Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 23rd, 2011 at 1:10 pm
The Guardian (UK) has published a map that is getting some serious attention: It’s an interactive representation of the 369,629 people who died on America’s roads between 2001 and 2009. The map — and the numbers — are powerful to say the least. But they’re not just numbers. Carnage on our roads is happening every day and it takes a massive human and economic toll.
Just last night, two people were killed on our local streets; one of them was a woman hit by a car while walking across SE Powell near 31st and the other was someone who lost control of their car in Beaverton. So far this year in Oregon 286 people have lost their lives on our roads. Every day in the Portland region, traffic collisions result in property damage, serious injuries, and wasted money and time due to traffic back-ups.
Back in 2007, when Sam Adams was Commissioner of Transportation, I recall a slide he shared at a budget town hall meeting. It stated that the annual economic impact of traffic collisions, injuries, and deaths in Portland amounts to $412 million.
So often our discussions of transportation choices revolves around funding, laws, or other policy questions. But we usually don’t talk about the the obvious fact that our country’s over-use of cars and decades of car-centric planning have created a system of roads that have a huge impact not just on our quality of life; but unfortunately, often on life itself.
Take a few minutes to explore this map. When I did, I felt a twinge of queasiness as all the little dots fluttered around the screen and I realized that “Each dot represents a life.”