Since roughly WWII we’ve been designing roads and streets for only one purpose: the automobile. Before the 20th century roads were designed to move people around efficiently, today roads are incredibly dangerous for people who are outside of metal containers. Australians are starting to do something about this lack of safety on streets already and are looking for was to make how we navigate our roadways even safer.
The next step is to respond in ways that keep returning attention to the facts from best evidence. To repeat, whether you’re a driver, occupant, pedestrian or cyclist, roughly 90% of what causes death on Australia’s roads is driver behaviour.
For cyclists, the root cause of deadly harm is aggression and inattention. Drivers should be held to account and be pushed to change their behaviour and attitudes.
Simple inexpensive changes in the law have been found to have dramatic effects on driver behaviour. These changes also work with existing infrastructure, technology, road conditions and our cultural expressions of human nature
Another welcome measure is a recent initiative to reduce urban speed limits to 30km/h. This has just been implemented in one of Melbourne’s inner urban areas without too much fuss. According to the research behind it, you’re twice as likely to survive being hit at 30km/h as at 40km/h.
In the 1990s former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani popularized the broken window theory which is a zero tolerance approach to getting rid of crime. At first it proved successful and the approach spread, only later was it revealed that other factors were at work. Today, the solution to fighting crime and bringing life back to communities isn’t by cracking down on the people living there – it’s to empower them. In order to do this it means changing the streetscape from car-focused to people focused and giving people agency around what the spaces are redesigned for.
We surveyed residents there in 2014—before the intervention began—as well as in 2016 and 2017. We are now preparing the results of the Flint study for publication in an academic journal, but here’s a snapshot of our findings.
the coalition’s latest report, assaults decreased 54 percent, robberies 83 percent and burglaries 76 percent between 2013 and 2018.
Obviously public transit is great for getting people around cities and is a very scalable traffic solution. One spinoff of a good public transit system is that the streets get safer. In Canada he number of collisions increases every year with the vast majority of these collisions the result of driver error. With public transit something else is happening and it’s thanks to the driver training and supportive infrastructure.
Instead of driving yourself, take transit. It might save your life.
Commuter trains, buses, streetcars, and subway trains are all safer forms of transit with much lower rates of injury and death than automobiles; they are heavier and stronger vehicles, they are larger and more visible, they often travel in their own right-of-ways, and (perhaps most importantly) they are operated by highly trained drivers.
All of these factors produce a much stronger safety record: these vehicles are less likely to be in a collision, and in the rare occasion that they are, their passengers are less likely to get hurt.
A September 2016 report from the American Public Transportation Association [PDF] argues that we need to start thinking about the role public transit can play in public safety.
Policing has become a hot issue in recent years thanks to the efforts of groups like Black Lives Matter bringing discriminatory actions by the police to light. In many jurisdictions police forces are already using (or considering) body cameras that record what officers are seeing and doing. It turns out that using them can decrease complaints about police behaviour by 93% – even if the police aren’t using them all the time.
“It may be that, by repeated exposure to the surveillance of the cameras, officers changed their reactive behaviour on the streets — changes that proved more effective and so stuck,” explained the study’s lead author, Barak Ariel, in a Cambridge news release. “With a complaints reduction of nearly 100 percent across the board, we find it difficult to consider alternatives, to be honest.”
The researchers dub this effect “contagious accountability” — learning to do the right thing even when no one is watching.
Specifics on how exactly this is happening are unclear. Is the officer less confrontational to begin with, avoiding escalation? Or are suspects and complainants more wary of their conduct? Is it some combination of the two, or are even more factors involved? To determine these things would be a far more complex and subtle piece of research, but the study does suggest that officer behavior is probably the most affected, and that other effects flow from that.
In Toronto, the car rules the road so much so that the city is fine with non-driver (that’s everyone) deaths, and the city won’t do much to stop drivers from killing. Sadly, Toronto isn’t a unique case. In far too many places bicycling infrastructure is an afterthought that plays second fiddle to cars. Despite this lack of support for safety, riding a bike is still the least dangerous way to get around.
Bicycling is so safe that you can actually lengthen your lifetime by riding! Mr Money Moustache ran the numbers and found out that statistically no matter where you live you’ll live longer by riding a bike! So get out there and get on a bike and remember the more people out there commuting via bicycle the safer the streets!
Riding a bike is not more dangerous than driving a car. In fact, it is much, much safer:
Under even the most pessimistic of assumptions:
Net effect of driving a car at 65mph for one hour: Dying 20 minutes sooner. (18 seconds of life lost per mile)
Net effect of riding a bike at 12mph for one hour: Living 2 hours and 36 minutes longer (about 13 minutes of life gained per mile)