Gas Taxes (again), or WSJ duplicity

This is fairly typical of the duplicty in WSJ editorials. They denounce the Democratic leadership for not calling for a large gas tax. But apparently Republicans get a pass, even though they were the leadership before 2006 for many years (12, was it?). They also don’t really endorse the gas tax, they merely assert (correctly) that higher priced fuel would lessen demand — so they can have it both ways it seems. Continue reading Gas Taxes (again), or WSJ duplicity

Off duty uninsured DPS officer

UPDATE2, Feb 24, 2009: Aguilera was found guilty at trial. Sentencing is scheduled for April 24. Here is a wild picture of the wreck — the motorcycle is impaled upright in the grill of Aguilera’s car… was speed a factor?

UPDATE1: The Aguilera case is going to trial. You can see the wheels of justice slowly grinding via the superior court’s website.The crash occurred May 2007; it’s now Feb 2009. It appears that the case being brought was solely due to the alchohol content (which fits the pattern — in the mind of the county attorney’s office there is never any criminal culpability outside the context of alcohol ).

In October 2007, news reports said Aguilera had a 0.057 BAC four hours after the crash. He was indicted on aggravated assault (and not DUI). The assault charges are far more serious:

Thomas said Tuesday said he believes the aggravated assault charges will stick, and even if Aguilera’s blood alcohol level would have been above the legal limit, Thomas said his office likely wouldn’t have asked for charges of a misdemeanor DUI.

Interesting points:An off-duty DPS officer, in his uninsured vehicle is accused of causing the wreck. This case is moving pretty quickly — the crash occurred May 4th 2007, 2 months ago. The link to DUI is hinted at, but results still not in (not unusual) — if other cases are any guide, the DUI status of Aguilera will determine whether or not criminal charges (aggravated assault?) are brought.

Continue reading Off duty uninsured DPS officer

Actual time served

The story Statistics prove Hilton is getting a raw deal  shows the seamy underbelly of American penal system. Because convicted car-criminals aren’t considered dangerous, they usually end up serving absurdly short amount of time — even for a serious offense like driving without a license while on probation for DUI! Hilton eventually served the full 23 days — but we are told that the “normal” amount of time actually served for similarly situated (but non-celebrity) individuals is 4 days. With FOUR TIMES the number of folks being killed on the highways as by “old fashioned” murderers (roughly 40,000 versus 10,000 per year in the US) perhaps it is time to rethink the notion of who is more dangerous.

The Los Angeles Times analysed two million jail releases and identified 1,500 cases since July 2002 that involved defendants arrested for drink driving and then sentenced to jail after violating their probation by driving without a licence.
Around 60 per cent left jail after four days…

Continue reading Actual time served

Pigovian tax

Definition from wikipedia

A pigovian tax is a tax levied to correct the negative externalities of a market activity. For instance, a Pigovian tax may be levied on producers who pollute the environment to encourage them to reduce pollution, and to provide revenue which may be used to counteract the negative effects of the pollution.

The best answer to America’s “problem” with energy, and with private automobiles in particular is to simply tax (mainly fuel) to compensate for the negative externalities. Pollution, mayhem, free parking, noise — all of these have a cost which is not being paid for by their users.

See Mankiw’s ( past chairman, Council of Economic Advisers in the George W. Bush administration)  The Pigou Club Manifesto.

Money collected via such taxes would best be used to lower payroll taxes — or to lower taxes on wages and/or investment generally, as Holman Jenkins points out in his column…

Continue reading Pigovian tax

2006 Fatality Stats – preliminary

[ U P D A T E : final stats ]

NHTSA’s preliminary Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data for 2006 (a.k.a. highway traffic fatalities):

  2006 2005
alcohol-related 17,941 17,525
drunk 13,990 13,613
pedestrian 4,768 4,881
motorcyclist not yet available 4,553
pedalcyclist not yet available 784
total 43,300 43,443
All other transportation(e.g planes, trains)   2,193

(Figures released May 25, 2007; updated table with 2005 numbers June 16, 2007)

Continue reading 2006 Fatality Stats – preliminary

Is a Bikelane part of the Roadway?

Is a bike lane part of the roadway?

Briefly, the accepted answer in Arizona as well as everywhere in the United States except OR, is simply ‘yes‘. What follows is a possibly interesting counter-point…

Borromeo V. Shea ( to read full case, search, supreme court decisions fo: Borromeo v. Shea) affirmed that the bike lane was indeed part of the roadway in the State of Washington. Washington’s definition of roadway is virtually identical to Arizona:

(WA) RCW 46.04.500 “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles.

(AZ) §28-601(21) “Roadway” means that portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder…

The definition of vehicle, though, is completely different — in WA bikes are explicitly defined as vehicles, and in AZ they are explicitly excluded from being vehicles:

(Wash) RCW 46.04.670 “Vehicle” includes every device capable of being moved upon a public highway and in, upon, or by which any persons or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, including bicycles

(AZ) §28-101 “Vehicle” means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power…

The Washington Supreme Court reasoned from the plain meaning of their statutes that bike lanes are part of the roadway.

So, what about Arizona?

In Arizona, on the other hand, bicycles are clearly not vehicles and so bike lanes are clearly not “designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel” — vehicles are banned from them! [§28-815(D) ]. Thus the “plain meaning” of Arizona’s statutes indicate that bike lanes are not part of the roadway.

However, case law from the Arizona Court of Appeals found in Rosenthal v. County of Pima (local copy) that a bicyclist in a bike lane was required to follow the rules of the road (in this case, required to ride in the direction of traffic). The case seems pretty straightforward. I note that the definition of “roadway” or “vehicle” doesn’t even appear in the opinion (perhaps that is a shortcoming of the case as brought?):

(appellee’s argument that, which the trial judge agreed with) those who ride in bike paths, because they are not roadways, are not (subject to the rules of the road). The argument both defies logic and is contrary to the express statutory language of A.R.S. §§ 28-728 and 28-811.

164 Ariz. 98; 791 P.2d 365; 1990 Ariz. App.Rosenthal v. County of Pima (link to opinon on Leagle)

The twist here is that since the bicyclist was a minor, the  applicability statute cited was §28-811 , and §28-812 was not considered (also see Applicability Statutes – why are there two?). Confusingly, both say when and which statutes apply to bicyclists; 811 says that “this chapter [chapter 3 – Traffic and Vehicle Regulation] applies to a bicycle when it is operated on a highway or on a path“, whereas 812 says the rules, chapters 3, 4 and 5, apply to a “person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder” [this confusion is explained in applicability-statutes-why-are-there-two; and seems settled based on a 2013 Court of Appeals decision Arizona v. Baggett]

In any event, Rosenthal doesn’t shed any light on whether or not a bikelane is part of the roadway. Thus the “plain meaning” of Arizona’s statutes stands: bike lanes are not part of the roadway. This is not in conflict with Rosenthal, it just means that the appellee’s argument was mis-constructed from the beginning. They were apparently counting solely on 28-811, overlooking (presumably because it wasn’t helpful to the case) 28-812 entirely.

Would the outcome have been different had the cyclist not been a minor? I would think not — since the rider was definitely either “on a roadway” or “adjoining a roadway”, then 28-728 would definitely be applicable. Or another way to say it, is that it still wouldn’t matter whether or not a bike lane is or is not part of the roadway.

Tucson Bike Lane

This occurs to me later: Tucson had almost no bike lanes [as of the time this was written, in 2007. It seems it may have changed in the meantime]. They are often incorrectly called bike lanes; they are also referred to under various made-up terms like “bike shoulder”. But they are not bike lanes.

Would this matter to the case at hand? The opinion refers to a couple of times “bike lane” and other times as a “path”. But again, this doesn’t seem to have made a difference. It’s just sloppy terminology. Most likely, the collision occurred on a SHOULDER.

US CO2 Emissions down 8%?

Lies? Statistical manipulations? US CO2 emissions (which comes primarily from fossil fuel use) down 8%? — I don’t think so! Just the usual WSJ editorial spin.

Take your pick. Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. … Meanwhile, in the U.S., under the president’s oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period.

— Wall Street Journal column, June 8, 2007, Bush 1, Greens 0, by WSJ editorial board member Kimberley A. Strassel

[UPDATE: reference to data for CO2 emissions from the EPA, US Emissions Inventory 2006. 1995 was 5325 and 2004 was 5988 in metric tons. That’s a 12% increase. The inventory lists every year from 1990 to 2004 there is no way shape or form that there was any 8% decrease]

According to EIA (Table 1-3 Annual Energy Review) fossil fuel consumption was ever-increasing from 77.49 quads (quadrillion Btu’s) in 1995 to 86.23 in 2004. That is an increase of ~12%. That doesn’t account for differences in a particular fuel’s carbon content, but a casual glance at Table 1-3 shows that natural gas (the least carbon intensive of the fossil fuels) use was flat, while both coal and petroleum useage were up more.

A more recent editorial (An Inconvenient Reduction, December 3, 2007) said “The Bush Administration announced last week that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide fell by 1.8% from 2005 to 2006” (and GHGs overall were down somewhat less at 1.5% reduction). This is supposed to mean that a policy of doing nothing is superior to doing something. They go on to point out that for the period 2000 to 2005 U.S. carbon emissions were UP 2.5% vs. the EU-15 at 3.8%

I wonder what the per-capita emissions for EU vs US are? Since they (the WSJ editors) don’t want to talk about it, I’m guessing that EU is significantly below US. [UPDATE: yes, it is. At least a casual glance at the list broken down country-by-country. The large European countries all run something like 1/2(!) US’s emissions. The GDP-efficiency list is much the same story which is to say the United State’s economy is twice as energy consuming (CO2 emitting) per dollar of output.]

DUI Interlock

[update: the legislative session ended and the repeal was not enacted. In other words, the interlock will be required for all DUI offenders. Rep. John Kavanagh had a lengthy letter advocating repeal in the Tucson Citzen]

Earlier in this legislative season, AZ lawmakers passed and the governor signed a bill that requires a DUI ignition interlock device be installed for any DUI conviction. Previously interlocks were required only on repeat DUI offenders, or extreme-DUI convictions. A new bill/amendment has been introduced which would reverse the interlocks for first-time offenders. (it would be unusual to pass and rescind a law in the same legislative session)

There seems to be endless legislative fiddling with DUI penalties.

Continue reading DUI Interlock

Cycling, traffic safety, traffic justice, and legal topics; energy, transit and transportion economics