Sunday, September 06, 2015

Iowa Bicycle/Car Crash Data

I had my own, bizarre car/bicycle/ped incident in rural Iowa
 Cyclists the world over have one similar issue facing all of them- That being the vulnerability they all share when traveling on roads with automobile and truck traffic. When a car or truck get into a crash with a cyclist, the outcome for the cyclist is often dire. We here in Iowa were recently made acutely aware of this when a cyclist was killed by the name of Wade Franck. 

That said, there are a lot of folks that don't believe cyclists belong on the roads, (they have every right to by law), and some that say cyclists cause a lot of their own issues by disobeying the laws, (some do), but neither excuse holds up and is not worth risking the life of, or maiming forever, a cyclist who stands no chance against distracted drivers, drunk drivers, or self righteous cowards behind the wheel.

Check out this Des Moines Register story with a poignant video interview with Heather Wince and many stats illustrating the issues, at least here in Iowa. There are some silly hoops you have to jump through to see the story, but it is well worth the minor trouble the Register puts you through.

Let's be safe out there and try to continue to work toward safer routes and better educated drivers.


Wally Kilburg said...

I have not had a chance to view the video, but I will. I want to say though that as a cyclist and driver it's not just education of drivers as you stated that is the problem. Cyclists need to also understand their position, and lose this declaration of entitlement they seem to have. That everyone has to bow to them and they don't have to obey traffic laws. I see that a lot here in IL. Bicycles are not special. Runners, walkers, and other users of the roads including cars operators all face risks when using roads. It's not going to go away but the more you declare yourself special the worse it's going to get. Sharing a road is best but it's tough. Just like obnoxious cyclists there are drivers that swerve at you when on a bike, that throw things at you and yell obscenities. When I'm behind the wheel and see cyclists ignoring stop signs, taking up entire lanes of traffic, obstructing it and flipping you off as you pass them legally, yeah it bothers me. I don't do much other than write my congressman and ask for more restrictions on bicycling. And that's a from a fellow rider.

Guitar Ted said...

@Wally Killburg: Yes- bad apples exist on both sides, which is an important point to make clear. But.....another thing to keep in mind is that "two wrongs don't make a right". Just because car drivers or cyclists are being stupid, moronic beasts doesn't mean anyone should respond in kind, or take that as a blanket outlook on either party. I know you don't, but you also know that happens to be the case much of the time.

Essentially, my point is that it is a cowardly act by a motorist,an impaired operator, or a distracted operator of motor vehicles that causes cyclists to be at a distinct risk on roadways. It is why I will not ride blacktops here. Yes- some cyclists seem to feel "entitled", but even if you don't, (and I know the woman in the video personally and can vouch that she is not one to act overly entitled), you are at a heightened risk of becoming a fatality or severely injured person just by taking your law-given opportunity to travel a paved road.

Yes- there has to be a modicum of common sense here. For example- I wouldn't ride the six lane inner city connector here in Waterloo despite the fact that I have a law-given right to. Waaaay too crazy in terms of speeding motorists and aggressive moves by several cars and trucks there. However; these deaths and crashes in many cases here are on residential streets where cycling is encouraged and is supposed to be "safe".

Finally, and this is something that may seem a bit controversial, but in this city, there are many people "using bikes for transportation" that I wouldn't call "typical cyclists" that are disregarding almost every rule of the street and bring many of us cyclists here in the area discredit. I have been patiently waiting for stop lights to turn while having another of these folks using a bicycle to get around- never a helmet, hand signal, or never displaying any care or courtesy, blow the light. Many run stop signs at will. Pedestrians do this all the time here. My point is- it isn't just the "Lycra clad roadies" that make cycling look "entitled" to the masses, but it is something that goes from the lowest classes in our society all the way to the top.

We that are trying to get around safely, abiding by the rules, get caught in the middle, and that was the jist of where I was coming from here.

Wally Kilburg said...

One of my points is exactly what you state and that will never change," are at a heightened risk of becoming a fatality or severely injured person just by taking your law-given opportunity to travel a paved road." I'm a long time motorcycle rider too and have faced this for decades as well. ANY TIME any of us take to the roads whether it be by bicycle, motorcycle, horse, or what have you, we are ALL at risk. Most roads near me are designed for higher speed travel, 55 mph with occasional 45 and 50 mph zones. its very tough to mix that with 15-18 mph from a bicycle and have a huge amount of success. But just as bicycles have a right to be on the road, cars through licensing are paying for it and have a right to be there as well and the law here says slower traffic has to keep to the right. That one law alone would be HUGE if bicyclists observed it.
I live in a rural area for the location, surrounded by horse owners, I am also near a river so we actually have a hill or two. I used to love riding blacktop in the mornings, thru the corn and beans, watching a sunrise. I always ride single file and yet my mornings were broken by yells out windows, horns honked, arms out of windows with a middle finger extended. A little way up the road I would see the same cars in the church parking lot. Some people no mater what, are just never going to embrace bicycles. Bicyclists have to get over that. Many don't. I see it on Facebook all the time. Facebook is filled with riders seeking entitlement and special regulations because they pilot a bike. Hey, its a choice. You have to deal with EVERY consequence when you make that decision. Don't be like someone moving to a house next to an airport, then complaining about noise.

Guitar Ted said...

@Wally Kilburg: I get what you are saying. I see it all the time when folks move to the country, build their house 300 feet from the gravel, complain about dust, get their 500 yards of gravel "oiled", then want it chip sealed because gravel is a nuisance, then bitch about cars flying by their properties at 70mph all the time as their newly chip sealed road connects to the blacktop a few miles away. Crazy.

But this isn't just about riding blacktops. This happens in the city, where one should be able to cycle. I get high speed/low speed user issues, but cyclists should be able to move about in urban settings without issues.

The trouble is- we've been "car-centric" in our planning for decades. No cycling, or heck- even pedestrian- needs have been considered for far too long. Of course, we're starting to see a change in many places. This will take decades to work itself out.

And saying "roads are paid for by car drivers" is not a valid argument, and hasn't been for, well......ever! I just read an article that outlined how gas taxes haven't covered more than 80% of road revenues since the 60's. And of course, there is the entire body of work by UK journalist, Carlton Reid which develops the case that it was actually cycling that got roads paved in the first place. Talk about entitlements...we as automobile and truck drivers are possibly the worst offenders.

In the end, it all comes down to being nice to each other, which we've seen a dramatic decline in over the past 40 years or so. If people would value each other before themselves, and practice patience, responsibility, and respect, these issues we're discussing would be minimal.

In the end, that's what is going to change all of this around if people start to value those things again.

Wally Kilburg said...

I think your UK journalist is full of BS. The whole highway system was re-done in the 30's and 40's to accommodate the higher speed vehicles. Much of it was done via work corp programs to spur employment. You need to fact check. Motor vehicles taxes, license plate and especially in some states the sales taxes on motor vehicles go towards roads and maintenance. I'm not aware of any part of a bicycle purchase or use that goes to road maintenance. I inquire tomorrow though. Right now, locally here there isn't enough money to do the needed maintenance and every time anyone brings up a tax on cyclists, you can hear the howling for miles!
I'm not advocating cycling pays for roads, or a tax or anything. I'm saying these roads are congested, they are built for speed limits that are dangerous for cyclists and that cyclists if they are to use them have to fall under the same rules. Congestion is not going to get any better here. I know IL is not allowing any road upgrades or new building to be done without a parallel multi use path of about 6ft wide. Right next to the road but out of traffic. Know what? Bicyclists won't use them. I watch in wonder from my car as they continue to ride on the road and ignore the new path that is 3 ft from them. Thats just plain stupid.

Guitar Ted said...

@Wally Kilburg: Check out this article about gas taxes, which also states that if road users had to pay for roads more directly, (ie: tolls and and direct user taxes), it might affect road congestion. Hard to say, but I would doubt it made anyone stop driving as much as they do. (See $5.00/gallon gas and how that didn't affect traffic greatly)

Taxes collected on bicycle sales would go to the general fund of the state they are sold in, no? I believe that then some of that money is then allocated to road projects and infrastructure. Not to mention any local sales tax initiatives, such as the one here in Black Hawk Co. Iowa that takes 1 cent on the dollar from general sales in the county to fund street and road projects within the county. I'm sure there are other areas/counties/cities doing similar things.