lines of, “Pedestrians: There are drivers out there who are so bad that doing everything legally isn’t enough to keep you alive. And drivers: You’re going to end up in prison with a death on your hands if you don’t stop relying on other people to protect themselves from your dangerous, illegal driving”.

bjorn
bjorn
6 months ago

It seems like requiring dash cams in every vehicle is something that would run up against a lot of privacy pushback, but I do wonder if for folks like this guy who had a history of driving infractions, suspensions, etc if such a requirement, similar to the way that people who get a DUI are required to get a breathalyzer as a condition of being allowed to drive again would have popular support. This guy quite literally could be the poster boy for such an effort. The equipment could also be set up to transmit the location of the vehicle anytime that a hard acceleration/braking occurred or a collision was sensed, which could make tracking down hit and run drivers far easier.

Fred
Fred
6 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

You are correct. Every company with a good-sized vehicle fleet already has dashcams that keep corporate HQ informed in REAL TIME how well their employees are driving. The dashcams measure and record *everything*. The point is not only to hold employees accountable but also to protect the company’s bottom line when stupid drivers hit their fleet vehicles, which happens all the time (“Your XYZ Company truck hit my car!” “No it didn’t – here’s the video.”)

The fact that we don’t hold drivers accountable on any level, in wider society, shows how completely warped our priorities are. Every month we have a 9/11 but instead of being concentrated in NYC and DC, it’s scattered all over the country. And there’s no way to improve drivers b/c that would be anti-freedom.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
6 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Samsara is a godsend for us – it reduces our premiums, protects us and allow us to coach our people.

A couple of years ago one of our salesmen was involved in a collision while NB on 82nd. The other driver maintained that they had stopped at the stopsign (they were coming from an intersecting road) and that our driver was speeding which caused them to misjudge it.

cue the video of our driver doing the speed limit and this guy rolling the stopsign in front of him.

The new driver facing camera they’re testing is causing some pushback – but it’s the only way to detect distracted driving. Something that still happens.

We had an incident in Montana where a driver collided with a stopped car – despite that car being visible for 4-5seconds before the collision. It was obvious he wasn’t looking – now Samsara will catch that before the collision.

I’ve never quite gotten it – anyone can walk by my office and watch me work (I have a huge window on the hallway). We can watch anyone work in the warehouse, but somehow because they’re driving they need privacy?

Our safety guy has better things to do than pop in and watch you pick your nose or sing off key.

🙂

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago

Gotta love Richmond RCMP’s response: “The purpose of the video is to reduce harm, save lives, and create awareness”. If that’s true, you’d think they would target the largest source of harm, which is drivers. Heck, just telling everyone to drive less would have a better chance of saving lives.

qqq
qqq
6 months ago

I’d like to see that same crosswalk scene in the PSA acted out several times with slight variations. Since it lasts under 10 seconds, doing a half-dozen variations would fit within a minute. The aggregate would be a true depiction of pedestrian safety:

  1. As shown in the original PSA–dark cloths, hood, earbuds, not looking, in crosswalk with signal flashing…car stops, pedestrian survives
  2. Same but pedestrian wears reflective clothing, flashing lights, no hood or earbuds..car doesn’t stop and kills them
  3. Same as #1, but pedestrian looks and hesitates…car runs through right where they would have been walking
  4. Pedestrian wears flashing lights, reflective clothes, doesn’t start across until driver stops and makes eye contact..,pedestrian crosses safely
  5. Same as #4, but after brightly lit, reflective, careful pedestrian starts across, second car swerves around stopped car and kills pedestrian

That’s a concise PSA that has some honest messages for all parties–no explanations or taglines really needed.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  qqq

brilliant!
CotW

Kevin P Landries
Kevin P Landries
6 months ago

E-bikes aren’t that much different than e-cars and if you think otherwise you’re fooling yourself.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
6 months ago

Mass and Velocity

A Model S carrying a single human being from a stop to 45mph and traveling 5 miles consumes about 10x as much energy as an ebike carrying that same person at 22.5mph.

That Model S also has a >50% chance of killing a pedestrian if they hit them.

The e-bike, not even close (even a motor vehicle at 23mph only has a 10% chance of killing a pedestrian) not to mention that the e-bike operator has twice as much time to react.

John V
John V
6 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

It’s worse, the Tesla moving 45mph carries 76x as much energy as a 185 pound rider on a Tern HSD. Converted to SI:

1/2 * 2086 * 20^2 = 417305J
vs.
1/2 * 109 * 10^2 = 5450J

And not for nothing, but the battery in a model S is 100kwh vs an e-bike which may be around 0.5kwh, a factor of 200 difference.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
6 months ago
Reply to  John V

Yeah, that was part of the calculation – turns out that simply getting to speed is a huge percentage of the energy expended for a car over short distances. I only included 1 start from a complete stop.

Every time the car has to stop and accelerate to that speed again is another 400kJ. Everytime the E-bike stops and starts it’s only 5.5kJ.

The advantage goes to the E-bike even more in those instances.

socially engineered
socially engineered
6 months ago

Yeah, an electric car is totally the same as an electric bicycle, if you remove the windshield, doors, roof, seats, airbags, accelerator pedal, and about 2,000 lbs. worth of motors and batteries. Dunno why people can’t see that!

MelK
MelK
6 months ago

The comments here offer a good illustration of why the RCMP video is harmful: instead of turning our focus and conversation to what is proven to save lives in cities with Vision Zero success (e.g. street design and enforcement), we instead expend time and mental energy on squabbles over whether pedestrians should pay attention to their surroundings. As the Vision Zero expert mentioned, a better ad would have shown policymakers listening to experts and following through on their advice. Notice how she didn’t say a better ad would have been one focused on driver behavior? She correctly understands that it’s the wrong conversation to be having entirely.

As someone who vociferously tries to educate my kids DAILY on how not to get killed crossing the street, I can tell you my constant nagging sometimes gets heeded, sometimes not. Because, well, they’re children. I sure wish we lived in a place that designs its streets with the understanding that humans are fallible, especially younger ones with underdeveloped prefrontal cortices. My children shouldn’t have to pay the ultimate price for not being more mature than their still developing brains allow. So instead of arguing over whether safety is a “two-way street,” maybe we should ask ourselves whether the street is serving the needs of human beings in the first place.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago

Found this –

Here’s an article from 2011 in a Swiss paper about the incidence of cars running over people in crosswalks.

http://www.bernerzeitung.ch/region/seeland-jura/Die-Verantwortung-liegt-immer-beim-Autofahrer/story/17334952
Title of the article: The Responsibility Always Lies with The Car Driver

«In 86 Prozent der Fälle ist der Autofahrer alleine schuld, in 3 Prozent ist es der Fussgänger, und in den restlichen 11 Prozent haben beide Schuld.» Menna lässt auch das Argument nicht gelten, dass das Hauptproblem derjenige Fussgänger sei, der plötzlich die Fahrbahn betrete, sodass der Autofahrer gar keine Chance zum Abbremsen habe. «Nur bei 7 Prozent der Unfälle auf Zebrastreifen wurde festgestellt, dass der Fussgänger die Strasse unvorsichtig gequert hatte.»

“In 86% of cases the driver is solely at fault. In 3% of cases it is the pedestrian, and in the remaining 11% both share fault. [The spokesman from citizen office for crash-avoidance] disagreed with the argument that the main problem was with pedestrians who suddenly step into the street, so that the driver of a car has no chance to brake in time. “In only 7 percent of crashes in crosswalks was it determined that the pedestrian had carelessly crossed the street.”
and another quote (from a driving instructor):

“«Bei Tempo 30 könnte man zwei von drei Unfällen verhindern.»”

“With a speed limit of 30 [km/h] two-thirds of these accidents could have been avoided.”