NTSB is getting a lot of pushback from its recent statement about bicycle safety on our roads.
In the NTSB’s first examination of bicyclist safety on U.S. roadways since its last report on this topic in 1972, the agency said critical changes were needed to address the recent rise in fatal bicycle crashes involving motor vehicles, even as overall traffic deaths fell in 2018.
[…] The investigators’ primary focus was on crash avoidance, but in those instances when crashes do occur, they said the use of a helmet was the single most effective way for riders to reduce their chances of receiving a serious head injury. Because research shows that less than half of bicyclists wear helmets and that head injuries were the leading cause of bicyclist fatalities, the NTSB recommended that all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, require that all persons wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.
Many people assume that bicycle helmets offer greater protection than they are actually designed to provide. Bicycle helmets are not currently designed for impacts as forceful as a vehicle crash. Bicycle helmets only offer minimal protection for a cyclist if falling say, off the bike and hitting the curb. Bicycle helmets are not even designed nor tested for any kind of strength that would be necessary to withsand the impact from a vehicle. Even if bicycle helmets were designed as well as motorcycle helmets, dangerous drivers are still a huge problem, and cyclists as well as pedestrians are getting seriously injured and too often killed.
This is not Vision Zero.
Please read the NACTO statement in full where they discuss the Australian mandatory adult helmet law result data, which showed no safety improvement, and rather, the law discouraged bicycle riding.
For the first time since 1972, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) turned its attention to bicycle safety and released a series of recommendations to protect people on bikes on US streets. NACTO applauds the Board’s road design and bike infrastructure recommendations and renewed focus on this topic as cyclist fatalities in the US hit an 18-year high in 2018. However, a last-minute recommendation that states adopt mandatory helmet laws flies in the face of best practice on bicycle safety.
While requiring helmets may seem like an intuitive way to protect riders, the evidence doesn’t bear this out. Experience has shown that while bike helmets can be protective, bike helmet laws are not.
Unfortunately, many drivers complain whether or not a cyclist is wearing a helmet, but the truth is the bicycle helmet will do little to protect a cyclist from an impact with an automobile. Bicycle Helmets are not designed the way motorcycle helmets are. Bicycle helmets are only designed to protect a rider from fairly trivial falls, to protect your head from a curb or driveway ramp. Hopefully Volvo’s research will yield some major improvements for bicyclist roadway safety.
That bicycle helmets are not currently tested against such impacts will be a revelation to many cyclists and motorists, many of whom erroneously assume that bicycle helmets offer greater protection than they are actually designed to provide.
“Current bike helmet testing procedures are fairly rudimentary,” state Volvo and POC. They involve “helmets being dropped from different heights on either a flat or an angled surface, and do not take into account vehicle to bike accidents.” The tests mimic low-speed falls on to curbs rather than any impacts from motor vehicles.
San Diego pedestrian fatalities in 2018 were twice that of reported pedestrian fatalities in 2017.
The number of pedestrians killed by cars spiked last year to 34 up from 17 in 2017, according to numbers from the San Diego Police Department. Those severely hurt while crossing the street or using the sidewalk rose to 93 last year up from 75 in 2017, while serious injuries for bikers increased to 23, up from 19.
Pedestrian injuries and bicyclist injuries also increased in 2018.
San Diego also announced 15 of the most dangerous intersections with completed improvements under the Vision Zero Complete Streets goal of eliminating traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries by 2025. The San Diego Mayor also announced a new $2.45 million grant from CalTrans to improve hundreds of more intersections as well as work toward the complete streets goal.
“This is all about making it safer for everyone – drivers, pedestrians and cyclists – as they navigate city streets,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Making crosswalks more visible and adding audible walk signals are just a few of the simple yet effective ways we can make our neighborhoods safer. I look forward to installing these same safety improvements at hundreds more intersections over the next few years as we rebuild San Diego’s transportation network for the future.”
It is a good time to remember Vision Zero since President’s Day apparently used to be Bicycle Day.
In Boston, cyclists used the public holiday to hold bicycle races before cheering throngs. Local bike stores opened their doors to entice the race-day crowds, bringing them in off the snowy streets to preview the pleasures of spring. February 22 soon marked the start of the season, the day on which bicycle retailers held open houses to show off their latest models to eager crowds. “Yesterday was bicycle day in Boston,” reported the Boston Globe in 1895.
But this recent story about a man in a wheel chair who was hit by cars 3 times in just 10 months really drives home the point of why we need to meet our Vision Zero goals.
Nearly 6,000 pedestrians in the United States were killed in traffic crashes in 2016, according to the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Detroit Free Press, in a series called Death on foot, puts it this way: That’s twice the number of deaths tied directly to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
This is an excellent article not just about dooring accidents, but about bike lane design standards, how bicycle accidents are counted and how the system continues to implement design standards that are sub-standard.
National and state databases only include crashes involving motor vehicles in transport. Since a parked car is not in transport, and a bicycle is not a motor vehicle, crashes where a bicyclist hits a parked car door are excluded.
Dooring accounts for 12 to 27 percent of urban car-bike collisions, making it one of the most common crash types.
These look amazing – and largely car free. We’re talking miles and miles!
We know there are even more — but these are a great place to start and deserve a book mark. This article also includes directions and links to Google Maps — all you need to get you there on your bike.
Note: folks warn about one of these rides:
The LA River part of the ride is fenced off after the homeless encampment that now takes up the half of the sidewalk just after Los Feliz blvd. DO NOT DO the LA River part of the Griffith Park loop. You’ve been warned.
Finally, researchers have asked the question and found that cyclists with iPods or earbuds on listening to music can actually hear more than drivers and passengers inside automobiles with the windows up listening to nothing.
“We quickly established that cars are remarkably soundproof. We measured the average peak of ambient traffic noise inside the car (with the motor running) to be 54dB, which is 26dB quieter than outside the car. We rang a bike bell right outside an open car window and measured it from in the car at 105dB. With the window closed, the same bell registered just 57dB.”
Ride On magazine of Australia
Here’s an article about this study which links to the original article. Oz mag set out to find out if “iPod wearing zombies” heard more or less than motorists with their windows up or music playing.
Dreaming of motorcycle racing – this is a fun short film documenting the 2017 and 2018 RSD Superhooligan National Champion on the finale weekend double header….watch some great riding from this champion and soak in the vibes and sounds. Won’t be long until the 2019 series starts up!
But far from giving cyclists a safer ride, or even doing nothing at all, sharrows might actually be doing some harm by tugging bikes into moving traffic. Some research has found they do reduce dooring (when the door of a parked car hits a cyclist). But only one study to date looked at whether or not sharrows had any impact on overall car-bike collisions—and that study found they could be increasing the risk of injury.
Cincinnati, San Diego and Tacoma have devised clever programs that deploy ridesharing to address some of the reasons people may be reluctant to use transit. For example, San Diego’s iCommute program offers transit commuters a rideshare or taxi home in case of illness or emergency.