Bicyclists learn from bicyclists to break traffic laws. But perhaps the law should learn from them, researcher says.

Bicyclists learn from bicyclists to break traffic laws. But perhaps the law should learn from them, researcher says.
Washington Post
September 8, 2017

The study — which was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska and published online in March in the Journal of Transport and Land Use — found that the reason most bicyclists (71 percent) violate traffic rules is a bid for self-preservation. Other reasons include saving energy (56 percent) or saving time (50 percent) or attempting to increase one’s visibility (47 percent). In other words, the study found that a large number of bicyclists tend to break the law because they think it will keep them safer.

Truck Underride Crashes Cause Death & Injury Every Year – Preventable #VisionZero

Truck and trailer underride or side-under-ride crashes are extremely dangerous to car occupants, pedestrians, and cyclists. The NTSB actually called for this as well as pointed out the inadequate crash data reporting on truck crashes. Every year people are killed on our roads from these types of crashes which are preventable using side guards or rear guards which are strong enough to take the force of vehicles at highway speeds.

This NBC article from February 2017 states, “Side Underride Crashes Kill 200 People a Year. Will Congress Act?

The federal agency in charge of highway safety requires guards on the back of trucks, but not along the sides. And key lawmakers who have together received millions of dollars in campaign donations from the transportation industry haven’t pushed for it, despite a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board.

But we do not really know the number of incidents of crashes and hence deaths as no state actually tracks this data in our National Reporting System. Worse, the USA rear guards are not actually strong enough to prevent cars at even lower city speeds from going under trailers. Our crash reporting system data does not track these types of crashes well. To confuse things even more, Canada has stronger requirements for the rear guards on trailers and without tracking model numbers, we don’t have any idea what is actually happening and why.

Yet, cities like New York, Boston, Portland, and Seattle are taking steps with city fleets to put side guards on trucks because they know that these can help reduce preventable pedestrian and cyclists death and injuries. February 2017: SDOT installs truck safety sideguards + What would it take to get them on every truck?

Seattle’s Department of Transportation is retrofitting all department trucks to include sideguards designed to reduce harm to people walking and biking in the case of a collision.

Sideguards to be made mandatory for all trucks doing business in Boston

2015: New York City made side guards on trucks mandatory

In New York City, Trucks make up just 3.6 percent of vehicles on New York City streets, according to U.S. DOT, but are involved in 12.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 32 percent of bicyclist deaths.

Side guards on trucks and trailers in cities just make sense. Another cyclist Gets The Right Hook: It’s Time For Sideguards On Trucks In North America

Every time an accident like this happens, cyclists have the same question: Why aren’t side guards legally required on trucks in the City? Europe has them. The UK has them. As of January 1, 2011, even Brazil has them!

A right hook is a common cyclist crash type.

And the DOT has been working on testing and improved side guards and rear guards, just not many trucks are actually getting them. Protecting Pedestrians and Bicyclists, One Safer Truck at a Time

In the coming years, the simultaneous rapid growth of urban freight and walking and bicycling in the U.S. threatens to increase truck-involved casualties, which are already overrepresented relative to trucks’ share of vehicles on the road today.

Volpe’s research into both proven and new crash avoidance and mitigation technologies for trucks is shaping a new pillar of cities’ Vision Zero programs, as well as advancing U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s bicycle-pedestrian safety priority. One specific safety technology—side underride guards—further extends to the tantalizing potential co-benefit of fuel efficiency, implying attractive payback and a pathway to accelerated adoption.

2014: NTSB Issues Recommendations to Correct Safety Vulnerabilities Involving Tractor-Trailers

Collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers resulted in about 500 deaths each year and that many of these deaths involved side underride. Researchers also found that current trailer rear underride guard standards are outdated.

The NTSB in the same press release discusses the known blind spots in single unit trucks as well as tractor trailers which cause death and injury every year to pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and vehicle occupants.

#VisionZero these are preventable deaths and injuries caused by bad design that we know about and know how to improve. We know that data collection inadequate which is fixable. We have some technology which can improve things quickly. We still aren’t trying to implement recommendations from the NTSB in 2014 which seems like willful ignorance.

Finally, the NTSB asked NHTSA to address the issue of data collection on trailers. When a tractor-trailer gets into an accident, police officers routinely record basic information about the truck-tractor component of the tractor-trailer, including the model year and vehicle identification number. However, information about the trailer component is usually missing from federal and state databases. Having this information could help with evaluation of safety standards and determine whether certain trailer designs and equipment should be altered to reduce injury risks to passenger vehicle occupants.

Distracted Driving Big Problem #VisionZero

We’ve known about distracted driving dangers for many years now.  But not much is happening to improve the situation, even cell phone / texting bans for drivers. New cars continue to come to market with technology that caters to drivers talking on the phone, checking Facebook, email, and text messages.

But, this new study out last week has some shocking evidence, that 1 in 4 drivers was on a phone just before crash, study of distracted driving says.

Traffic fatalities have risen by 14 percent over the last two years, and distracted driving is a likely factor along with the improved economy and low gas prices, which have put more cars on the road, according to the National Safety Council, a nonprofit public service group. The nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association has projected an 11 percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed in 2016 compared with 2015, and also cited smartphone distraction.

Our roads are getting more dangerous for pedestrians, and bicycle riders.

About the time we all first started hearing the term distracted driving, we were enjoying safer streets for bicycle riders and pedestrians. That trend is over and the rising stats are alarming. Some states are increasing fines. Enforcement is still challenging and under enforced either because of challenges, under-staffed. Some bicycle and pedestrian folks think walking and cycling police enforcement is the way to catch distracted drivers.

Watch out for drivers using their phones. We know that distracted driving is a fairly dominant reason people have a crash, but we can’t always get away from them especially when they are all over our roads.

Drivers: Share the Road

People on bicycles have the same rights as people behind the wheel of a car.  And the same responsibilities.

  • Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.
  • In parking lots, at stop signs, when packing up, or when parking, search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicycles.
  • Drivers turning right on red should look to the right and behind to avoid hitting a bicyclist approaching from the right rear. Stop completely and look left-right-left and behind before turning right on red.
  • Obey the speed limit, reduce speed for road conditions and drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist.
  • Give cyclists room. Do not pass too closely. Pass bicyclists as you would any other vehicle—when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane.

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.

Cars and Bikes Share the Road

Good article from Ohio about Ohio bicycle laws for cars and bicyclists to better understand how to better share the road and be aware of each other. One important point that is emphasized is reminding drivers that bicycle riders are vulnerable road users, this includes the new law about leaving a passing buffer space around a cyclist and your vehicle.

Although these are Ohio bicycle laws, many of them are very similar to California, and many of them are just good common sense reminders about how we all can share the road safely, and get to where we are going without incident, stress, and hopefully with some fun along the way.

Breaking down Ohio’s bicycle laws

But, even though drivers and bicyclists follow many of the same rules on the road, both need to remain aware of the vulnerability of those on bikes, he said.
“If you pass me too close in your car or if you’re errant in that way, you can do serious human bodily damage,” Kuhn said. “We’re not driving a 4,000-pound cage with 10 airbags.”

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.”

Motorcycles – Shared Roads & Shared Responsibility

Many motorcyclists receive extensive safety training and endorsements yet still become victims of a motorcycle collision. But the reality of any motorcycle collision is that it can happen to anyone, regardless of age or experience. Most collisions occur when a vehicle driver fails to see a motorcyclist and turns in front of the rider. When these collisions occur, the rider is ALWAYS on the losing end. There is no excuse when vehicles fail to take reasonable, necessary steps to ensure the safety of everyone on the road.

California alone has 862,705 registered motorcycles and more than 1.4 million licensed riders, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The law requires that both riders and drivers share the road with awareness and caution for ALL users. But according to the California Highway Patrol, the number of people killed in motorcycle-involved collisions has increased by nearly 11 percent, from 475 killed in 2013 to 527 killed in 2014. In 2014, over 400 riders were either killed or seriously injured in San Diego County alone!

Coastline, cliffs, mountains, and arid desserts are some of the scenery that makes southern California such an attractive area for motorcycle riders. The temperate year-round climate ensures that riders will never be prevented from riding on account of the weather.

The danger of many of these beloved rides is that motorcyclists have to share the road with larger vehicles whose drivers frequently don’t see the motorcycle. With so many motorcyclists in San Diego County, motorcycle accidents are often mentioned in nightly news reports and the morning newspaper.

In automobile vs. motorcycle accidents, the motorcyclist is always the losing party. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the majority of motorcycle accidents occur during the summer months from May through August, with over 50% of accidents happening on non-interstate major roads. In motorcycle vs. motor vehicle accidents, the motorcyclist always sustains worse injuries than the other driver, with many of these accidents resulting in broken bones and sometimes fatalities.

The following list includes a few of the motorcycle accidents that have occurred in San Diego County during the statistically high-incident summer months:

July 24, 2016 – Motorcyclist killed in car collision in San Marcos

July 16, 2016 – Motorcyclist killed after head on collision with car in Potrero

July 10, 2016 – Couple killed in motorcycle crash on I-5 in San Clemente

July 8, 2016 – Motorcyclist killed after losing control in 2 car accident in Mission Bay

July 8, 2016 – Motorcyclist killed, another injured, after collision by hit-and-run driver in Tierrasanta

July 6, 2016 – Motorcyclist killed after driver loses control of her vehicle in Pauma Valley

June 20, 2016 – Motorcyclist killed in crash near Julian

May 2, 2016 – Carlsbad motorcyclist killed in DUI car collision while lane splitting

While there are many precautions a motorcyclist can take to be safer on the road, neither the perfect speed nor very cautious driving can protect a rider from injury or death when an accident is caused by another motorist. Too often motorcyclists are assumed to have been speeding or driving recklessly and get blamed for an accident they didn’t cause. Insurance companies and insurance defense attorneys will try to make the accident the motorcyclist’s fault in order to minimize the compensation they’ll have to pay to the rider.

Don’t jeopardize your right to full compensation! If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, due to the fault of another party, it is possible to file a claim against the negligent party and obtain compensation for the medical expenses and general damages due to the injuries incurred.

Here at The Goetz Law Firm we specialize is representing motorcycle collision victims and their families. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle collision, don’t hesitate to get the representation you deserve. Call for a FREE case consultation.