Today’s Headlines

  • Members of Congress React to Obama’s Deficit Reduction Speech (WaPo)
  • Community Preference Survey: McMansions Are On Their Last Legs, Driving is a Pain (The Atlantic)
  • Despite Being in The Most Dangerous State For Cyclists, Miami Embraces the Bicycle (Herald)
  • Missouri Republicans Try to Overrule Governor on High-Speed Rail (Riverfront Times)
  • New Mexico Governor Vetoes Vulnerable Users Law, Maryland Passes One (Bike League)
  • Atlanta Transpo Report: City Driving is Safer Than Rural Driving, Not Driving is Safer Still (AJC)
  • Roundup of State Distracted Driving Legislation (Land Line)
  • British Bill Against “Dangerous Cycling” Ignites Debate (BBC)
  • Climate Change, Safety Be Damned: Texas May Raise Speed Limit to 85 (Treehugger)
  • Still Paying Baggage Fees? Bikes Fly Free on Frontier Airlines (
  • Doug

    RE Texas speedlimits. Per the article and EPA:

    While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.

    When people will drive out of their way to pay 1 penny or 10 cents per less per gallon… what if you told them going 70 was costing an extra 50 cents per gallon!

  • Correction on your headline about New Mexico. Gov. Martinez did not veto a vulnerable user law. That bill, HB 68, never made it out of committee in the State Senate. She vetoed a bill that would have established a statewide five foot overtaking distance when motorists pass cyclists. Her veto message is here:


  • Regarding Texas speed limits. If you don’t live in the Southwest, you might not understand why high rural speeds are popular. Distances out here are huge. I live 100 miles from the nearest real airport in Albuquerque. “Reasonable and prudent” has its place, but the caveats are “reasonable” and “prudent”. Both concepts lost on a lot of Americans.

    A few things: One, a high speed limit doesn’t mean you have to drive that fast. In 2008, I noted a lot of motorists driving slower than our Interstate speed limit of 75 mph in New Mexico in order to save gas. Two, I hope these ultrahigh speed limits are on limited access highways only, where head on crashes or overtaking crashes with bicyclists are rare. Finally, if we are going to see higher speed limits, we will need more competent motorists and more enforcement of keep-right laws so motorists are not weaving back and forth between lanes. Otherwise, 85 mph will introduce real carnage.

    Kinetic energy goes as speed squared. A car travelling at 85 mph is carrying 2.4 times the kinetic energy as one travelling at 55 mph; this can be expended on deforming the car. Also, the energy required to overcome aerodynamic drag rises as the square of speed. Hence the massive loss of fuel economy at high speed.

    Having said all that, I think it would be foolhardy to seriously suggest re-instituting double nickles out here. Its not going to happen without a huge fight. Rather, let gas prices rise so people drive less or drive more frugally or switch to smaller, more aerodynamic cars. Driving a shopping-utility vehicle long distances at 85 mph is dangerous (these vehicles were not designed to handle well at high speeds) and hugely wasteful of gas.


Today’s Headlines

President Expected to Unveil Transportation Proposal in Mid-February (AP, Bloomberg) Congress Puts Transpo Reauthorization on the Front Burner (Journal of Commerce) Business Likes Obama’s Infrastructure Push, Republicans Push-Back on Spending (WaPo, NYT) NTSB Chair: “Safety Deferred is Safety Denied”, Saving Money Now Costs More Later (Transpo Nation) Ray LaHood’s Battle Against Distracted Driving Isn’t Just […]

Driving While Human

Our local paper recently ran the story of Edith Cameron, killed in a car crash on a road we sometimes use. We anxiously scanned the column looking for that something that one of the drivers involved must have done wrong—the thing that we surely would never do, like hit the road without a seatbelt or […]

America Has a Terrible Traffic Safety Record Because We Drive Too Much

Even though the U.S. traffic fatality rate per mile driven has fallen by two-thirds in the last 50 years, America today still has the deadliest road system per capita in the developed world. Much of the improvement from safer driving and better emergency care has been wiped out by increases in total traffic. The American approach to traffic safety has emphasized seatbelt use, vehicle standards, […]

In Wisconsin: Driving Stagnates, Highway Spending Accelerates

Young people are driving less. Baby boomers are driving less. Americans in general are driving less. The news hasn’t sunk in, however, at certain state DOTs — Wisconsin being a prime example. Under Governor Scott Walker — who insisted the state was too “broke” to operate passenger rail — highway spending has been skyrocketing. Today, […]