The National Transportation Safety Board, whose current chair, Deborah Hersman, is the reported frontrunner to replace Ray LaHood as transportation secretary, is the federal agency charged with “assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.” These are the people who investigate every single plane or passenger train crash.
But NTSB doesn’t have much to say about the hundreds of people who are killed every year riding bicycles. In fact, Network blog Systemic Failure says that it looks like more than 40 years have passed since NTSB weighed in on cycling safety:
Each year there are tens of thousands of fatalities on the nation’s highways. A disproportionate of those are non-motorized users — bicyclists and pedestrians. Given that the NTSB has made over 13,000 safety recommendations, you might think at least some of those would relate to the dismal state of our bicycle infrastructure, right?
A search of the NTSB online database finds hardly any mention of bike safety. I could find just a single report, which simply gives general guidance that the use of bicycles should be encouraged by the DOT and Dept. of Health. It was issued in 1972 — during the Nixon Administration.
I spent over an hour trying different keywords, but could find nothing else on bikes. On the other hand, I had no trouble at all finding reports on airplanes, trains, and automobiles…
So for anyone at the NTSB who might be reading this, here are a few suggestion topics:
- Incorporating Dutch cycle guidelines into highway design manuals
- Design of car doors to reduce/eliminate bicycle “dooring” (perhaps an interlock system in the door latch that flashes the rear hazard lights for at least 3 seconds before opening the door).
- Improve visibility from truck cabs, so as to reduce bikes/ped collisions.
- Designing car bonnets to reduce pedestrian injury/fatality in a collision.
Here’s a question: How many cyclists would have to die to earn same attention NTSB gives to one person killed on a plane?
Elsewhere on the Network today: The Green Miles asks you to imagine if your street belonged to children on Saturdays. Human Transit considers the practicality of free public transit in the United States. And Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space questions whether there is any “moral order” among motorists.