Some accident data for you. Plus what’s different with transportation today vs. 50 years ago

bicycle-accidents-ILRegarding accidents in Long Beach, a reader with the pseudonym LBEsq asks:

“Show me the bodies piling up at a significant statistical rate.

Allison of Long Beach Streets just send over a plethora of recorded Long Beach accident data. There are three types of records to sort through:  DMV, LBPD and LBFD. They all have different info. I am going to just post one for now because the others are sorted yearly. I’m lazy and just don’t have the time to put this all on the blog:

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 1.27.39 PM

LBFD data is neatly together in one PDF and was compiled by Long Beach Streets. It shows 838 RECORDED accidents from 2009-2014. It’s a mix of pedestrian, auto and bike. (Can you imagine how many were not recorded? any guesses?)

[View the document here: LBFD.PDF]

A reader with the name/pseudonym Jake states:

“I have lived here [Long Beach] my whole life as well. The point is that for 50 years no one screamed and yelled about [Bicycle safety].

You can blame it on a number of things. I am sure Allison can add to this, but let me list some for you:

1) 2015-escalade-i-suv-luxury-utility-baseball-flyout-511x311Vehicles are much larger today than 50 years ago. Many are the size of trucks that drive like trucks and steer like trucks.

2) Texting while driving. We didn’t have cell phones 50 years ago.

3) Talking on phone while driving. We didn’t have cell phones 50 years ago.

4) Other distractions in modern cars such as touch screens or GPS devices. (KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD, PEOPLE!) We didn’t have touch screens or GPS in cars 50 years ago.

5) Perhaps more people are riding bikes these days. I can make the argument how today we are eating more processed foods, so we have the desire to get out and get some exercise.Exercise is good for you, you know.

6) 50 years ago was the age of the automobile, muscle cars and suburbs. Times have changed. Kids today don’t care about cars [LINK] and the suburban model is changing.

7) It’s socially acceptable for an older person to ride a bike today than it was in 1965. (Can somebody please confirm?)

8) Perhaps you are just getting older and you “don’t like the crazy things the kids are doing these days.” In this case, it’s riding a bike.

That being all said, I do agree how cyclists need to obey traffic laws. That being said, I do know that I’d rather be hit by a bike than a car. That being said, you need to be an adult and have a license to drive a motor vehicle, thus making it a privilege and not a right.

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44 thoughts on “Some accident data for you. Plus what’s different with transportation today vs. 50 years ago”

  1. This is where the dishonesty will creep in.

    All this shows is that there were incidents. There is no indication of fault, but the agenda crew is going to automatically assume that every pedestrian/bicyclist incident was the fault of the automobile.

    There is no indication of which, if any, party disregarded a traffic device. There is no indication of which, if any, party was intoxicated. There is no indication of which, if any, party was in violation of any applicable VTL codes (using a mobile device, riding on the wrong side of the street, jaywalking, crossing mid-block, speeding, failure to yield, etc.). As such, there is little-to-no probative value in this data set. It is literally possible that 100% of these encounters were the fault of the pedestrian or bicyclist. Obviously, that is likely not the case but the point needs to be made.

    Statistics don’t lie, but liars use statistics.

    There is nothing presented here that would justify a wholesale (and expensive) renovation of our streets and roadways. We would be better off ramping up the shoddy enforcement of the existing rules of the road. Heck, it would be nice if ANY enforcement was used in regards to bicyclists and pedestrians.

  2. @LBesq – LB’s streets should be updated. Modern layouts will do nothing but enhance the attractiveness of LB, and if it makes bikers and drivers safer, woo! How much will it cost? We don’t know.

    As a cyclist, I can tell you LB is a terrible place to ride a bike. Period.

    As a driver, I can tell you LB has some of the most whackadoo bike riding I’ve seen.

    Revamping the streets will improve this, whether it’s the fault of the driver or the biker.

  3. I believe that the streets are perfectly safe if everyone follows the law. I, too, have been driving and biking around this town for many years. I see pedestrians and bicyclists (myself included) violate the rules of the road far more than any motor vehicle…except that DJ Chef guy. He’s the worst repeat offender I have ever seen in my life and I am truly amazed he hasn’t maimed or killed anyone yet.

    We all live here. If people were getting mowed down by cars on a regular basis we’d be privy to it. We would all be witness to it.

    Sorry if you disagree.

  4. Anthony, it does not matter what information you put up because this LBEsq person has a response against it. He asks for proof, we give it and its not good enough. The cause of crashes is listed in the DMV records but he had this response typed up before even bothering to look at the data.

    If LB streets are all rainbow & unicorns as LBEsq thinks it is then there wouldn’t be thousands of traffic tickets each year, there wouldn’t be hundreds of reported crashes and we would be in Amsterdam.

    At least one of the people on this board is most definitely smoking the Amsterdam.

  5. “I believe that the streets are perfectly safe if everyone follows the law”

    This is way too idealistic of thinking. In reality, people break laws all the time. If this weren’t true, we’d have no need for police since no one would ever commit murder, or steal because there’s a law against it. I think all Anthony is trying get across is that there is an issue here and he’s asking for people’s thoughts on how to handle it. Your approach of “sit back and hope people follow the rules” isn’t going to help the next person who gets hits by a car or who jaywalks and causes a car to rear-end another car. We need more than rules because incidents are happening. Even if we can only prevent a handful of them, I think it’s our responsibility because we may be involved in that incident.

    I don’t agree that accidents are on the rise, in fact the data suggests that they’ve decreased over the past 4 years (unless that’s a subsequent result of less inhabitants). But either way, if we can start ticketing cyclists, or placing speed bumps at stop signs, it could go a very long way to curbing these accidents.

  6. Anthony is trying get across is that there is an issue here and he’s asking for people’s thoughts on how to handle it. Your approach of “sit back and hope people follow the rules” isn’t going to help the next person who gets hits by a car or who jaywalks and causes a car to rear-end another car.

    THANK YOU!

    We can go on and on posting data over how many people got hit and argue over whose fault it is. The real statistic is the impact bike lanes make and it has shown that they work.

    Alas, I must go now and burn away some of my bohemian trust fund money. I’ll just ask daddy for more when I need it.

  7. That is for the entire State of New York, and wholly irrelevant to this discussion of our City.

    Additionally, that is only incidents resulting in citations/tickets. If a bike runs a stop sign and gets creamed by a car there is no guarantee that the officer is writing a ticket. If I run out across traffic in the middle of the block and cause an accident the officer likely isn’t writing me a ticket. I’ve never seen a bicyclist receive a ticket for a VTL violation (or any violation for that matter), in my entire life. I’ve never seen a pedestrian ticketed, either (although I heard in some cities in NJ they will nail you for jaywalking).

  8. Pedestrians get first right away, then bicycles and then automobiles. That is the order of 1st to last. Same reason why boats get the right of way going under a bridge over cars. Boats were here before cars. Many car owners are unappreciative, spoiled, and impatient. They give no respect to pedestrians or bicycle riders who may not be as fortunate. Instead of Texting/Talking/Selfies, maybe car drivers should look out for the pedestrians and bike riders who were on the road well before them!

  9. I think LBEsq is correct in stating that this listing in and by itself will do nothing to decrease the number of accidents in LB. This data also needs (like he/she stated) to be covered by an analysis of who or what was at fault for the accidents. In order to make changes you need to understand the causes of these accidents and yes that includes whose fault it was. It is true that is is not always the driver’s fault. (Pedestrians do not always have the right of way, in fact nobody ever “has” the right of way)

    Some statistics people may not be aware of:
    –in over 35% of all pedestrians deaths in car vs walker accidents, the pedestrian is over the .08 blood alcohol, that increases to over 50% after 9PM

    –In over 50% of car/pedestrian accidents the fault was the pedestrian’s, if you add in accidents that were the fault of both the driver and pedestrian that number climbs to over 60%

    I need to look up the info on bicycle accidents, but since bike advocates never tout those statistics I would guess the fault percentage is something close to the pedestrian rate.

  10. You have me pegged with your bohemian trust fund comment. Let me guess, based on your pseudonym and writing style I think you are a litigation attorney. Because you love to argue and you lack common sense, as most attorneys do.

  11. You are right, but that person’s original comment was regarding the amount of accidents in general. So I posted that there were around 838 since 2009.

    Didn’t realize I had to explain each one.

  12. Absolutely no irrelevant – this isn’t a silo issue.

    Oh so now you don’t want DMV records? Well at least you admit that an officer is not guaranteed to write a ticket.

    There is no perfect data for crashes here or in most places in this country though about 5 major US cities have made decent progress after adopting Vision Zero policies. You could same the same thing [imperfect data] about most crimes. Maybe all.

    So using a combination of sources is general protocol everywhere – typically PD, DMV and hospital but in lieu of hospital stats I’ve used FD.

    The DMV records are faulty because they are from the perspective of an officer who decided whether to write and what to write, all too often relying on the driver as witness which is obviously problematic.

    DMV records for just LB 2011-2013: http://bit.ly/DMV-2011-2013
    I can extend this to include any zip code, but will play along with your need to silo the issue to LB.

    Just because YOU haven’t experienced or witnessed it happening means it never happened? Realize you seem like a pompous dickbag.

  13. and yes, there are 1565 DMV crash reports for LB, 2011-2013. Think about that – only the ones issued tickets.

    That in itself REGARDLESS of who/what was involved is an issue.

    That’s a lot of poles/curbs/bikes/grandma’s/other vehicles being hit. From other data sources that show location there is an absolute trend of where crashes occur. I’ve done that analysis of hotspots using data. The LBPD has a couple people that get deep into 6-figures to maintain that data and you know how they do it?

    Not with a computer.

    Not with the latest software that they have.

    So rather than getting all up in Anthony or my or anyone else’s grill about PROVING anything – why don’t you reserve your questions and analysis judgement for the people whose salaries are literally 5times mine- your tax money at work.

    You want to keep questioning us instead of them?

  14. Where did you get those numbers from, CO? A person on a bicycle could cause 99% of all crashes or they could cause 1% – it really does not matter. The point is that crashes across the board are mostly preventable – a tree falling on the road while a kangaroo jumps in the street= ok, not preventable. Distractions, speed and general stupidity? Preventable.

    That is the whole point, trying to realize that crashes being preventable means we should be able to eliminate crashes while simultaneously humanizing the streets so that anyone who needs access – crossing, biking, skating, etc- can safely navigate without the fear of never seeing their family again.

    It would be one thing if we were like doing something that totally endangered or compromised your health but considering this is the direct opposite, the backlash is quite silly.

    And its slightly messed up considering who LBEsq actually is.

  15. Oh thank-you for the thanks, Lori! Anyone who needs this and any other data stuff I have is absolutely welcome to it. I did this for all of us – even the grumpy cats.

  16. I’m not surprised that people aren’t quick to jump on board to improve the streets for a bike and driver safety.

    It seems like every other week there is a new special interest being forced on residence and taxpayers. These include a skate park, a stadium, speed cameras. Not to mention iStar.

    All while, taxes are going up. Flood insurance is going up. City’s debt and bonding: up. Cost of living is going up. Crime – at least seems to be going up.

    People are struggling, and instead of being offered a glimmer of hope that any of their financial concerns will be addressed, they get presented with a new project for a problem that seems irrelevant to them.

    I’m certainly not defending people who are against making the streets more modern, but I get why they don’t care.

  17. I certainly lean toward the attorney bent and away from the Bohemian, but there’s a little of each in me,mixed with a great love for less government and more self responsibility. There is great merit in both factions posting here.

    Probably everyone can agree that today’s drivers have more distractions and that bicycling and walking in an increasing trend. And there are some things that can make a road system safer for everyone considering today’s and tomorrow’s trends.

    So let’s look at those things that can be done. Some are certainly pie-in-the-sky million dollar concepts. Others may be extremely cheap, easy and immediately possible. All this entangles with the cost/benefit thing that we’ve beaten to a dead horse here.

    Developing and sharing visions and concepts is great, and I believe that is a huge purpose of Anthony’s blog. We ain’t the City Council arguing over a tax increase here.

    It’s fun to read this stuff, and if you think someone’s really stupid you can just smile and go on to the next post.

  18. Exactly right. The state makes no money from bicycle tickets – no driver responsibility surcharges, no insurance surcharges to satisfy the campaign contributions of the car insurance lobby, no points systems with suspensions and more fines, etc. So there will never be any enforcement of bicycle laws – they do whatever they want, as you can clearly see just by riding around Long Beach – they don’t stop for stop signs, lights, they text and bike, use headphones, ride with friends on their handlebars, don’t keep to one side, etc – and nothing is done about it. This is all just an anti-car driven progressive agenda, nothing more.

  19. The proposals are always the same – lower speed limits, narrow streets. When those don’t work – we lower the speed limit some more. Then we add more stop signs. Then speed cameras. Then we re-time the lights to create more congestion. NYC under DeBlasio is doing all these things, and there is traffic chaos everywhere – more cars are diverting onto side streets where they are causing more accidents. Read about what this agenda has done to Ocean Pkwy in Brooklyn:

    http://jalopnik.com/how-one-street-shows-what-goes-wrong-when-we-mess-with-1707534253

  20. Bike lanes would be nice, but better enforcement of the current rules could also pay huge dividends regarding safety. Ticket speeders and those who run red lights in cars. Do the same to those riding on sidewalks and giving themselves the right of way at a busy intersections on bikes. Its about sharing the road, not just vilifying one of participants.

    There are Bike lanes on Broadway, but I see them full of people parking on the wrong side and bikes on the sidewalks anyway. Why would we expect it to be different on Park ave?

    I drive and bike weekly and I can tell you there is no respect for the rules here from bikers or drivers.

  21. Anti-car? That’s absurd. I drive a car and a bicycle. Anthony drives a car and a bicycle. My next door neighbor drives a car and a bicycle. The other neighbor use to drive a car but she’s too old now so she rides a bicycle.

    There is no “us” vs “them” because we are the same.

    Stop twisting this into a false “anti-car” agenda and stop being so damn bitter. It’s like you were jilted by a long ago bicycle lover or something stupid like that.

  22. Some people think there’s no need to put blinking lights on school bus stop signs. If everyone obeyed the law, no one would drive past them.

    Some people think there’s no need to paint school buses yellow. If everyone paid attention, no one would drive their car into them.

    Some people think there’s no need for gates that lower at intersections of roads and railcrossings. If everyone just noticed the coming training and flashing lights, no one would get hit by a train.

    Some people think that there’s no need to wear a seat belt because they’re a good driver and accidents happen to other people and they don’t look cool and they resent that the government won’t let car manufacturers sell cars without them. (The same could be said for airbags.)

    Disagree all you want, some people want to see a decrease in the number of accidents and an increase in accessibiliy by bicyclists and pedestrians. That’s nice that you’re OK with all of the other vehicular collisions and just accept them (and the cost society pays for them) as part of life, but other people want to make their town and this world a better place.

    One would almost think that you, as an LBEsq, somehow has a vested interest in keeping the number of accidents at their current levels. Are you an ambulance chaser, by any chance?

    Feel free to email me at lb4life11561@gmail.com if you get tired of ruining this blog.

  23. That “bohemian trust fund crowd” line doesn’t make much sense to me. People are trying to make LB safer and more accessible for those who want to get around on a $100 bike instead of a $15,000 (or $50,000) car.

    Riding a bicycle isn’t a class issue. Needing to own and drive a car is a class issue.

    I’m sure you worked a day job to put yourself through college and law school at night. Bootstraps, right?

  24. You demanded data, data was provided. All you’ve provided was anecdotes. Please try harder next time, counselor, or SbtC will hold you in contempt and block your IP.

    Seriously, if you feel so strongly that changes would be detrimental to Long Beach, why don’t you do the lawyerly thing and become a politician? We had a Screw The Boardwalk party, you can start the Screw the Bicyclists party.

  25. Thanks for replying Joe. Unfortunately, no data was provided that was of any substance. You see, the gist of the argument here on SbtC is that “cars bad, bikes good”. This is an emotional argument and not one backed by any actual facts. I think we are all in agreement that bicyclists and pedestrians in this town routinely disregard the law. I have already adequately poked holes in the “data” presented, hence the personal attacks.

    The argument that Anthony and his cohorts have presented is that every accommodation, at any cost, must be made for the benefit of people on bikes and on foot. At best, they will concede that *some* people on bikes do not follow the rules of the road…but that is an afterthought.

    In reality, there is no pressing issue that is demanding immediate action, no matter what the hysterical causeheads claim. What this town needs is enforcement of existing laws. We have a capable, well-paid police force, smurfs and auxiliary police. This should not be an issue. People break the law because they know that there are zero consequences (legal consequences, that is).

    There are far more pressing and immediate issues in our fine city. Anthony is on point with many of his interests and ideas for Long Beach, but this one is off the deep end.

  26. Hey Sam, it looks like you’ve picked a car website to prove your point about what happens when we lower speed limits, but I’m not finding any information there about how MORE pedestrians are being hit by cars as a result of cars driving on different streets. Can you be a bit more specific?

    I’ve seen dozens of links posted to this site that cite traffic studies that show that making lanes narrower and installing bicycle lanes, when done correctly, makes things safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicylists.

    Please don’t, as LBEsq likes to accuse many of, cherry pick your stats, so when you do come back with stats (I’d like to hear you out), please have a comprehensive reply.

    Please be willing to engaged in a detailed, fact-based discussion. If you just want to rant about how you don’t like things, you’re just ruining the signal to noise ratio. Thanks!

  27. There is a huge difference between poking holes in data and requiring an extremely specific subset of it. There is almost no such thing as a perfect data set, so stop asking for one. What has been presented to you/us are a few general metrics that, when combined, do show a general trend of cyclists being in danger when they ride. What’s the point of dismissing causality when you agree that something should be done?

    You’re still living in this over-idealistic world in which no one breaks the law. Being as you’re a lawyer, I can’t imagine you wishing for your client pool to dry up.

    I do agree that Anthony’s point is a little too cyclist-friendly. I see way too much bad biking in this town. If you’re over 10, get off the sidewalk. If the sun is down, use a headlight. But the same can be said about cars. If you see a stop sign, stop. If you see a cyclist in the right lane, give them the 3 foot buffer that the law requires.

    History has shown in the accident data that the rules are not enough. Enforcing them would have a minimal effect, at best. People still get red light camera tickets. People still commit murder in states that have the death penalty. So stop being a nag about looking for a perfect analysis. Accidents are happening. Do you agree that something can be done?

    There’s a thin line between playing devil’s advocate and being an ass.

  28. Well said Allison! One does not need to hyper analyze any data to realize that Anthony’s 8 opening arguments are valid or that preventing the preventable equals progress. I believe road redesign is a win win for all constituencies who pay taxes to build and maintain them. May I suggest that one smart first step, which I have seen in various munis is signage that reads BICYCLES MAY USE FULL RIGHT LANE on multilane roads to drive home the point that bicycles have vehicular privileges on our roadways. That some bicyclists need to exercise better judgment and take their personal and public safety more seriously is well known(esp. on sidewalks!) but not a valid counterpoint to the progress you a attempting to promote.

  29. How did you “poke holes” in the data when it is derived from the DMV/police department and medics? You cannot get data any more precise because nothing else exists.

    So basically your poking of holes of the “data” presented actually reenforces what I have said since day one re: poor data collection and ambivalence towards bicycles (and pedestrians) perpetuating an antiquated street hierarchy when the reality is we need to level the playing field and give equal access to all user in order to humanize streets / increase quality of life etcetera etcetera.

    “We have a capable, well-paid police force” yes, you would know that, LBApplesauceESQ

  30. Are there any similar Accident Stats for the Boardwalk?

    It’s almost impossible to ride between Long Beach Rd and National Blvd, on a weekend, without being hit or hitting someone.

  31. Someone asked about LB traffic conditions 50 years ago: In the 1940’s-50’s Broadway had one traffic light. It was in the center of the intersection of Broadway & LB Blvd. An old fashioned one atop a short cast iron pole which was atop a concrete block maybe 3 feet high. It had no amber light, just red/green. At LB Blvd. and Park Ave there was another one just like it also in the middle of the intersection. No turn lanes, no green arrows, just red green. From Park Avenue to the bridge there were no more traffic lights. On summer weekends the traffic jams there were unbelievable especially weekends 4-8PM. Cross streets on LB Blvd (except Park ave and Broadway were stop signs only. Imagine trying to drive or walk across LB Blvd through a solid traffic jam, bumper to bumper in both directions. The Bridge was only one or two lanes (I’m not sure) in each direction and was totally inadaquate. Beach Street Had maybe 5 traffic lights for it’s entire length, with “stop on red” signs at all the wide streets. Summer weekend afternoon thunderstorm would totally block everything. Total chaos. Very hard to imagine just how bad it was.

  32. I have never focused on the boardwalk because there are no vehicles there and I focus on reclaiming streets for all users. The boardwalk is predominantly leisure and exercise whereas streets are that + transportation modes and my focus is transportation equity / level the playing field so that all people have equal, safe access regardless of their mode of transportation.

    But if I was ever paid for doing what I do then I would absolutely study the boardwalk but in my leisure time when I nerd out on this stuff, I prefer transportation issues & planning.

  33. Kayo, I love your historic accounts. I look forward to hearing them.

    Perhaps one reason I don’t feel the problems are too bad is that my views are tainted by memories of how bad this place used to be. Before the huge expansion of government money, you were on your own driving or even walking around here.

    Things have changed greatly with the population boom of the apartment development.

    As is being discussed here, a plan to include alternative transportation in future construction should be considered. With all the federal moneys being thrown around now, Long Beach should get all it can before the whole Ponzi scheme collapses.

  34. Allison, I am sure an advocate for safer more bike/pedestrian friendly streets would have done some research on the root causes of ped/bike accidents and not just running around screaming “slow down the town” or “20 is plenty”. Lowering the speed limit will decrease the effect of a car/person interaction, but working to stop the unintended meeting will be even better.

    Here is some alcohol stats from NHTSA for 2013 (the pedestrian percent is only for those who were killed) I guess they did not test the pedestrians who were only maimed or injured http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811888.pdf here is a list of many more alcohol pedestrian reports from NHTSA http://search.usa.gov/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=dot-nhtsa&query=pedestrian+alcohol&searchCommit=Search

    Here is some more local data for Nassau County http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/download/fedora_content/download/ac:149280/CONTENT/dimaggio_nassau.pdf There was a more comprehensive report on Nassaucountny.gov, but i cant seem to find it now.

    I think everyone can agree that even one pedestrian/bike fatality is one too many, but if you look at the causes and faults for the accidents we need to have more education for pedestrians and bicyclists in order to decrease the percent of accidents caused by them. Increasing ped/bike usage without the proper education will only lead to more deaths. Will bike lanes / crosswalks lead to a decrease in deaths? Most likely. Will an education program for peds and bikers lead to a decrease in deaths? Most definitely and this education will have a greater impact than any line painting will ever accomplish.

    Should we be encouraging/enabling a more walker/biker friendly environment? Yes, should a larger effort be made to educate peds/bikers? What do you think?

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