Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, August 24

  • Cynthia Tatman, 56, Fatally Struck While Jogging on Devon Near Caldwell Woods (ABC)
  • The Tribune Looks at Factors Behind Nationwide Increase in Traffic Deaths
  • Listener Comments on Yasmeen Schuller’s & John’s Discussion of Bike Safety (WBEZ)
  • The CTA Gets Read for TOD-Driven Increases in Ridership Along Blue Line (DNA)
  • Loyola Students Convert Cooking Oil to Biodiesel to Fuel Campus Buses (DNA)
  • “Cycle for Life” Raises Money for Cyctic Fibrosis Research (Tribune)
  • “Yarnbombers” Using Knitting for Placemaking — Including Bike Rack Cosies (DNA)
  • Support the Reboot of the Lincoln Bus With the 11 on 11 Pub Ride This Friday (LCPC)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • ohsweetnothing

    I’m skeptical of the “distracted driving” narrative. Smartphones have been with us for almost 10 years at this point. Pokemon Go (just mentioning it because I’ve seen several media outlets point to the app as a possible factor) hasn’t been out 2 months. To blame the recent uptick over the past couple of years on distracted driving without any serious data to back it up is odd to me. Maybe I’m missing something, but it just doesn’t click in my head.

    I have the suspicion that it was no accident that increased driving mileage as a factor was buried in one of the final few paragraphs. Even then, at least some sort of correlation was mentioned, even if only a passing mention.

  • Anne A

    I have mixed feelings on this. Yes, smart phones have been around for a while, so they are not a “new” factor. However, there are a LOT more apps now and many of them more distracting, so more people are absolutely glued to their phones compared to 10 years ago.

    Many newer vehicles have extremely distracting dashboard displays with touch screens. We used to be able to touch buttons and knobs and adjust stereo, ventilation and temp without looking. A lot of this touch screen requires that you look at it to see *where* to touch. How many drivers stop (or wait until they are at a stop light) to do that? How much does that factor into crashes?

    Aside from that, looking at driving mileage is essential if we are going to be thorough. If gas prices are down and people are driving more due to lower prices and/or longer commutes, that MUST be factored in.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Yeah, I just want to be clear that I do believe distracted driving IS dangerous and we do need to do something to discourage such behavior. My gripe is that the focus of the Trib article seems to blame the uptick in crashes primarily on distracted driving with not much more than anecdotes to support the notion. Meanwhile, the idea that increased driving in general could be the issue gets a throwaway paragraph.

  • planetshwoop

    The evidence to refute this is Uber. Uber drives are visibly constantly fiddling with their phones while driving, or have them mounted on their dashboards.

    Not all drivers are Uber drivers (obviously), but I see that as a proxy for the population at large — the permissiveness of getting driving directions while piloting a 3000 lb vehicle.

  • planetshwoop

    I listened to the listener comments from the WBEZ linked above and had the following thoughts:

    1) How furious would drivers be if we actually did follow all traffic signals, rules, etc. perfectly? If I stopped at ever stop sign, with a car behind me, looked both ways, and then slowly pedaled off, I would be annihilated by people trying to drive faster. Same with red lights — if I waited at every red light and then pedaled onward, I’m sure I’d have cars honking bc they want to turn right, or would blast around because I’d be too slow to get across the intersection.

    How much to obey the rules, wear lights and visible clothing, listen to music while biking, etc. etc. is a trade-off between risk and reward. All cyclists have different values there, which is why there is a wide variance. But since bicycles (rightly!) don’t have the massive regulatory oversight that cars do, it’s unlikely that this debate is going to be solved any time soon without design changes to streets.

    2) Too much of the “trails” we’ve created are for recreation, not transportation. So the first crumbs have been distributed with true PBLs, but there’s nothing approaching a “network” of them. I feel the best way to address the constant issue of cars vs bikes sharing the roads it to have a lot more trails that are for transportation, whether that’s PBLs, elevated highways for bikes, or other creations I don’t know about.

    No one really wants to bike on Montrose in Albany Park. It’s kind of just the least bad option. And we have oodles of streets / situations like that.