From the Washington Post:

After decades of decline in the rate of fatal car accidents, numbers have crept back up in recent years. The trend is particularly pronounced for pedestrian fatalities: In 2016, the most recent year with complete Transportation Department data, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by vehicles on public roads.

Experts suspect the increase is driven by a number of factors. Last month, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a report noting that rising pedestrian fatalities are correlated with the growth in smartphone adoption and use. Although deaths related to distracted driving are, on the whole, trending downward, smartphone use could be affecting pedestrians, too, by making them less aware of their surroundings.
Substance use is another factor. The GHSA specifically calls out marijuana use, noting that in the first half of 2017, pedestrian fatalities increased greatest in states that had previously voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Like smartphones, marijuana can impair both drivers and pedestrians.
But looking at state-level data for all of 2016, there isn’t any clear correlation between marijuana legality and pedestrian deaths. States in the Southern half of the country generally have higher rates of pedestrian fatalities than more Northern states.
Alcohol is another known factor in pedestrian fatalities. Eighteen percent of drivers involved in fatal pedestrian crashes tested positive for alcohol, compared with 38 percent of pedestrians involved in these crashes, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When a driver strikes and kills a pedestrian, in other words, the pedestrian is more likely to have consumed alcohol beforehand than the driver.
Other metrics of pedestrian risk, including one developed by Smart Growth America, an advocacy group for walkable cities, show a similar state-level pattern to the one above. Smart Growth America’s index of pedestrian danger is correlated with both income and rates of health insurance: Metro areas that are poorer or have more uninsured people tend to see more pedestrian fatalities.
Less-affluent cities may have less money to spend on safe, walkable street design, which appears to be a factor in pedestrian deaths.
One final factor is vehicle speed. Faster driving is correlated with both higher rates of pedestrian accidents and a decreased chance of survival for pedestrians who get struck. For these reasons, New York City lowered its default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph in 2014. That program appears to be bearing fruit: In 2017, the number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in New York City fell to its lowest level since 1910.


  1. I think cell phone impaired driving is a large factor. Also, oblivious pedestrians are not doing themselves any favours. When I’m crossing a road, I constantly checking for ‘threats’, but I see so many people crossing like they have blinders on.

    1. Yes we have too many distracted drivers on cel phones, but also a lot of oblivious pedestrians using the same! With technology these days it shouldn’t be hard to make hands-on usage of a mobile while driving impossible on new vehicles. Phones can sense motion can’t they?
      Pot impairment doesn’t surprise me, I’ve driven by vehicles that reek of it.

  2. There’s a very good video by Lucas Brailsford on Amsterdam called: ‘Cyclists behaving badly’. He relates that even if a cyclist runs a red light and is injured/killed by a motorist, the latter will be held responsible. Motorists are expected to be on the alert for ‘non-conformist’ behaviour.
    I recall driving, waiting to turn left on Clark from Broadway – a scary place – while a pedestrian made their way across in the crosswalk. The mad maxer behind me, not seeing the ped, beeped right away. How do you legislate against that kind of bully behaviour.
    People need to walk. Get out of their cars regularly. Hoof it. Walk a few kilometres. Chop wood. Carry water.
    Rather than deducting points on a license for transgressions, taking away the driving privilege for several months at a time would do a lot of people a world of good. Save a few lives, maim fewer bodies, and make themselves fitter in the process.
    Kind of wonder about that word privilege. It’s more of a privilege to not drive. Our car for our family of four is used for ten percent of our mobility. Walking is a privilege. Cycling, for the most part, is fun practical and exercise. What’s a better word for the ability to possess a driver’s license? It’s not a privilege. That implies something good.

    1. “…even if a cyclist runs a red light and is injured/killed by a motorist, the latter will be held responsible.” (in Amsterdam)
      It isn’t that simple. Strict liability is the legal phrase, and it is a type of vulnerable road user law. And when you relate your anecdote about Clark and Broadway, know that we don’t have a vulnerable road user law (yet).

    2. //… even if a cyclist runs a red light and is injured/killed by a motorist, the latter will be held responsible. Motorists are expected to be on the alert for ‘non-conformist’ behaviour.//
      Heh, my motorist friends are under the impression that it’s already a thing.

    3. Of course the driver needs to be on the alert, (s)he is the one in control of a machine of mass destruction, not the pedestrian/cyclist.
      I see so many drivers with a patience level barely above zero these days. They honk if you delay for 1 second and rapidly change lanes if you delay for 3 seconds. Some pull out directly into the path on an oncoming ambulance or police car because they are too self absorbed to realize there might be a good reason why you’re not doing a jack rabbit start the instant the light turns green. Practically every street in the city has vehicles doing more than 70km/h even when doing so requires nearly constant weaving around other vehicles. Driver frustration is killing people and it needs to stop.
      At the other end of the speed scale practically nobody can parallel park anymore. I see dozens every day making multiple attempts and still ending up diagonal or a quarter mile from the curb or both. Then they proceed to load/unload their children and packages on the driver’s side with their open doors and bodies in the middle of the lane. A 6 lane street like Broadway is quickly reduced to just 2 lanes when that happens. It has gotten to the point where I’d like to see parallel parking eliminated from every arterial. If there’s a need for a rush hour bus lane then make it a full time HOV lane. If there isn’t such a need then put in a separated bike lane. Most cyclists are heading for a destination along a major street anyway. Narrow side street cycling routes in mixed traffic are less convenient and more dangerous than a separate lane on a major street.

  3. Indeed many reasons, both impacting car driver and pedestrian.
    I am surprised how few 30km/h zones we have in Vancouver actually. That could be fixed easily here.
    As to pot use, as of summer that will dramatically increase in Canada, and so will accidents probably.

    1. I am surprised how few 30km/h zones we have in Vancouver actually
      there is none
      That could be fixed easily here.
      yes,but here the city, and numerous advocacies group or sometimes people on this blog , argue that that can’t be possible because the city speed law is provincially reguled, and so advocate to change that then comfortably put the blame on the Province!
      so if you follow their logic, german cities couldn’t have 30km/h zones because the urban speed limit are federally regulated:
      noone in Vancouver seems or wants to understand that the concept below doesn’t need city wide speed limit change.
      to virtually apply to the whole city (e.g. Grenoble, where it apply to ~90% of the street according to Wikipedia…)

      1. You bet.
        30 km/h doable almost everywhere except throughfares like Granville, Broadway, 4th, 41 st, King Eddie, 76, Commercial etc .. ie not just in school zones. Parking in residential streets also far too cheap, often virtually free. No wonder it is so tough to get off our car is king culture.
        To compensate speed limits could be far higher on highways or car only bridges.

      2. Hi Jeff,
        in your appetite to oppose to me, you are contradicting yourself again. In the first comment, you explain that a BC MVA amendment is required to get a zone 30, in the second you explain there is already plenty of them in Vancouver ???
        As a reminder, what the city of Vancouver advocates is to be able to do something like below:
        …where the 50km/h could be replaced by 40km/h or 30km/h.
        But, like in the picture above, it will need to be overridden immediatly by another sign for speed limit applying to arterial (typically 50km/h) which could need to be repeated after each and every intersections to be consistent with the BC MVA letter, so that the driver could be exposed to a forest of 50km/h sign, and almost never meet a lower speed limit.
        That is the very reason why the French agency responsible for this kind of stuff (Cerema), advises against such approach, and recommend the almost universally used alternative which keep the general city speed limit at 50km/h, but design some neighborhood as zone 30 or, even zone 20:
        Unfortunatly, the later is not what Vancouver is advocacing for.
        However I must admit a Mea culpa: There is one zone 30km/h in Vancouver: it is Granville Island. It also uses a Vienna convention speed sign which isn’t listed in the BC MVA,(this vienna convention signs are really a red herring, I was mentioning the german sign to answer to Thomas)…and still it works as a zone 30!
        …Because , here is a very important aspect of the zone 30 philospohy which is totally ignored by the Vancouver planners and advocates:
        Zone 30 have existed before some lawmakers magically enacted a bylaw out of the blue moon…and zone 30 works only if they are credible.
        In France, it comes with what is called a “consistent street design”, which in Switzerland, is mandated to achieve 85% observed speed below 30km/h. The bylaw in France, like elsewhere has been introduced to bring some consistency on the concept (and signage) accross the country. Use of it to enforce speed is defeating the goal of zone 30.
        By Jeff definition, Hasting street West of main is a “zone 30” since this strech of street is limited at 30km/h .
        By general european definition, it is not. First a street is not a zone, secondary it has received no specific treatment beside speed sign posts. Unsurpinsgly Hasting has been a complete failure.
        If Vancouver was keen on the introduction zone 30, then we could have seen at least some designs conductive of lower speed…It could be still time to request the province to introduce some BC mva sanctioned zone30 signs equivalent to the European ones or the Quebec one (what the city never asked for BTW)…but really the lack of them doesn’t prevent the city to move forward on street design encourging lower speed.

      3. Voony, the confusion is due to inconsistent use of the word zone. The MVA allows a section of road, a linear section, to be zoned for a different speed. That is what Hastings has. It is what the bike routes have (where they are so signed).
        It is not an area zone, as you have often referred to, and which you show on your Euro map.
        No contradiction, just imprecise language when the word zone is used.
        Take a look at section 146 of the MVA, as suggested in the post below. A city can post a speed limit on a road (a linear zone), not on an area. The exception is for back lanes, which can be a blanket speed limit in an area, of 20 km/hr, while other roads remain 50 km/hr, and the city doesn’t need to post the speed limits on every block. So they post it at the entrance to the City. And that is exactly what you have shown in your picture of Richmond. The option doesn’t exist to vary it from those speeds, unfortunately. You are welcome to join us in the advocacy effort to get the province to change that, so that they we can move on to advocacy with cities to take advantage of the power then granted by the province.
        And I agree that the streets need to be designed for those speeds as well. A good example is Olympic Village (and soon to be NE False Creek). Narrower, with design features that promote slow vehicle speeds. 30 km/hr feels appropriate there.

    2. Hi Voony
      Here we go again. You should recall that the following has been pointed out to you previously.
      1) If you don’t understand that the Provincial MVA regulates speeds and grants specific (limited) powers to municipalities, then you should review the MVA, and in particular sections 124 and 146.
      2) If you don’t understand that permitted road signs in BC are all included in the provincial catalogue of approved regulatory signs, then you should review that document. (Hint: the catalogue of road signs fits together with the regulations in the MVA)
      When you review (2), the will see that your sign from Europe is not approved for use here. Ask the province why.
      When you review (1), you will find that in BC blanket speed zones are permitted in two cases. The first is in lanes less than 8 m wide (back lanes) where 20 km/hr is the standard. The second is in unorganized territory, which doesn’t include municipalities.
      After all that, please check your maps and see if Grenoble, your example above, is in a geography regulated by the BC MVA.
      I think we agree that setting default speed limits in an defined area (possibly with exclusions for arterials) has benefits, particularly for the safety of vulnerable road users. We just appear to differ in an understanding of what is a provincial responsibility, and what is a municipal responsibility.

    3. Thomas: “I am surprised how few 30km/h zones we have in Vancouver actually. That could be fixed easily here.”
      In Vancouver there are many 30 km/hr zones. it is a standard used by the City on designated bike routes. It is not in place on all bike routes, but is common on local shared street routes. It is currently indicated by 30 km/hr signs posted every block or so along those routes.
      More of these zones would be a good thing IMO.

      1. Now on my new e-bike let me look for those. I did NOT notice those 30km/h sign Point Grey or Shawnessy or Kerrisdale though ..

        1. Thanks. Will do.
          btw: what’s a good app for showing bike routes / alternatives for MetroVan .. say from UBC to Steveston, Crescent Beach or Deep Cove ?

        2. I use Google Maps and turn on the cycling layer: Menu/Bicycling. When you ask for directions, there is a choice of cycling directions. Unfortunately, it does not know about the tunnel bike shuttle:
          Translink has good regional maps:
          Any questions,please ask. arno at

        3. A good single page to bookmark that lists all the local maps is here at HUB Cycling:

          I agree with Arno, Google Maps with the bike route layer turned on (to show designated routes) and route planning using the bike symbol (which will pick roads good for cycling on) is a good choice, and it is the first one on the link above.
          Another app that looks interesting is the following, which does route planning, shows MOBI stations and bike racks, as well as water fountains and washrooms. When you map a route you get elevation profiles.

          Any questions, you can also ask at Vancouver at bikehub dot ca

        4. Thank you very much !
          I note that the TransLink map does not have Arbutus Greenway on it.
          Another question: how do you upload pictures / images into a comment ?

  4. Chris Keam’s comment about motorists hotboxing is accurate. Whether smoking a spliff, or vaping, I see/smell this all the time. So, not only are these imbeciles getting/driving stoned, but they are manipulating these tools while doing so. That’s even more of a problem.
    Smoking, pot or tobacco, or vaping, while driving, should be prohibited. It’s dangerous. Likewise, one shouldn’t be eating or drinking coffee while driving. Ask a first responder how many windshields he has seen splattered with coffee in vehicles that have been involved in road violence. I only use a water bottle with a sports cap, carefully, at lights. No screw tops.
    I’ve seen people eating everything from sandwiches to ice cream while driving. That is a hazard; and terrible for the digestion. Seriously, how can someone eat an ice cream and drive.
    And cell phones must be powered down. Completely Off. Mad maxers suddenly pulling over into bus stops and no stopping zones because their phone rings is epidemic. And they sit there and yack with their vehicles idling. Obnoxious inconsiderate hazardous imbeciles.
    I see the occasional cyclist on the phone while riding too. Please, get off the bike.

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