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Thread: Police Car Strikes Cyclists in Alexandria

  1. #31
    Steve O's Avatar
    Steve O is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    I do not think infrastructure improvement is a cost effective way to address the bad operators issue. Financial incentives for better operator training (ie reduced insurance rates, tax break, etc.) may work better. I believe elevating operator skills on the road is the key to improve safety for everyone.
    Both and all. I'm all for getting drivers to be better. Research shows that drivers behave better when there are more people riding bikes. Building more comfortable, safer infrastructure helps address both issues.


    I'm not sure how long it will take to educate 200 million drivers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    I don't think speed is as big of a factor as some make it out to be, when it comes to car/bike incursions. Even a Smart car travelling at 25mph has plenty of energy to flatten a cyclist. On the other hand, necking down lanes might slow things down, but it also tend to cause drivers to bias to the right, and I think that poses a greater risk to cyclists.
    I think speed has less to do with relative momentum between bikes and cars, and more to do with reaction time and attention paid by drivers to what is going on around them. More speed = longer braking distance = less time to react upon seeing something for which to apply the brakes. Even the reason the officer did not look right before turning right on red probably had a lot to do with the speed of the traffic with which he/she was looking to merge; the cars coming from the left were much more of a threat than anything that would be coming from the right.

    On my weekend rides, I like to devise routes mainly on neighborhood streets, but of course in Northern Virginia you will eventually need to use a more major route if you want to get anywhere. Inevitably my comfort level drops precipitously when I have to use a road with yellow paint in the middle as drivers' sense of entitlement to speed increases. As the speed limit rises, drivers naturally think the road is safer to travel at higher speed meaning the less likely it is they have to pay attention to what's going on. Similarly, the more the road resembles the type of road where the speed limit is high, the more likely are drivers to go fast on it, regardless of the actual posted speed limit (lordofthemark's point).

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerdont View Post
    The research does not bear this out. There are plenty of sources for this, but I'll just point to one.

    http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm

    Summary:

    20 mph: 5% chance of pedestrian death

    30 mph: 45% chance of pedestrian death

    40 mph: 85% chance of pedestrian death

    The numbers may vary a bit for cyclists, but you get the idea.

    Getting people to obey posted speed limits could save a lot of lives, as could reducing speeds in areas with heavy pedestrian and cycling traffic.
    I believe the stats you cited is based on a driver actually slowing down to prevent a pedestrian impact, rather than impacting at the speed shown, so these are actually conservative numbers.

    The point I am trying to make is that on typical roads around here, cars are already travelling fast enough to kill, even with a small car observing the lowest posted speed limit. A quick Google search on car bike crash causes will show that with most car/bike incidents, speed is not a major factor.

  6. #34
    lordofthemark's Avatar
    lordofthemark is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    I believe the stats you cited is based on a driver actually slowing down to prevent a pedestrian impact, rather than impacting at the speed shown, so these are actually conservative numbers.

    The point I am trying to make is that on typical roads around here, cars are already travelling fast enough to kill, even with a small car observing the lowest posted speed limit. A quick Google search on car bike crash causes will show that with most car/bike incidents, speed is not a major factor.
    1. Lots of people get hit by cars around here and do not die, so the percentages really do matter.

    2. The earlier points were about the seriousness of the crash, not the cause. In the scenarios bentbike mentions, speed might not have been mentioned as a factor by police but would still have been a factor - either because speed had a causal impact even though the driver was not speeding, because (like the person rushing to make a right on red because other cars are speeding) its cars other than the driver in the crash who are speeding, or simply because the police are not sure of the speed.

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    From the Post today "Fairfax Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said that Crawley was in the roadway, bound to obey the laws which apply to vehicles, and that he was going the wrong way on the highway — north in the southbound lanes — and didn’t exercise caution before entering the intersection." What Chief Roessler seems to omit from his statement is that the police car was blocking the crosswalk so the cyclists had to leave the crosswalk to get across the street.

    Just say'n

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    If the cyclist had been a cop and the driver a private citizen, would Roessler have drawn the same conclusion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dbb View Post
    From the Post today "Fairfax Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said that Crawley was in the roadway, bound to obey the laws which apply to vehicles, and that he was going the wrong way on the highway — north in the southbound lanes — and didn’t exercise caution before entering the intersection." What Chief Roessler seems to omit from his statement is that the police car was blocking the crosswalk so the cyclists had to leave the crosswalk to get across the street.

    Just say'n
    Link to article in the Washington Post. This is typical of crashes involving peds/cyclists. The driver side of the story is heard first, and taken as the truth while the other party is either unconscious, in shock, confusion, or laying in a hospital. The police department had to hear the driver story first, and seemed to make conclusions; even before hearing the cyclist side of it. In this FCPD blog, they say "the officer was stopped at a red light". Not so. He crossed the white line, so he is the box so to speak, running a red light. The cyclist didn't leave the crosswalk until the cruiser moved, to avoid a collusion. So it seems that both at fault, the officer for running a red light, and the cyclist for not waiting for the walk signal. Only one is ticketed, but more importantly, it gives the wrong driver-education; that they don't need to stop at the white line, that's what it's there for.

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    "A quick Google search on car bike crash causes will show that with most car/bike incidents, speed is not a major factor. "

    I wonder about this statement. Perhaps you mean "speeding"? It is entirely possible that an officer could fail to list speeding as a factor in an accident report when more obvious causes exist (e.g., failure to stop or yield). The officer would be unlikely to list speed at all if there was no evidence that the speed limit was broken; in this case, speed could definitely still be a factor in the severity of the crash even if it were not an official cause of the crash.

    There is a quadrupling of potential impact energy for every doubling of speed. There is no doubt that smaller cars can kill even at slower speeds, but your odds are inversely proportional to the energy you encounter, and this energy goes up with speed. The faster speeds increase stopping distance as well, as bentbike mentions, so a collision could be more likely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by n18 View Post
    In this FCPD blog, they say "the officer was stopped at a red light". Not so. He crossed the white line, so he is the box so to speak, running a red light.
    To be fair, the citizen dashcam shows that the police driver did initially stop for the red light as required. It's hard to tell if he was completely behind the stop line, but it is clear that he wasn't blocking the crosswalk at all while stopped. His error was his subsequent attempt to make a right-on-red when it was not safe to do so. Because he didn't check to see if anyone was about to use that crosswalk. If the bicyclist hadn't been there, that would have been a legal turn.
    Last edited by scoot; 04-26-2019 at 12:34 PM.

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    As I suspected, Mr. Crawley appears to have been using what the Fairfax County Bike Map considers a "Secondary Trail (Shared Use Path)".

    Note that the link does not go to the specific location. Look for "Mount Vernon Plaza Shopping Center".

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