Speed Cameras Save Lives

In 2012 1310 people died on Pennsylvania roads, that’s larger than the population of 994 municipalities in the State and equal to one fourth of the population of Cameron County. That grim statistic includes 168 pedestrians and 16 bicyclists. Speeding was the primary cause of 371 traffic deaths.

Speed cameras have been found to reduce crashes and injuries. Washington DC recently published a report that included crash and injury trends at 257 speed camera locations. The report looked at crash data for those locations up to 3 years prior to camera installation, and for up to 3 years after camera installation. The results found a 15% reduction in crashes in 20% reduction in injuries.

In Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack has introduced a bill in the PA Senate S1211 which authorizes the use of speed cameras on US1 (Roosevelt Boulevard) in Philadelphia.

The idea of using cameras to catch drivers doing what they shouldn’t draws in populist ideas of big brother and that the cameras are cash cows for strapped municipalities. And the media eats it up. For example an article in Phillymag.com recently carried this headline - Roosevelt Boulevard Crashes Have Increased Since Red Light Cameras – True, but perhaps it should have read Roosevelt Boulevard Fatalities Decline 65% Since Red Light Cameras (from 124 to 43 over 4 years). Minor fender benders have increased but fewer people are dying, and that’s the point. Furthermore those crash statistics were taken for the entire highway not just the 8 intersections with red light cameras.

Much of the populist rabble rousing has come from the National Motorists Association (NMA). The NMA also opposes current DUI laws , black boxes in cars and traffic calming in general, claiming that the relationship between the speed of a striking vehicle and pedestrian mortality is greatly exaggerated. They also have proposed a $20,000 stop sign tax on the responsible agency (based on alleged time lost and fuel consumed).

speed-camera-greed

National Motorists Association

Finally let’s talk about revenue. It is likely that Speed Camera revenues will follow a process similar to the Red Light Camera program in Pennsylvania. The costs of maintaining and administering the cameras are deducted from revenues by the sponsor, in this case its the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The remaining surplus is then deposited into a restricted PENNDOT Motor License Fund account. This account known as ARLE is disbursed to municipalities through a competitive grant program to fund transportation safety improvement projects across the state.

Finally speed cameras should part of a more comprehensive approach to traffic safety. Along Roosevelt Blvd PennDOT’s safety efforts have included signalizing five mid-block crosswalks; removing five mid-block crosswalks; installing twelve pull-off areas in the median to provide police a safe location for enforcement and a visual presence; enhancing median pedestrian refuge areas in two locations; and installing speed advisory signs on three bridges over the Boulevard.

As Professor Stephen Glaister Director Royal Automobile Club Foundation which published a comprehensive report on the subject in 2010 - “Speed cameras should never be the only weapon in the road safety armory, but neither should they be absent from the battle.”

 

Posted in around the state, Info you can use, legislation, Policy | 4 Comments

Propose trail and bike/ped projects for PennDOT investment

Do you know a PA state road that could go on a road diet and get bike lanes or wider shoulders? Or a trail that needs state investment to get designed and built? PennDOT is seeking public input on projects that need state investment for its “Long Range Transportation & Comprehensive Freight Movement Plan.”  

Please take this opportunity to suggest the projects you would like PennDOT to prioritize by filling out this survey. Deadline is May 30th.

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Posted in around the state, Policy, statewide | 5 Comments

Rob McCord Responses to PAWB Candidate Questionnaire

PA Walk and Bikes asked the four democratic candidates to answer our questionnaire about their position on biking and walking issues.   We are putting up each response in separate blog posts.

CANDIDATE ROB MCCORD RESPONSE

In the state of Pennsylvania, 12% of all traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. While overall traffic fatalities are decreasing, bicycle and pedestrian deaths are not. Unlike our peers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York or almost any other state in the country, PennDOT does not have a bicycle and pedestrian office.

1. What value do you see is in encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania?

Generally, I believe the commonwealth should do more to encourage non-motorized forms of transportation as a means of reducing traffic congestion, encouraging healthy physical activity, and reducing automobile pollution.

That requires making communities and roadways friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists. I’m pleased that last year’s transportation funding bill recognized the need to invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects. As governor,

I will ensure those dollars are spent wisely and that bicycle and pedestrian projects that apply for funding are given full consideration.

2. Will you set a goal to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by half by 2025?

Yes. Based on federal statistics, I believe there are specific things we can do to improve safety. For instance, in 2012, the highest risk period appears to have been between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight. Forty-eight percent of bicyclists and 56 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during this window.

Additionally, nearly 70 percent of bicyclist and 73 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas that year. If we focus on these two areas alone, we can make a measurable difference and dramatically reduce the loss of life.

3. PennDOT needs to establish a bicycle and pedestrian office that is adequately staffed to:

  • update PennDOT design manuals and train PennDOT engineers in current bicycle and pedestrian best practices,
  • update and monitor the statewide bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • assist MPOs, counties and municipalities in drafting bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • develop a data-driven cost estimate of building out all proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, trails and bicycle routes statewide that can be include in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Will you establish such an office?

Yes. I want nonmotorized modes of transportation to be a priority, but that cannot happen so long as the people within state government who are responsible for advancing the issue are competing with other interests and demands on their time.

4. Will you ask PennDOT and DCNR to set 10-year goals for the number of miles of bike lanes and trails to be built across Pennsylvania?

Yes. That work must start with developing a master plan – something that I believe is long overdue in Pennsylvania. To the best of my knowledge, PennDOT’s last master plan for bicycle and pedestrian transportation was published in 2007. After seven years, it’s time for an update, and I will engage multiple state agencies, as well as the public (specifically including PA Walks and Bikes, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and BikePGH) in that work.

5. Will you support spending a percentage of federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds and Pennsylvania’s Multi-Modal Fund on Safe Routes to School projects?

Yes. Obviously the Safe Routes to School program is targeted at making sure our children can make it from home to their classrooms safely, but these projects benefit the entire community. I want to ensure we’re taking full advantage of every potential federal dollar and that we leverage public funds to secure the most funding from other sources. Additionally, we need to ensure schools have the expertise they need to successfully pursue this funding and advance the projects they’ve identified.

6. Will you support speed camera enforcement for roads where excessive speeding is a particular safety hazard?

I do support speed cameras because I think they can be an effective and efficient deterrent against speeding, which consequently could save lives, too.  And while I’m sensitive to concerns over the accuracy of these automated systems, I do not think that concern represents an insurmountable challenge. If the legislature allows speed cameras as an enforcement tool, I want to be sure we implement only the most dependable and reliable systems and test it thoroughly to ensure accuracy.

Posted in around the state | 1 Comment

Katie McGinty Responds to PAWB Candidate Questionnaire

PA Walk and Bikes asked the four democratic candidates to answer our questionnaire about their position on biking and walking issues.   We are putting up each response in separate blog posts.

CANDIDATE KATIE MCGINTY RESPONSE

In the state of Pennsylvania, 12% of all traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. While overall traffic fatalities are decreasing, bicycle and pedestrian deaths are not. Unlike our peers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York or almost any other state in the country, PennDOT does not have a bicycle and pedestrian office.

1. What value do you see is in encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania?

In addition to the vital health and wellbeing value of encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania, I believe that these activities also can provide an economic and environmental impact in every region of our state. Walking or biking provide Pennsylvanian’s with an alternative to driving that can save them money, while protecting the air we breathe by reducing carbon emissions. As governor, I would pledge to bring together organizations like Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and BikePGH, with PennDOT and the state’s Department of Economic Development to develop a plan to create and promote more walkable and bike-friendly cities and communities. I strongly believe, that investing in our communities to enhance, improve and expand Pennsylvania’s walking/biking options also drives economic development, bringing more foot traffic into a community, as well as creating a safer, stronger community that we can all be proud.

2. Will you set a goal to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by half by 2025?

Yes

3. PennDOT needs to establish a bicycle and pedestrian office that is adequately staffed to:

  • update PennDOT design manuals and train PennDOT engineers in current bicycle and pedestrian best practices,
  • update and monitor the statewide bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • assist MPOs, counties and municipalities in drafting bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • develop a data-driven cost estimate of building out all proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, trails and bicycle routes statewide that can be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Will you establish such an office?

Yes

4. Will you ask PennDOT and DCNR to set 10-year goals for the number of miles of bike lanes and trails to be built across Pennsylvania?

Yes

5. Will you support spending a percentage of federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds and Pennsylvania’s Multi-Modal Fund on Safe Routes to School projects?

Yes

6. Will you support speed camera enforcement for roads where excessive speeding is a particular safety hazard?

Yes

Posted in around the state | 2 Comments

Allyson Schwartz Responses to PAWB Candidate Questionnaire

PA Walk and Bikes asked the four democratic candidates to answer a questionnaire about their position on biking and walking issues.   We are putting up each response in separate blog posts.

CANDIDATE ALLYSON SCHWARTZ RESPONSE

In the state of Pennsylvania, 12% of all traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. While overall traffic fatalities are decreasing, bicycle and pedestrian deaths are not. Unlike our peers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York or almost any other state in the country, PennDOT does not have a bicycle and pedestrian office.

1. What value do you see is in encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania?

I am a bicyclist myself. As a member of both the Livable Communities Task Force and the Congressional Bike Caucus in the U.S. House, one of my top priorities has been to improve neighborhoods in Pennsylvania and across the country by making areas greener, safer, more livable and more bike-and-pedestrian friendly. I have built a strong, proven record of working to encourage biking and walking in Pennsylvania. The benefits are obvious and many. They include improved health and lower healthcare costs; less traffic congestion, reduced air pollution, and less greenhouse gas emissions.

I have been an advocate – and have helped to provide funding – for The Circuit bike/ped trail in the Philadelphia area. In October 2012, I helped to break ground for the Port Richmond Trail along the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia. As a member of Congress, I helped obtain the federal TIGER grant that made the project possible.

Altogether, I have helped secure $23 million in TIGER grants for 16.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the Philadelphia area. These miles are part of a 128-mile circuit crossing through six counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Eventually, The Circuit could encompass 500 miles. We are getting it done, piece by piece.

2. Will you set a goal to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by half by 2025?

Our streets belong to all of our citizens, and that certainly includes pedestrians and cyclists. To both encourage bicycle commuting and to make our streets safer, Pennsylvania should adopt a Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets policies balance the needs of cars, pedestrians, and cyclists with dedicated space for each. The City of Philadelphia in 2009 adopted a complete streets policy that has made a real difference on the ground level. Complete Streets advocates have made a push for such a program in Pittsburgh.

As governor, I will adopt a state Complete Streets policy that encourages and supports local communities in adopting Complete Streets plans. I cannot forecast whether this program, together with other pro-bike, pro-walking measures, will lead to a 50 percent reduction in fatalities. But it will certainly make a difference.

I will meet with stakeholders to consider whether Pennsylvania’s mandatory bicycle helmet law should be amended to protect more of our youth. The current law requires helmet use by riders 12 and under. Among our neighbor states, only Ohio (which has no mandatory helmet law) does less to protect teenage riders. New Jersey covers riders 17 and younger; Delaware, 16 and under; West Virginia, 15 and under; and New York, 14 and under.

3. PennDOT needs to establish a bicycle and pedestrian office that is adequately staffed to:

  • update PennDOT design manuals and train PennDOT engineers in current bicycle and pedestrian best practices,
  • update and monitor the statewide bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • assist MPOs, counties and municipalities in drafting bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • develop a data-driven cost estimate of building out all proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, trails and bicycle routes statewide that can be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Will you establish such an office?

Yes.

4. Will you ask PennDOT and DCNR to set 10-year goals for the number of miles of bike lanes and trails to be built across Pennsylvania?

Yes.

5. Will you support spending a percentage of federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds and Pennsylvania’s Multi-Modal Fund on Safe Routes to School projects?

I will convene stakeholders on this issue to obtain the best-possible guidance, and I will pursue the best-possible actions.

6. Will you support speed camera enforcement for roads where excessive speeding is a particular safety hazard?

I will convene stakeholders on this issue to obtain the best-possible guidance, and I will pursue the best-possible actions.

Allyson Schwartz’ position paper on Transportation

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