Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bicycle safety low hanging fruit? Lower traffic speeds!

Do you think I am an oddball for cheering traffic speed enforcment as a way to save bicycle user lives?

Then please check out these short road safety videos (Warning: some of them are a bit upsetting - which is why they are powerful)

Keeping traffic speeds down (especially to 50 km/h or even lower in places that have a lot of bicycles and pedestrians) is one of the key "low hanging fruit" of bicycle safety. It would also make the streets safer and less stressful for everyone.

Slightly lower speeds would save lives even if the LTA NEVER decides to do anything else to help cycling and even if we cannot get ANY road safety messages across to any of those badly behaved bicycle users out there.

And it is low hanging fruit because the traffic police are apparently ALREADY quite keen to do better on speed enforcement, as I mentioned before.



Image from Flikr user
GeKow (some rights reserved)

4 comments:

chuwasg said...

Paul,
Thanks for sharing the thoughts. some of the video are shocking but the reality of "car accident" can be even more ugly.
I hope more people will spend sometime to watch the video.
Most people (including me) treats speeding too casually. "+10K is OK", no , it's not OK. But how to detect and how to enforce? It's still a tough challenge.

Anonymous said...

I now drive to work now but I still commute to work once a week.

An extra 10kph is certainly _not_ OK but with such power/weight ratio and stability of the current automobiles, it is simply not even possible to detect that you are 10kph above the speed limit.

I still prefer to take my chances up in the Malaysian rural roads where drivers zooms past me at >80kph but they gave me a lot more space. I have not done that for the last 3 years so I'm not sure how much has changed up north.

What is more important is education. A good read, not necessarily agreeing with all that's written though, is John Forester's "Bicycling". Here in Singapore, many drivers turn a blind eye to cyclists as a road nuisance which is not entirely wrong if you think about the average untrained cyclist treading unsteadily on a weavy track. The average cyclists are simply not armed with the knowledge, skill or even equipment to prevent accidents and neither are the drivers.

I can be driving at 30kph next to a cyclist who suddenly swerve in front of my car and a serious accident will still ensue. There are no low lying fruits. Safe cycling can only happen when both cyclist and drivers alike acknowledges each other's rights and responsibility as a road user.

Anonymous said...

Corrections... John Forester's book is "Effective Cycling" and not "Bicycling".

Paul Barter said...

Anonymous said "I can be driving at 30kph next to a cyclist who suddenly swerve in front of my car and a serious accident will still ensue. There are no low lying fruits."

I think you miss some important points about speed.

At 30 kph your chances of reacting in time to avoid such an accident are much higher than at 50kph say.

You are also more likely to have noticed the bicycle user in the first place when travelling at a lower speed.

And, EVEN if you do hit him or her without any braking, the severity of the impact will still be much less than at higher speeds. Energy is the square of speed, so energy in a 30kph crash is 1/4 of that of a 60kph crash.

So I still say speed enforcement and designing streets for lower speeds are low hanging fruit in pro-bicycle policy.

Paul