Federal Task Force To Improve Truck, Pedestrian, Cyclist Safety

share-the-road-truck-campaign-poster-801x1024In breaking news this afternoon, Minister of Transport Garneau announced the establishment of a task force aimed at improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians on Canada’s roadways. The focus is on trucks and will examine “cameras, sensor systems, side guards, as well as educational safety and awareness programs.”

Read more here.

Good Helmet Study Misreported By Media

cyclingcrowdHere’s an example of good science being misreported, with the risk of creating yet more debate that removes focus from the real issues. This time, it’s about the efficacy of bike helmets.

In the reported study, “The research literature was systematically reviewed and results were summarized from studies assessing bicycle helmet effectiveness to mitigate head, serious head, face, neck and fatal head injury in a crash or fall.”

In all, 40 studies were selected, all analyzing bicycle injuries treated in a hospital or other reporting clinic setting. For cyclists involved in a crash or fall sufficiently serious enough to require medical attention, helmet use was associated with odds reductions of 51% for head injury, 69% for serious head injury, 33% for face injury and 65% for fatal head injury. Remember that this is for those injured sufficiently enough to need medical attention.

Good results and actionable information, eh?  Perhaps, perhaps not. It all goes astray when the mass media in its usually innumerate fashion ignores that the study results reflect only on injured cyclists needing medical attention, and then report as if the results applied to the general cycling population.

Other research assessing injury rates (pdf) inform us that the injury rate amongst the general cycling population ins North America is about 622 in 100 million trips.  That means that helmet effectiveness, which only comes into play once an injury-causing crash is underway, only happens in 1 trip out of every 160,000 or so.

Where does this leave us?

  1. Choose to wear a helmet, please. If you’re unfortunate to be in the very small percentage of those who find themselves in a crash, the helmet has a good chance of being your friend.
  2. Read media reports of research with a critical eye and look up the actual study or its abstract to check the facts.
  3. Beware of falsely reported science sticking in the public mind and being used inappropriately.
  4. Let’s continue to focus on strategies, like Vision Zero and protected bike lanes, that aim to reduce that 622 in 100,000,000 number to 0.

CAA Steps Up Again With Road Safety Educational Material

Pic from CAA website
Pic from CAA website

Several years ago the CAA surveyed their members and, no surprise, found that a majority were both drivers and cyclists. That sparked an investment in broader educational materials and a partnership with the Share The Road Coalition.  Today, CAA’s website is richer than ever, with updated educational material that easily surpasses that in MTO’s Drivers Handbook.
Read and learn more here. (Quizzes included for both drivers and cyclists!)

Once Again, Build It And They Will Ride

New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto's Bloor St just prior to completion.
New parking-protected bike lane on Toronto’s Bloor St,  just prior to completion.

Early unofficial statistics point to Toronto’s latest protected bike lane joining others across North America in a 100% success rate.  Everywhere, without fail, roads upgraded to provide safe passage for those choosing to cycle see overnight growth in ridership.

Research everywhere is consistent – roughly 60% of people say they’d cycle more if they felt safe.  Case studies are consistent too – when protected facilities are built, more people choose to ride.

“Prior to the lanes’ installation, the city counted 3,571 daily riders along Bloor. But on Monday, cycling advocacy group Bells on Bloor says they spotted 6,099 bikes over 24 hours.

“That’s an increase of nearly 75 per cent.

“During the morning rush hour, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m, the group counted 660 bikes and 1,105 cars, meaning cyclists represented 37 per cent of all traffic.”

See article here.

Institute Of Transportation Engineers Speaks Out

Drawing - Prince Ave Complete Street redesign - Athens GA
Drawing – Prince Ave Complete Street redesign – Athens GA

It’s not only the Canadian Institute of Traffic Engineers that supports the rapid shift away from car-centricity to more holistic and safer use of public roads, regardless of mode of transportation. In the USA, the 13,000 strong Institute of Transportation Engineers have joined other professional groups in calling for federal oversight to change in line with the times. Read more here.

Hamilton Joins Other Cities In Adopting Parking-Protected Bike Lanes

Parking Protected Bike Lane (NACTO)
Parking Protected Bike Lane (NACTO)

As this article relates, Hamilton’s parking protected bike lanes are here to stay, joining Toronto’s recent implementation along Bloor St downtown, Winnipeg (in 2014), Vancouver and many other cities across N. A. The older approach of sandwiching a bike lane between moving traffic and a line of parked cars proved to be excessively risky – when an inattentive motorist opens a door into traffic without looking, a person approaching on a bike has nowhere to go but into the moving traffic. The simple expedient of putting the bike lane between the parking lane and the curb solves the problem, as described in the design documents from the NACTO – the National Association of Transportation Officials. This is a design that will work well on Laurier Blvd in Brockville.

Addressing Objections To Making Cycling Safer

Portland residential protected bike lane
Portland residential protected bike lane

Going well beyond the quick comebacks for mindless rants provided in a recent post, the knowledgeable folks at the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain have compiled a comprehensive list of the often-heard objections to making public streets safer for the cycling public. These are not quick comebacks; rather, they’re well-researched, evidence-based responses to questions and objections ranging from, “cyclists don’t pay for the roads” to “if everyone just shared the road, there wouldn’t be a problem”. They are compiled from a UK perspective, yet they hold for N.A. as well, and many of the cited references are global.
Read more here.

On the lighter side, they also provide some printable “cycling fallacy bingo!” cards you can print and take to your next public meeting to pass the time while the anti-laners drone on.

Update Bike Parking Guidelines From APBP

short_guide_webThe good folks at the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, with engineering, consulting and planning at its core, have updated their guidelines on how to provide usable bike parking facilities.

APBP prepared Essentials of Bike Parking for people planning to purchase or install bike parking fixtures on a limited scale. It is a brief overview of APBP’s comprehensive Bicycle Parking Guidelines handbook. This 12-page guide covers the following topics:
• Site planning for short- and long-term parking
• Installation
• Bicycle rack selection–including performance criteria, rack styles, and materials and coatings
• Placement and spacing

Within APBP’s guidelines, the guide is embedded below. essentialsofbikeparking2015

Quick Deflection Of Anti-Bike Rants

SmilingRideHere’s a blogger commenting on Senator Eaton’s uninformed rants on bikes in Toronto.  He provides some capsule comebacks for the more mindless rants that, like most resistance to positive change with broad public support, are rooted in ignorance and/or fear.
Read more.

Also see this article in the Toronto Star on the senator’s rants. Yet another good reason for an elected senate?