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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Cycling is a popular activity in Nevada, with people cycling to work, to school, for exercise, or just for pleasure. However, it is an undeniable fact that, along with pedestrians, cyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users. In 2011, figures show that 677 cyclists were killed on America’s roads in accidents between bikes and motor vehicles, and a further 38,000 were injured. These alarming figures show how important it is that measures are taken to make cycling a safer activity for all concerned.

Roads no longer fit for purpose

One option for improving road safety that is receiving increasing support is the concept of Complete Streets. According to the Complete Streets Coalition, the initiative involves the development of road networks that are “safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.”

An article written for the Federal Highways Administration acknowledges that the current road network doesn’t meet this standard. It highlights the fact that roads were originally designed to ensure that motorized traffic could move through the road network as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, although this is good news for motorists, it doesn’t take into account the needs of other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians – a fact that is clearly demonstrated in the number of road casualty statistics.

Considering the needs of cyclists in road design

Local authorities and health bodies are keen to promote cycling for its health and environmental credentials; however there has not yet been a corresponding increase in investment and initiatives to facilitate this cycling and to keep cyclists safe.

Towns and cities that implement a Complete Streets policy would ensure that the road networks developed by transportation planners would always be built with all possible road users in mind and not just cars. This would mean that the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation vehicles were considered and accounted for.

Unfortunately, even the safest of roads, designed with every road safety and accident prevention measure available, will still see the occasional accident because planners can’t account for random events, or the possibility of human error. As a result, it is important that cyclists always ensure they have the appropriate level of insurance cover for their bikes. UK bicycle insurance comparison website money.co.uk advises consumers to think carefully about what they need their insurance policy to cover. Bikes can be expensive and represent a significant investment on the part of their owners, so most cyclists will want protection against the risk of theft and accidental damage. However, considering the inherent risks involved in cycling on busy roads, it may also be worth including coverage for some level of personal accident insurance, as well as third-party liability to ensure they are covered for any damage they may inadvertently cause to another road user.

Common road hazards

Evidence shows that vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians are put at risk when they use roads that don’t take into account the needs of these groups. Common hazards include a lack of safe places to cross a busy road, wait for a bus or cycle.

According to the Complete Streets Coalition, there were more than 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists killed on roads in the US in 2008, and a further 120,000 injured. Figures have shown that road accidents involving pedestrians are twice as common in areas without sidewalks. Unsurprisingly, these accidents are least common on roads that have sidewalks on both sides.

Effective road safety measures

The Complete Streets philosophy doesn’t mandate the same design of road layout for all areas, but instead recognizes that the needs of road users will differ depending on where the road is. For example, a road in a rural area will have different levels of use than a road in a heavily built-up urban area. However, all roads designed to meet the Complete Streets standards will have one thing in common – finding the right balance of safety and convenience to meet the needs of all road users.

The types of measures that might be included in a road layout designed with Complete Streets in mind could include:

  • Widening roads to provide dedicated space for different users, such as cyclists, public transport and car drivers.
  • Providing regular and safe crossing points for pedestrians.
  • Better placement of bus stops.

According to the Complete Streets Coalition, a number of studies into bicyclist safety found that the inclusion of well-designed infrastructure specific to the needs of cyclists led to a reduction in the risk of cyclists crashing or sustaining an injury. For example, the inclusion of dedicated bicycle lanes was found to reduce accident rates by around 50%.

Adopting a Complete Streets philosophy needn’t be expensive or complicated, but can have a major impact on road safety, as demonstrated by the figures relating to the introduction of cycle lanes. Any investment into achieving Complete Streets that town and road planners are prepared to make will see major returns in the form of a reduction in the number of deaths and injuries on the roads. – Jennifer Knight

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bicycle loop detector

Three bills important to Nevada bicyclists are before the legislature in this 2013 legislative session. If you’re a bicyclist, a quick note to your Assembly Member or Senator, voicing your support, will make a difference when they are deciding how to vote. The first to be heard is…

AB117 – Left Turn on Red

Isn’t it frustrating to be waiting for a green arrow so you can make a left turn and you discover that the detector loop hasn’t recognized you? What do you do? If you’re like me, you wait to see if it’s going to pick you up on the next cycle. Sometimes I wiggle around to try to make it see me. Then, if I don’t get a green, I “run” the red light, violating the traffic law and risking a citation.

It turns out that motorcyclists have this problem, too. It’s not the mass of the vehicle or the weight that triggers the signal, I’ve recently learned. It’s the metal surface area and orientation of that metal that triggers the detector.

AB117 addresses those legal issues. Here is the formal title on the bill:

Title: “AN ACT relating to rules of the road; allowing a person driving a motorcycle, moped or trimobile or riding a bicycle or an electric bicycle to proceed through an intersection against a red traffic signal in certain circumstances; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

Essentially what it says is that it will now be legal to ride through a red left turn signal that has failed to detect you if 1) you have sat through two cycles of the light and 2) you have yielded to all of the other traffic. Probably the most important aspect of the bill is that it clarifies who is responsible in a collision. Since the bicyclist or motorcyclist riding through the red left turn signal is always required to yield to other traffic, in a collision he or she is always at fault.

AB117 will be a law that makes legal what all safe cyclists do already. That is a good thing.

Please send a note of support to the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees and your representatives:

Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, Chair – Richard.Carrillo@asm.state.nv.us

Senator Mark A. Manendo, Chair – Mark.Manendo@sen.state.nv.us

Find out who represents you here – – http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

All you need to say is something like this, “I’m a bicyclist in ____________, Nevada. I support AB117 and urge you to vote for its passage”.

Here’s another way, through the system, to express your opinion – https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/77th2013/A/

Here’s a link to the full AB117 – http://legiscan.com/NV/text/AB117/id/741841

And here’s a link fpr advice on triggering the light – http://youtu.be/Sj-mNB6dLkk

(Next up is AB145 – Complete Streets)

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raindeer

Happy Holidays!
Your friends at the Nevada Bicycle Coalition

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Reno Bike Project is calling it the “3 Sweet Feet Ride”. I’ve been calling it the “Bicycle Awareness Ride”. Whatever you call Saturday’s mass of bicyclists, it’s going to be fun and could be a really important event for the future of Reno & Sparks bicycling.

We have plenty to celebrate:
• Reno/Sparks was just named a bronze level “Bicycle Friendly Community”
• Nevada law now requires motorists to give bicycles 3 feet of space when passing from behind
• A motorist who causes injury to a bicyclist or pedestrian faces the increased penalties of a reckless driving offense, including possible loss of license, community service and jail
• Nevada law now prohibits hand-held cell phones and texting by motorists, reducing driver distractions

Not only will we be celebrating these accomplishments, we’ll be sending a message to motorists that they must share the roads with bicyclists and that the rules of the road have changed.

Come ride with us on Saturday, October 1st!

Start / End – Reno City Hall Plaza, 1st Street and South Virginia Street, Reno

Route – we’ll ride mostly on 4th Street and Prater Way to Sparks City Hall at a leisurely pace and return mostly on Victorian Avenue and the Truckee River Bike Path: 8 miles total.

When – Assemble in the Plaza from 9:30 to 10:30 and get a chance to thank the bicyclist friendly politicians who made these new laws possible. Teresa Benitez-Thompson, author of the law that increased penalties for injuring a bicyclist, plans to ride with us.

Park a few blocks away and bicycle to the Plaza or park in the Cal-Neva garage.

Wear your “3 Feet Please” jersey or t-shirt, if you’ve got one.

Win a jersey! The first 50 bicyclists to arrive at the plaza get a ticket to win a “3 Feet Please” jersey (that’s 50 chances to win one jersey, better odds than the casinos offer).

Rules of the Road – no streets will be closed and no special police escort is planned, although I expect them to be keeping an eye on us. I promised we would obey all of the rules of the road:
• Bicyclists have all of the rights and duties of motorists
• Ride no more than two abreast and single file if to do otherwise impedes traffic
• Obey all traffic signs and signals

Have Fun!

Hope to see you there!

Terry – 775-287-7142 for questions

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Riding with the flow of traffic

About 50% of all bicycle crashes involve falls, often caused by road surface hazards, like potholes, loose gravel, cattle guards, storm grates, etc. Another 33% involve animals, other bikes or something besides a motor vehicle. Only 17% of bicycle crashes involve motor vehicles.

Yesterday I saw 3 separate bicyclists riding against traffic on Reno’s Mill Street in a 3 minute period. No doubt they chose that side because they felt safer facing traffic or crossing Mill was inconvenient enough to keep them there. Here is a breakdown of the causes of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions, the 17% of all crashes:

Who is at fault?

Action

%

Bicyclist Wrong-way riding facing traffic

14%

Bicyclist Left turn from the right side of the road

11%

Bicyclist Failure to yield from driveway

9%

Bicyclist Running a stop sign or signal

8%

Bicyclist Swerving in front of car *

5%

Total Bicyclist

47%

Motorist Left turn in front of the bicyclist

13%

Motorist Right turn in front of the bicyclist

11%

Motorist Running a stop sign or signal

8%

Motorist Opening car door into path of bicyclist

7%

Motorist Failure to yield from driveway

6%

Motorist Didn’t see the cyclist *

3%

Total Motorist

48%

Undetermined

5%

* Cyclists hit from behind are included here

It seems to me that if I avoid road surface hazards, don’t crash into another bicyclist or curb, don’t do those things on the top of the list, and look out for motorists doing the things on the bottom of the list, I can be pretty safe on my bicycle.

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Bike lanes are great for bicyclists and that’s were I feel the safest. But it can be frustrating when the bike lane is full of debree, construction signs and parked cars. Not to mention being surprised by a Vespa going twice my speed.

This is an amusing video sure, but it rings true.

Motorists are pretty sure that we are required to ride in a bike lane if there is one. I almost always do. But NV law has no such requirement.

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Bike Advocacy Corner

Members of MusclePower, the Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board and the Nevada Bicycle Coalition met and sorted through all of the potential pro-bicyclist legislation that could be requested this legislative session. A child helmet bill, the Idaho stop sign law, and the 3 foot passing rule were among those considered. What made the cut was a Vulnerable Roadway Users bill similar to the one in Oregon. State Assembly Member Teresa Benitas-Thompson agreed to co-sponsor it with David Bobzien.

Assembly Rep Benitez-Thompson & Lilly

We haven’t seen the bill draft yet but it should look a lot like the Oregon law. The Oregon Vulnerable Roadway Users Law defines a new class of “vulnerable” road user and proscribes new, tougher penalties for careless driving leading to serious injury or death of one of these users.  In Oregon a “vulnerable user” means a pedestrian, a highway worker, a person riding an animal or a person operating any of the following on a public way, crosswalk or shoulder of the highway: a farm tractor or implement of husbandry; a skateboard; roller skates; in-line skates; a scooter; or a bicycle.

This law requires a court to sentence a person convicted of this offense to complete a traffic safety course, perform 100 to 200 hours of community service, pay a fine of up to $12,500, and suspension of driving privileges for one year. Payment of the fine and suspension of driving privileges may be waived by the court upon completion of the traffic safety course and community service.

To my way of thinking, the point of this is to give the judge a bigger hammer when the careless motorist says something like, “Bicyclists belong on the sidewalk” or “It was the bicyclist’s own fault for being in the road”. Of course the other point is to somehow balance the power and protection a motorist enjoys against the lack of power and protection of a vulnerable user by making the motorist more “vulnerable”.

You can help with the e-mail and letter campaign or come to Carson City to testify when the bill is being considered. If you want to roam the halls of the capital talking to legislators or to find other vulnerable users to testify, please let me know. We could use your help. I’ll keep you posted – Terry

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