Mayors: Cities Unsafe for Pedestrians, Cyclists, But Cars Rule

There is plenty of evidence showing that lowering speed limits and reducing the availability of parking makes roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, according to this survey. Research suggests that even high-density cities have too much parking that’s priced too cheaply.  We believe that residents and visitors are wiling to support Asbury Park becoming a truly people-oriented city, by implementing plans to prioritize people over cars: Asbury Park Plan for Walking and Biking.

It’s not an easy process even in a small city, with overarching state regulations and outmoded engineering practices.  City leaders and our Transportation Manager, with the support of Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition are taking steps to enable visitors and residents to get around safely without cars by reducing speed limits, creating traffic calming devices, better infrastructure for biking and walking, and offering alternative transportation.

Boston University’s Initiative on Cities (IoC) was released on Tuesday, January 21, in Washington, D.C.  The annual report collects data from interviews with more than 100 mayors across the country about their most pressing concerns and provides insight into the problems they’re grappling with.

Now in its sixth year, the 2019 IoC survey asked mayors for the first time about the extent to which they are taking up the call, from cyclist and pedestrian advocates as well as many transportation experts and urban planners, to reorient their cities away from cars.

Mayors Say Their Cities Are Unsafe for Pedestrians, Cyclists—but Cars Still Rule

Highlights from annual BU-led 2019 Menino Survey of Mayors

January 21, 2020 Sara Rimer

“When city leaders make it easier to park, they encourage car commuting,” the survey authors write, citing The High Cost of Free Parking (Routledge, 2005) by Donald Shoup, a UCLA professor. “This both worsens congestion and creates a constituency of regular drivers who demand more parking, resulting in a potent political obstacle to reforming urban parking systems.”

Although mayors broadly support bicycle lanes, they may not be aware of current best practices in cycling infrastructure design, according to the survey. While the most recent analyses show that painted bike lanes may make conditions more dangerous for cyclists, a striking 82 percent of mayors believe that painted bicycle lanes are a safe alternative when physically separate bicycle lanes are too expensive.

“The evidence suggests that paint alone—either in separate or shared bicycle lanes—does not improve cyclist safety,” the survey says.

A few mayors acknowledged the problem. “Painted bicycle lanes are useless,” one mayor told interviewers. “They’ve got to be separate.”

Read this comprehensive story:


Trump Administration Refuses To Sign On To Global Declaration Preventing Road Deaths

The US is the only Nation to dissociate from the Global Declaration on Preventing Road Deaths – because it supports the oil, gas, and the automotive industries. This administration denies the problem of road deaths, just as it denies climate change, and has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord. 
The numbers of death-by automobile is staggering in the US alone – almost 40,000 last year.

GLOBALLY, MORE THAN 1.3 million people per year are killed in road crashes, with a further 50 million people seriously injured. Such crashes are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29 years.”

U.S. Only Nation To Dissociate From Global Declaration On Preventing Road Deaths

The U.S. has refused to sign up to a new declaration on road safety. The so-called Stockholm Declaration was issued at the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety held in Stockholm, Sweden, February 19–20.

Out of more than 140 attending nations the U.S was the only one that issued a dissenting statement.

Etienne Krug, director at WHO’s Department of Social Determinants of Health, said that if motorized road transport did not yet exist “no sane government would permit it.”

He said that the Stockholm Declaration could enable the world to “move quickly towards a safe, healthy, and clean transport system for everyone.”

However, the dissent from the U.S. could slow this progress, claimed Vancouver-based city planner Brent Toderian:

“The U.S. delegation using its stubborn car-only doctrine, and radical ideology of climate emergency denial as excuses to stand in the way of real traffic death solutions is sadly just par for the course for the Trump Administration.”

Further linking the U.S. dissent on road crashes to that on climate change, Toderian added:

“As with other important issues needing global leadership and partnership, the rest of the world must proceed without hesitation, with or without America.”

Read it:

If Kids Were In Charge

If cities and streets are designed for children, they’ll be safe for everyone. But it would be even better if children were in charge!

Amsterdam has a Bicycle Mayor, which isn’t surprising, but in July the second Junior Bike Mayor was appointed.

Amsterdammer Lotta Crok (10) was named the world’s first Junior Bicycle Mayor, representing the voices of some 125,000 children in Amsterdam (14 and younger). Katelijne and Lotta have been working closely together on various projects to boost cycling uptake and safety among children, campaigning for public transportation bike rentals (OV fiets) for children for example.

Lotta passed the torch to the new junior mayor on 4 July, during the ‘Bicycle Heroes’ event at NEMO Science Centre. This competition saw over 150 Amsterdam children, aged 8-11, submit their creative ideas for making cycling better – and safer – for all kids in the city.”

Kids have been making a difference in Amsterdam since 1972 – watch the amazing video of kids in Amsterdam:


In the Feb. 23, 2020 NYTIMES For Kids issue:

A City Had Zero Car Deaths In 2019 – How Did They Do It?

There have miraculously been no traffic deaths in our tiny city (pop. approx. 16,000) of Asbury Park in recent years, considering the huge numbers of drivers who appear in the summer season – it really is a miracle- But Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition believes that we can prevent any future deaths and serious injuries if we reduce miles traveled, restrict cars from most streets in our main city center, and provide alternative modes of transportation.  We can create a true city for people.  #driversareguests #toomanycars

The city of Oslo (pop. almost 700, 000) has succeeded in lowering death-by-car to only ONE in 2019, and the city, and the Governor says even that is one too many:  “Governing mayor of Oslo, Raymond Johansen, told SmartCitiesWorld: “We have a vision of zero traffic deaths in our city. When one person is killed in traffic, it is one too many. But this takes us closer to our vision. Safety is at the core of our transportation policy.”

Nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. WHY?  We know the reason is vehicles. #toomanycars. And yet traffic engineers still design roads to accommodate automotive traffic, and focus on Level Of Service (LOS), focusing on  the movement of motor vehicles, which promotes dangerous, high-speed streets and sprawling land use.

Quoting Streetsblog USA from the article below, “Cities around the U.S. have been slow to follow up on such success…”

In the Planetizen article at the bottom of this post, you’ll see how reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled, or VMT (basically restricting traffic) will reduce traffic related fatalities and injuries. But as the article states, “some cities are making progress, (but) most jurisdictions are failing.”

‘Drivers are guests’:

How Oslo cut traffic deaths to almost zero in 2019

Oslo’s governing mayor tells SmartCitiesWorld how the city is making its streets safer, and that autonomous vehicles could help with retaining and improving the results.

Beautiful cityscape of Oslo on a summer day, Norway

The sole death in Oslo was a man whose car collided with a fence in June.

According to the World Health Organisation, road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.35 million deaths worldwide in 2016 and were the leading cause of death for children and young adults.

Vision Zero! Norwegian Capital Completely Quashes Road Deaths

The most significant move Oslo officials made was devising a plan in 2015 to restrict cars from its square-mile city center and hike fees for entering and parking around the city’s core. Tolls rose in 2017 as the city removed 700 parking spaces and replaced them with 37 miles of bike lanes and pocket parks. The city center ban went into effect in early 2019 despite misgivings, but it was regarded as a model for other metropolises six months later. Cities around the U.S. have been slow to follow up on such success, though New York and San Francisco recently added a car-free thoroughfare to its transit mix.


Vision Zero, Meet VMT Reductions

Todd Litman | February 13, 2020

Many jurisdictions have vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction targets, intended to reduce congestion and pollution. They can also provide large but often overlooked traffic safety benefits.

Although some cities are making progress, most jurisdictions are failing. U.S. traffic death rates declined during the last half of the the 20th century, reaching a low of 32,479 in 2014, but subsequently increased, averaging about 37,000 annual deaths during each of the last three years. New strategies are needed to achieve ambitious safety goals.

Although the United States has rigorous road and vehicle safety standards, and numerous traffic safety programs, it also has the highest per capita traffic death rate among developed countries. Why? Because people in the United States also drive more than residents in peer countries, as illustrated below.

Inattentive Blindness: Looked But Failed To See

Drivers are inattentive at least half of the time when turning right, and 65% of the time they don’t register a person on a bike or motorcycle  (or people walking). “This phenomenon—a person’s failure to notice an unexpected object in plain sight—is known as “inattentional blindness.” It’s the reason why a driver might look right at you, but cut you off anyway. ”  The old “I didn’t see him”, or “she came out of nowhere” excuse is actually the truth. The driver really didn’t see the woman walking into the intersection because he didn’t take the time to look slowly and carefully from side to side to bring the person into the center of vision.

Taking a deeper dive, here’s the science, in an article by an RAF pilot explaining that our eyes were not designed to see detail from the periphery. So unless a driver is looking intentionally, and directly at a person walking or riding a bike, “visual acuity is about 1/10th of what it is at the centre.”

Now that we know that drivers don’t see people outside of the vehicle, let’s add driver entitlement, and the embedded belief that roads were designed for cars, and we realize the very real danger to people walking and riding bikes.

It’s wishful thinking that drivers will change habits, so we need to redesign roads so that drivers have to slow down, install better and safer infrastructure for people walking and biking, and redesign our cities for less car dependency;  cities are for people, not for cars.

The Surprising Reason Why Drivers Don’t ‘See’ Cyclists


“Looked-but-failed-to-see (LBFTS) crashes”:
“When we are driving, there is a huge amount of sensory information that our brain must deal with. We can’t attend to everything, because this would consume enormous cognitive resources and take too much time,” study author Kristen Pammer, a professor of psychology and the associate dean of science at Australian National University, said in a press release. “So our brain has to decide what information is most important. The frequency of LBFTS crashes suggests to us a connection with how the brain filters out information.”



Drop In Private Car Trips To Less Than Half – Can It Happen by 2030?

“Private car trips will drop by 10% on average by 2030 to make up less than half of all city journeys, while public transport, walking and bicycle will all increase in popularity, the Mobility Futures study found.”

This is good news, but the automotive industry won’t give up without a fight. The result of steadily slumping sales of mid-size vehicles has led to the rise in manufacture and sales of huge vehicles (higher margin per vehicle). These larger vehicles, SUVs and trucks are responsible for the rise in death-by-automobile: 40 thousand deaths a year in the US last year.  This figure is a pubic health crisis globally, but it’s been accepted since the 20s and 30s as a natural consequence of owning and driving vehicles, while blaming people walking and riding bikes for being inattentive, not wearing bright colored clothing, or the invention of “jaywalking”.

We can see change starting to happen but can do more as citizens –  work with city leaders to help create better systems of mass transport, build more infrastructure for walking and bicycling, and offer other micro-mobility options. We can work to lower speed limits, calm traffic, create spaces for people instead of for cars, raise the cost and lower the availability of parking. THEN we’ll see the change we need to happen, hopefully within the next 10 years. Our lives depend upon it.

Green transport set to overtake cars in world’s major cities by 2030

by Sonia Elks Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 10 February 2020
Many authorities are looking to discourage private car journeys, while a boom in bike-sharing schemes and electric-powered small vehicles are giving residents new ways to get around.

“It’s a job for every mayor, for every city government to do something,” said Rolf Kullen, mobility director at research consultancy firm Kantar, which produced the study, based on surveys in 31 cities.

“Cities are beginning to understand that you do not build your city around a certain means of transport … You should build your city around the people.”

Read about it:

Jaywalking Is Fake

The history of “jaywalking” – a calculated plan to make way for more cars by marginalizing all other road users. People walking across unmarked intersections or even walking across a street between blocks is not a crime (as long as the person does not literally block the flow of traffic) but it’s considered illegal almost everywhere. It wasn’t always a crime…drivers were the menace until the industry highjacked our brains and our language.

Here’s a fun video from Adam Ruins Everything!

Turns Out Jaywalking Is A Fake Crime Designed By The Car Industry To Make More People Drive  

Cleo Egnal

Updated September 15, 2017

Using money, clever marketing campaigns (which had a lot to do with why we called it ‘jaywalking’), and stories about dead children, car companies were able to pressure cities into putting the onus on pedestrians to not get hit, rather than on drivers for not running over pedestrians.

Read more about it:

Transit-Oriented Development – Asbury Park Gets It Done!

Mike Manzella, Asbury Park’s Transportation Manager and Deputy City Manager has 10 great tips for cities to move toward less car dependency. Transit Oriented Development is “typically mixed-use and dense, providing residents amenities in close proximity. The goal is to create livable and sustainable places in which people can live, work, and play all in the same community, without requiring the use of a car.” Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition thanks Mike for the shout out in tip number 8.  We’re so fortunate to have a solid working relationship with our Transportation Manager, and great communication with our city leaders! Asbury Park is getting it done!

8. Work with advocates.

“The City works closely with local advocates on transportation issues, including the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition. The Coalition has been instrumental in educating the public about alternate modes of transportation and bike-ped safety. The Coalition participated as a stakeholder committee member in the preparation of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan adopted by the City in April 2019. Among the plan’s recommendations is a proposed bicycle network that Mike says is crucial to getting more people to ride bikes and do so safely. Mike keeps in frequent contact with the group and attends the Coalition’s monthly meetings and bike rides.”

TOD Mobility: Asbury Park’s Greatest Hits

The City of Asbury Park, and the City’s Director of Transportation Michael Manzella (second from left, first row), are working to provide residents and visitors with convenient and sustainable ways of getting around town. Photo Credit: Michael Manzella

Monthly Slow Roll Bike Ride, Springwood Park, Feb. 16, 2020

Strolling in Asbury Park near the Carousel and Casino, summer 2019

1. Bike-ped investments spur development of vibrant, unique, and unforgettable places.

Asbury Park is making major investments in transportation to catalyze development. Specifically, the City is investing in multi-modal transportation to catalyze compact, mixed-use, walkable, transit-friendly development.

Read more!