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#1 2012-03-18 00:00:23

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,210
Website

Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

Everyone, I hope you will go read this article right now:

http://www.statesman.com/news/local/inc … 44601.html

I've been waiting literally years for exactly this kind of article from the Statesman.  Brenda Bell hits all the bases:

* Ped deaths are WAY up.  2011 saw a whopping 83% increase over 2010, and this year it's slated to be even higher than 2011.

* This happens at the same time that fatalities from car-on-car crashes are falling (here and nationally), so the proportion of ped deaths is skyrocketing.

* One-third of the car-on-ped fatalities this year were hit-and-runs.

* The penalties for hit-and-runs are weak.  Our Police Chief Acevedo recommends (drumroll)... License Revocation!  Yes!  Go Chief!

* While many (most?) police are quick to blame peds for ped deaths, so many of the local ped deaths are squarely the fault of motorists.  In one recent case, the car killed the ped *on the sidewalk*.

* Last year when APD ran their Pedestrian Education and Safety Team (aka PEST, cough cough), they ticketed 1336 tickets and warnings to peds, and only 174 to drivers.  (In 2010 it was even worse, with only 7% of the auto-ped warnings/tickets going to drivers.)

* APD has issued only eight citations total (four per year) for the 3-foot passing law for drivers passing cyclists.

Great reporting from the Statesman!

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#2 2012-03-18 19:59:32

bizikletari
Member
Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

MichaelBluejay wrote:

* APD has issued only eight citations total (four per year) for the 3-foot passing law for drivers passing cyclists.

APD's police chief Acevedo refuses to merely mantain a database of reports from citizens who have been victims from driver aggressions. Much less to act on such reports.

Chief Acevedo expressed quite clearly his position on such matters at an ACA-organised meeting a couple of years ago: On his view, if an officer does not witness an aggression from a motorist; APD will not do anything, period.
It was suggested to him to, at least, mantain a database with those reports to be aware of repeated offenders. He thought APD did not have the resources to keep an excel sheet.

He had a similar rationale to do nothing with regard to violations from Austin's safe pass ordinance or with the texting ban. Wasn't there, sorry.

How can we expect APD suddenly to become cyclists and pedestrians defending champion when APD's chief himself seems to be hesitant to understand those are people with all the right to be on the road?

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#3 2012-03-18 20:38:56

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,210
Website

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

bizikletari wrote:

APD's police chief Acevedo refuses to merely mantain a database of reports from citizens who have been victims from driver aggressions. Much less to act on such reports.

And what exactly would you want APD to *do* with that database were they to put the effort into maintaining it?  Do you think it's a good idea for action to be taken against citizens based on hearsay?

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#4 2012-03-18 21:46:09

bizikletari
Member
Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

Well, it could help to see patterns of behaviour.
It could pinpoint a dangerous driver from whom it has been reported aggressive driving on numerous occassions from, perhaps, different victims.
It could create a safe space where people could feel they have the right to expect their grievances be heard, and if they do merit legal action, to see that action to occur.
It could help to create a sense of common goals and community between APD and the citizenry.

Just some silly ideas from the top of my head at this time of the day.  Only, perhaps, I'll add that we shouldn't light-heartedly call "hearsay" what a shaken and terrified person is reporting after a chance encounter with road rage.

By the way, mantaining a sql database is not rocket science; but if it looks too cumbersome, a simple excel spreadsheet could well suffice. This, I doubt it will carry too hefty a burden on APD's budget.

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#5 2012-03-18 22:18:17

MichaelBluejay
Webmaster
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,210
Website

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

Well, it looks like this kind of database does happen elsewhere.  Colorado, for example, maintains a database, and after three complaints a driver will get a warning letter.  Further complaints will merit a visit from a trooper.

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/St … 1594510991

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#6 2012-03-19 09:23:28

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 142

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

The state sends out warning letters if you report a litterer or a polluting vehicle.  Austin could do the same for these drivers.

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#7 2012-03-19 10:00:49

savanni
Member
From: Austin
Registered: 2011-04-30
Posts: 82
Website

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

If nothing else, this provides sound bites with some backing to throw at people who complain about cyclists breaking the law.

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#8 2012-03-19 10:09:18

jmayson
Member
Registered: 2008-06-28
Posts: 46

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

I might have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again just in case.

I lived much of my life in Florida.  I reported an aggressive driver and was told in no uncertain terms by a deputy that he was not allowed to compile reports on such drivers because it would violate their civil rights.  I thought it was pathetic excuse.  Certainly they collected information about other criminals, right?

But perhaps not.  In another part of the state I reported what was very obviously drug activity in my apartment complex and they told me there was nothing they could do.  I suggested they send someone over in plain clothes to buy drugs and I was informed that was entrapment.  Huh?

If the local police would enforce traffic laws instead of yacking on their cell phones some of this would change.

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#9 2012-03-19 15:04:37

damicoaustin
Member
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 143
Website

Re: Fantastic Statesman article on ped & cycling deaths

I've been through all this with police on several occasions. It has nothing to do with civil rights. Cops are told not to bother with these complaints because there are so many of them, and thus, they don't want to spend the time and effort trying to follow up on something they won't have evidence for.  Imagine how many calls APD gets in a day for aggressive drivers!

My view, though, is that if a citizen truly wants to file a complaint, then APD should at least try to do something about it. They don't have to act on hearsay. I once asked an officer to go to the drivers house and ask them if they did what I accused them of. (Of course, he refused.)

I also proposed a database in the past, and the idea went nowhere with APD. I think APD needs to wake up on the value of something like this. Drivers will always be able to get out of any kind of punishment based on database complaints, but at least they will be put on notice, and someone might actually change their behavior. For those that refuse, I'm not sure what could be done...but at least this is a start.

I do however worry about unintended consequences. This stuff is public record. Imagine if insurance companies start mining the data to confront customers with the information for rate hikes...which wouldn't be so bad unless you have an ex or someone intent on getting you back that files spurious complaints. A bit far fetched, but something to think about.

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