Citizen Shane is a soft-hitting investigative news feature produced by the CBC that tackles human interest stories around Metro Vancouver. Early this year, host Shane Foxman uncovered a simmering controversy in a quiet North Vancouver neighbourhood that pitted local resident's love of their gardens and lawns against the safety of children and families walking to and from school.
Quickly, when you think of "public transit", what's the first word that comes to mind? It might be affordable, or green, or slow, or crowded... but maybe it should be safe.
According to a new paper published by Todd Litman at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, traveling by transit is nine times safer than traveling by car - but the benefits don't stop there. Find out more about how public transit makes communities safer after the break.
There has been solid evidence that public transit is the safest way to travel for some time. Your likelihood of being injured while on a bus or train is much lower than while using any other form of transportation.
image courtesy of UBC's Cycling in Cities program
But what Litman discovered in researching transit safety is that communities with overall high rates of transit ridership have much safer roads than those with comparatively high levels of driving. Cities where people take an average of 50 trips by transit per year have about half the number of traffic-related fatalities than those in which people take less than 20 trips per year.
Considering the average North American makes about 1,350 trips each year, that means that a relatively modest increase in a community's transit use - from 1.5% to 4% mode share - will result in a 50% reduction in traffic-related deaths. Litman does a great job of explaining how and why this happens in his article "A New Transit Safety Narrative", recently published in the Journal of Public Transportation and available to download on the VPTI website. It's worth a read.
A new HASTe BC Newsletter dropped yesterday, chalk full of active travel goodness. We've got links to studies on the impact of Active and Safe Routes to School, and information about how to give your input on BC's next 10 year transportation plan.
Photo credit: Chris Brukard
At HASTe, we've always known that Active and Safe Routes to School programs like School Travel Planning work to increase rates of walking and cycling to school. And now, we have proof!
A recently-released US study looked at 801 schools in four states to "assess how the proportion of students walking and cycling to school changed after the introduction of SRTS programs". Find out what they discovered after the break.
The study, Impact of Safe Routes to School Program on Walking and Bicycle was published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Planning Association earlier this year. It is the first large-scale study of Active and Safe Routes to School programming conducted in North America
The authors collected data at schools with and without programs, in an effort to isolate the impact of Active and Safe Routes to School programs from unrelated factors and trends. They found that engineering improvements were vital to increasing rates of walking and cycling - and that education and encouragement programs effectively complement infrastructure changes, leading to a 25% relative increase in walking and cycling to school.
One of the great things about the study is that it includes a concrete takeaway for transportation professionals and practitioners: Planners should work to prioritize capital improvements that improve non-motorized access to school and revise comprehensive plans and subdivision regulations to ensure new development supports access to school. Amen!
To read the full version of the study, download a copy here.
As the days get darker and shorter, the Insurance Company of British Columbia is launching a new road-safety campaign aimed at reducing the number of pedestrians injured by motor-vehicles.
While the campaign's goal is admirable, we feel that the campaign's target and the message it is sending - summed up in the tagline "Be a safe pedestrian" - needs reconsideration. Find out more after the break.
As ICBC notes, "76 per cent more pedestrians are injured in crashes from November to January every year" compared to brighter, summer months. Perhaps it goes without saying, but what that statistic fails to mention is that those injury-inducing crashes all involve motor vehicles.
Bump into another pedestrian and the worst you're in for a polite Canadian "sorry!" and perhaps a spilled coffee. Fail to notice - or be noticed by - a driver, and you're at serious risk of becoming a part of the grim statistics ICBC quotes on their campaign page.
But with a campaign strategy that revolves around ads on transit and events targeting pedestrians, ICBC seem to be putting the burden of responsibility for road safety on those at greatest risk: pedestrians. Even though 75% of crashes involving motor vehicles and pedestrians occur where pedestrians have the right of way, ICBC's message - "Look, listen and be seen" - is directed at those less likely to cause a crash.
When it comes to road safety, no-one has the experience and expertise of ICBC, or their reach and credibility. HASTe would love to see those qualities put to use reminding drivers, who are responsible for most of the crashes but all of the damage, that while road safety is everyone's responsibility, most of that responsibility is theirs.