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After Rash of Cyclist Deaths in Seattle, Grief Turns to Anger

10:32 AM EDT on September 16, 2011

Seattle's Street Safety Reckoning: The Seattle cycling community is reeling after a rash of recent deaths: Three cyclists have lost their lives on city roads since July. These tragic events have prompted some tough questioning of the city's commitment to protect its vulnerable road users. One case in particular stands out as potentially avoidable: the death of Brian Fairbrother, who lost his life after crashing down an unmarked staircase at the end of a city bike trail late last month. Tom Fucoloro at the Seattle Bike Blog responded, "At some point, sadness and mourning turns to anger. You might ask, 'Why was there no sign in place warning of a staircase at the end of this bike trail?'" A newer report by the same blog showed that the city had received a safety complaint about the staircase as early as 2008. For his part, Mayor Mike McGinn has called for a road safety summit and laid out plans to help make Seattle's roads safer for all users.

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Philadelphia's Applause-Worthy Park(ing) Day: Kudos to the city of Philadelphia for getting into the true spirit of Park(ing) Day. To mark this global demonstration about all the ways we can use curbside space besides automobile storage, the city partnered with bike advocacy groups to install a bike corral at Sydenham and Walnut, according to Sarah Clark Stuart of the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition. The corral will remain up as a demonstration for six weeks. In the meantime, the city's office of transportation will be accepting requests for the corrals from local businesses, GPBC reports.

To Hybrid or Not to Hybrid? That's the Question for Buses: For transit agencies, the choice between hybrid and standard diesel buses can be a thorny one. Whether hybrid buses ultimately result in savings for the transit agency depends largely on how the bus system behaves, says John Dornoff at Network blog Transit in Utah. In New York City, where buses do a lot of stopping and idling, hybrid buses have proven to be a prudent investment. However, in Seattle, where many express buses travel long distances at fast speeds, savings never materialized, he says.

Carefully considering of the costs and potential savings is necessary for transit agencies to fulfill their obligation as good stewards of public funds. On the other hand, hybrid buses, of course, offer some unpriced advantages, such as quieter rides and reduced emissions. "On a profit and loss statement the hybrids may not add up," said Dornoff, "other factors may be in their favor but a transit agency needs to look at the the life of the vehicle and whether the substantial cost will pay off in the long run."

De Soto, Kansas Bike Ban Lifted: The political climate appears to be growing more friendly for cyclists in Kansas. After 10 years of struggle, the town of De Soto, Kansas has lifted the ban that prevented cyclists from using 83rd Street. Not only did the City Council overturn the ban, reports Network blog the Kansas Cyclist, council members also rejected a proposed restriction that would have forced bicyclists to ride single file, within three feet of the curb. In addition, one of the council members who voted for the original ban, changed his position and spoke against it. Progress!

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