Is Your City Really Serious About Road Safety? Look for These 3 Things

Thirty-six people died in traffic crashes in Washington, D.C. last year, a 20% increase from 2017. Eight people, six of whom were walking or biking, have already been killed this year, prompting a major public rally just two weeks ago. Residents are angry that the city isn’t succeeding in curbing road deaths, despite the fact that Mayor Muriel Bowser committed to end traffic fatalities entirely by 2024.

It’s a common plight. While more than 40 cities in the United States and many more around the world have committed to Vision Zero, a global movement to end traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by taking a systemic approach to road safety, many are struggling to turn this vision into a reality. Citizens themselves can pursue road safety at many levels— in their schools, workplaces, streets and communities. But it’s the elected leaders who control budgets and priorities for their jurisdiction who really have the responsibility to catalyze lasting improvements that will save people’s lives. As UN Global Road Safety Week kicks into gear this week, it’s time to ask the question: What does political leadership in road safety really look like?

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How We Talk About Drivers Hitting Cyclists

Maria “Triny” Willerton was on a final course recon for last year’s Ironman in Boulder, Colorado, when things literally went sideways. It was a sunny, calm weekday morning in early May—“a perfect day to ride,” she says—and the 46-year-old triathlete was travelling east on Nelson Road, a straight, treeless rural route roughly nine miles north of town. After signaling with her arm, she started to turn left onto North 65th Avenue, a quiet stretch of pavement where she would be able to worry less about traffic. She never made it.

Midturn, “I bounced off the grill of a brand-new Ford F-150,” she recalled. “I flew through the air and landed on the westbound shoulder.” According to a story that ran later that day in the local newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, Willerton made her turn in front of the driver, Stephen Gray, then 62, who was traveling in the same direction and hit her from behind. Willerton never lost consciousness, but she suffered six broken ribs, a triple pelvic fracture, chipped teeth, and a collapsed lung, among other injuries.

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What Will It Take to Finish This Bike Trail Across the U.S.?

Author

If you’re an avid American cyclist, odds are you’ve harbored this dream: a sea-to-shining-sea cross-country bike trek, the sort of epic journey Jerry Cowden took from Arlington, Virginia, all the way to Astoria, Oregon, when he retired from his job at the FCC in 2009.

“I went out my back door, got on my bike, and didn’t stop until I got to the Pacific Ocean, 106 days later,” he says.

Cowden’s path west traced the TransAmerica Trail, a set of cross-country routes on backroads originally mapped for the 1976 Bikecentennial ride, and the Katy Trail, a recreational rail-trail in Missouri. That helped him minimize his encounters with motor vehicle traffic. But he says he did have to deal with a few sections of roadway he had to share with motorists. “They tried as much as possible to route you on roads that are low stress and low traffic, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable.”

If you’re in a car, you’ve been able to motor across the United States since 1913. (Thanks, Lincoln Highway.) But on a bike, it’s been more of a challenge—there’s no single unified route made for cycles that spans the continent. That may soon change: On Wednesday, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy gave the grand reveal for an entirely car-free way to get across the country—the Great American Rail-Trail—that would connect Washington, D.C., to Seattle. The path runs through 12 states: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

The launch event kicked off at Capitol Hill in D.C., near where the Capital Crescent Trail begins the cross-country route, as part of a live-streamed broadcast of events at stops along the way, including Columbus, Ohio; Three Forks, Montana; and South Cle Elum, Washington.

What I learned after riding my bike to work for three weeks By

AUTHOR Amy Graff  Thursday, May 9, 2019

After losing my parking space at work last month, I pumped up the tires on my 22-year-old Stumpjumper and made a plan to start biking to work.

I dreaded the first day when I would have to give up my comfortable commute with heated seats and NPR for a strenuous and cold ride under a blanket of San Francisco fog.

Now, I’ve got three weeks of the new commute on my wheels and I’ve learned the chill, with the wind blowing in my face as I speed down Market Street, is a refreshing way to wake up (though I still miss my news updates from “Morning Edition”).

In fact, I’ve found biking to work is actually life-changing. I’m in better shape without paying $50 an hour for a personal trainer and the added exercise and the decrease in stress from not driving has improved my mood.

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The Case for Separated Bike Lanes

Author Sarah Goodyear

The other day, Doug Gordon decided to try a little bike lane experiment. Gordon, author of the Brooklyn Spoke blog, placed red plastic Solo cups (yes, the ones you use when drinking from a keg) along the edge of a painted bike lane that is often blocked by parked livery cars and other drivers.

The conditions were hardly scientific, but these small plastic delineators, stuck to the roadway with duct tape, seemed to be pretty effective in preventing vehicles from entering the bike lane.

[W]hile using red Solo Cups may inspire a few jokes about Brooklyn hipsters and bike lane versions of beer pong, my little experiment did provide at least a modicum of evidence that very basic forms of separation can make big differences when it comes to defining road space for different users.

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