Skip to content

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

How to Counter the Victim-Blaming Impulse After a Traffic Crash

When a driver strikes someone walking or biking, the tendency to blame the victim runs deep. Ask Raquel Nelson, who lost her young son to a hit-and-run driver, then got convicted for vehicular homicide, even though she was just trying to walk across the street with her children from a bus stop to her home. Or witness the reaction to the death of Amanda Phillips, who was struck by a truck driver while biking in Boston last week.

Why do people blame victims, and can anything be done to lead them to reconsider this response? New research published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that personal values play a large role in determining whether someone assigns culpability to victims or perpetrators — and that the way incidents are described can influence these attitudes.

Writing in the New York Times, study authors Laura Niemi and Liane Young say that people who value “loyalty, obedience and purity” are more likely to view victims of sex crimes and physical violence as “contaminated” or responsible. Psychologists refer to these as “binding values” because they’re associated with a worldview that prioritizes group cohesion. People who hold binding values tend to more more religious and more politically conservative.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who subscribe to “individualizing” values like fairness and reducing harm. This group is less likely to blame victims, Niemi and Young write, and tends to be politically progressive.

People’s values tend to be fixed, but Niemi and Young found that the way incidents are framed can influence how they perceive victims and perpetrators:

Read more…

No Comments

We Can’t Do This Without You: Support California Streetsblog Today

Support Streetsblog California today. Click on image to make a donation.

Support Streetsblog California today. Click on image above to make a donation.

Since we launched California Streetsblog a little over a year ago—scratch that—since we started statewide coverage under the Los Angeles Streetsblog banner two years ago, the tiny California team has worked hard to bring you information that you won’t find elsewhere.

Among our regular coverage of what’s happening in the state legislature, we brought a story, not reported elsewhere, that showed how a single legislator’s agenda derailed efforts to make the California Transportation Commission more inclusive and better qualified to discuss transportation impacts to others besides the developer and business-focused interests that its members currently represent.

We also exposed an outrageously false but very public attempt to undermine the science behind California’s climate change policies that was funded—they hoped quietly—by the state’s biggest oil lobbyists.

We’ve written many stories about Caltran’s work to shift from being a highway department to one that facilitates travel by all modes—a herculean effort to bring culture change to a giant, statewide agency, and one that should have profound impacts on the way we travel in the future.

We’ve covered the so-far unsuccessful struggle in the state legislature to find money for transportation in the face of shrinking gas tax revenues—and the opposing factions that make finding agreement on spending priorities difficult. We have also covered—and plan to continue reporting on—local attempts to fill the funding gap.

In between we’ve kept our readers updated on what’s going on in the Sacramento Capitol, describing the ups and downs of current bills and reporting what people are saying at hearings related to sustainable transportation, climate change and environmental policy, and related issues of health, equity, and housing. Every day we collect and publish a list of daily headlines on statewide transportation issues, so you can track what other people are reporting on in the state.

Meanwhile we’ve been working to expand our coverage of parts of the state that get little attention, but face the same challenges and sometimes come up with innovative solutions we can all learn from. We report on the Central Valley, including the awesome buffered bike lanes in Modesto, the demise of Fresno’s pedestrian mall, and efforts in Turlock to seek Active Transportation Program grants, a process that reflects the challenges every California community faces as they try to become bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. We cover relevant and useful sustainable transportation stories in Santa Ana and Redding, and are expanding our coverage to include San Diego’s sustainable transportation efforts. Your support helps us cover other parts of the state, including the Inland Empire, where freeway expansion is still going strong despite effects on local communities.

A $75 donation gets you one of these T-shirts. Click on image to donate.

A $75 donation gets you one of these T-shirts. Click on image to donate.

We want to bring you the most complete reporting on the state that we can, and we do it with few people and a very limited budget. You can keep track of all we do by subscribing to Streetsblog California in the top right corner of this page, and by following us @streetsblogcal on Twitter and StreetsblogCA on Facebook.

You can help us continue bringing you important stories by supporting Streetsblog California with a donation today. Click here. If you donate at least $75, we’ll send you one of these beautiful, elegant T-shirts (both men’s and women’s styles are available). And whatever amount you donate will help us continue reporting on statewide issues that matter to us all.

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

DC Insurers Try Scare Tactics to Avoid Paying Victims of Reckless Driving

If a driver strikes you while you’re walking or biking in D.C., there’s a good chance you won’t be allowed to sue for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering under the law.

Cyclists who are injured or killed in D.C. might soon have fairer legal recourse. Photo: David/Flickr

Pedestrians and cyclists struck in D.C. might soon have greater legal recourse to recover damages. Photo: David/Flickr

That’s thanks to a legal standard known as “contributory negligence” in effect only in D.C. and a handful of states. Contributory negligence holds that if a pedestrian or cyclist is deemed even 1 percent at fault for a collision, she is essentially out of luck.

The D.C. Council will vote tomorrow on a bill that would replace the contributory negligence standard with the much fairer “comparative fault” standard. But the local insurance lobby is making a last-ditch attempt to stop the bill.

The Washington Area Bicyclists Association reports that the industry group Property Casualty Insurers of America has put out a “study” claiming that the bill could hike D.C. auto insurance rates 24 percent, which was circulated by AAA-MidAtlantic in an email [PDF] to all its members.

WABA says the insurance industry’s claims are deliberately misleading:

The PCI analysis assumes 100% of crashes will involve DC-insured drivers. According to the 2014 DDOT Traffic Safety Statistics Report, only 37% of total traffic crashes involve a DC driver. Maryland and Virginia drivers alone account for 46.9% of all crashes in the District. The costs of crashes associated with bicyclists and pedestrians would be spread much further into the regional insurance pool, not solely in the District’s.

Read more…

No Comments

Today’s Headlines

Support Streetsblog California today. Click on image to make a donation.

Support Streetsblog California today so we can keep bringing you daily headlines. Click on image above to make a donation.

  • San Diego approves long-term mobility plan that add cycletracks, bike lanes, greenways (San Diego Union-Tribune)  (LA Times)
  • Efforts to encourage biking on BART are paying off (Patch) (Fox)
  • More on fatal SF crashes, reactions (NBC)
  • Bicycle riders need to report dangerous driving maneuvers (Cycling in the South Bay)
  • Cap-and-trade:
  • San Joaquin Valley Air District petitions US EPA for national standard for clean trucks and trains (Transport Topics)
  • Highway congestion needs to be priced (Mobility Lab)
  • San Jose Sharks use environmental law to oppose a mixed-use project near transit because it would remove parking (Business Journals)
  • Transportation sales tax measures:
    • Who’s left out of LA Metro’s sales tax funding plan? (Planetizen)
    • San Diego’s spending plan is better after advocates’ work (Circulate San Diego)
    • Placer County closer to approving measure for November ballot (Rocklin Today)

More California headlines at Streetsblog LA and Streetsblog SF

 

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

Boston Globe Columnist Tweets Out History’s Dumbest Anti-Bike Rant

I hesitated to even respond to Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby‘s odious tweetstorm against cycling in Boston, because the man is obviously just trolling for attention.

But boy, Jacoby made it hard to hold back. In response to the death of Amanda Phillips, 27, who was struck and killed by a truck driver earlier this week, Jacoby went straight to the old bike ban argument:

Yep. Bikeless streets are clearly the solution to America’s 35,000 annual traffic deaths. At least Jacoby provided a fat target.

So Jacoby doubled down with this gem:

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

6 Principles to Make Self-Driving Cars Work for Cities, Not Against Them

Self-driving cars are coming, and maybe sooner than we think. But the question of how they will shape cities is still wide open. Could they lead to less traffic and parking as people stop owning cars and start sharing them? More sprawl as car travel becomes less of a hassle? More freedom to walk and bike on city streets, or less?

How will self-driving cars impact cities? Hopefully federal regulators won't ignore this question. Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The answers depend in no small part on how federal and local policy makers respond to the new technologies. The National Association of City Transportation Officials wants to get out ahead of these changes with a statement of policy recommendations to guide the deployment of autonomous cars in cities [PDF].

Here is what NACTO proposes.

1. Cars should be fully autonomous, not partly

If cars have some automated features but still require human drivers to occasionally take control, safety could suffer. NACTO cites research that shows semi-automated vehicles actually increase driver distraction, lulling motorists into thinking they can pay less attention to the road. But fully automated vehicles should be able to achieve much better safety outcomes than human drivers.

2. Maximum speeds on city streets should not exceed 25 miles per hour

Self-driving cars should be programmed not to exceed 25 mph in urban areas. Controlling speed is one way self-driving cars could yield enormous safety benefits. But it will require regulators — with support from the public — to insist on putting safety above speed, which, historically, America has failed to do.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

What If “Commuter Rail” Were for Everyone, Not Just 9-to-5 Commuters?

Rhode Island has been investing in commuter rail — long distance service connecting Providence to Boston and towns in between. But lackluster ridership at a new park-and-ride rail station at the end of the line (by a Walmart!) is sapping support for much more useful investments, reports Sandy Johnston at Itinerant Urbanist.

This is the area that will be served by Pawtucket-Providence commuter rail. Photo: Google Maps via Sandy Johnson

The area that would be served by the Pawtucket-Central Falls rail station is one of the most walkable parts of Rhode Island. Photo: Google Maps via Sandy Johnson

Anti-rail critics are piling on. The libertarian Rhode Island Center for Freedom has come out against an infill station at the much more walkable Pawtucket/Central Falls border, for instance, on the basis that spending on the commuter rail service relegates Rhode Island to being a suburb of Boston.

Johnston doesn’t agree with that take, but he says it “unintentionally touches on a serious critique of the ‘commuter rail’ mode: it serves one kind of trip, and one kind of trip only.” And that critique can lead to a better kind of rail service:

When the Providence Foundation studied intrastate commuter rail from Woonsocket to Providence in 2009, the project team met with planners along the route to gauge interest in the potential new service. All showed interest, except for the town planner in Lincoln, where a station was proposed in the hamlet of Manville. The reasons given were fascinating, and a little bit sad:

The proposed Manville site is located near a low-income neighborhood, where residents could typically be expected to benefit from additional transit services. However, commuter rail — with its peak-oriented services — may not be a good fit for these residents who tend to work at jobs with nontraditional schedules. Moreover, the town planner in Lincoln indicated the most town residents were not interested in a new commuter rail station. (p. 71)

Justifiably or not, Lincoln’s town planner believed that commuter rail, as a mode, is not for “us” (us being anyone working in a job that is not white collar or 9-to-5). That’s not too far off from the idea that investing state money in a commuter rail station would only increase Rhode Island’s dependency on Boston, if we assume that “Boston” here stands in for white-collar jobs with little access for middle- or working-class Rhode Islanders. It may not be entirely apparent to the people I’m quoting here, but I believe the pattern indicates the very tiny glimmer of a kernel of a coherent, trenchant critique of the commuter rail paradigm.

Johnston says it doesn’t have to be that way:

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

Talking Headways Podcast: Color Your City Outside the Lines

This week I’m joined by cartographer Gretchen Peterson to talk about mapmaking and her new book, City Maps: A Coloring Book for Adults. We discuss why she made the book and why she chose the 40 city maps she included in it.

Listen in and hear from Gretchen about the art of cartography, including the importance of color, fonts, good data, and whether you have to be a designer to make maps. We also get into why maps are important in reports, maps we might regret, as well as tips for future cartographers. Enjoy.

Streetsblog LA
View Comments

L.A. Planning Commiss Strips Central, Westwood Bike Lanes from Mobility Plan

Pedestrians wait to be able to cross Jefferson and continue south on Central along the sidewalk. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Pedestrians wait to be able to cross Jefferson and continue south on Central along the sidewalk. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Listening to the City Planning Commission vote in favor – albeit somewhat reluctantly – of moving forward on the regressive amendments to the Mobility Plan 2035 this morning, I felt my heart sink.

With recommendations the City Council approve amendments that a) remove Westwood Boulevard (between LeConte and Ohio) and approximately seven miles of Central Avenue from the Bicycle Enhanced Network (BEN), b) substitute those routes with less direct and less-likely-to-be-used parallel streets (Gayley and Midvale in Westwood and Avalon and San Pedro in South L.A.), and c) allow for more north-south corridor substitutions in the future, where deemed prudent, the city of Los Angeles officially moved closer to taking a significant step back from its commitment to building a safer and more accessible city for all. [See the CPC agenda and staff report.]

The amendments to the Mobility Plan that the City Planning Commission recommended the City Council adopt.

The amendments to the Mobility Plan that the City Planning Commission recommended the City Council adopt.

Worse still, it was all happening in the guise of greater “safety” and mobility as defined by people who appeared to care very little about either for people other than themselves or their own narrow interests.

That hypocrisy was perhaps best exemplified by the Westwood contingent of homeowners who now were masquerading as bus huggers. Which was truly bizarre, considering that just last year, when Fix the City and their Westside supporters launched their lawsuit against the Mobility Plan, they were decidedly anti-transit and anti-options in their approach. The group’s president had ranted about how the city “want[ed] to make driving our cars unbearable by stealing traffic lanes from us on major streets and giving those stolen lanes to bike riders and buses.” Laura Lake, the group’s secretary, had told the L.A. Times that safer streets and more transportation options could only lead to greater tailpipe emissions, greater congestion, first responders getting trapped in traffic more often (implying more death and destruction), and greater sacrifices made by people whose schedules would be so disrupted that they would lose untold hours that would otherwise have been spent working or with their families.

Today, Lake had completely changed her tune. Now she was telling the commissioners that she was deeply concerned about the more than 900 buses traveling along Westwood every day. If those buses were to get stuck behind a bicyclist, she posited, thousands of bus riders could be impeded from getting to work or school.

Clearly unencumbered by the idea that the whole point of having separate lanes for bikes and buses is to keep them from having to cross each others’ paths and that the only ones blocking buses in such a scenario would be private vehicles, she declared she only hoped to benefit “the greater good.”

Other Westwood advocates that stood to speak took their lead from the backwards logic regularly deployed by Councilmember Paul Koretz regarding bike lanes, arguing busy streets with no bike infrastructure were dangerous for cyclists and therefore better infrastructure must be avoided at all costs.

“It’s really simple,” declared Stephen Resnick, president of the Westwood Homeowners Association. Substituting the less-busy Gayley and Midvale streets for Westwood on the bicycle network was about nothing more than “safety” and “transportation.”

Barbara Broide, another Westwood HOA president, argued bikes on Westwood would deter people trying to connect to the Expo Line via bus and wondered how people could possibly feel safe riding bikes alongside hundreds of buses anyways (which of course they don’t, which is why they have clamored for the bike lane). Stakeholder Debbie Nussbaum warned against bike lanes on busy streets in general, proclaiming they ran the risk of giving people a false sense of security. Read more…

Streetsblog SF
View Comments

Menlo Park El Camino Real Bike Lanes Delayed Again

This proposed expansion of El Camino Real to six lanes at Ravenswood Avenue was cancelled in early May, freeing up $1 million for other transportation projects in Menlo Park. Image: City of Menlo Park

This proposed expansion of El Camino Real to six lanes at Ravenswood Avenue was cancelled in early May, freeing up $1 million for other transportation projects. Image: City of Menlo Park

Menlo Park’s plans to fix El Camino Real’s safety hazards were postponed yet again by a city council that is now split on whether to go ahead with the installation of even a bike lane pilot project. Proponents continue to demand that the city take action to prevent injuries suffered by residents in traffic collisions.

“The goals of Menlo Park roadway infrastructure changes should be to serve more people and to make our roadways safer for everyone,” said Bicycle Commission Chair Cindy Welton at the May 3 City Council meeting. “Our status quo street design that we’ve inherited is not working. No one is served by our high collision rates.”

Citing concerns the city is making too many safety improvements too fast, and under continued pressure from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to cancel the ambitious project altogether, the council voted to postpone it until after the city installs bike lanes on Oak Grove Avenue later this year. A total of 112 car parking spaces will be removed for the Oak Grove bike lanes.

Read more…