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Old 05-21-14, 07:30 AM   #1
genec
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How poorly designed are our streets?

Our streets and laws are generally designed for the convenience of the motor vehicle operator... not the safety of all those that may be using the road. Our streets could be safer. For one thing right on red is really a terrible thing for pedestrians. Left crossing turns with a walk signal are also equally dangerous.

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“There's been an epidemic of traffic fatalities and it can’t go on,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
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....because of the way Americans have designed their streets for hundreds of years — essentially viewing pedestrian fatalities as the cost of doing business, as the collateral damage of speed and progress.

“Traditionally we build assuming that drivers and pedestrians will do the right thing even though we know that humans are flawed,”

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Data on traffic deaths tells a complicated story. Historically they are down — from a high of 1,360 pedestrians killed in New York in 1929, for instance, to a low of 286 last year. But in some places they are creeping up — in San Francisco, Sophia Liu’s was the 20th pedestrian fatality of 2013, the highest toll in that city in seven years. And in New York, the adoption of many pedestrian safety programs by the Bloomberg administration — 20 mph speed limits around schools, for instance, and the conversion of 180 acres of road to things like public plazas, bike lanes and public plazas — has had a counter- intuitive effect. Overall vehicle deaths in that city have decreased by 30 percent since 2001, but pedestrian death rates in particular stayed essentially the same, if not a little higher.

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The way to fix nearly every one of these streets, urban planners explain, is to slow them down. Implementing a “road diet,” for instance, in which four lanes of traffic are reduced to two travel lanes, one central turning lane, and a mixture of bike lanes and plantings along the sides, have been shown to reduce serious collisions by 30 percent, Schneider says.

Or a “2+1 Road,” where each lane of traffic takes turns using the middle lane to pass and turn — which is credited for saving 145 lives in Sweden during the first ten years of Vision Zero.


So can our roads be redesigned and rebuilt to make them safer? Can the laws be changed to cause motorists to drive in a safer manner?

http://news.yahoo.com/cooper-s-story...200552242.html

Certainly... but is there the will to do so?
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Old 05-21-14, 07:49 AM   #2
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There have been stories of grumpy firemen in a hurry busting out windows of a car parked in front of a hydrant to run a hose through the car's interior -- I wonder how they'll treat bikes parked in front of a hydrant (jaws of life...)...
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Old 05-21-14, 08:30 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
There have been stories of grumpy firemen in a hurry busting out windows of a car parked in front of a hydrant to run a hose through the car's interior -- I wonder how they'll treat bikes parked in front of a hydrant (jaws of life...)...
If there is such a case such as you described, more likely our local firemen would use this tool.
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Old 05-21-14, 08:33 AM   #4
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I like chicanes and traffic islands. My brother lives on a street that is very long, so I guess people would speed to their houses. They put in traffic islands every 100 feet, and it really does slow people down. Same for chicanes, they did that downtown here for a couple of blocks and it has been very effective. Since there was only parking on one side of the street anyway, it makes sense. I would like traffic islands on my street, people go down it, realize it's dead end, and then go speeding back out. I think a few traffic islands would stop that pretty well.
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Old 05-21-14, 08:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Our streets and laws are generally designed for the convenience of the motor vehicle operator...
....and there lies the problem, especially in areas that generally see few non motorized road users. Locally, many streets in my city that have seen any traffic calming measures implemented were due to high rates of collisions between motor vehicles.
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Old 05-21-14, 08:51 AM   #6
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In my experience, most motorists(voters) are totally intolerant of any traffic calming measure and will fight tooth, nail and campaign contribution to eliminate any supporter of anything that slows them down.
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Old 05-21-14, 08:58 AM   #7
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Radio yesterday-NPR maybe
Mentioned that traffic deaths-car wrecks-steadily decreasing
But pedestrian deaths-especially in some areas-ARE INCREASING
The explanation-for Florida-was many of the cities in FLA were "built" post WW2 when the economy boomed
These new cities were designed with efficient car transportation in mind.
Pedestrians were barely considered.
No malice intended-folks back then thought were would be "transported" by various machines-
heck it was predicted that people would actually commute with "private flying devices" helicopters of a sort-in the not too distant future.
So no surprise cities designed with ONLY car transportation in mind-won't be safe for pedestrians and bikes.

-Many suburbs don't have sidewalks along main streets.
I kinda doubt the bikes will ever play a big role in transportation(or reduction of our CO2 production problem)-but walking does and will.
Hard/expensive to retrofit those cities.
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Old 05-21-14, 11:46 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Our streets and laws are generally designed for the convenience of the motor vehicle operator... not the safety of all those that may be using the road. Our streets could be safer. For one thing right on red is really a terrible thing for pedestrians. Left crossing turns with a walk signal are also equally dangerous. ...
First of all, Right on Red was law in California for decades, and slowly rolled out through the USA during the energy crisis as a fuel saving measure, not for driver convenience. It's usually not the law, where pedestrian traffic is high (all of NYC for example), and localities are usually free to busy intersections No right on red exceptions.

As for the proposed street plan. Note my objections apply to NYC reality and may not apply elsewhere.

1- Benches on Chicanes, most neighborhoods will object because these tend to become hangouts for the homeless, and locals don't tend to use them (who wants to sit around looking at a busy city street?)
2- chicanes on the left become obstacles for bicycles, interrupting the laminar flow. Cyclists in NYC keep left on one ways, especially if cars are parked on the right. The plan gives them the lousy choice of riding tight in a door zone, or on the left in and among the chicanes. If chaicanes are proposed they need to be on the same side of the street as the car parking lane. The proposed bike parking can share the chicane.
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Old 05-21-14, 12:05 PM   #9
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1- Benches on Chicanes, most neighborhoods will object because these tend to become hangouts for the homeless, and locals don't tend to use them (who wants to sit around looking at a busy city street?)
Hmm, I'm not sure about this. The ones that were installed in my neighborhood (Fort Greene / Clinton Hill Brooklyn) seem to be used a lot, by locals just reading or chatting or having a coffee. It seems to depend on where they put them. Near coffee shops and stores = lots of use. Where they install chicanes, etc, in residential areas they don't tend to have benches, just flowerpots and such. I like them, I do think it slows down traffic.

I totally agree with what you said about the location of chicanes.
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Old 05-21-14, 12:40 PM   #10
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Personally I think most traffic calming solutions are an illusion, at least on major streets.

They do not on net calm traffic, they just shift it elsewhere.

Same holds for side streets, but there shifting traffic elsewhere seems more of a legitimate goal.
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Old 05-21-14, 02:08 PM   #11
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Personally I think most traffic calming solutions are an illusion, at least on major streets.

They do not on net calm traffic, they just shift it elsewhere.

Same holds for side streets, but there shifting traffic elsewhere seems more of a legitimate goal.
I disagree. I subconsciously drive slower if the street has parked cars or is lined with trees. Will some drivers shift to other routes? Of course, but the majority will stay and maybe be inspired to ride/walk when they see others doing it.

Everyone at work who lives within 10 miles and has expressed interest in riding to work won't because 1) roads are dangerous (fast cars, no bike lanes, texting drivers) or 2) personal appearance (messed up hair, sweaty, etc.). If we can take away excuse #1 , we will see a lot more people bicycling for transportation. Lancaster's bicycle advocacy groups are working hard to get some useable bike lane networks connecting the city to the suburbs.
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Old 05-22-14, 04:01 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
There have been stories of grumpy firemen in a hurry busting out windows of a car parked in front of a hydrant to run a hose through the car's interior -- I wonder how they'll treat bikes parked in front of a hydrant (jaws of life...)...
Depending on the position of the they could actually run the hose through the bike frame. But a cyclist should not lock there bike up next to a fire hydrant, or next to a fire lane.
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