Make Our Roads Safer for Everyone
The BC Road Safety Strategy has a lot of good recommendations that if implemented, would make our roads much safer for everyone cycling, walking and driving. Unfortunately, the vast majority of policy measures have not been implemented and infrastructure changes have not been made on the scale needed to make much of a difference.
Not surprisingly, the result has been increased crashes and higher ICBC rates. It is time the BC Government got really serious about road safety.
One key measure that we strongly support is reducing driving by providing people with excellent cycling, walking and transit choices. Sadly, the government has been underinvesting in cycling, walking and transit for decades giving many no reasonable cycling, walking and transit options.
Safer Speed Limits
Slower speeds decrease the number and severity of crashes and are especially important to make our reads safer for people walking and cycling.
- Reduced speed limits on highways
- Giving communities the authority to set default speed limits below 50 km/h
- Default 30 km/h on local roads
The ICBC review by Ernst & Young covered in a Vancouver Sun article supported the following measures:
- Increasing the number of red light cameras at intersections and using them for automated speed enforcement
- Automated speed cameras which international research has shown could cut fatal and serious collisions by more than a third
- Really cracking down on distracted driving with increased penalties and greater enforcement
- Doubling the number of roadside breath tests and significantly increasing penalties.
Thank you for supporting safer roads for everyone cycling, walking and driving BC. Your letter really helps!
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BC Cycling Coalition
Please join me in helping to make BC safer for people who cycle, walk and drive.
Send a email to let the Premier and Ministers know you want transportation choices; more enforcement of drunk and distracted driving laws; automated speed enforcement; and lower speed limits to help protect you and your loved ones.
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Tell them about your experiences of riding on BC's roads and dealing with traffic. It only takes a minute or two and will really help make a difference!
Due to increased crashes, BC is facing a road safety crisis. So far, the Government has not committed to dramatically improving cycling and walking choices, which can be very effective in improving road safety, reducing injures, fatalities and ICBC's costs. Please email the Premier The BC Road Safety Strategy 2015 states: These smart modes of transportation include walking, cycling and public transport. By reducing private car use, these other travel modes reduce the motor vehicle crash rate, encourage healthy physical activity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint. The BC Government has taken a few good steps to improve road safety including committing to using red light cameras for speed enforcement but clearly that is not enough. From A New Traffic Safety Paradigm by Todd Litman, page 14: Total (all mode) per capita traffic fatality rates tend to decline as active transport mode shares increase in U.S. urban regions, as illustrated below. Cities with active mode shares over 10% average about half the traffic fatality rates as those with active mode shares under 5%. Relatively modest investments can increase active mode travel and safety. For example, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program invested about $100 per capita in pedestrian and cycling improvements in four typical U.S. communities, which caused walking trips to increase 23% and cycling trips to increase 48%, mostly for utilitarian purposes (FHWA 2014). Despite this increase in their exposure, pedestrian fatalities declined 20% and bicycle fatalities 29%, causing per-mile fatality rates to decline 36% for pedestrians and 52% for bicyclists. For BC, we are recommending $100 million per year be invested by the BC Government in bike paths, sidewalks and other active transportation improvements. With matching funds from municipalities, the Federal Government and TransLink, this should increase cycling mode share to over 10% and walking to around 10%. Based on the results from the states, this could cut traffic fatalities in half in communities around BC. Source, and More Info A New Traffic Safety Paradigm | Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute Image:Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Using red light cameras for speed enforcement should help make intersections significantly safer for people walking and cycling. This is particularly important as those walking and cycling represent 38% of fatalities at intersections according to the Provincial Health Officer (Reducing the Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes on Health and Well-being in BC page 125). For example, according to the City of Vancouver Cycling Safety Study (page 47), 48% of cycling crashes on designated bike ways and 34% of crashes on arterials happen at intersections. As more protected bike lanes are built around CB, the percentage of cycling collisions at intersections will increase. The good news is that the BC Government is upgrading red light cameras to catch speeders at dangerous intersections. The BC Cycling Coalition strongly encouraged this in our letter of July 2017 to Attorney General Eby. However, the BC Government need to ensure vehicles are travelling slow enough to prevent fatal crashes with cyclists and pedestrians. Of concern is the following statement by Attorney General Eby: “These are fixed cameras, you can put up a big sign that says if you speed through this intersection at 20 kilometres an hour or more, you’re going to get a ticket guaranteed,” Even crashes at speeds of 50 km/h are likely to be fatal to those cycling and walking so the slower the better. If the speed limit is 50 km/h, 20 km/h over is 70 km/h. Still way to fast to avoid serious injuries or fatalities especially in crashes involving people walking and cycling. The Government should consider at least a small fine for even 5 km/h over the speed limit at intersections popular with people cycling and walking and even better, lower the speed limit to 30 km/h. Please Write the Premier and Ministers supporting the use red light cameras for speed control and encouraging them to lower the speeds enough to prevent cycling and walking fatalities.
Reducing Excessive Driving Speeds in Designated BC Road Safety Corridors, For All Drivers, All The TimeMore good news from the UBCM Conference! The mayors and councillors passed a resolution in support of using average-speed-over-distance or point-to-point speed enforcement to improve safety on roads including the Sea-to-Sky Highway 99 at Lions Bay, the Malahat Highway 1 or the Coquihalla Highway 5. The high motor vehicle speeds make cycling on these critically connections unsafe and uncomfortable. Please email the Premier in support speed enforcement on dangerous highways. Resolution B103 Reducing Excessive Driving Speeds in Designated BC Road Safety Corridors, For All Drivers, All The Time, states: Whereas the correlation between excessive speed and road accidents is well accepted, and the high human and economic cost to British Columbia is well understood; And whereas average-speed-over-distance or point-to-point technology has proven extremely effective in jurisdictions worldwide at controlling road speed for all drivers all the time in designated road safety corridors: Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government be requested to pilot average-speed-over-distance technology at one or more suitable locations in BC, including but not limited to the Sea-to-Sky Highway 99 at Lions Bay, the Malahat Highway 1 or the Coquihalla Highway 5. Thanks to Lions Bay for moving this resolution forward and to all the mayors and councillors who voted for safer roads! More information here.
Some good news! Speed cameras will be coming to 35 intersections this summer. This is a badly needed measure that will make our roads safer for everyone cycling, walking and driving. Minister Farnworth says, “We’ve taken time to systematically pinpoint the locations linked to crashes and dangerous speeds that are best suited to safely catching, ticketing and changing the behaviours of those who cause carnage on B.C. roads.” The BC Cycling Coalition strongly encouraged this in our letter of July 2017 to Attorney General Eby. Thanks to all of you that have sent emails in support of safer speeds. Shockingly, many vehicles are barrelling through intersections at 30 km/h over the 50 km/h limit. This is really dangerous behaviour that must be stopped. Even crashes at speeds of 50 km/h are likely to be fatal to those cycling and walking so the slower the better. If the speed limit is 50 km/h, 20 km/h over is 70 km/h. The Government should consider at least a small fine for even 5 km/h over the speed limit at intersections popular with people cycling and walking and even better, lower the speed limit to 30 km/h. While this is a badly needed improvement, speed cameras are needed at far more than 35 intersections. Please write the Premier in support of speed cameras. Let him know what intersections in your community you would like speed cameras at.
Motor vehicle speed reduction through road design, enforcement and eduction is a key component of the comprehensive Active Transportation Strategy that we are encouraging the Province to implement. We recommend: A default speed limit of 30 km/h on all residential streets Allowing municipalities to blanket speed limits under 50 km/h More funding for traffic calming Email the Premier regarding safer speedsFor 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. 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.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.
Sadly, the speed limit increases on some rural highways in 2014 lead to an significant increase in fatalities, injuries, crashes according to a new study. Email the Minister for Lower Speed Limits From the Vancouver Sun: “Our evaluation found increases in fatalities, injury, and total crashes on the road segments where speed limits were increased,” according to the report, published in a journal called Sustainability. The study was led by Vancouver General Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Jeff Brubacher, and co-authors included road safety engineers at the UBC Okanagan campus. “There was a marked deterioration in road safety on the affected roads. The number of fatal crashes more than doubled (118 per cent increase) on roads with higher speed limits.” “All of the pro-speed arguments, like the one that people were already driving over the speed limit, have been disproven in this research. The pro-speed advocates who’ve lobbied for speed limit increases have based their view on crappy data at the time. The mistake should be admitted and speed rolled back because, from a safety point of view, it was the wrong decision,” he said. Report co-author Gord Lovegrove, a transportation engineering expert and associate professor at UBC Okanagan, said the government should have acted sooner, given that his research team shared data with the government before study publication. These speed limit increases have also made cycling less safe and comfortable on roads which are often the only connections between communities. In addition to lower speed limits, we also recommend the following. Adequate cycling facilities can be provided through a variety of means, including: Physically separated bike lanes, preferably directional and properly integrated into intersection design; High quality bike paths within highway rights-of-way, with safe and efficient crossings of intersecting roads; A high quality bike path outside of a highway right-of-way could be an option if it involved no substantive increase in distance or grade. Sufficient shoulder width should account for the following factors: Speed of traffic on the adjacent roadway; The volume of buses, large trucks and RV’s, bearing in mind wind turbulence and off-tracking on corners; The presence of significant cross-winds and grades (cyclists need more space for weaving when climbing or negotiating cross-winds and avoiding obstacles when descending); The presence and condition of rumble strips, drainage grates and road-side barriers, all of which can reduce useable space and collect debris; How frequently debris accumulates and how quickly it is cleared. More information here. Photo: PNG
Your generous contribution will really help our efforts to encourage the Government to make roads safer for everyone cycling, walking and driving. Priorities include:
- Decreasing driving by providing people with more cycling, walking and transit choices
- Safer speed limits on highways and in communities
- Increasing the number of red light cameras at intersections and using them for automated speed enforcement
- Automated speed cameras which could cut fatal & serious collisions by more than 1/3
- Cracking down on distracted driving with increased penalties and greater enforcement
- Doubling the number of roadside breath tests and significantly increasing penalties