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#1 2017-11-23 02:06:53

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,045
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Austin pedestrian danger stats are a mixed bag

From:  https://smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design/

BAD:  The Austin metro area is more dangerous for peds than big metro areas like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia.  We're also in the top half of the most dangerous metro areas in the U.S.

GOOD:  The Austin metro area is the 47th most dangerous of the 105 largest metro areas in the U.S.  Since Austin is #11 by population, we're doing much better than our population ranking would suggest.

MEDIUM:  47th out of 105 puts us close to the middle of all cities for pedestrian danger (though it won't surprise anyone that we're on the bad side of "close to the middle").


In related news, a KVUE article says it's not just bad drivers and careless pedestrians who are to blame for the huge number of ped deaths here, it's also bad infrastructure (though the article goes into absolutely no detail about that).  Austin's made some strides recently in building out the embarrassingly underbuilt sidewalk system.  Will it make a difference?  We'll see.  But as I always say, we can build infrastructure until we're blue in the face, but until we change drivers' hearts and minds, the streets will never be safe.

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#2 2017-11-30 09:58:32

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 146

Re: Austin pedestrian danger stats are a mixed bag

MichaelBluejay wrote:

But as I always say, we can build infrastructure until we're blue in the face, but until we change drivers' hearts and minds, the streets will never be safe.

What we're talking about is empathy.  What bothers me most when I'm riding isn't just the near hits, but the general lack of empathy.   I can see it in lots of ways, for example the way cars pass and suddenly cut in front of me 20 feet before a stop sign we were both already slowing down to stop at.  The vast majority of drivers do not walk any significant distances or use bikes for transportation.  They don't know what it is like and so cannot empathize with people who do.  The only way things will get better for pedestrians and cyclists is to get more people out of their cars and walking and riding.  And the only way to do that is to force them through social engineering with things like zoning changes, regulations, and maybe taxes.  We have to disincentivize motor vehicle use and incentivize other forms of transport.

In 1973, during the fuel shortages,  I live in The Netherlands.  For some time they actually banned driving on Sundays.  Can anyone imagine that happening here??  Heads would explode!  The UN is coming to take guns from white people and make their kids do common core and stop cities from banning plastic bags! I would love to watch the Alex Jones show on the day it was announced that car driving was banned in America one day a week for a couple of months during a national crisis. 

Yeah, it's not going to happen. Americans are addicted to convenience and comfort like it was heroin.  We'll put up with destroying the planet and sacrificing more than one life a week on the Austin roads so long as we don't have to make any personal effort for the common good.

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#3 2017-11-30 13:07:02

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,045
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Re: Austin pedestrian danger stats are a mixed bag

RedFalcon, thanks for the thoughtful post.  You raise an interesting hypothesis, that drivers would act better towards cyclists/peds if those cyclists had cycling & walking experience.  It's certainly plausible, but the pessimist in me wonders whether that would be enough to change anything?  Would it change our terrifying hit-and-run rate?  After all, people might drive irresponsibly, but at the point that they actually hit someone, should some sense of responsibility compel them to stop?  Would more biking our walking our those drivers' belts be enough to change that behavior?

My feeling is that *every single* problem in the world, big and small, is the result of human selfishness.  Rape, littering, bad driving, underfunded schools, environmental destruction, you name it.  It might seem preposterous to mention rape and littering in the same breath, but they come from the exact same human failing: the want to fulfill one's own desires/convenience/benefit regardless of its impact on others.

I think most activists in any area eventually come to a similar conclusion, that whatever issue they're working on, the ultimate thing that drives the problem those activists are trying to solve is people's attitudes.  And so the real solution isn't more bike lanes (for us) or more laws or more enforcement (other issues), it's getting people to stop being so damn selfish.  In other words, to get people to stop being human.  That's a tall order.  It's why I don't think things will get much better, about most issues.  I think that's why many activists, myself included, get burned out and quit.

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#4 2017-11-30 15:04:24

RedFalcon
Member
Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 146

Re: Austin pedestrian danger stats are a mixed bag

I think if we had even 10% of the population regularly walking and using bikes we would start to see a difference.  I know several people who have told me that they drive more carefully around bikes just because they know me.  If we had 10% or 20% more people walking and riding almost everyone would know someone who walks or rides and that might help grow some empathy.  We say that what makes cycling safer is having more people cycling, right?  I don't really have any idea what the critical numbers might be, but it seems that there might be some critical point that we could reach that would result in a significant improvement.  Surely, they have passed that critical point in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. 

I was reading an article in Adventure Cycling last night about someone who completed a bike tour of Cuba.  The author mentioned that since almost everyone in Cuba depended on bikes for many years the drivers are more courteous.  They had to ride a bike to get around and they know what it feels like to interact with cars.  Of course that is just an anecdotal case, but I would like to think it is basically true.

In other news, our Nextdoor is blowing up again because the city is trying to force people onto bikes and public transport by reducing the number of traffic lanes on Jollyvile.  (Because keeping things the way they are or adding lanes has proven so effective at reducing traffic congestion.  They want to make the bad traffic go away but are absolutely resistant to looking at alternatives to private car ownership.) Better hide my guns before the UN black helicopters come to get me!

Last edited by RedFalcon (2017-11-30 15:04:46)

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#5 2017-11-30 18:11:01

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,045
Website

Re: Austin pedestrian danger stats are a mixed bag

That's a good question, at what point we hit critical mass (no pun intended).  But there's probably not a static number that once hit, cycling suddenly becomes "safe".  More likely, the more cyclists we have, the safer it gets...except that we have to hit a certain threshold before we see *any* improvement, and I seriously doubt we're there yet.  As I said in another thread, with the "whopping" 60% increase in bike commuting per decade, in another thirty years, when I'll likely be dead, the % of bike commuters won't reach even 2.5%.

This does remind me of an idea I had, to fund the free giveaway of "Please Be Kind to Cyclists" bumper stickers.  My idea is that if we could get them onto 1% of vehicles, that means you'd see one every few minutes.  Of course, that would help Austin win more of those undeserved "bike-friendly city" awards, but so be it.  This idea is on the shelf until the kids' college expenses are over and I have some more time...

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#6 2017-11-30 20:11:38

RedFalcon
Member
Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 146

Re: Austin pedestrian danger stats are a mixed bag

RedFalcon wrote:

Surely, they have passed that critical point in Amsterdam and Copenhagen.


Don't call me Shirley!

But seriously, I have mixed feelings about those 'Be Kind to Cyclists' bumper stickers.  My gf has one on her car because of me, so I am for them (even though it cost me a buck at BSS).  On the other hand, they remind me of a debate between some of our founding fathers.  I used to know which ones, and I could look them up, but I'm tired so I wont.  Anyway, there was a debate about our new country adopting the 'tolerance laws' that England had in the 18th century.  It was pointed out by one of our founding fathers that 'being tolerated' wasn't enough.  It was important to have true liberty as an equal.   Instead of 'Be Kind to Cyclists', which to my mind has an air of noblesse oblige, I would have gone with something like 'Respect the Rights of Cyclists'. 

Still, the Be Kind people do good work, so I am on their side.  It's better to get behind an idea that isn't perfect than be fractured in the face of overwhelming opposition.

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