War on Cars Watch for January 9, 2019

Welcome to the War on Cars Watch, a weekly blog to bring together all the stories that affect motorists with regards to street planning such as road diets, and traffic calming as well as programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets.

Please read this blog and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Since the Watch was on vacation the Holiday Season the dates for this blog are from December 20, 2018 through January 8, 2019.

Here are some National News Headlines concerning the War on Cars:

Study: Underposted Speed Limits Diminish Safety – This is something that the NMA has been talking about for decades…need more studies like these.

Fewer Americans bike to work despite new trails, lanes and bicycle share programs – So why do we keep paying for these lanes…if we build them, they don’t seem to be coming and at $12M a mile (as in Seattle) this seems too expensive considering all the other infrastructure issues we have right now.

Editorial from the Bike Snob: To Create a Truly Great City, We Have to Ban the Car – We don’t!

Drivers Buzz Cyclists Because They Believe We Don’t Belong on the Road according to two new studies – do any of you buzz cyclists—this study seems a bit biased…don’t you think?

Arkansas

City of Damascus Speed Trap Sanctions Lifted, Traffic Enforcement Resumes – what a city saga? Do you think this tiny town has learned its lesson—time will tell!

California

Court Rejects Challenge to California Police Transparency Law – Good News for Motorists!

Bad News:

Real ID hits a bump in California, but if you already have yours, don’t panic. It will work – The state DMV was already going to have to pump out 1M per month and now this…no wonder the head of the DMV resigned late last year. Yikes!

Los Angeles Accuses Weather Channel App of Covertly Mining User Data

Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition Approves Neutral Motion Calling for Community Consultation on Road Diets

Los Angeles: Traffic Calming Project along Mar Vista’s Venice Blvd Will Stay with More on the Way

Another ‘road diet’ is planned for Pasadena, CA, this time on Cordova Street

California: Drivers Mad, Bikers Glad As San Jose Adds 10 Miles of Protected Bike Lanes

Commentary from CA Member Michael Jabbra: 

The Venice Boulevard road diet: I live in Councilman Bonin’s district, although this road diet does not affect me.  Many of his constituents live in the Venice and Mar Vista areas.  I think some of them might like it, and some might not. Certainly those who drive through from other areas won’t like it.
 
I think the idea is that people won’t stand for cars being banned entirely, so Councilman Bonin and other anti-car types want to make driving as annoying as possible so that we will all jump on our bicycles or walk to work.
 
To be fair, I am not anti-bicycle. I was recently transferred to a location much closer to home; it might be possible for me to ride my bicycle on some days.  Biking or walking aren’t inherently bad. However, not everyone lives close enough to their homes to make that possible, and not everyone is a single person without a child who never needs to haul groceries or other cargo around. The anti-car crowd just won’t acknowledge that.  

Canada

Canada: Stiff new penalties for distracted, impaired driving in Ontario start on Jan. 1

Canadian Liberties advocates say Ontario’s new distracted driving law could target minorities

Colorado

Denver City Council Unanimously Rejects Red-Light Cameras, Photo Radar Van Expansion –This is due to a council member who went out and time these intersections himself and realized that the yellows were all too short…great news!  Now, let’s rid the city and the state of Colorado of automated traffic enforcement entirely?

District of Columbia

Editorial: Too many people died in D.C. traffic crashes in 2018. We can do better in 2019. (Vision Zero Watch)

Illinois

Panel Denies Union Bid to Weigh In on Chicago Police Reforms – Great News for Motorists!

Bad News: Chicago Seized and Sold Nearly 50,000 Cars Over Tickets since 2011, Sticking Owners with Debt

Indiana

Indiana Court Upholds One-More-Question Police Searches

Minnesota

Appeals court says drivers can’t be stopped for cracked windshield if vision not impaired

North Dakota

Editorial: North Dakota must support Vision Zero (Vision Zero Watch)

New York

Editorial: NY Governor Cuomo vetoes ‘problematic’ Toll Payer Protection Act, but cashless system is still shaky –too bad, this bill would have given much needed relief for those using cashless tolls!

NYC Editorial: Progressive pricing–The new Legislature ought to speed to a fair traffic-congestion fee

New York: Cohoes speed trap raising concerns among drivers

New York City: Crossing Guards for Grown-Ups? Yes, Traffic Is That Bad

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania: SEPTA facing $63M capital budget shortfall over OOIDA and NMA lawsuit

National Motorists Association disagrees with Pennsylvania distracted driving story

PA Turnpike reminds travelers of 2019 toll increase

Philly’s big plan to make streets safer in residential neighborhoods (Vision Zero Watch)

Vermont

Vermont Supreme Court Holds Cops Liable For Racist Traffic Stop

Commentary from NMA Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker

The Penn State University study echoes what we have said for years – to post speed limits at or close to the 85th percentile speed for the smoothest & safest traffic flow plus high voluntary compliance. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices says to post within 5 mph of the 85th percentile speed and that should be what we defend as the best practice.  Posting more than 5 mph below the 85th speed can reduce safety and enable for-profit speed traps that no one should tolerate.

Cyclist and pedestrian lobbies have had great influence with city councils, often because the motorists don’t show up to object to controls that strangle traffic on our collector & arterial roads.  Show up at your city meetings when proposals to damage traffic flow on our major streets.

Speed trap cities like Damascus will continue ticketing until the posted limits are fixed.

Some Road Diet proposals have been defeated or modified IF MOTORISTS AND MERCHANTS SHOW UP TO OBJECT.  Silence on these issues means defeat in most cases.

The Denver review of yellow intervals on lights might lead to a real victory.

Issuing tickets with lower construction zone speed limits in Cohoes, NY before the construction started is outright larceny that no one should tolerate.

It is good to see Pennsylvania venues that depend upon part of the $450 million a year stolen from Turnpike revenues begin to hurt. If our suit prevails, the state will have to rethink transit funding. I just paid a $19.25 toll on the PA Turnpike that should be more like $10 if we win.

Vision Zero is a powerful emotional appeal, but note that zero traffic fatalities is not a real goal so long as there are moving vehicles. Could we reduce fatalities? Sure, but the first thing to do is to get profits out of traffic laws and their enforcement – so officials and police can focus entirely on safety, not on ticket revenue which corrupt the goals and practices.

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