Summer 2004, p.21

World News
SUVs Fall Out of Fashion in Paris

Paris may become the first major City to ban SUVs from the city center according to reports in late June. The Paris City Council is urging the ban as part of an overall plan to improve traffic flow in the city. The Deputy Mayor noted that while the city does not have the authority to ban SUVs outright, it wants to restrict the circulation of these dangerous and polluting vehicles. The Mayor of London has also expressed interest in reducing the number of SUVs on the roads in that city.

Killer SUVs
If you have to be struck by a moving vehicle steer clear of SUVs and light trucks. Pedestrians struck by these vehicles are 3 times more likely to be severely injured and 3.4 times more likely to be killed compared with pedestrians struck by passenger vehicles. This according to a new study from the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and the Center for Applied Biomechanics at the University of Virginia. Pedestrian injuries make up 13 percent of traffic fatalities in the United States.

Taking Fresh Air to Heart
The American Heart Association released a scientific statement in June saying that exposure to air pollution increases risk of cardiovascular disease. This is on top of the pulmonary problems that air pollution can cause, such as increased asthma rates. The Heart Association notes that the levels of air pollution may vary more within a given city than between cities, and therefore risk of heart troubles may vary throughout a city. For instance, people living near major roads are more likely to die of a cardiovascular event. While the American Heart Association suggests that people at high risk for heart or lung diseases stay inside on days with high pollution, they also note that indoor air pollution, especially second-hand smoke, also poses a threat. The American Heart Association had not taken a stand on the connection between air pollution and heart disease and strokes until now because of flaws in research designs and methodology of many earlier pollution studies.

Read the latest news about clean air.

Record Number of Riders Bike in Berlin
250,000 cyclists took to the streets in Berlin June 6th in what organizers describe as the world’s largest bicycle ride. One of the organizers, Benno Koch, said that riders wanted to show “the still underestimated potential of the bicycle as an everyday means of transportation.” The theme of the ride was “respect for bicycler riders.” Participants from Germany, the U.S., Russia and Britain traveled on one of 16 routes along over 300 miles of city streets during the event. Last year’s ride drew 100,000 participants.
Berlin AP

Slow Down and Smile! Speed Cameras Save 100 Lives per Year
What does it take to save 100 lives a year? Britain has found that it’s 5,200 speed cameras do the trick. An independent audit published by the British government concluded that the devices encourage drivers to slow down by an average of 2.4mph. They result in a 71% drop in the number of vehicles speeding and avert 870 deaths or serious injuries annually. Opponents of speed cameras continue to claim that drinking or drug use while driving and carelessness are more important factors in accidents than speeding. The government’s top transport adviser, Professor David Begg, said anti-camera groups had been proved wrong. “If critics continue to make dishonest claims about the impact of speed and speed cameras, they will end up with blood on their hands.”
The Guardian

Read the latest news about speed cameras.

City at fault after Toronto cyclist gets “doored”
A Toronto court has found that the city was partly to blame for a 2002 incident in which local cycling activist Hannah Evans was struck by a car door on the city’s Queen Street West.

The groundwork for the lawsuit was laid by a group called Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists in Toronto. “Basically,” said Toronto cycling advocate Ben Smith Lea, “cyclists and pedestrians are subsidizing Toronto’s decaying auto-based transportation network with their blood, their teeth, and their bones.”

Deputy Judge Morris Winer awarded Ms Evans $4,500 in damages with 25 percent to come from the city. He apportioned liability for the incident 25 percent to the city, 50 percent to the driver of the car and 25 percent to Ms Evans because she was not wearing a helmet.

Ms Evan’s lawyers argued that under common law principles the city had a duty to provide a safe road environment for cyclists and in this case had failed in that duty. A bike lane along Queen Street West had been decommissioned in 1993 because the road was not wide enough to accommodate it, but the city had failed to take down some signs marking the lane. In addition, a popular bike lane in the area leads to Queen Street West, effectively dumping riders.

The judge agreed that the city had been negligent in failing to make the road safe. Ms Evans suffered a mild concussion and bruises as a result of the crash. and

China’s New Road Safety Law Holds Drivers More Responsible
China’s new road safety law came into effect in May. And on Monday, the first driver in Beijing received probably the most strict punishment under the new law. The Beijing driver, surnamed Li, ran away after his car hit a passerby on May 3. After the hit and run, the victim died, and Li was arrested 15 hours later. According to the new law, drivers who are guilty of hit and run accidents will be banned from driving permanently. After a lot of debate among experts and the public, the ruling was delivered.

“He will be banned from driving all the rest of his life. Before the new road safety law came out, he would only be deprived off his driving license.”

After hearing the ruling, Li expressed nothing but his deep regrets.

“I didn’t know what I was doing at that time. My mind just went blank. But I never expected I would receive such severe punishment.”

Nationwide several other drivers will receive the same punishment for hit and run accidents.