Monday, March 2, 2020

New Governors Safety Report on Walking Raises Concern, Misses on Speed; Grant NA to try out Crossing Flags

Last week the Governors Highway Safety Association released their latest report on walking deaths and walking safety.

February 2020 report on 2019
It is an interesting and unfortunate rhyme that the cover image corresponds a little with our troubles on Market Street at Winter, right by the school.

People keep hitting stop sign on Market at Winter
(end of January and the installation last July)
Their press release singles out three points:
A number of trends offer insight into the many causes behind the rise in pedestrian fatalities:
  • Most pedestrian fatalities take place on local roads, at night and away from intersections, suggesting the need for safer road crossings and increased efforts to make pedestrians and vehicles more visible. During the past 10 years, the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 67%, compared to a 16% increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.
  • Many unsafe driving behaviors – such as speeding, distracted and drowsy driving – pose risks to pedestrians, and alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrian was reported in nearly half of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2018.
  • Pedestrians struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die as those struck by a car. Although passenger cars are the largest category of vehicles in fatal pedestrian crashes, the number of pedestrian fatalities over the past decade involving SUVs increased at a faster rate – 81% – than passenger cars, which increased by 53%.
But that cover image already shows something of a problem. If that florescent yellow sign keeps getting hit, then "efforts to make pedestrians...more visible" are perhaps not the signal issue and solution.

There is also the false equivalence about drunk walking, as if impaired walking posed the same problem as impaired driving. Our roads should work for kids and their levels of judgment. That means walking home from the bar or dinner with friends is a virtuous thing that should also be safe for adults, not an act punished with a road death and victim-blaming.
Too much false equivalence on drunk walking
Locally we've been using rolling five-year averages in safety assessment, and this gives a better sense for trends than six-month snapshots, which have more noise and variation in them. So I don't really know how much to emphasize this chart.

Six months is not a large sample
but Oregon is a little high comparatively
But the SUV problem is definitely real.

We have an SUV and truck problem
At the Niles lecture last October on walking safety, Angie Schmitt, formerly Streetsblog editor and now working on book on walking, especially highlighted that our shift to SUVs and trucks harms people not in cars, especially smaller humans, who sometimes do not clear the grill height and are invisible or less visible to drivers.

SUVs and trucks have a visibility problem
(via Schmitt's slide deck)
We've seen here a number of deaths involving drivers and their SUVs.

The report does not engage deeply enough the fundamental problem of speed. Not just speeding, but design speed, the 85th percentile doctrine, and lawful speed. Our norms for speed.

10mph makes a huge difference - via Placemakers

Even the Police said "eye-opening"
The Grant Neighborhood

The Grant Neighborhood meets on Thursday the 5th and it sounds like they'll be trying out a flag system for that crossing on Market Street at Winter.

Safe Routes posted about a flag system in Wyoming
From last month's minutes:
[A neighbor] brought paperwork about the “See Me Flags”equipment that is part of a program to slow down traffic and make drivers aware that a pedestrian wishes to cross at an intersection. He talked about an initial installation at the Grant School crossings on Market Street at Cottage and Winter streets.When the crossings are staffed by crossing guards, traffic is stopped and crossing is easy. But for after school or evening programs that let out after the guards are done for the day, crossing can be difficult, especially when it is dark. The flags are stored in a bin on a pole at each side of the crossing. The kit comes with 12 flags with reflective markings, two bins and two signs–for $200. A pedestrian wishing to cross removes a flag from the bin, hold sit out and/or waves it to signal to traffic that they wish to cross. Once traffic from both ways has come to a halt, the pedestrian crosses, with the flag, and deposits it in the bin on the opposite side. The flags could be removed during the summer months when darkness is not such a factor in being able to be seen by traffic and allowed to cross.
They'll get an update on the project.

While this may be helpful, it still puts the burden for safety on the person walking and is an expression of the traffic cone theory of safety (see note on that below!). But the burden should be on the person actually employing lethal force - the driver.

The Grant Neighborhood Association meeting is on Thursday the 5th at 6:15pm, at Grant Community School, 725 Market St NE

Generally on walking safety, see
And also:

This doesn't really belong here, but I'm not going to write an independent post, so I'll just park this here. Ride-hailing increases rather than decreases fatality rates. We already know they increase driving miles and make emissions worse. They're bad. As one person said, improved personal convenience for public harms.

Brand new study: TNCs don't help safety


Evan said...

Part of the fetishism with private chauffeur companies (ride hailing) is framing.

If we call them ride hailing (or worse, what they call themselves - ride sharing) they seem pretty innocuous. We forget they're often driving around with zero passengers - meaning they're worse than single-occupant vehicles for the city.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Additionally, Slate has a piece on the ride-rentals and alcohol, "The Drunk Men I Drive Around Every Night."

The availability of ride-rentals seems to increase drinking and binge drinking.