CMU "BIKE SAFETY SURVEY"
The CMU Bike Safety Survey sucks, it’s a charade with poorly worded questions and an obvious pre-determined outcome. It’s not interested in asking cyclists what they need and pursuing it, it’s an attempt to get an endorsement for a pre-determined outcome that CMU wants.
It should never have been sent out. It’s a charade. Watch the outcome: hey, here’s an App!
@V, I left similar negative feedback when I took the survey. Plus this, “How about a hands free/sight free App that warns car drivers of the presence of cyclists”. Something like that might actually increase safety.
My techno solution was:
Make a device that gives a car driver an electric shock if they’re violating the 4 foot law with respect to a cyclist, or exceeding the speed limit, or touching their smartphone, and build it into every car driver’s seat.
Note, having taught at CMU and knowing how heterogenous any university is, I wouldn’t use phrases like “outcome that CMU wants” as this is probably a handful of students on some design project, not a plot by the CMU president, implemented in a coordinated fashion by all faculty, staff, & students.
OOOPS. posted in wrong thread!
- This reply was modified 2 years ago by Mick. Reason: f**ken up
If it was a handful of students on a solo project – I probably wouldn’t have gotten emails from BikePgh and ORTC urging me to take the survey, because “my voice is powerful”.
yeah … I filled it out but mostly with “I will never use a safety app and all I want is more driver education and accountability.”
Gosh. You guys are way more on message.
I just kept insisting that (apart from potholes and no lanes) the main problem is speeding cars. I did point out that they incorrectly assume an equivalence between “pedestrians”/”riders” and “cars”. That’s just wrong. It’s “drivers”, dammit.
The car-centric attitude of the surveyors suggested that they really, really want cyclists to agree that some sort of Waze-like app is what we should want. But when you think about it, while Waze makes sense for drivers it isn’t really all that relevant to cyclists. All of us care about persistent issues (like a closed street) but most of what inconveniences drivers tend to be transient phenomena such as traffic jams or speed traps,. These are rarely biking issues. (As opposed to, say, a marked lane which legitimizes your right to scoot to the front of the line.)
Maybe Uber could spin off some of its sensing systems so that drivers could be made aware of cyclists in the vicinity… though electroshock would need to be optional (or court ordered). Wait, it’s CMU: why not make that the term project?
Agree with the above sentiments. I took an approach similar to Ahlir’s – stressing the problem is drivers.
I’m glad you guys focused on drivers vs cars. I referred to drivers (rather than cars) throughout but didn’t really drive the point home, and I think it’s a really important one.
right — the survey is bogus. actually, it’s worse, because it suggests that the solution to the bike safety problem is the responsibility of the cyclists, rather than better infrastructure and driver education.
The survey aside, I thought it brought up some interesting things in the sense that most locations I ride really vary in regards to potential threats. For example, for the most part (Liberty is a notable exception), riding Downtown I don’t really encounter problems with vehicles/drivers of vehicles due to the (relatively) low ambient speeds. I’m much more likely to encounter a pedestrian free for all where people are stepping out from in-between cars, crossing against the light, crossing outside of crosswalks, pretty much any type of pedestrian behavior that I need to actively be aware of and avoid.
No app is going to help with that, in that I’m not someone who rides with earbuds, or with a smartphone talking to me or advising me of “potential hazards”.
The types of information I find useful are, say, the Winter Riding Conditions thread on the message board. Realtime road conditions/status of EFT/Jail Trail and roads is a big deal during winter that actively changes my behavior or what I will do to address the conditions (i.e. change of bike, change of clothing, change of departure time). The other seasons, not so much, unless you have standing water or some serious condition going on.
It “might” be of use during other seasons if, for example, there was a report of a bus stop that had its glass broken out and there was a massive amount of shattered glass over the road (i.e. yesterday at the intersection of Bates and Blvd of the Allies), but the road condition would have to be pretty major.
You know, what might be useful would be a website where you could plot your regular rides (i.e. commutes), have that saved, and then just go to the site, note your preplotted route, and see if there are any “advisories” that have been crowdsourced along your route of travel.
Just getting the chance to chime in here. The survey was written by a pair of ppl at CMU and it’s meant to inform the work of a group of faculty researchers from a few departments at CMU (robotics, CS, etc) who are looking to put their heads together in some way — yet to be defined — that can improve cycling.
And as for the bigger picture, it appears to me that there are at least three ways that CMU is addressing issues faced by bicyclists: through this research team, through their infrastructure project on Forbes, & through the Bicycle Advisory Committee lead by the indomitable Karen Brooks.
Its unfortunate they overlooked identifying the survey authors & further defining its purpose, but I’m hopeful that these talented folks can come up with a useful solution. All of your thoughtful responses will help in that regard. Personally I’m hoping they come up with something as neat as/even better than this button: http://creativity-online.com/work/hovding-give-a-beep/47704
The Bicycle Button is neat but the problem is still drivers. Not streets, not “conditions”, drivers. Please communicate that to these “tech” people. Thx.
Perhaps if the survey authors actually, you know, got on a bike and rode around for a while they might have had better insight into the range of issues that concern urban cyclists and what sort of solutions might need to be investigated.
Part of being a “talented” researcher involves taking the time to explore a domain and gather enough data to help you begin to understand the relevant issues. The survey, apart from some generalities, focused on pushing a solution that did not strike this audience (i.e. experienced cyclists) as grounded in an understanding of urban cycling. So, nice try. But please try to do it right next time. Or at least lay out your thinking.
There’s a tendency in CS these days to think the right app can solve any problem. And anyway, an app can be commercialized, sold to Google, whatever. It’s understandable. I think that’s what was motivating the survey’s authors. They want to do something good for cyclists, they know how to make apps, so, 1 + 1 = 2, make a cycling safety app!
I suspect they’re cyclists themselves, and they probably have experienced some of the problems we’re familiar with cycling around CMU, but they don’t have a way to solve the actual issue, which is well understood: lack of cycling infrastructure. Or, rather, they think they don’t. I’ve always suspected that if CMU and Pitt really put their considerable scientific, institutional, political and financial resources together, they could help the city find a solution. But getting them to do that would require political work inside the institutions, which, probably, is something that’s outside the survey’s author’s experience and comfort zone.
How about an app that cyclists (novice or otherwise) could inquire about the safest way to navigate specific street conditions/intersections, linked to google maps and streetview to see the actual condition, and the ability of other bicyclists to crowd-answer, and a response rating system, like answers.com or something, or the message board distilled down to specific locations, and searchable, with pop-up suggestions linked to “your location”, and weighted by the number of inquiries associated with that location? That might be something.
What I’ve been saying for so long I’m tired of repeating myself: Go 168 consecutive hours without touching a steering wheel or begging the favor of a ride. Using only your own muscles and brain, and the occasional bus ride, get from everywhere to everywhere else, for a solid week. Reschedule nothing, bail on nothing. Figure it out, make it work. Wherever, whenever, in whatever weather or lighting conditions. Do that for a solid month, when you’ve figured out a week, and work in some variant routes and plans. Put 200 miles a month with wheels under you, hopefully a few of them in heavy traffic. Ride 120 bus trips a month, hopefully a couple in bad weather. After you’ve gotten some solid experience under your belt, then come back and talk.
After you’ve gotten some solid experience under your belt, then come back and talk.
Stu, would not fly. Or you would see something like:
Ride 200 km in less than 13.5 hour.
Or — ride 40 km in an hour (25 mph for an hour).
Or — 15,000 mile per year.
Gozzilions of different variants to separate other people.
Ok I think we’ve beaten this around enough.
For a constructive suggestion: how about the CMU folks bring in a varied group of cyclists and actually ask them what they think. Some people refer to this as a focus-group, it’s a soft science that’s hard to depict with statistics and graphs, but doesn’t CMU have a world class theater program in addition to all the science stuff?
Aaaaaand I forgot to have this thread send me notifications. Apologies, folks.
1./ on the small team of faculty are bicyclists, former bike racers, bike commuters
2./ it’s not necessarily gonna be an app or a button. I just like the dang buttons. I see the buttons as a potential super fast 311 concern line & I loooooove when offering needs & concerns to electeds is easy & accessible, esp when done in a way that makes it semi easy to translate into better infrastructure/conditions.
3. See my points re: there’s an at least three pronged approach happening at CMU. Also if I’m a pizza maker I have my voice/vote, my spare $$, and pizza to throw at problems. These folks are just trying to see if their mix of skills can be helpful here b/c they see a real problem & care. A roboticist, two computer scientists and a few other ppl whose fields I can’t recall walk into a city that should be safer for cyclists…
And by my pizza analogy I mean I doubt these science dudes are going to band together to lobby state officials/PennDOT to reclassify Forbes as a road w/ limited motorized vehicle access (or whatever). Many other possibilities though.
Edmonds, checkout out http://www.lanespotter.bike/ . It’s an app being developed in Pittsburgh that will allow cyclists to rate roads kind of like you’re saying.
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