Sunday, August 30, 2015

SF Carnicle Reports 19,000 Bicyclist Inflicted Deaths; City Panics & Internet Explodes

A San Francisco Carnicle article sent shock-waves across the Internet, and brought along a barrage of outrage from the SF community, all the way to City Hall.  The news week started off like most, until one after another, articles depicting horrendous bike destruction swept across the Bay Area.  At least a dozen bike inflicted injuries were reported in less than one week.  They included:

Aug 22: The San Francisco Police Department is seeking witnesses to a Mission Street hit-and-run that critically injured a 24-year-old woman.  The biker kept going north on Mission following the collision, an SFPD spokesperson says. Neither the biker nor the bike have been identified or found as of Monday morning.

Aug 24: A pedestrian was critically injured from a hit-and-run biker in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood Saturday night.

Aug 26: An elderly man was hit Tuesday morning by a speeding biker and then run over as the biker reportedly tried to flee before being stopped by a crowd of onlookers on 6th Street, according to witnesses.  That same day a San Francisco motorcycle police officer was struck by a silver bike on his way to help out the previous accident about two blocks away.  The two bike induced collisions happened within 10 minutes of each other.

Aug 27: A fire started Santa Clara as investigators found that a bike struck the gas line on the north side of the strip mall and fled the scene.

Just one of many tragedies reported, caused by reckless bikers in one week.
image found here
The Carnicle discovered this was just the tip of the iceberg.  A report from the National Safety Council reported that nearly 19,000 people were killed as a result of bicycle related crashes between January and June of 2015, nearly 100 deaths caused by bikers each day.  In addition to the astronomical amount of biker inflicted deaths, there were nearly 2.3 million “serious injuries."  The estimated costs of these bike related crashes, including medical expenses, wage and productivity losses and property damage, topped $152 billion.  California alone had a share of at least 700 pedestrians losing their lives due to bicyclists in 2014.

The Internet exploded over this new, "horrendous", news.

"I always knew those ENTITLED bikers with those killing machines would eventually lead to this.  It's high time we crack down and ban bikes from the road completely"

"This is what you get when you start devoting space to bicycles.  Time to rethink if we really want these destructive vehicles on our roads anymore."

"If these casulaties aren't a wake-up call, then I don't know what is.  How can we as a society, in good conscience, let these reckless cyclists continue their murderous rampage through our city?  We have vulnerable children and elderly that need protection.  One life is one too many."

Thousands of citizens not willing to wait for the government to stop the "bike pandemic that's sweeping the nation"
image found here
Several groups of people took it upon themselves to rip out bike bike racks and paint over the few bike sharrows scattered across the city.  Hundreds flocked outside the San Francisco Bike Coalition asking them disband completely or they would burn down the building "for the good of humanity."

When Mayor Lee heard of the news, he issued an executive order to halt construction of the two bike lanes in the city, and tear up the dozen that already exist.  In an emergency town hall, Lee spoke to hundreds of panicked citizens, "We can't sit idly by when dozen's of people will lose their lives to reckless biking each year.  We must take bold, drastic steps to curb this threat to public safety immediately."  Lee also demanded that the SFPD devote as much time and resources as possible to prevent the "tragic and senseless consequences of reckless bike behavior."

"The death and destruction caused by bikes will not be tolerated, even if it takes putting every one of those godforsaken, bloodthirsty bikers behind bars."
image found here
Hatred and anger for bikers reverberated throughout the city, until the following week, when the Carnicle issued a retraction on the last page of their paper:

"We apologize for last week's error.  We inadvertently replaced "motor vehicle" with "bicycle" in last week's stories.  The high injury and death count was nothing more than typical vehicle "accidents".  We deeply regret the alarm and distress we may have caused by this error.  We repeat, there is no epidemic and there is no cause for alarm."

As the news slowly spread through the Internet, panic and worry subsided.  Mayor Lee, in a statement, said "we can all breath a collective sigh of relief knowing that our reasons for panicking were unmerited."  San Francisco residents rejoiced and left their houses again, flush with the knowledge their city was exactly how it should be.  The SFPD said they would continue to crack down on bicyclists "just in case".

"We'll put this back in, someday"
image found here.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back To School: City Aims to Clear Conscience on Children's Street Safety

It's that time of year when parents send their children back to school and pray their kids can traverse the car dominated streets they've bestowed on them, unscathed.  Fortunately, the city has come up with some things to make themselves feel better, since speed limits, crosswalks, lights/signs and actually witnessing children on the streets just doesn't cut it.

And while motor vehicle crashes remains the leading cause of death among young children in the country, and driver distraction is at an all time high, the city will remain committed to safetyesque things while allowing unfettered street access to motorists.  The city police also threw out a bone, saying they will "be writing tickets to try and prevent disaster" a statement which is sure to comfort parents who have witnessed the driving habits of San Francisco motorists every day.

San Francisco "steps up" enforcement, because seeing vulnerable children on the street isn't enough to stop motorists from speeding, ignoring crosswalks and stop signs.
Image found here.
In addition to all the existing laws in place that have been around since the inception of the motorized vehicle, there will be at least 193 crossing guards staffing 187 corners at 95 schools citywide. Though there's little data on whether or not crossing guards do much to save the lives of our most vulnerable people on the streets, the tradition will continue.  One concerned resident said, "Whatever we can do to to make ourselves feel better that we're making a difference in the lives of children" and then sped off in her SUV while sending a "#SFsafetyfirst" tweet.

People with no actual power to enforce laws, stand by children with high-viz vest and stop signs in hopes of squeezing out some measure of humanity from motorists.
image found here.
Even Mayor Lee has gotten into pandering safety in the midst of car dominance, saying, "Drivers need to be more aware of traveling at safe and appropriate speeds, especially near schools where children learn and play,"  The Mayor plans on saying other nice fluffy things until statistics catch up and a life is lost, in which case he'll reiterate the same thing only in a much sadder tone.  In additional saying nice things, the city also plans on telling children how to maybe be safer by staying in "magical paint" and watching the light turn green and waiting 2-3 seconds for cars to pass, then weaving around cars in the crosswalks.

As cars zigzagged around one of the crossing guards, he said, "We're doing the best we can, and that's really all we can hope for.  I mean do you really expect people to drive reasonably knowing that our most precious resources are crossing the streets of San Francisco?  How ridiculous would that be?" as he chuckled to himself, with a visible tear in his right eye.

Signs like this will be all over SF to help people feel better about the city they created for their children.
image found here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lessons in Transit Shame from Smiley the Clown's "People Behaving Naughtily"

Doesn't matter if you're a texting pedestrian, biker rolling through a stop sign, or a person in a 2 ton pickup speeding through red lights.  Smiley Robinson and his clown van will find and SHAME YOU!
image found here and here 
The streets of San Francisco were rightly designed to move and store cars on every street, along with afterthought sidewalks and the smattering of bike lanes here and there.  Every day, at least 3 people are hit by cars while walking and pedestrians make up over 50% of all traffic fatalities, four times the national average.  San Francisco's data, as part of Vision Zero, have uncovered that most of the injury and death is allegedly caused by:
  1. drivers speeding
  2. running red lights 
  3. running stop signs
  4. violating pedestrians’ right-of-way in crosswalks
  5. failing to yield to pedestrians while turning
But it certainly doesn't hurt to pepper in a little victim blaming now and then to give motorists some sense of relief that their behaviors are on par with that of bikers and pedestrians.  And that's why so many people love Smiley Robinson, a clown that drives around in van, recording stranger's naughty transit habits to give his TV viewers a "balanced" view of what accounts for all the death and injury on the roads.  Many of the offenders on Smiley's "People behaving Naughtily" show smile and say "you caught me being naughty, Smiley!" and laugh at their deadly behaviors to the chagrin of the viewers.

Naughty behavior is all around us, from bikers rolling through stop signs, jaywalkers, motorists impinging upon other's right of way, to cars blasting into each other at high velocities
images found here, here, here and here.
Smiley's program helps everyone build their own anecdata based conclusions on why people meet their doom on streets that weren't designed for non-motorized transit.  Motorists can feel like they are are often the true victims of pedestrians & biker's impatient and suicidal ways.

"Oh yeah I love Smiley, said one motorist.  We really get a kick out of that clown busting people on the streets doing stupid things.  Admittedly, I text while driving and never abide by the speed limit, but then I see that clown's show I think, 'look at all those distracted pedestrians and that biker on the sidewalk.  They're just as bad as me!'  I can sleep a little more soundly at night knowing that some of those people had it coming."  Smiley admittedly doesn't choose favorites and everyone can be an equal opportunity offender.

Smiley's recent month long attention to naughty bike behavior in San Francisco which he has chocked up to an angered "cycling community".  People have argued that bikers not abiding to laws designed for motorized vehicles has led to an insignificant fraction of the 4,735 pedestrian deaths and 66,000 reported pedestrian injuries and was undeserving of such attention.  That hasn't stopped Smiley's viewers from building anecdote fueled rage at these scofflaw bikers and threatening violence against them.  Although the clown has said this retaliation against bikers makes him sad (*cue slide-whistle*).

According to Vision Zero SF, 41 percent of all pedestrian related crashes take place in a crosswalk, and Smiley urges everyone to make sure they are in a crosswalk, because, well, that's the law.  The 1 in 4 patients at San Francisco General Hospital’s trauma center who are people hit by cars while walking can take comfort in the fact that they weren't naughtily breaking the law when they were struck by vehicles.

Smiley catches people texting and walking through car dominated streets.  Doesn't it just grind your gears you when you see this kind of naughty behavior.  They're just asking for trouble!
image found here 
Thanks to Smiley, we can all have a good heathy chuckle at our naughty behaviors, regardless of whether they could cause harm to ourselves or wipe out an entire family in the blink of an eye.   This clown's strict, unquestioning and religious adherence to traffic laws is certain to make our city streets safer for everyone.