Daily Archives: October 30, 2011

Infrastructure! on Wreck-free Sunday

I think that most of my readers will agree that 90% of the wrecks I cover are caused by single-mode infrastructure, with the other 10% caused by trying to retrofit single-mode infrastructure to make it more usable by modes other than motor vehicles, with less than 1% caused at root by non-infrastructure causes.

I can already hear (from the future!) the confuzzled gasps and cries. “What about right hooks?” If the infrastructure had been designed right a right hook would be impossible without breaking a law. “Left crosses?” See my previous answer and substitute “left cross” for “right hook”. I know that technically left crosses and right hooks are already illegal, I’m talking the kind of illegal that takes place long before the actual bike v car wreck. This would involve something like jumping a red light, actually driving in a prohibited space, something like that. Felony illegal in some cases.

Obviously every hit-from-behind wreck has bad infrastructure at its base, vehicles that can kill dozens in one swat should never be within deadly range of unarmored humans.

It should be apparent that what I’m calling for is segregated infrastructure for cyclists that is actually usable for getting somewhere. There should be grade separated highways for bicycles to cover intercity trips as well as bike tracks in urban and suburban areas. Bicycle infrastructure should be connected to every home and every place of employment, so that except for the final few feet and the initial few feet, bicycles and motor vehicles should never have to mix.

There is a less expensive alternative at least as far as government is concerned. That would be a higher standard of driver licensing, much, much higher than seen today, mandatory loss of license in cases of wrecks (all wrecks, not just the ones that injure pedestrians and cyclists) with restoration possible in cases where the other driver was at fault or in cases of infrastructure failure that caused the wreck (here in TX that would be the mini flash floods we get from overloaded storm drains, other places have their particular mode of infrastructure failure), and permanent loss of license in cases where a vulnerable user was killed or injured and the driver was at fault. Also all wrecks with vulnerable users would be investigated as the driver is at fault until proved conclusively not at fault. This would stop the “It was an accident” plague from LEO who can’t figure out how to blame the cyclist for getting hit from behind on a straight road while riding on the shoulder of that road. In other words the driver would be guilty until proven innocent in wrecks involving vulnerable users, with temporary loss of license until proven innocent, temporary loss of license with the ability to restore privileges if found guilty of a wreck with no or minor injury (defining “minor injury” in this as an injury that does not cause disfigurement or serious scarring, or permanent disability, and was never “life-threatening”), with permanent loss of license in cases where serious injury or death results. And of course the motor vehicle that was in the wreck is now the property of the state and will be used to compensate the victims or their families in case of death. With legal infrastructure like that in place and rigorously enforced, there would be no need for segregated bicycle infrastructure.

So, we have two alternatives for safe roads for cyclists. One has a high capital outlay, the other has a high ongoing cost for drivers but minimal costs for governments. The status quo can’t be allowed to continue, the costs for cyclists and other vulnerable road users are way too high. It shouldn’t be a constant risk to life and limb to get from one place to another under your own power.

Billed @$0.02, Opus