Latest bike activist propaganda: Bike lanes are safer for drivers, too!

The bicycle lane to nowhere….

If there is one thing we have learned in the fight over transportation planning and the future of our cities, it’s that bicycle activists never tire of spreading misleading and outright false information to further their purblind agendas. So it’s no surprise that the usual suspects like CityLab are catching the vapors over a new study that suggests protected bike lanes make travel safer for all road users.

The study, by urban planning professors at the University of Colorado and University of New Mexico, concludes “Better safety outcomes are instead associated with a greater prevalence of bike facilities – particularly protected and separated bike facilities – at the block group level and, more strongly so, across the overall city.”

Color us skeptical. As demonstrated in places from Los Angeles, California to Waverly, Iowa, road diets just as often increase the number of overall accidents significantly. Moreover, there’s always a tell when people try to fudge the facts. Here, the study’s authors conclude in part, “Where cycle tracks were most abundant on a citywide basis, fatal crash rates dropped by 44 percent compared to the average city.” Problem is, there’s no such thing as an “average city.” This is a common sleight of hand activists employ, comparing one set of statistics against a non-existent alternative. It’s a classic straw man argument. As the saying goes, there are three kinds of falsehoods: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Nevertheless, for the sake of argument let’s accept the study’s conclusions: “bike facilities” tend to slow down traffic, and slower traffic can mean fewer serious accidents. Even if that’s true, as with so much of the activists’ propaganda the study still only tells part of the story, and is highly misleading.

As we’ve reported consistently, many bike facilities, including protected bike lanes, significantly impact emergency response times. Consider: Prior to the installation of dozens of miles of road diets and protected bike lanes, New York City experienced approximately 120 pedestrian and cyclist deaths annually. It goes without saying that every single death is a tragedy and certainly communities should take all reasonable steps to minimize that number. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2017 (the last year for which complete data is available), there were 44,092 deaths in New York attributable to heart disease. There were 6,264 deaths attributable to strokes, 3,921 drug overdoses, 722 firearm deaths, and 577 homicides. Put another way: There are more deaths from these categories of emergencies every single day than the total number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths annually. Making it more difficult for emergency responders to travel from station to scene all but guarantees these numbers will go up as the city installs more and more road diets. As any first responder can attest, minutes and even seconds can make the difference between life and death, or recovery and permanent disability.

It’s also worth pointing out that a significant percentage of pedestrians and cyclists are at fault in fatal accidents (such as the intoxicated man who was killed last summer walking down the middle of the 110 freeway in L.A. at three in the morning). All the bike lanes in the world won’t prevent instances of basic stupidity – cyclists who routinely ignore stop signs and red lights, or distracted drivers checking email at 40 miles an hour. However, road diets, particularly those with protected bike lanes, can keep ambulances from reaching victims in time to save their lives.

If the activists truly cared about peoples’ lives they would be calling for the immediate removal of road diets and bike lanes on major thoroughfares and emergency routes. Instead, they’re willing to risk literally tens of thousands of lives annually in cities like New York and Los Angeles – and millions nationwide – to further their agenda (an agenda, by the way, that disproportionately serves young, affluent “bike bros” at the expense of everyone else, but we digress).

As demonstrated in studies by a former Los Angeles Fire Marshall, a former Austin, Texas assistant fire chief and an engineer with the National Bureau of Standards laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, even minor traffic calming measures like speed bumps slow down emergency vehicles. Major reconfigurations like road diets and protected bike lanes have proven in many cases to be catastrophic.

According to multiple senior officials with fire departments in California, Washington state, Iowa, Massachusetts, and New York, more lives are being lost in non-traffic emergencies than are being saved by changes to roads. Off the record, numerous firefighters have confirmed to The All Aspect Report that victims in medical emergencies have died because help couldn’t reach them in time due to road diets. Said one senior fire official in southern California, “For the politicians to characterize the road diet [in our community] as an improvement is a lie.”

Captain Henry Holt of the Oakland, California Fire Department confirms that his crews get bogged down on the Telegraph Avenue road diet every single day. It gets so bad at times, he says, that emergency drivers resort to “suicide mode,” driving down the other side of the street to get around gridlock caused by the road diet. His department is far from alone, as the picture of a Los Angeles Fire Department truck on the (now reversed) Playa del Rey road diet shows.

A LAFD fire engine goes into “suicide mode” to get around road diet gridlock.

Meanwhile, Chief Howard Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Department is on record describing the negative impacts of road diets on his crews’ ability to get from station to scene. The Chief is no anti-bike zealot, in fact quite the opposite: His family owned a bicycle shop when he was growing up, and he was an avid cyclist until an accident rendered him paraplegic (he is the only paraplegic fire chief in the country).

These are the realities caused by the crazed national push for bike infrastructure and road diets. People are dying. Of course, the activists and politicians would rather you not know these uncomfortable realities, which is why they go out of their way to drown out any contrarian information, even when it comes from the very people into whose hands each and every one of us entrusts our safety and even our lives.

It’s worth asking: When it comes to life and death issues, should we trust firefighters, paramedics, cops, and other emergency professionals? Or should we listen to activists, many of whom are paid quite well to further their radical anti-car agenda?

The answer is obvious.


7 thoughts on “Latest bike activist propaganda: Bike lanes are safer for drivers, too!

  1. Nice takedown of rigorous academic study, bro.

    Seriously though, it’s not clear whether you’re more stupid than you are angry or vice versa. This anti-vaxxer style is a really bad look, Chris.

    And from a copy editing standpoint, you should at least put your name on this garbage. And for the love of God stop referring to yourself as us. You aren’t a movement, you’re a misanthrope.


  2. Absolutely accurate. Bike activists want playground-safe facilities everywhere. For 100+ years bicycles have co-existed safely with automobiles, as long as bicyclists take responsibility for their own safety. The push for this stuff comes from a virulent anti-driver/anti-auto cabal intent on making driving as inconvenient, uncomfortable and expensive as possible. Their true goal is the elimination of the automobile (except for themselves, of course).
    And “traffic calming” is a cancer: for every one (1) life saved by calming, 85 others are lost from stokes and heart attacks due to slowing of EMT vehicles. Also, houses burn to the ground because of delays to fire equipment.
    Tom McCartey Member, National Motorists Association

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Clearly Mr. Popcorn (who is so adamant in his conviction he’s afraid to use his real name) didn’t read the study, only the stories cheerleading the conclusions.

    Like most activists he believes the dogma without investigating the facts. This study’s conclusions don’t agree with the input data. The authors state more bicycling infrastructure leads to less fatalities and injuries, but of the 13 cities they studied the one with the most biking infrastructure is #5 on the list for fatalities per 100,000 population.

    Having read the entire report and crunching the numbers myself using their data it appears the conclusion to this study was written before the data was even collected.

    John Russo
    Co-founder and Director of KeepLAMoving

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clearly Mr. Russo (who is so adamant about his conclusions that he insidiously attempts to manipulate facts when they are inconvenient) is not qualified to voice anything other than his two cent opinion about issues on which he has no expertise.

      Not that this stops him from trying to muddy the waters! Mr. Russo, Mr. Legras (the OP), and other inexpert activists have united to form a bad faith group to honk their horns as they challenge tried and true best practices in street design. KeepLAMoving is a charade seeking to empower NIMBYs by promoting misinformation, playing to people’s base fears, and causing unnecessary civic unrest.

      Discrediting experts, industry leaders, and even activists who threaten their status quo is an Icarian escalation of this Machiavellian farce that reflects accurately on the character of its organizers. It is indeed reminiscent of the anti-expert sentiment seen in the fight against mandatory vaccinations, a woman’s right to choose, or stricter government regulations in the interest of the public good on a number of fronts. Why trust doctors, scientists, or engineers when we are too misinformed, scared, and emotionally invested in our deeply held personal beliefs?

      KeepLAMoving are desperate, short on facts, time, sputtering in the face of a cultural shift, and yet still taking themselves way too seriously. It’s time to take out the popcorn and watch them fizzle. Meters on empty, John & co.!

      Enjoying every kernel,

      Mr. Popcorn


      1. Dear Mr. Popcorn, if that is your real name!

        I’ve learned to trust but verify, because often the “experts” pushing the benefits of a road diet don’t tell the truth.

        In the 2017 Vision Zero Action Plan ( the LADOT states:

        “Los Angeles is facing a public health crisis: traffic deaths. Los Angele experiences more traffic fatalities per capita than any other peer city in the United States (see table below).”

        They cite as the source of this “fact” a 2012 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Why would LADOT quote a 2012 report when 2016 data was available in 2017? At any rate, it’s not ture…in 2012 Los Angeles was #47 in the nation for traffic fatalities out of a list of 100. By 2016 LA had fallen to #67 and 4 of the cites that LADOT chose to compare LA against actually had higher fatality rates than Los Angeles. The truth is LA is about 1/2 of the national average for per capita traffic fatalities.

        Another example…in their Notice of Exemption from CEQA for the road diets in Playa del Rey the LADOT stated:

        “The most recent traffic data shows that traffic volumes along this segment of Pershing Drive are approximately 7,200 ADT, with approximately 3,600 in each direction. Peak traffic volumes do not exceed 800 vehicles per direction with two travel lanes, so this does not exceed the screening criteria that LADOT considers to warrant a traffic evaluation upon lane removal.”

        LADOT traffic count data show that ADT on Pershing exceeded 23,000 cars per day in 2017 and 20,000 cars per day as far back as 2006. And Culver Blvd, which LADOT “dieted” but failed to mention in their Notice of Exemption exceeded 43,000 cars per day. No traffic studies were performed for the road diets installed in Playa del Rey.

        And lastly the current claims of a safety improvement on Venice Blvd post road diet likewise are not true. LADOT claims:

        “Excluding these correctable crashes at Wade Street, there has been a 14% reduction in overall collisions across the corridor”

        In other words, if you don’t count all the accidents there has been less accidents! Well, if you do count all the accidents there has been an increase in accidents of 20% post road diet, and an increase in injury accidents of 25%. And this dramatic increase in accidents has occurred with less cars on Venice Blvd! According to LADOT traffic counts there has been 15% drop in traffic volume (a number which they also misrepresented but I’ll leave that because this rebuttal is getting boringly long, especially since I’m debating with someone(s) who is(are) afraid to use their real name(s).

        So if we account for traffic volume, which an expert would do, there has been a greater than 50% increase in both accidents and injury accidents post road diet on Venice Blvd. I doubt that means that Venice Blvd is safer “safer” by anyone’s definition.

        So yes, I read the reports and the case studies, I check the assumptions and the source data. I even rerun the calculations and double check the statistical models. One doesn’t have to be an expert at math and statistics to see when they are being misled or outright lied to.

        Are facts really facts if they’re not true?

        In an ode to the great Mark Twain, the reports of KeepLAMoving’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. We’re not about to fizzle…we’re just getting started.

        John Russo
        Co-Founder and Director of KeepLAMoivng


  4. Pop, pop, crunch, crunch. Excuse me, I was just enjoying some delicious popcorn from Ojai Farmer’s Market.

    What’s this we have here?! It appears Mr. Russo has reflexively gone into attack mode. Oh boy! I may have to drive back up there to get another batch.

    Observe how, completely unprompted, Mr. Russo takes questions about his legitimacy and motivations as an invitation to debate, unveils the typical tired script and unleashes a torrent of his “alternative” facts.

    Look at him in action as he meticulously parses through the details, takes things out of context here, leaves context out there, misreads the data, misinterprets the law (Mr. Legras no doubt helped there), and spits out a flurry of nonsense to justify his conviction that he alone holds the objective truth that has eluded seasoned professionals for decades!

    Watching this man debate himself is like watching a kid strike out at tee-ball and walk back to the bench, shoulders lowered, helmet in hand. Calm down, buddy!

    Also, please never attempt to citizen review food safety studies. I enjoy popcorn way too much.

    Everyday I’m crunching,

    Mr. Popcorn


  5. Mr. Popcorn,

    First off if you are eating gourmet popcorn please do share!

    I’m sorry you took my example of lies being used to justify road diets as an attack. I wasn’t attacking you, I was trying to engage you in a debate.

    I’m not cherry picking facts or taking ststements out of context, at least I don’t believe I’m doing that. I’m certainly not trying to do that.

    I’m an engineer through and through. To me this entire debate is about facts and numbers. On some streets road diets make sense, 120th Street in LA from Aviation to La Cienega is a great example of a sensible road diet. Others are disasters, such as Venice Blvd.

    The road diet on Venice Blvd violates every standard set forth by the Federal Highway Administration and can’t be supported with data from any historical case studies, or it’s own historical data for that matter.

    Rather than make weak attempts to attack me could you point out any errors in my analysis or where I’ve taken a statement out of context?
    If I’ve made a mistake I’ll gladly correct myself. Like I said before, trust but verify.

    John Russo
    Co-Founder and Director of KeepLAMoving


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