There are two more city-sponsored chances to take part in Seattle’s Road Safety Summit: November 15 at Northgate Community Center and November 21 at Southwest Community Center (both from 6-8 p.m.)
But, at the city’s suggestion, Bike Works has decided to host their own forum of the same format from 6-8 p.m. November 14 at their shop at Rainier Ave and S Ferdinand St. in Columbia City. Not only that, but your humble Seattle Bike Blog editor will be helping to lead the discussion.
It will be a lively discussion, and all are welcome to come regardless of your opinions on cycling. Sure, it’s at a bike shop, but the summit is about safety for everyone regardless of their chosen mode. So invite your friends!
From Bike Works:
In response to heightened awareness of road and transportation tensions, the Mayor’s Office is hosting a series of public Road Safety Summit meetings. Here at Bike Works, we like to talk transportation. We recognize that the three official meetings are potentially difficult for Southeast Seattleites to get, so we’re hosting one for you! Come to Bike Works Monday, November 14th from 6-8pm for an evening of transportation dialogue, where we’ll be collecting answers from individuals for the three questions the Road Safety Summit is asking all attendees:
1. What do you think are the highest priority safety problems to solve on Seattle roads?
2. What do you think are the most important things to do to make Seattle roads safer?
3. We often talk about what government can do to promote safety. What are the ways that non-governmental groups and individuals can promote safety?
If you’re unable to attend, we still encourage you to add input by going to the city’s page here and filling out their survey. We hope you can join us!
10 responses to “Bike Works to host Road Safety Summit forum in Columbia City”
A big step forward would be to start ticketing bikers hard. Sorry but the one thing I don’t care for about this blog (and there are many reasons I do care) is the lack of accountability by its members and the pointing of fingers at others. While we know the stories of crappy drivers and their record, I argue there are a lot more crappy bike riders. Hey I’m just callin the kettle black. Just so you don’t think I’m in left field, they should also start really penalizing the failure to yield the right of way to drivers. In short, let’s just enforce the rules on the books.
Todd, I’d be interested if you can unpack this position a bit. And let me preface this by saying that I agree that enforcement of traffic laws against cyclists who break them is entirely valid and possibly (but only possibly) not done enough. Law-breaking cyclists do have an impact on how non-cyclists see them (be they motorists or pedestrians or legislators or editorial columnists), and i don’t like being honked at or swerved at on the roads because some other jacknob doesn’t think stop signs are all that important.*
The problems with the Ticket-Cyclists-More! approach, as I see them are:
-scofflaw cycling is tremendously salient, but we have no real measure of how prevalent it is; I suspect not very.
-the “cycling community” is an illusory entity; this blog and others notwithstanding, we don’t really talk to each other that much and a ticketed wrong-way cyclist in Fremont is not going to impact the stoplight ignoring cyclist in Georgetown.
-(like it or not) the potential for harm caused by cyclists breaking the law in traffic is far less than the potential for harm caused by motorists breaking the laws, and sensibly that makes enforcement against motorists a higher priority.(*again)
-last but not least, cyclists are hard to catch; they don’t have license plates, they fit through small spaces aren’t slowed by the line of cars waiting for the light to change.
But since this post is about a road safety summit in Columbia City, let me echo the sentiments of a friend of mine who lives there: Is there not a better route you could pick than Rainier Ave S? And if not, let’s find one. And if we can’t find one, can we build one?
*confession time: yesterday morning I was driving my car southbound on 19th Ave E and blew right through a flashing 4-way stop. I just spaced it (I wasn’t talking on the phone or texting, I just spaced it) – totally crappy driving on my part, and I like to think of myself as conscientious on the roadways. To the cyclist who waved his arm at me as I ignored his right of way-I’m really sorry. I get the shame-heat a day later as I type this.
Drivers failing to yield to someone on a bike is the biggest reported cause of collisions between people biking and motor vehicles.
I agree that someone biking recklessly should and can be ticketed (and it does happen), especially when such behavior is intimidating or dangerous to people walking. People biking who fail to yield to people in crosswalks is a pet peeve of mine. Same with people who blow by people on sidewalks or trails without giving an ample, comfortable amount of space.
However, it is clear from collision data that a focus on motor vehicle law enforcement makes the most sense if your goal is to prevent collisions and injuries among all road users. This doesn’t mean a reckless biker can do whatever they want, but reckless biking is quite simply not causing a plague of injuries and deaths. The city’s traffic data proves this (more on that in an upcoming post).
I guess the question is: Assuming that traffic enforcement will always be extremely limited, what is the goal of enforcement? Public safety or ticketing “fairly” (meaning, ticketing ppl driving, biking and walking the same, regardless of the danger they pose)?
I am both a cyclist who commutes M-F, as well as a motorist, and I see jackasses on both ends. I really doubt there are more crappy cyclists than motorist. I actually believe that it’s most likely the same of self-centered hypocritical jackass type of person that is just an asshole whether they are on bike, driving, boating or even walking.
For example, just yesterday on my ride in to work, I saw this cyclist blow through two red lights, hop on the bike path, then go ballistic on a motorist who inched a bit to far into the bike path at an intersection a mere minute later. Amazing! This guy probably owns a car and is an idiot when he drives. I see this all the time on my rides.
So I say yes, ticket cyclist too.
How can we ticket bicyclists for violating the rules of the road when popular bike lanes are a violation of the rules of the road?
Our rules were carefully constructed to remove conflict, put vehicles where drivers can see them, and provide a single, uniform predictable flow of traffic.
But… bike lanes (for just one example) put through bike traffic on the right of motorized vehicles turning right at intersections. That creates a conflict that was not present, while putting the bicyclist in the motorist’s blind spot, and creates two different traffic patterns, multiplying the conflicts and confusion.
I call this the “Copernicus” factor. Here’s how it works:
Study ONLY treatments. Never study BEHAVIOR.
Example: tobacco smoking.
What if we ONLY studied cancer or disease treatments? This way I could prove that increasing tobacco use would improve individuals’ safety. After all the more smoking the better treatments would become and the better one’s chances of cancer detection, treatment and survival.
But…BEHAVIOR studies show so clearly that those who do not smoke have better health!
Although the ratio of treatment/behavior factors will differ, bicycling is just another case.
For example, bike lanes and intersections: Which bicyclist BEHAVIOR is safer, riding in-line with traffic that removes the conflict and makes vehicles visible to drivers motorized or not? Or the behavior of bike lanes that places the through bicyclist in conflict with right turning traffic and less visible to almost all traffic?
Know what the answer is? This is where the “Copernicus” factor fully expresses itself. The answer is that this simple question has NEVER been studied! Its been proposed many times and always rejected. We study ONLY treatments and NEVER behavior. By studying treatments only we cause behavior to disappear.
Now, I would like to take some responsibility here. I’ve been unable to get a politically viable and economically profitable program together that can compete in the market place so people can hear about this and benefit by upgrading their bike riding to bicycle driving skills. (imagine apple competing with microsoft while giving their product away free or at cost)
I believe that we are better off when we understand that we have options, take the care to learn about them, then test and verify them. Because bicyclist BEHAVIOR has NEVER been tested, we are at great risk of missing our opportunities. Likely there is a balance between facilities and behavior, but due to the simple minded application of the “Copernicus” factor we’re looking one direction only.
Finally I command all readers to never believe what I write — always think about it, test it and verify it because that is a HEALTHY way to bicycle and live your life, right? (if there is anything wrong with bicycling today its too many people believing and repeating what they hear without critical examination (of the alternatives), allowing those with the greatest access to politics and money to dominate)
Now, only if you’re curious you may check out more options at BicycleDriver.Com
Speaking of Dave’s remarks, bike lanes on the right do make me squirm I have to say. But what else can we do, without the real estate to create dedicated bike lanes?
For quite a while I had to do a carpool commute taking us across Fremont bridge, making the right turn connecting to Nickerson at the end of the bridge. This is one of the most important bike routes in the city; acknowledging that, the traffic arrangement at the end of the bridge explicitly gives primacy to bikes traveling straight through the intersection, to the right of lanes used by automobiles. Bikes approaching the intersection are still up on the solid pavement of the sidewalk, often obscured by bridge structure.
The upshot is that motorists approaching the end of the bridge intending to make a right turn end up with heavily divided attention; a scrupulous scan for bicycle traffic to the right rear of the car means very little attention can be paid to what’s happening up ahead. Slow speed is the only solution, but sadly many other automobile drivers intending to make the right don’t understand this and respond by attempting to pass and then whip into the turn at the last second. It’s a recipe for disaster; somehow it mostly works though frequently involving colorful language and gestures.
As to improving safety within the world we have, simply enforcing traffic regulations for -all- drivers would be a big help. As it stands now, traffic safety enforcement is abysmal in this town as it is in so many others. We claim to be interested in safe travel but in truth most of us (me, too) have inner toddlers that help drive our cars and who howl loudly when police seriously attempt to rein us in with things such as speed cameras and the like.
Like anything, there’s a right way to design bike lanes and a wrong way. Having a bike lane that continues through an intersection to the right of right turning cars wihout proper signage/paint (such as a green bike lane) is definitely sub-par. Having bike lanes that disappear at every intersection might reduce that conflict, but they also reduce the whole point of creating a facility where the majority of people will feel safe biking.
Having a right turn lane that crosses the bike lane at a designated point (often highlighted in green) is a great option for many intersections. There are several of these in the city, including 34th st as it approaches Fremont ave. this may require a couple parking spaces to be removed, but it works much better for everyone.
The city should also look at right turn restrictions at more intersections if conditions prevent safe designs.
But to say that all bike lanes are bad because some are designed poorly is silly.
It’s all a matter of compromise when we share space. Rectifying the right-turn-across-bike-lanes issue comes down to losing a little velocity. Going a little bit more slowly carries no significant cost; it’s hard to even characterize adult patience as a compromise in the strict sense of the word.
Making roads work for everybody seems to me mostly a matter of developing some disciplines akin to those we have no problem demanding of little kids. “No running, somebody could get hurt.” How hard is that?
Further to the notion of enforcing traffic regulations as opposed to having meetings to earnestly discuss magic pixie safety dust, yesterday an SUV rear ended a sedan on sitting at a stop light on Lake City Way at 11oth Ave, pushed it down the road 200 feet. The car burned, killing both occupants in what must have been a very painful scenario.
That would not have happened if the SUV was obeying the speed limit, 35mph at that point.