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Ontario Doctors Support Cycling Safety Through Collision Reduction

As tweeted by Share the Road, the Ontario Medical Association has just released an excellent policy paper, Enhancing cycling safety in Ontario. Their recommendations are very similar to the BCCC’s policy Cycling Safety Through Collision Reduction with the focus being on investing in infrastructure improvements and education. The report also highlights the need to improve intersections.

Transportation planners must be charged with implementing bicycle safety solutions that have been proven in other jurisdictions, and work to solve any additional challenges that intersections pose for cyclists and drivers sharing the road. Similarly, the OMA recommends that both driver and cyclist educators emphasize intersection-specific challenges.

 They also address the issue of a lack of places for children to safely cycle.

Apart from the dangers of cyclists riding off the sidewalk into traffic, or crossing intersections or crosswalks when drivers don’t expect them to be there, sidewalk riding is not ideal for pedestrians or cyclists. If there were safer, designated places to ride, children might feel more comfortable riding on streets and their parents might be more willing to permit this.

As an overall goal, Ontario’s doctors believe that a cycling infrastructure of bike lanes and paths should be safe and seamless enough for parents to feel comfortable letting their children ride on the road in these lanes. It is especially important that bike lane networks are connected, and cyclists aren’t left stranded in mixed traffic.

Here is their list of recommendations. It would be great if the BCMA would produce a similar set of recommendations or even better, the BC government implements such policies.

  • That both provincial and municipal transportation departments do more to make cycling safer.
  • That the provincial government develop policy and programs, including funding, to facilitate safe cycling routes. 
  • That municipal governments, which have the responsibility to build a significant portion of the much-needed cycling infrastructure, redouble their efforts to do so.
  • That bike lane and bike path networks should be safe and seamless enough for parents to feel comfortable permitting their children to ride on them.
  • That bike lane networks be connected so that cyclists aren’t left stranded in mixed traffic. 
  • That transportation planners in Ontario be charged with implementing solutions that have been proven in other jurisdictions, and work to solve additional challenges that intersections pose for cyclists and drivers sharing the road. •
  • That investments in cycling infrastructure be made in suburban settings as well. 
  • That connected networks of roads with paved shoulders are needed in rural settings, to allow for the much needed separation between cyclists and fast-travelling vehicles on rural roads. 
  • That the Ontario Drivers’ Manual be revised to include a comprehensive section on vehicle-bicycle interaction, and furthermore that the Ontario’s Drive Test include this in the examination of new drivers.  
  • That the ongoing delivery of bicycle safety education for young children through such programs as Can-Bike be supported, and that such training be mandatory for all Ontario primary school students. 
  • That education material for both drivers and cyclists emphasize intersection-specific dangers.  
  • That the use of bicycle helmets is strongly recommended, on and off road, for children and adults alike.

Note that helmets are mentioned last. Like the BCCC, while strongly recommending helmet use, their focus is on collision reduction.

… the prevention of collisions and falls is the much preferred solution. There are many head injuries that bicycle helmets cannot protect against, so the ultimate goal must be to prevent the falls and collisions that result in cyclists hitting their heads.

The only major point they missed was the importance motor vehicle speed reduction but still, great work by the CMA.

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The Battle of Hastings – The Need to Stop Deadly Secondhand Speed

Mythbusting
People are starting to realize the threat of motor vehicle speed to people walking, cycling and driving in cities. Earlier this week, Pete McMartin, had an excellent article in the Sun busting the myth that speeding to keep up with the flow of traffic is safer than following the speed limit. Unfortunately, this myth is dead wrong.

A majority of those surveyed — 52 per cent — also felt that all drivers should keep up with the flow of traffic regardless of the speed limit. If everyone was driving at 120 km/h, the feeling was, then it was safer that everyone travel at 120 km/h.

But according to a study done by the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it is speeding, not speed differences, that causes “significantly” more accidents. Nearly half of all accidents resulting in death, the IIHS found, were single-vehicle impacts where the comparative speeds of the vehicles involved played no role or a minor role.

In other words, most of the accepted wisdom about speeding was hooey.

Saving Lives on Hastings Street
In response to a lot of people being killed while walking across Hastings Street, City of Vancouver staff are recommending, in a report going before council at the Transportation and Traffic meeting on July 26, that the speed limit on Hastings Street between Abbot and Jackson Streets be reduced to 30km/h. In addition to improving the safety of pedestrians, this reduction in speed would also make Hastings Street safer and more comfortable to cycle on.


VPD Opposed
Surprisingly, the Vancouver Police Department has come out against this recommendation. In the comments by VPD spokesperson regarding this, they seem to be confusing speeding with speed. With overwhelming evidence that speeds over 30km/h are deadly to pedestrians and cyclists, it is clear that if traffic was travelling slower, lives would be saved. Even if speeding is not the cause of the collision, it is the speed that causes the fatal injuries. This position is even more puzzling since, in Canada, traffic collisions are the second leading cause of death for on duty officers.


Inevitable Mistakes Should not Result in Death
The reality is that no one is perfect. Both people in cars, on foot and on bicycles will make mistakes. When the inevitable mistakes are made, it is critical that motor vehicles are not going over 30km/h so the mistakes will not result in people dying.
As Vancouver is seen as a leader in BC, their support of safe speeds will encourage other communities to do the same. For example, Burnaby is already following Vancouver’s lead in signing bicycle routes.
Vancouver has been a leader in protecting people from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. Lets encourage them to be a leader in protecting people from deadly secondhand speed.


Email Mayor and Council
As usual, a very vocal minority will likely flood the airwaves and comment sections with angry responses to this critical safety initiative, it is important that you email Mayor Robertson and Council urging them to make safety the priority. Including accounts of the impact crashes have had on you and your family and friends can be very persuasive.

gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca, clranton@vancouver.ca, clrcadman@vancouver.ca, clrchow@vancouver.ca, clrdeal@vancouver.ca, clrjang@vancouver.ca, clrlouie@vancouver.ca, clrmeggs@vancouver.ca, clrreimer@vancouver.ca, clrstevenson@vancouver.ca, clrwoodsworth@vancouver.ca

It would also be a good idea to cc Chief Constable Jimmy Chu, chief@vpd.ca

Posted in Campaigns, Metro Vancouver | 1 Comment

Support Funding for the Evergreen Line and Cycling

The Metro Vancouver Council of Mayors has recommended a 2 cent gas tax to fund the Evergreen Line. In addition, they are also looking at other options with the Province including a graduated vehicle levy and a road pricing transportation improvement fee to fund further transit and cycling improvements. Cycling funding would increase from $3 million per year to $6 million per year. While the $3 million per year increase to the current $3 million in cycling funding is most welcome, it is still leaves the region $17 million short of the $23 million per year needed to complete a network of high quality bicycle routes throughout the region, it is a very important step forward.


TransLink will present the Moving Forward plan for public consultation over the next two weeks. As both the increase in gas taxes and the vehicle levy require provincial legislation, it is critical to show strong support across the province for increases in gas, vehicle levies, road pricing and carbon taxes to pay for transit and transit. According to the news report Premier sounding skeptical about proposed gas tax, the gas tax increase might be in trouble already. It is disappointing that the media in general has taken such a narrow view on the issue. 

Better transit can dramatically decrease the cost of getting around the region by providing people with more choices and decreasing the need for expensive highway expansion. The cost to drivers of the gas tax increase will be much less than the $6 a day it will cost drivers travelling over the new Port Mann Bridge. With hundreds of thousands of people expected to move to the region over the next few decades, improved transit and cycling facilities are really the only affordable options. It is critical that people who support cycling and rapid transit contact the Premier and other politicians in support of cycling, transit and gas tax increases.

As well, send letters to the editor and phone into radio shows. All the info is below.

Hon. Christy Clark Premier@gov.bc.ca 
Please cc your MLA. You can find their email address at: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm
As well, cc:
blair.lekstrom.mla@leg.bc.ca, kevin.falcon.mla@leg.bc.ca, mike.dejong.mla@leg.bc.ca, ida.chong.mla@leg.bc.ca, terry.lake.mla@leg.bc.ca, pat.bell.mla@leg.bc.ca,dawn.black.mla@leg.bc.ca, adrian.dix.MLA@leg.bc.ca, harry.bains.mla@leg.bc.ca, lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca
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Posted in Campaigns, Funding, Metro Vancouver | Leave a comment

Slow Down and Save Lives – 30 is the New 50

Image: copenhagenize.com

 

Motor vehicle speed reduction is a critical component of the BCCC’s comprehensive Cycling Strategy for BC that includes Cycling Safety Through Collision Reduction.

 

For people walking and cycling, motor vehicle speed is the major threat. Vision Zero - An ethical approach to safety and mobility, pioneered in Sweden, is a philosophy of road safety that eventually no one will be killed or seriously injured within the road transport system. They recommend a maximum speed of 30km/h at locations with possible conflict between pedestrians and cars which in many cities, would be pretty much all the streets. It acknowledges that people driving cars and walking will make mistakes and these mistakes should not result in people dying. The best way to do that is to lower speeds.

 

Higher speeds both increases the likelihood of collisions and increase the severity of collisions. Safe Kids Canada states that regarding pedestrian safety:

At speeds greater than 30-40 km/h, both drivers and pedestrians may be more likely to make mistakes in judging the time required to stop or cross the street safely.1 In addition, drivers are known to underestimate their speed.2 Reducing vehicle speed has proven to be effective in preventing crashes and reducing the severity of injuries.3

Even small reductions in vehicle speed can yield significant reductions in injury risk. It is estimated that a pedestrian struck by a car travelling at 50 km/hr is eight times more likely to be killed than someone hit at 30 km/h.4

As shown in the following graphs from The Impact of Lowered Speed Limits in Urban and Metropolitan Areas by J. Acher et al, the research is very compelling.
In the BBC article, 20mph speed zones cut road injuries by 40%, study says, Dr Chris Grundy, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimates that 20mph (32 km/h) zones in London would save 200 lives a year, increasing to 700 if the zones were extended.
Not surprisingly, lower speeds also correspond to higher levels of cycling. Cities in Europe with 30 km/h speed limits have cycling mode shares from between 25% and 30% compared to 2% to 3% in British cities. The Copenhagenize 30 km/h Zones Work is worth a read.

Strasbourg is lowering speeds throughout the city to 30km/h to improve safety of cyclists and pedestrians and as stated by the Mayor:

The public roads no longer belong to automobiles alone. They must be reimagined to be redistributed in a fairer manner between all forms of transportation. The protection of the most vulnerable is thus reinforced in zones in which all users have access but in which the pedestrian is king.

30 km/h Zones in Barcelona Photo: w3.bcn.es

 

Barcelona has already had encouraging results by lowering speed limits to 30 km/hr on 300km of single lane roads.  Their pilot project reduced injuries by 30%. They are now lowering speeds on all single lane streets to 30 km/hr. Thanks to Ryan Mijker for passing this example on.

 

In BC, we still have a ways to go. Municipalities across the province have repeatedly requested that the Province allow them to set blanket speed limits below 50 km/h. Given the lack of provincial action, the only option left to cities is to place 30 km/h signs on every block of a street which can be expensive and time consuming. Fortunately, the City of Vancouver is in the process of doing exactly this on bikeways. As well, in December 2011, the City of Burnaby adopted the recommendation for the trial installation of 30 km/h speed limit signs along sections of existing bikeways in two neighbourhoods.

 

Reducing vehicle speeds will also require traffic calming, education and enforcement but 30 km/h speed limits are the critical first step. It sends a clear message that people’s lives are more important than probably getting there a couple of minutes sooner. Emphasis on probably. A collision that is preventable by going slower may mean that they don’t arrive at all or at least delayed for hours at the scene.

 

Take Action

Please write Hon. Christy Clark Premier@gov.bc.ca  and urge the province step up and allow municipalities to set blanket speed limits below 50 km/h. After all, making streets safer for children is very family friendly.

Please cc your MLA. You can find their email address at: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm
As well, cc:
Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca, adrian.dix.MLA@leg.bc.ca, Claire.Trevena.MLA@leg.bc. ca
 

The City of Victoria is taking forward a motion to the Union Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) asking for a default speed limit of 40km/h down from the current  50km/h. Please encourage your city council to support this motion.

WHEREAS local governments are concerned about resident safety on municipal streets, and lower vehicle speeds reduce the severity of injuries to pedestrians in vehicle/pedestrian collisions;

AND WHEREAS consistent province-wide speed limits promote driver awareness and ease enforcement between municipalities;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM lobby the Province of British Columbia to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to limit the default speed limit on a highway in a municipality to 40 km and allocate implementation funds to assist municipalities in installing signage for higher speeds where appropriate.

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Cycling Safety Through Collision Reduction

We’ve been working on a comprehensive safety strategy for awhile now and here it is. Let us know what you think. It is based on what has proven to be successful in countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands where, as shown in the chart below, cycling levels are really high and cycling fatality rates are significantly lower than here.



Cycling Safety Through Collision Reduction
Cycling Fatalities J Pucher 2005

The BCCC recommends that the province and municipalities implement a comprehensive cycling safety strategy focused on reducing collisions while increasing cycling levels based on best practices from around the world combined with local experience and evidence. This strategy will help make cycling safe, accessible and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities, including children and seniors, through measures including:

Infrastructure – Complete networks of high-quality facilities including bicycle paths, separated bike lanes, traffic-calmed streets and paved shoulders on rural highways that provide the opportunity for safe interaction between cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.
Education – Universally available cycling education and skills training for children and adults. Cycling safety integrated into driver training and testing. On-going safety campaigns targeted at drivers and cyclists.
Maintenance – Prompt all-season maintenance of cycling facilities, roads and shoulders including prompt debris, snow and ice removal.
Hazard Removal – The elimination of hazards including poor surface treatments, blind spots and obstacles on cycling facilities, roads and shoulders.
Legislation – Updating provincial legislation, including the Motor Vehicle Act, to provide greater legal protection and comfort for cyclists and pedestrians in order to encourage these activities and to decrease the potential of collisions involving vulnerable road users.
Speed Reduction – Motor vehicle speed reductions through lower speed limits, traffic calming and enforcement.
Enforcement - Focused enforcement campaigns that maximize the safety of vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians.
Helmet Education – Encouraging the use of helmets through evidence-based education that accurately reflects the risk of cycling in different circumstances. Helmet marketing campaigns that exaggerate the risk of cycling and thus discourage people from cycling should be avoided.
Helmet Choice – As many jurisdictions which have implemented comprehensive crash reduction measures have cycling fatality rates dramatically lower than BC and also very low rates of helmet usage, we recommend allowing adults choice regarding helmet use by eliminating the mandatory helmet requirement for adult cyclists. This will enable enforcement resources to be focused on collision reduction and facilitate the successful introduction of bike share systems.
This strategy would both involve proactive measures to improve the safety of cycling routes and the skills of cyclists and motorists as well as the tracking of the locations and causes of cycling collisions, injuries and fatalities to guide targeted and effective infrastructure improvements, maintenance, education and enforcement efforts.

Posted in News | 7 Comments