San Diego Bicycling – Will We Have Vision Zero or Zero Vision?

San Diego’s infrastructure funding gap grows by $310M
San Diego Union Tribune
January 28, 2018

An ambitious plan to build 77 miles of bicycle lanes throughout the San Diego region is behind schedule — with less than four miles open to the public and more than $60 million spent. Officials with the San Diego Association of Governments have said that much of that money has been for used for design and community outreach, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of an average project under the program.

Still, it is an ambitious plan and in the end, San Diego County will have an amazing network. But, the delays really are adding up.

But, on the other hand, incredibly projects are also breaking ground or close to opening.

SANDAG Budget Has More Delays For Priority Bike Projects
KPBS
2-8-2018

One project that would create separated bike and pedestrian paths along Pershing Drive through Balboa Park is facing a construction delay of about 10 months. The corridor is a key missing link in San Diego’s bike network that would connect densely populated Mid-City neighborhoods with downtown.

Meanwhile, with all the delays and already many years out from the beginning of Vision Zero push pedestrian traffic fatalities are happening too often in San Diego County, fatalities which could and should be prevented under the Vision Zero goals.

Pedestrian deaths in San Diego rack up as city drags on Vision Zero
San Diego Union Tribune
2-11-2018

While traffic-related fatalities in the city declined last year, the number of deaths still eclipsed homicides, including 17 pedestrian deaths on top of hundreds of often crippling injuries. Since January, nine people walking the streets of San Diego have been killed by motorists.

So, we’re behind schedule, and unlike New York City having the lowest pedestrian fatalities to an all time low, we’re still seeing pedestrian fatalities, and numerous crashes leaving people seriously injured with life long lasting consequences.

At the same time, more than 500 pedestrians a year are wounded or seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents, according to a City Auditor’s report from 2016.

‘Vision Zero’ brings traffic fatalities in New York to an all-time low
L.A. Times
2-1-2018

It appears to be working. Total traffic fatalities in the city, including those involving pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and motor vehicles, fell from 299 in 2013 to an all-time low of 214 last year.

Pedestrian deaths were down from 184 to 101, though deaths of bicyclists rose from 12 to 23.

A lot of challenges remain for San Diego County. We know that the idea and strategy of Vision Zero works, prioritize the most dangerous streets and intersections, make road design safer, and when this all happens, everyone has a place to move in traffic safely, cars, pedestrians, strollers, bicycles. And, studies show that these road improvements actually make shopping in cities better for businesses because people can walk around and people are drawn to shopping and restaurants where these improvements have happened.

But data points to priorities, and improvements take studies and money, and time. What are we going to do if we are running out of both money and time and the organization for collecting the data and prioritizing the projects is also lagging.

San Diego’s infrastructure funding gap grows by $310M
San Diego Union Tribune
2-13-18

On sidewalks, the projected need is $166 million and only $14 million is expected to be available.

There are similar gaps on streetlights, $204 million versus $1.4 million; traffic signals, $144 million versus $11 million; and bike lanes, $122 million versus $6 million.

Bicycle Law – “Idaho Stop”

California is considering legalizing the Idaho Stop for bicyclists.

Many transportation safety experts say that the Idaho Stop is actually safer for bicyclists.

The change would be to the part 21200 California Vehicle Code to read:

[…] a person operating a bicycle approaching a stop sign, after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way to any vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection or approaching from another highway or street so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping. However, if required for safety, the person shall stop before entering the intersection, and may proceed after yielding the right-of-way.

The California Bicycle Coalition has a petition and is looking for signatures in support of this Assembly Bill and they explain the issue succinctly:

Almost all street intersections in California pose as a safety threat to people on bikes. The longer it takes for a person on a bike to pass through an intersection, the greater likelihood that they’ll get hit by an oncoming vehicle. […] When people on bikes cross more safely at intersections and traffic flows more smoothly, it is a win-win for everyone.

The Vision Zero Department of Transportation push to end all deaths on our roads for all road users, is a great ideal to strive for and while improvements have been made, we’re still falling behind:

The year 2015 marked the largest increase in traffic deaths since 1966 and preliminary estimates for the first half of 2016 show an alarming uptick in fatalities – an increase of about 10.4 percent as compared to the number of fatalities in the first half of 2015.

Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco all have the unfortunate claim to being in the top ten most dangerous cities for cyclists in the USA, per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2015 data. sadly, and Bicycle Advocacy at @BIKELA pointedly calls this out as Zero Vision.

Bicycle Pedestrian Skate Boards etc. Open Streets

Should be a blast and spectacular route to see on Sunday

National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior

This NHTSA Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and behavior is from 2012 but it is relevant today in 2017.

One startling take away is that cyclists do feel threatened on their bikes on a fairly regular basis:

When asked whether they felt threatened for their personal safety while riding a bicycle on their most
recent travel day, one in eight respondents that had ridden in the past 30 days reported that they felt
threatened during some point on their ride.

And no surprise, bicycle lanes and bicycle paths are important to cyclists, and being able to have one nearby where you live and work makes a difference:

Respondents who had ridden a bicycle within the past year and who have bicycle paths available within a
quarter mile of where they live were more likely to use bicycle paths for at least some of their rides
compared to riders not living near bicycle paths.

Though cyclists want the “Idaho Stop” and California cyclists may soon get this law, the majority of cyclists know to obey the same roadway laws as car drivers and do stop at stop signs and lights:

Nearly all respondents were aware that the rules that apply to motor vehicles regarding traffic lights and
stop signs also apply to bicyclists. More than 9 in 10 reported that a bicyclist must stop at traffic lights
and stop signs.

Everyone is a pedestrian.

Respondents who had walked outside for five minutes or more at least once during the past year were
asked how often they walk during the summer months. Four in five respondents reported walking at least
once a week. Very few respondents claimed that they never walked during the summer months.

Don’t Say ‘Cyclists,’ Say ‘People on Bikes’

A group of Seattle-based safer streets advocates say they’ve been able to foster a much more civil debate by changing up the language they use.
City Lab 2/11/2017

“Now the city talks about safety. When you feel like what you are gaining is the ability to walk freely and safely around your neighborhood, rather than bike lanes for somebody else, that sounds a lot better.”

California pedestrian deaths projected to jump 12 percent

California pedestrian deaths projected to jump 12 percent
KPCC 89.3
3/9/16

While California was not among the states with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per capita, the data suggests the state’s fatalities could jump by as much as 12 percent over 2014. California recorded the highest number of deaths among the states at 347 through June.

Teen killed crossing street after L.A. schools closed over threat was 'awesome student'

Teen killed crossing street after L.A. schools closed over threat was ‘awesome student’
LA Times
12/15/15

[…] A Los Angeles Times analysis identified Avenue 60 and Figueroa Street as a particularly problematic intersection for pedestrians, showing that 13 people were hit, two fatally, from 2002 through 2013. […] A total of 73 people were hit and four were killed at the five intersections from 2002 through 2013. […]