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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill Passes the State Senate

Posted by on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 6:49 PM

The Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill (which we've always called the "slow the fuck down on neighborhood streets" bill, since it gives cities the opportunity to slightly lower speed limits on nonarterial streets without doing costly and time-consuming traffic studies) just passed the state senate today.

"We were the absolute last bill before the senate cutoff," says Blake Trask, policy director at Bicycle Alliance of Washington. The bill's supporters started to think it had pretty much no chance—then, with an hour to go, they suddenly heard the bill might make it to the floor. It passed 45–2. "For it to be the last bill is something special," Trask says. "We can't thank Senators Billig and Frockt enough" for orchestrating its passage, he says, and also thanks the bill's house sponsor Rep. Cindy Ryu.

It's nice to see something good come out of Olympia for a second. If you've forgotten all about this pedestrian-and-bike-friendly bill, which had bipartisan support all along, a refresher from our yearly bill roundup is after the jump.

Saving Cyclists

Here's a popular bill that has died in past years for stupid procedural reasons. Representative Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline) is once again sponsoring a safe-streets bill, HB 1045, that would allow cities to lower speed limits on side streets to a safe 20 miles per hour (from the usual 25) without requiring a traffic study, which can be prohibitively expensive. It has bipartisan support, and its backing outside Olympia is broad: the AARP (the olds!), AAA (the cars!), public-health organizations (the humans!). Just pass it, already.

 

Comments (28) RSS

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Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 1
The number of lives saved by this purely political, purely feel-good bill will be zero.

Under current law you can lower speed limits, provided good science and good traffic engineering are on your side. What this bill does is let you lower speed limits merely by getting a few grandstanding local city council members to throw a bone to loudmouth neighborhood activists and the usual NIMBYs (you know who you are).

And even if, in the odd instance where a lower speed limit would have been justifiable, without a dime for enforcement and traffic calming changes, you don't even get the theoretical benefit you'd get from slowing traffic down.

In short, there's a wide gulf between how slow you wish traffic would go, and how slow traffic actually goes. That gulf is -- or was -- bridged by a thing we call traffic engineering. This bill removes the engineering part, because science doesn't always give you the answer you wanted to hear.

Ohhhhh but science is expensive! Well, if you think science is expensive, try ignorance.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 17, 2013 at 7:32 PM · Report this
Big Sven 2
Though it will probably make Ph'nglui's head explode, I completely agree w him. Plus... think maybe some of these cities will install one of those $200-$300k/yr-generating traffic cameras, because nobody can actually go 20 mph? Nah, nobody would do that...
Posted by Big Sven http://onedatapoint.blogspot.com/ on April 17, 2013 at 7:56 PM · Report this
3
I would love a traffic camera at 23rd and Olive. Cars routinely blow through that red light (not even yellowish) regardless of the presence of pedestrians.
Posted by wxPDX on April 17, 2013 at 8:20 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 4
@2
Yea me too.

@1
So you mean mere laws will not change human behavior?
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on April 17, 2013 at 8:44 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 5
@3 That would be a need for a red light camera.

Not a need to eliminate engineering studies because they get in the way of creating speed traps.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on April 17, 2013 at 8:45 PM · Report this
delirian 6
@3: You do realize that 80%-90% of red light tickets aren't for driving through a red light, but for a rolling right hand turn, which is not unsafe at all (it is estimated that you would need to drive an average of a billion miles to get into a rolling right turn caused collision)? These cameras aren't designed for safety. Instead they are designed to penalize people on a bullshit technicality to generate revenue. If you want to reduce the number of people that run a red light, lengthen the yellow and provide a clearing time for the intersection. Engineer it, don't simply attack the drivers for not being perfect.
Posted by delirian on April 17, 2013 at 8:52 PM · Report this
7
@1: Actually, no. You can't engineer a street to be functional at 20 MPH without it being designated at 20 MPH. This has been explicitly asked for by a Seattle traffic engineer I've talked to. Clearly changing a sign from 30->20 will do little, but with proper engineering (and perhaps some enforcement and education as well), things can be safer.
Posted by GordonOfSeattle on April 17, 2013 at 9:42 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 8
@4

Oh, I bet you mean that laws need enforcement? Like letting the ATF do its job? We've been over that, haven't we? The difference between you and me is I mean what I say. You're here to play bullshit games.

As someone once said, die in fire, asshole.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 17, 2013 at 9:53 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 9
@7

That's what I said.

This law is about putting up signs and walking away. Not doing engineering. Not spending a dime. This law is for towns who are (or think they are) too poor to even do a simple traffic study to gather even the basic facts of a street: how many cars drive there, and how fast they go. This law is about changing speed limits based on zero information.

Come to think of it, this law doesn't even fund putting up the sign.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 17, 2013 at 9:58 PM · Report this
10
@9 Draw me a Gantt chart and tell me how long said study will take and why it should take so long. Have you ever dealt with a state agency? Why should the state have to sign off on the project instead of the city engineer who manages city roads that the city owns? A trained engineer can make informed decisions about appropriate speeds and put in speed bumps, etc. knowing the geometry of the street. There is no need for your stupid fucking study.
Posted by Elinor on April 17, 2013 at 11:20 PM · Report this
11
@6 Right turns on red are dangerous for pedestrians. Fuck you.
Posted by Elinor on April 17, 2013 at 11:26 PM · Report this
12
Lower the speed limits until drivers can learn to share the road and respect bicycles!!!!
Posted by S T on April 17, 2013 at 11:38 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 13
@10

Informed decisions? Informed by what? Clairvoyance? That makes no fucking sense. Somebody has to make a decision, and that should to be made based on data. No study, no data. Then you're just guessing.

If you wanted a bill to speed up the process or fix some identifiable flaw, fine. Or you could use state money to help communities fund data collection. This bill just throws data collection out the window entirely and lets local potentates set speed limits arbitrarily. This is a bill by know-nothings, for know-nothings.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 18, 2013 at 12:39 AM · Report this
14
@6 NMA is the NRA of the car world. They're obviously a self interest group attempting to preserve car culture. Using shitty made up numbers is not helping your argument. Ticketing those who roll through red lights is not a bullshit technicality. When cars are not used with caution they endanger people who are walking, running, riding bikes, etc. People are hit quite often from distracted motorists rolling through lights. Sure, nobody is perfect, but when one is driving a dangerous machine, one has the fucking responsibility to ensure the safety of fellow human beings. Don't be a whiny little prick, be a responsible adult and stop on red. @1This is a great bill with bipartisan support that will allow traffic engineers to redesign non-arterial streets in a way that keeps all users safe. We will no longer need costly-lengthy reviews to slow down traffic while citizens wait and stay endangered. We do not live in a third world country and no one should live in fear of using city streets that their fucking tax dollars paid for. Here's a real study from a group that aims to save lives, not support an industry: If you hit a pedestrian: At 20 mph 5% will die; At 30 mph 45% will die; At 40 mph 85% will die. (Source: NHTSA)
Posted by lookitup on April 18, 2013 at 1:06 AM · Report this
delirian 15
@11: Did you read the report? Obviously you didn't, because that was discussed, you fucking prick.
Posted by delirian on April 18, 2013 at 1:14 AM · Report this
delirian 16
@14: You are the whiny little prick. A slow speed turn means a slow speed collision. It is not even remotely close to a high speed crash that occurs when someone runs a red light. So why should it be ticketed the same? Why should someone get a large fine for actually stopping their car but being a quarter of an inch past where the camera says is a violation? And why should you get a large ticket for a 1 mph turn?

Rolling red violations are bullshit. But even if they weren't, they are not even remotely close to the severity of running a red. But if you can give me ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that it is, then I'm all ears. Don't respond unless you provide evidence. Don't.
Posted by delirian on April 18, 2013 at 1:20 AM · Report this
17
You wrote,"..but for a rolling right hand turn, which is not unsafe at all.." Although, not as hazardous as speeding through a red light, rolling through a red light is still unsafe, which was my point. I did not make any accusation that speeding through a red light is of equal danger. According to the FHWA, "A permissible Right Turn on Red (RTOR) was introduced in the 1970s as a fuel-saving measure and has sometimes had detrimental effects on pedestrians. While the law requires motorists to come to a full stop and yield to cross-street traffic and pedestrians prior to turning right on red, many motorists do not fully comply with the regulations, especially at intersections with wide turning radii. Motorists are so intent on looking for traffic approaching on their left that they may not be alert to pedestrians approaching on their right. In addition, motorists usually pull up into the crosswalk to wait for a gap in traffic, blocking pedestrian crossing movements. In some instances, motorists simply do not come to a full stop. One concern that comes up when RTOR is prohibited is that this may lead to higher right-turn-on-green conflicts when there are concurrent signals." I'd like to add that when a motorist is not using a turn signal and looking left, they will endanger bicyclists traveling on the right. Also, you must agree that traffic cameras are a deterrent from the dangers of running red lights. Would you like to spend more money on traffic cameras that can sense those who refuse to stop and wait before they make a turn? Until we do, I agree that all tickets should be the same value.
More made up numbers by you, "...for actually stopping their car but being a quarter of an inch past where the camera says is a violation?" A quarter of an inch? Where are the statistics for that? Look at a ruler and have a laugh on yourself.
More...
Posted by lookitup on April 18, 2013 at 2:12 AM · Report this
delirian 18
@17: "Although, not as hazardous as speeding through a red light, .... all tickets should be the same value."

What value should that be? If you are going to be completely arbitrary with the punishments, why not make it a misdemeanor with 30 days in jail? Or a felony with 2 years in jail? It could be anything since you have decided that that the actual danger of a maneuver has no connection to the penalty. What next, should road racing have the same penalty as 1-5 mph over the speed limit?
Posted by delirian on April 18, 2013 at 2:34 AM · Report this
19
@18 Please change your name to delirium.
Posted by lookitup on April 18, 2013 at 2:45 AM · Report this
delirian 20
@19: Ha! You don't know how long I hoped someone would make that joke! That was the handle I was initially going to use (after the character in Sandman), but I liked the idea of being a member of the 'delirium' world (like being a Mart-ian) a little more. Thanks.
Posted by delirian on April 18, 2013 at 3:05 AM · Report this
21
Hahaha! No worries, dude. I'm glad that you enjoyed my wisecrack. Be safe out there.
Posted by lookitup on April 18, 2013 at 3:15 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 22
@14 I love how you're calling somebody out for using bullshit numbers, and then using bullshit numbers yourself.

Rates of death, even from aggregate collection reports, were never that high and saying them as fact is blatantly false. (Source: NHTSA)
Posted by TheMisanthrope on April 18, 2013 at 6:38 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 23
@14 @15 You should note that, in the report by the NHTSA, the difference between 25 and 20mph is not drastically different. And, neither have fatalities going up to 40%, even past 45mph.

In fact, the fatality rate in Study 1 of the report by Mike in Olympia for a 25mph is 1.8%, and for 20mph it is 1.2%.

The fatality rate for Study 2 has it at 1.1% and 3.7% respectively. Less negligible, but a 2% drop is not nearly as exciting as a 35% drop.

Also, in both cases, 30mph has the fatality rate at 5.4% and 6.1% respectively.

It certainly calls into question the legitimacy of their reports based, not on real life studies, but on other reports which were based on theoretical mathematics.

Even the AAA report has the fatality rate as 15.5% at 30mph (which is nowhere near the claimed 40%).

There is not a single study with actual rates of fatalities posted as high as Seattle Bike Blog and NHTSA claim. All claims to this fatality rate are based on erroneous theoretical math...erroneous because it doesn't match real world statistics.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on April 18, 2013 at 6:47 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 24
Making pedestrians and cyclists safe at the cost of a couple seconds of some drivers time: As bad as Hitler, or worse?
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on April 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
25
@23 The "theoretical mathematics" you're referring to includes, like, gravity and inertia and Newtonian physics and stuff, right?

I love how you conveniently leave out the UK study, which more accurately states the results for head-on collisions than the data you include that measures stuff like getting clipped by side mirrors.

Of course, this is all beside the point. What we're talking about is a qualified engineer being able to go through a city process rather than a state rigamarole to set a reasonable 20mph limit on narrow residential Seattle streets - not arterials.
Posted by kurisu on April 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Report this
26
Speed limit suppression is all about the dough ... and city hall power ... minimally about public safety. Like the ridiculous 35 mph limit on Admiral Way hill. Completely & totally asinine. Before yo know it they'll be putting their big brother cameras on every friggin' street corner. Where does it end? When the taxpayers get fed up enough to tell city hall to bugger off.
Posted by beancounter on April 18, 2013 at 4:10 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 27
@25 which UK study?

I've asked for studies that had real life statistics that matched NHTSA's claim.

Nobody has cited one. The closest we got was 15%.

I didn't conveniently leave anything out.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on April 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 28
Oh, and @25 all the laws were written with definitions referenced in a traffic design book. But that traffic design book didn't seem to define anything. I asked for a specific page or quote to directly reference the definition, but the supporter of the law couldn't.

Can you, or anybody really, or anybody find a direct definition within the Traffic Design book that clearly and/or specifically redefines non-arterials vs arterials?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on April 18, 2013 at 6:28 PM · Report this

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