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Re: [carfree_cities] Pedestrian and bicycle accident rates increase with hybrids

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  • Jason Meggs
    That s an excellent question. As some of you know I ve researched the health and sustainability benefits of electric trolleybuses in particular. One of the
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 29 2:51 PM
      That's an excellent question. As some of you know I've researched the health
      and sustainability benefits of electric trolleybuses in particular. One of
      the great benefits is that they are quieter. But quietness carries risks.

      Without a doubt, there is a risk with quieter electric buses and trains,
      although I don't know of any safety studies. At the same time, even a
      diesel bus can surprise someone if it is coasting.

      The noise level of a trolleybus is roughly 10 dBA lower than a diesel,
      although there is variation. The buses are certainly not completely silent,
      and although I haven't measured, surely they are noticeably louder than
      HEVs. One study put electric buses as substantially quieter than
      trolleybuses. Bus drivers are also driven by trained drivers, which one
      hopes would improve the safety outcomes (no comment).

      Which is worse, increased collisions or increased noise? There's a balance
      to be found. Noise kills as well as causing illness, annoyance, and economic
      harm. There must be ways to provide adequate audible warnings from quieter
      vehicles while minimizing the noise reaching others.

      I witnessed emergency vehicles in NYC this year which seemed to have
      directional sirens, focused on the traffic ahead. They were surprisingly
      more quiet than traditional/conventional norms.

      I also made a formal request to Alameda County Transit here in the Bay Area
      (AC Transit) to consider adopting a secondary horn (analogous perhaps to a
      bike bell). This after experiencing the hearing-damage and stress-raising
      effects of point-blank horns from frustrated/aggressive transit drivers one
      too many times while trying to put my bicycle on the front rack.

      Unfortunately, the superloud horn is the only means of communication they
      currently have besides shouting. (Amplified voice would be a useful
      alternative to the horn for communicating, actually. Imagine three buttons:
      emergency, vehicle to vehicle contact, and pedestrian/bicyclist contact.
      The emergency button could turn on the microphone AND sound a horn; the
      vehicle to vehicle contact would provide a louder voice amplification than
      the ped/bike contact. As one hypothetical example.)

      Carfree cities must be quieter to be more livable. Let's keep noise
      reduction in mind while tackling the increased danger from quieter motorized
      vehicles (including, dare I say, electric bicycles).



      On Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 2:26 PM, Richard Risemberg
      <rickrise@...>wrote:

      >
      >
      > SF has had electric trolley buses for half a century or more. Does
      > anyone know whether there are higher rates of bus/bike and bus/ped
      > accidents on their routes as opposed to on motor bus routes?
      >
      > RR
      >
      >
      > On Sep 29, 2009, at 8:56 AM, Jason Meggs wrote:
      >
      > > Interesting new study in the link below, showing that accident
      > > rates for
      > > > pedestrians and bicycle users double in certain circumstances when
      > > > hybrid-electric vehicles replace internal-combustion vehicles
      > > (due to the
      > > > quietness of the vehicles).
      >
      > --
      > Richard Risemberg
      > http://www.bicyclefixation.com
      > http://www.newcolonist.com
      > http://www.rickrise.com
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Chris Bradshaw
      Noise, thankfully, consists of a lot of tire noise, which doesn t change with the different engines/fuels, but with the speed and the amount of tire in contact
      Message 2 of 12 , Oct 6, 2009
        Noise, thankfully, consists of a lot of tire noise, which doesn't change
        with the different engines/fuels, but with the speed and the amount of tire
        in contact with the road (times the number of tires). I don't know the
        ratio, but I mostly hear approaching cars by that noise, not the engine (or
        at least as much of it as comes out the tailpipe, thanks to the muffler).

        Also, any source of noise can have the effect of masking other "lesser"
        noises, just as the headlights of motor vehicles can "drown out" the
        headlights of bicyclists. It is not just a matter of how many people have
        stepped in front of an on-coming quieter-than-expected large vehicle, but
        how many stepped in front of an approaching car or cyclist during the time a
        further-away diesel bus or semi was up-throttling?

        Chris Bradshaw
        Ottawa
      • Jon Koller
        Sometimes it seems like there s a NYT editor listening in on this list... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/automobiles/14hybrid.html?hpw ... [Non-text
        Message 3 of 12 , Oct 14, 2009
          Sometimes it seems like there's a NYT editor listening in on this list...
          http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/automobiles/14hybrid.html?hpw

          On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 10:29 AM, Chris Bradshaw <c_bradshaw@...>wrote:

          >
          >
          > Noise, thankfully, consists of a lot of tire noise, which doesn't change
          > with the different engines/fuels, but with the speed and the amount of tire
          >
          > in contact with the road (times the number of tires). I don't know the
          > ratio, but I mostly hear approaching cars by that noise, not the engine (or
          >
          > at least as much of it as comes out the tailpipe, thanks to the muffler).
          >
          > Also, any source of noise can have the effect of masking other "lesser"
          > noises, just as the headlights of motor vehicles can "drown out" the
          > headlights of bicyclists. It is not just a matter of how many people have
          > stepped in front of an on-coming quieter-than-expected large vehicle, but
          > how many stepped in front of an approaching car or cyclist during the time
          > a
          > further-away diesel bus or semi was up-throttling?
          >
          > Chris Bradshaw
          > Ottawa
          >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • mdh6214
          I can think of some other factors that would increase pedestrian and bicycle accident rates from hybrid vehicles: (1) If hybrid vehicles are purchased in
          Message 4 of 12 , Oct 14, 2009
            I can think of some other factors that would increase pedestrian and bicycle accident rates from hybrid vehicles:

            (1) If hybrid vehicles are purchased in larger proportion by people living in urban or suburban [vs. rural] areas, they'll be driven in areas with higher pedestrian/bicycle density, thus, more accidents with pedestrians and bicycles.

            (2) Similar to how anti-lock brakes can "consume" their own safety benefits by drivers thinking "ABS will prevent me from having an accident!", are hybrids encouraging dangerous driving? Is there an attitude of "My car is a hybrid, I'll drive however I want to because I'm saving the Earth!"?

            (3) The "energy monitor" in a Toyota Prius is in the worst possible place: in the center of the dashboard, about there the radio typically is. Are drivers ignoring the road because they're busy staring at how many miles per gallon they're getting?

            > > Noise, thankfully, consists of a lot of tire noise, which doesn't change
            > > with the different engines/fuels, but with the speed and the amount of tire
            > >
            > > in contact with the road (times the number of tires). I don't know the
            > > ratio, but I mostly hear approaching cars by that noise, not the engine (or
            > >
            > > at least as much of it as comes out the tailpipe, thanks to the muffler).
            > >
            > > Also, any source of noise can have the effect of masking other "lesser"
            > > noises, just as the headlights of motor vehicles can "drown out" the
            > > headlights of bicyclists. It is not just a matter of how many people have
            > > stepped in front of an on-coming quieter-than-expected large vehicle, but
            > > how many stepped in front of an approaching car or cyclist during the time
            > > a
            > > further-away diesel bus or semi was up-throttling?
            > >
            > > Chris Bradshaw
            > > Ottawa
          • Jym Dyer
            ... =v= At this point it seems that all I can do is speculate about what underlies the increased collision rate, but that scenario doesn t make sense to me.
            Message 5 of 12 , Oct 14, 2009
              > Similar to how anti-lock brakes can "consume" their own safety
              > benefits by drivers thinking "ABS will prevent me from having
              > an accident!", are hybrids encouraging dangerous driving? Is
              > there an attitude of "My car is a hybrid, I'll drive however
              > I want to because I'm saving the Earth!"?

              =v= At this point it seems that all I can do is speculate about
              what underlies the increased collision rate, but that scenario
              doesn't make sense to me. If one is driving a hybrid because
              of its perceived virtuousness, it seems that one would also try
              to drive virtuously. Also, some hybrid drivers don't really
              care about the Earth, they're just trying to save gas money
              and/or geeking out on the whiz-bang technology.

              =v= There is, however, a similar dynamic known as the Jevons
              Paradox, in which increased use negates efficiency improvements.
              This was observed in the 1970s for economy cars, whose owners
              would drive longer distances and more frequently because the
              better fuel economy somehow made that more ecological. It is
              surely happening again, as the very existence of the hybrid SUV
              attests to.

              =v= If hybrids drivers are driving more and further than others
              (the limiting factor being the cost of fuel), that alone could
              account for an increased collision rate. But again, all I can
              do is speculate at this point.
              <_Jym_>
            • Richard Risemberg
              ... I have been saddened to discover that there are absolute assholes driving hybrids here--weaving, speeding, screeching round turns, and behaving just like
              Message 6 of 12 , Oct 14, 2009
                On Oct 14, 2009, at 11:27 AM, Jym Dyer wrote:

                >
                > =v= At this point it seems that all I can do is speculate about
                > what underlies the increased collision rate, but that scenario
                > doesn't make sense to me. If one is driving a hybrid because
                > of its perceived virtuousness, it seems that one would also try
                > to drive virtuously. Also, some hybrid drivers don't really
                > care about the Earth, they're just trying to save gas money
                > and/or geeking out on the whiz-bang technology.


                I have been saddened to discover that there are absolute assholes
                driving hybrids here--weaving, speeding, screeching round turns, and
                behaving just like the worst of the worst SUV daddy's-money types.

                I didn't expect that.

                And they still take up too damn much room.

                http://bicyclefixation.com/meth.htm

                Rick
                --
                Richard Risemberg
                http://www.bicyclefixation.com
                http://www.newcolonist.com
                http://www.rickrise.com







                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • chbuckeye
                ... When I looked at a Prius I was told that Toyota will be moving all of their dials to a high center-dashboard position in the future. The sales rep (an
                Message 7 of 12 , Oct 15, 2009
                  --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "mdh6214" <matt@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > (3) The "energy monitor" in a Toyota Prius is in the worst possible place: in the center of the dashboard, about there the radio typically is. Are drivers ignoring the road because they're busy staring at how many miles per gallon they're getting?



                  When I looked at a Prius I was told that Toyota will be moving all of their dials to a high center-dashboard position in the future. The sales rep (an unlikely source of scientific information) said that "research" had found that it was easier on the eyes to look to the side rather than looking down to see the gauges and kept the driver's head up so that at least your peripheral vision can still watch the road. He said it was much safer than asking a driver to look down. I don't know whether that is the case or not, I never saw the research. It certainly was unusual.

                  I imagine it also makes it easier to use the same center console for right-hand and left-hand drive vehicles.


                  Any incidence of a car running into a pedestrian on a city street is another reason to remove cars from city streets. With fewer pedestrians in rural areas and on limited-access highways, there will be a lot fewer accidents between vehicles and pedestrians.
                • Chris Bradshaw
                  Back in the 90s, Gerald Wilde of Queens Univ. in Ontario developed a theory called target risk. It refers to the fact that a driver has a certain level of
                  Message 8 of 12 , Oct 16, 2009
                    Back in the 90s, Gerald Wilde of Queens Univ. in Ontario developed a theory
                    called "target risk." It refers to the fact that a driver has a certain
                    level of risk he is willing to subject himself, and if a change in road
                    design or car design gives him more than his target, he will 'expand' his
                    driving in some way that translates the improvement into a benefit. For
                    most drivers, speed is increased, which provides the benefit of the saving
                    of time. Also, risk, itself, is a benefit for those who feel that a
                    certrain amount make them "feel more alive."

                    Likewise, I think there is a "target virtue" at work, so that a person will,
                    likewise, increase speed or other forms of risk when their feelings about
                    virtue+driving rises. And considering the amount of attacks that have been
                    leveled at cars and driving, virtue is a worthy commodity. Cyclists usually
                    mutter something about 'saving the planet' when whizzing through red lights,
                    for instance. The well-documented increases in driving distances for those
                    in improved-mileage cars is another. I call such efficiencies "reduced
                    guilt-per-mile."

                    BTW, a recent book -- Ladd, Brian, _Autophobia: Love & Hate in the
                    Automobile Age_ (2008) -- does an excellent job documenting the anti-car,
                    anti-roads/freeways writing worldwide (lots in German) literature.

                    Chris Bradshaw
                    Ottawa
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