Pedestrians and cyclists can get hurt even on NYC sidewalks, but the heavier ones less so

The NY Times reports on an article re: pedestrian and cyclist safety from the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

-Gathering data from 1,400 people who have been injured is impressive.

-That pedestrians are most vulnerable in crosswalks is not surprising; it is where the pedestrians are–the whole “exposure” aspect.

-But now, we finally have a partial silver lining to the obesity epidemic in the US: excessive weight may prove a boon for pedestrians in a collision. Victims with an above-normal body mass index were found to have less severe injuries than their counterparts. “It is not implausible that a greater proportion of torso and extremity fat may protect against injury”

Infographics and gamification

The following infographic from Active Living Research recently came across my email. It is nicely presented; it is a fair representation of some of the research.  But……

…while it might satisfy some central purposes of an infographic, we have argued elsewhere, it is best to to consider the balance of the research and not rely on what one study here or there has to offer about a particular factoid.

Illustration of points for completing sustainable activitiesThe larger issue is that based on an article in the recent issue of ensia, knowledge and information have little to do with behavior change. Moral suasion does not work either (my favorite quote from the article: “If educating people about an issue would solve the problem, we would have no obesity and no smokers in our country”).

Two reactions: First, competition (what they call “gamification”) and peer pressure are paramount. We are getting there with the both–in terms of cycling, at least–but these elements take time to engender in society. Second, talk is cheap. Most everyone says they want to save water and the planet; action is less so.

 

Cyclists defensive about the pollution they emit

Cyclists recently came out in hoards to repel the comments from the Washington State politician who claimed, “Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.” Both the Seattle times and Velonews picked it up. And, the politician has since apologized.

It reminds me of the GM ad telling college students to stop pedaling and to start driving–an ad that was met with so much opposition that it was pulled by GM back in the fall of 2011.

** And just fyi, here are two “journalistic reporting stats” that appeared in the Seattle Times report: (1) On average, cars emit about three-quarters of a pound of carbon dioxide per mile, while bicycling releases just over 1 ounce per mile, including manufacturing, according to analysis by the European Cyclists Federation. and (2) food calories burned by a rider may well be equivalent to 650 miles per gallon, figures Todd Litman, of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

Three-hundred and twenty-nine days in NYC

329 days is how much longer the Bloomberg administration will be in office in NYC, including Janette Sadik-Khan. So, this how long they have to finish all of their aggressive cycling projects for which they have received much acclaim and this is how long we have to wait to hear the degree to which the new incumbent might roll back some of the advancements.

Leopold leadership program fellows announced for 2013

The Leopold Leadership Program Based at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, the Leopold Leadership Program provides academic environmental researchers with skills and approaches for communicating and working with partners in NGOs, business, government and communities to integrate science into decision‐making.

The Leopold program just released the list of 20 individuals receiving fellowships in 2013 and I am fortunate to be a part of this crew and the first planner to boot. Read more here and from CU.

Minneapolis bike crash report

Bicyclist-Motorist Crash RateMinneapolis recently released a new report examining bicycle crashes. It is based off of 10+ years of DPS crash data which is pretty limited to begin with. I am pretty sure there is not much new in this report that we did not uncover back in 2006 or 2007 with our analysis of the same data; but, that was not commissioned in-house by Public Works and it was not done by Public Works. So, it is more important for them to be able to listen to themselves.

The Atlantic Cities article covers some popular press elements of the descriptive stats. They claim to see, again, an attribution of or mention of safety in numbers, directionality, and causality. But, as has been pointed out by others, there little to suggest we have anything here other than more people riding and crash rates staying level.

What really is needed is to figure out how to use the count data to uncover more reliable and geographic measures of exposure.

Winter bike to work

winter bike work logoBike to work day in the summer sees all sorts of press, in most all regions of the US. Some places–like here in Boulder, Colorado–accompany it with a winter bike to work day equivalent, which was today. Owing to the 63 degree forecast and the uptick in general interest for cycling, sponsors are reporting record numbers (again). And, my friend Garvin and his son are highlighted in this video.

It is a natural assumption that the winter folks are the more hearty and might have a more natural inclination to do it year round. But the real question is what happens to all the summer bike to work folks? Why the attrition? This is the topic of a research project soon to be undertaken by the ACT Research Group. Stay tuned.

Yale’s Urban Dialogue of Critical Environmental Issues

On January 18, I was in New Haven and it was a privilege to contribute to the Urban Dialogue on Critical Environmental Issues at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. I have never really thought of myself as a forester. But, the school is considering ways to expand into more urban-type things (the school’s name, right now, is a bit of a misnomer) and it could be that human dimensions of transport and urban planning might be among those critical issues that might gain traction. At least we can hope so.