i) If an average-sized male runner doing a recovery run at 4:30-minutes-per-kilometre, running as he should facing traffic, and an average-sized vehicle travels in the opposite direction at 60 km/h, what is the probability that the runner survives when the car makes contact with the runner?
ii) How much longer does it take to travel five kilometres at 30 km/h compared to 60 km/h? For simplicity, assume there are no stop signs, turns or other measures that slow the vehicle.
i) Almost 100%.
ii) 5 minutes. That converges to a negligible amount of time as you add in stop signs, stop lights, and corners.
OK, let’s drop the math. But let me take you through an exploration of road safety and how it relates to us enjoying this new found freedom.
While the COVID pandemic offers many challenges it has opened up more opportunities to be active. Running and cycling are on the rise, meaning more people on the streets to enjoy the freedom of the open roads.
Those open roads may also incentivize people to drive faster. The unwritten rule in Ontario is you can drive about 20 km/h over the speed limit before the cost-benefit ratio of fines and points to the speed reach an inflection point where the costs are just too high.
That means roads signed at 30 km/h likely have people driving at 50 km/h, 40km/h people will drive close to 60 km/h and on 50 km/h, you’ll see people travelling close to 70 km/h.
What that also means is certain death for the vulnerable user—you, the runner, and all the other cyclists and pedestrians out on the road. (While having a ride with my friends, I had a driver brush by me. Read about it on my Instagram, here.)
These images from Streets Blog, captured in an interactive interface produced by ProPublica illustrate that once cars reach a certain speed, just above 30 km/h, they become much more deadly. Note that this is for cars, not larger SUV’s, trucks, or transport vehicles.
We are in a period of unprecedented times, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the civil unrest around Black Lives Matter. Everything we know is being reexamined. In addition, how, when and where we use public spaces are changing.
One value that stands out for me in all of this is kindness. Be kind when you’re out running and smile to those around you. Be kind when someone says something you may not agree; respond with a smile, and kindness. You may not agree with their view, but meanness is not acceptable. Be kind when you get behind the wheel and look out for those around you—people walking, running, biking and standing around chatting with neighbours.
This is not a war on cars and vehicles. This a time to step back and ask how you can help make the world a better place.