Mayor announces date of first road safety summit meeting

The first of three Road Safety Summit meetings will be October 24, Mayor Mike McGinn announced on his blog.

The Summit was called after Robert Townsend became the third person killed while biking in Seattle this summer.

“It’s time to stop finding fault with each other, and to start finding a remedy,” the mayor wrote earlier this month. Nobody needs to die on Seattle’s roadways, and we need to prioritize safety in our road investment decisions.

From Mayor McGinn’s blog:

On the evening of Monday, October 24th, Seattle City Councilmembers and I will convene agencies, community members, partners and other leaders for a Road Safety Summit to improve safety and responsibility on our streets. Working together, we will develop a shared citywide commitment to safety and develop an action plan that will lead to safer streets for all.

Please save the date:
The evening of October 24th
Bertha Knight Landes Room, City Hall
600 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

This will be the first of three summit meetings. These meetings will result in a final list of commitments for safety that will be carried out by an extended network of people who care about road safety in Seattle.

In the weeks leading up to this first meeting, we will be asking for ideas from the public. We want to hear your views on how we can work together to create safer conditions.

As soon as we’re ready to take your input on these topics, we will let you know. I hope that you can join us in this process.

Portland had their fifth transportation safety summit earlier this year. They have found that the mode with the most to gain from traffic safety projects are actualy people driving or riding in motor vehicles:

Look at the fall in motor vehicle fatalities since the safety summits began. Incredible.

If Seattle does this right, we can dramatically reduce the number of lives lost or dramatically altered by injury in our city. Let’s take the enthusiasm and message of the Safe Streets Social to the next level. Get ready to be involved in our city’s first Road Safety Summit.

Here’s the presentation from Portland’s 2011 Transportation Safety Summit:

The Presentation FINAL

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32 Responses to Mayor announces date of first road safety summit meeting

  1. merlin says:

    Great example for us here. It’s rather startling that there has been no downward trend in pedestrian fatalities, or perhaps a very slight downward trend with a big bump up in 2010. It would be interesting to see this displayed with changes in mode share – this is just raw numbers. Has there been a big increase in pedestrians in Portland with the focus on bikes? It’s really surprising to see motorist fatalities lower than pedestrians – and of course a little misleading, because a “pedestrian” fatality is someone killed in a crash with a motor vehicle.

  2. Doug Bostrom says:

    Not to sound like a complete monomaniac, but if the city is unable to efficiently enforce speed limits plus the balance of a mere half-dozen key traffic laws, what’s the point of handwaving about “finding a remedy?”

    Really, the city’s treatment of traffic and traffic safety is a conflicted mess. Let’s take 35th Ave NE for an example. Despite the city’s stated encouragement to use private vehicles less, residents along 35th NE are forced to move their cars during “rush hours” so as to allow automotive commuters entering or fleeing town to pass Metro buses servicing 35th. As long as they’re forced to get in those cars, residents along 35th may as well drive to work, right? Meanwhile, 35th turns into a three lane road, but with stripes only for two lanes. Late drivers attempting to repair their broken schedules by speeding then use the phantom right lane to perform breathtaking traffic drama, routinely hitting 40mph+ while whisking along the curb on their way to the next red light. The solution to this mess requires somebody to give up something, either parking spaces or the ability to pass buses. The choice consistent with the city’s stated objective would be to make cars wait behind buses, stop forcing local residents to use their cars. Commute too long, with too much chronological uncertainty, or running late? Tough. Find a job closer to home, or move.

    • Teacher says:

      The choice consistent with the city’s stated objective would be to make cars wait behind buses, stop forcing local residents to use their cars. Commute too long, with too much chronological uncertainty, or running late? Tough. Find a job closer to home, or move.

      This is the kind of extremist, hateful rhetoric that fuels tensions between motorists and bicyclists. It might make you and some others here feel good, but it is poison for our city, and only endangers bicyclists.

      • Al Dimond says:

        So if you’re running late you should just put people’s lives in danger by speeding and driving aggressively? That’s what really endangers people.

      • Teacher says:

        To the extent that bicyclists are seen as people who say “tough luck” to people who commute by car and have difficulties with traffic and congestion, those people will return the favor in various ways.

        One example is what’s coming with Proposition 1. Even Mayor McGinn knows it’s going to be defeated. It’s really too bad to see the prominent spokespeople for bicycling get captured by extremist “car haters.” It’s counterproductive, and it will hurt the majority of cyclists who just want to get places safely.

      • Al Dimond says:

        @Teacher: Trying to accommodate long commutes is something of a zero-sum game. To whatever extent you do it someone has to pay. That’s not my opinion, or an extremist statement, it’s a flat fact. But I’ve never heard anyone advocating something to make long car commutes easier even acknowledge it.

        People on bikes can hardly just say, “tough luck,” to commuters stuck in congestion — we’re stuck in the same congestion! We may oppose bigger, faster roads, though, and calling us extremists for it is ridiculous.

        As for people that “will return the favor in various ways,”… Drivers have used their vehicles to intentionally intimidate me three times in the last few months while I was riding legally and in the safest ways I know. One ran me off the road (I hit the weeds — by the time his rear end was past me his tire was in the shoulder); the other two situations were more complicated but equally aggressive, scary, and clearly intentional. People don’t act that way because of politics — in order to intentionally use your car as a weapon against someone you have to lack basic human empathy and concern for life. These people are sociopaths, and if they claim a political motive then they’re just sociopaths with bad excuses. Most people will never act this way, no matter how angry they get.

      • Teacher says:

        Al, a couple of points to make.

        First, I don’t accept an “us or them” mentality, a zero-sum game. Maybe it’s because I am both, but it’s more than that. For years, bicyclists have argued that we are legitimate users of the road, and should be treated as such. Now you have some bicyclists — and yes, I think they’re extremists — who want to be treated as superior users. I reject that approach, both on its (de-) merits and as a political approach.

        Secondly, most cyclists can cite obnoxious behavior by motorists and other cyclists. Most motorists can cite obnoxious behavior by cyclists and other motorists. And we can all cite cases of consideration and kindness, too.

        It’s understandable that people will cite the bad stuff, but visionary people will look for ways to recognize the good things and magnify them. For example, wouldn’t it be interesting if some bicycle organizations would think about a universal “atta boy” sign that cyclists and motorists could use with each other when they appreciate something the other did? We all know how to give the finger when a driver cuts us off or a cyclist runs a stop sign in front of our car, but what about when a driver goes out of his way to make way for us, or a cyclist stops at that stop sign?

        Are we, as bicyclists, going to sit there and tell drivers (who are us, too, much of the time) that they are fat, lazy pigs, endangering our lives, and so on, and then expect them to support our initiatives for more space? If you think so, I advise you to pay close attention to what happens to Proposition 1, and to the fortunes of Michael McGinn, who is closely identified with bicyclists in the public mind.

        Ask yourself what you really want, and how best to get it. As I look at the various cycling organizations, I see a whole lot more “me” than “we,” and I don’t like it very much. I think it’s wrong in general, and unwise in the practical world that we inhabit.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I think the universal sign of appreciation is the smile and wave, which I see all the time. It’s definitely a good idea to work as many smiles and waves into your daily travel routine, no matter your chosen mode. People are courteous to me all the time. Unfortunately, it’s the dude who came within a foot of killing me yesterday (while shouting something unintelligible) on NE 45th that I remember most vividly.

        It’s experiences like these that put a little urgency into my advocacy for safer streets and safe bicycle infrastructure. It’s not a dis on people who drive, but it’s an acknowledgement that there are careless and/or aggressive people out there. We need to make our roads safer for all modes, and we need to do it as soon as possible. We need to put pressure on our city to make it happen and to prioritize safety.

        Road safety is a cause anyone can get behind, not just people who bike. I don’t think it’s too productive to call people fat and lazy, no. But I also don’t see Prop 1 as a measure about taking space from “them” and giving it to “us.” A: It’s mostly about transit. B: Safe streets is about everyone, and I think most/all people who drive are in favor of safe streets and reducing all traffic collisions.

      • Teacher says:

        Unfortunately, it’s the dude who came within a foot of killing me yesterday (while shouting something unintelligible) on NE 45th that I remember most vividly.

        Unlike you, I’ve been on both sides of that. I’ve had things thrown at me while riding my bike, and once was forced off the street and narrowly missed a street light pole. Maddening, to say the least.

        There was also the time when, while driving my car, a bicyclist ran a stop sign, causing me to stomp on the brakes to avoid hitting him. As I did so, I laid on the horn, partly out of irritation but also to warn him. He grabbed a chain, broke my windshield, scratched the paint, and cost me the $1,000 deductible. Rode off before I could do anything.

        So all of this goes both ways, and to pretend otherwise is just plain dishonest. But here at the Seattle Bike Blog, and similar places, it’s always about the evils committed by those in motor vehicles.

        To me, that skewing of the viewpoint is, in itself, extremist, poisonous, and in a practical sense very counterproductive. Tom, I know how righteous it feels to tell the horror story, but when all you and just about everyone else here ever does is tell them from one viewpoint, then all you really do is run an echo chamber with the goal (whether you know it or not) of stoking resentment.

        I really don’t think that can accomplish very much. Obviously, you do. Maybe another way to put it is this: The radical days of the late 1960s and early 1970s are over. Shouting at people won’t get the results you think it will.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Who is shouting?

        First, without going deep into details about what happened on 45th, the person who did that did it on purpose while I was simply riding in the right lane trying to get to my friend’s house. The car full of college-aged kids with him were laughing because apparently it was really funny to scare me like that.

        I don’t need to respect his point of view (though I’d love to have the chance to talk to him about what he did). He was aggressive toward me for no reason. Our first interaction was him coming up behind me and swerving towards me. And if it makes you feel any better, I didn’t even flip him off.

        I find it interesting that you think I skewed the perspective on that story. It was harassment, threatening and illegal. Next time someone threatens me on a roadway, I’ll be sure to catch up with them and pull out my tape recorder so I can get their side of the story.

        In my comment, I also noted that people are courteous to me all the time and that I try to wave and thank people for being courteous as much as I can. Yet you accuse me of trying to stoke resentment against all drivers? That’s silly.

        Second, someone scratching your car and someone hitting a cyclist on purpose are not comparable offenses. They are both crimes, true, but please don’t act like they are on the same level.

        My anecdote was an attempt to highlight the need for safe infrastructure. Until there is a separated place for people to bike across the 45th Street Bridge over I-5, for example, these conflicts will keep happening (and hopefully they end up like mine – without injury).

        But we don’t need to hope. We need to take action. We have tools to make our roads safe, and the calls for safety are getting louder and louder. We now have groups independently organizing in neighborhoods all across the city calling for neighborhood greenways so people and their families can walk and bike where they live safely.

        Proposition 1 is a chance we have right now to invest in road safety, road repairs and transit reliability. It’s a solid plan, and people in favor of the investments need to work hard getting the word out about the vote and getting their friends and family on board (or you can volunteer!)

        This has nothing to do with the 1960s (which, oddly enough, is when so many of these super dangerous roads were designed). This is about life, health and happiness. If anyone’s shouting, it’s people trying to claim someone (the city? bicyclists?) are waging a “war on cars.” We are presenting a reasonable, data-driven and affordable plan to decrease the number of people injured or killed on our streets (in any mode of travel) and increase the number of transportation choices people have.

        The majority of people in Seattle agrees with these goals.

      • Teacher says:

        Gee, Tom, thanks for minmizing a crazy bicycle guy’s outrageous act of vandalism. Comes across to me as excuse-making on your part, quite frankly. I can tell you that I was just as scared by the crazy cyclist as I was by the driver who forced me off the road. They were both nuts, but you wink at one and inflate the other.

        As for Proposition 1, we’ll find out soon what the majority thinks. If it passes, I’ll accept it without tears. If it’s defeated, as I expect it to be, my guess is that I’ll be seeing all kinds of wailing and gnashing of teeth here and elsewhere.

        In any case, I can see that you see absolutely nothing wrong with your approach. No matter what might happen, you’ll question nothing about your approach. This is the sort of attitude I see in all kinds of in-groups. Unfortunately, the cyclist leadership in Seattle reminds me very much of a high school clique, and I think we’re seeing the wider public catching on.

      • Gary says:

        Sorry but damage to property vs intentional harm to an individual are not equal under the law. Its a recognition that we can replace things but not people.

      • Teacher says:

        Maybe I need to elaborate on the one incident.

        I was in my car with my wife and nine-year-old daughter when the bicyclist ran the sign. Slamming on the brakes caused some chaos inside our car, but since we were belted in not too much. (I will not allow anyone to ride in the car without a belt, period, and that includes the back seat.)

        The cyclist got off of his bike and attacked my vehicle, swinging his chain and screaming. He destroyed the windshield and two side windows, and caused extensive damage to the hood, the bumper, both headlights, and the side doors. He scared the living hell out of all of us. The repair bill was more than $2,000, and as I’ve noted my deductible was $1,000. That’s what I paid to save this grateful fella’s life.

        Since then, I’ve made two changes. One is that I carry a weapon — a small club. The other is that I never drive without my cellphone. That day, I didn’t have it and couldn’t call 911 while it was happening. Just property damage? Not exactly, folks.

        My point is not that bicyclists are violent. It is that this idea, heavily promoted by Tom and his blog, that motorists are somehow evil and bicyclists are somehow superior and saintly, is a crock. For one thing, many of us are both drivers and cyclists, and for another, all of us are human beings, subject to our many inherent variations.

        Tom, you affect a “reasonable” style, but I am not buying it. Your blog is, unfortunately, populated by one-sided people who cannot brook disagreement or opposition. You’re far from unique. The Internet makes it possible for all kinds of communities to form, but it also tends strongly to make these communities insular and self-reinforcing.

        When Proposition 1 is defeated, and Mr. Eyeman’s toll proposition passes, I do hope you will reconsider the effect of your insularity. I have no doubt that you think yourself to be on the side of the angels, but from where I stand it looks very different.

    • Gary says:

      ah, there is a third way. Local residents could park their cars in their garages, off street, thus not be forced to move them during rush hour.

      But speeding on the right could garner a “reckless driving” ticket. A few of those might also put an end to this dangerous style of driving.

  3. Industrialbiker says:

    I would like to see Seattle data compared during the same time period. From what I see here, there was a huge drop in motorist fatalities – which could be attributed to changes in vehicle design (passive restraints) but bike/ped/motorcylist fatalities seem relatively flat.

    • Shane Phillips says:

      Nationwide there’s been a pretty significant drop in the last 3 years or so (about 15%) in driver or passenger fatalities, but that’s nothing like the 50% drop over the same time period in Portland, or the 75% over the past 6 years. U.S. traffic fatalities have hovered around 40-45k for more than a decade, and are just starting to drop (I think 2009 or 2010 was 37k). Improved safety features on newer cars is almost certainly a part of that outcome, but Portland is clearly doing something special to make such huge gains so quickly.

      • merlin says:

        good comment, Shane. Worth pointing out that those “improved safety features” are almost entirely focused on protecting the people inside the cars. In fact the term “traffic safety” usually means (or at least appears to mean) safety for people in cars. The “something special” Portland has been doing has NOT been framed as promoting general traffic safety. We need to use their experience and constantly remind the skeptical public that “safe streets,” “complete streets,” “neighborhood greenways,” whatever you call it, really do make streets safer for everyone, maybe even most of all people in cars.

      • Teacher says:

        How does a “neighborhood greenway” improve safety for those in motor vehicles? Please be specific, pertinent, and concrete.

      • Gary says:

        Motorists are safer due to a reduction in kinetic energy from the decrease in speed:

        Ke = (m v^2)/2

        For a demonstration video watch this traffic safety video:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpZRxo3EWAc

        Neighborhood greenways work by slowing traffic down.

      • Teacher says:

        I have seen neighborhood “greenways” described as “bicycle freeways.” What decrease in speed are you talking about? One of the proposed “greenways” in Ballard is already quite slow for cars, being interrupted by stop signs every few blocks. Presumably, those stop signs would be removed in the direction of the “greenway,” which would have the effect of increasing speeds there.

        Are motor vehicles to be banned from these “greenways?” In return, are bicycles to be banned from nearby parallel arterials?

  4. Brian says:

    Embedded in that presentation is a statement that Portland is adding 15 miles a year of greenways. That is a breathtaking number. In Seattle, it’s taken us two years to get a mile-long greenway installed in Wallingford.

  5. Doug Bostrom says:

    “Extremist?” “Hateful?” Who’s been winding you up? By suggesting that discussing traffic regulation might “endanger cyclists” are you saying that our streets are populated by drivers so mentally unbalanced, they’d attack bicyclists because they were angry about waiting behind a bus?

    Did you notice that I never even mentioned bicycles? Call me off-topic, but I was talking about dysfunctional approaches to managing automobile traffic. Do you agree it’s a good idea to force residents living along 35th Ave to move their cars so that commuters can avoid dealing with buses? If so, why do you think taxpayers living on 35th should play second-fiddle to taxpayers living elsewhere? Do people living in Bothell rate higher than people living in Seattle?

    • Teacher says:

      … are you saying that our streets are populated by drivers so mentally unbalanced, they’d attack bicyclists because they were angry about waiting behind a bus?

      Of course not: That is what you are saying, not me. If you were one of my students, I would advise you to leave my classroom and return when you are able to conduct yourself in a logical, rational manner.

      • Doug Bostrom says:

        Particularly coming as it does from a self-professed teacher, your reply stands as its own rebuttal. :-)

  6. LWC says:

    @Doug – I appreciated your points. 35th is a great example of grandfathered-in traffic planning that would not fly if it were proposed today.
    @Teacher – I’m not really sure where your response to his post came from.

    • Doug Bostrom says:

      Thanks, LWC. I did not even finish narrating the full circle of self-defeating lunacy. When cars are left parked on 35th during rush hours, they’re towed away. Not only does this cost the owners significant aggravation, time and money, but the very act of towing the car creates a traffic obstacle arguably more obstructing and dangerous than simply leaving the vehicle in place.

      It’s probably a safe guess nobody has ever done a proper summation of the objectives versus outcomes of the mess now in place; are the total hours definitely wasted in the process of ruining towing victims’ days really offset by hypothetical savings in travel time? How about if we add in accidents caused by the nebulous nature of lanes on 35th and the aggressive tendencies of drivers prone to use the “extra” unmarked lane?

      “DevOps” lifted from the computer network management world might help clean up this train wreck of colliding policies.

    • Teacher says:

      @LWC, I’d suggest that you are not seeing what you’d rather not see. It’s a common mistake.

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  8. Double D says:

    @teacher. I am really glad I am not one of your students. What are you teaching, contradiction 101?

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