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Editorial: So much carnage on our streets, yet so little response

Posted by on June 19th, 2013 at 11:22 am

Mike Cooley is still in the hospital with serious
injuries after a man hit him
from behind while he rode on N. Interstate
Ave on Saturday night.

Road carnage in America has reached epidemic proportions. Consider the barrage of news I’ve encountered in the past 24 hours…

— The Portland Police released photos and offered a reward to try and find a man who drove his large pickup truck into 59 Mike Cooley as he rode home from work up N Interstate Avenue on Saturday night. Cooley has very serious injuries and remains hospitalized while the police search for the suspect.

— A major study from the Harvard School of Public Health has found a link between autism and air pollution from motor vehicles. As in, the unborn children of pregnant women that breath tailpipe emissions are impacted by our transportation policies that put the auto access and capacity above everything else. Do we really care more about auto traffic “flow” than the health of our babies?

— Michael Hastings, a young and talented investigative journalist who contributed to Rolling Stone magazine was “killed in a car accident” in Los Angeles. (It struck me how the reporting on his death just accepted the traffic collision as minor fact. As if it was something completely random and ordinary.)

— Also yesterday afternoon, 65-year-old Scappoose, Oregon resident Wayne McCormick was driving his Buick on Highway 30 when 39-year-old Mark Thomas’s SUV crossed over the center median “for an unconfirmed reason” and slammed into him. McCormick died instantly and Thomas has life-threatening injuries.

— Scott Van Hiatt of Neskowin, Oregon was arrested Monday for criminally negligent homicide. On May 14th, Van Hiatt drove his pickup into Seattle resident Richard Swanson and killed him as he walked on Highway 101. Swanson had planned to dribble a soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil.

— And this morning, a semi-truck plummeted 65 feet from the top deck of I-84 westbound as it transitions onto I-5 in Portland. The driver, who apparently collided with a small car prior to the wreck, sustained life-threatening injuries and had to be extricated from the cab by rescue teams.

This is just a sampling of the carnage that hits my inbox and Twitter feed every day. It’s disgusts me and it’s embarrassing as an American citizen to know that this happens in my country. It’s also got me wondering… Why isn’t there a massive civil response or national dialogue about the rampant traffic deaths and destruction we experience every day? Look at the national movement to defeat and cure cancer. Where are all the 5K runs and fundraisers to raise awareness and create urgency to stop this madness? Can we at least pick a color and make some bracelets? Are we really just going to continue business as usual and accept this? Maybe I’m part of the problem because I just sit here and rant about it on my blog.

Until the awareness and urgency about traffic behavior and transportation policy moves beyond the livable streets advocates and wonks, I’m afraid nothing will change.

What do you think?

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

180 thoughts on “Editorial: So much carnage on our streets, yet so little response”

  1. Avatar jeff says:

    millions of people in this country drive without incident everyday, successfully avoiding collisions or carnage…does that story make it into your inbox?

    1. no it doesn’t jeff. And that’s a good point. But the fact remains that America is losing badly to other countries that have more sane transportation policies. Over 30,000 people die here on the roads every year and tens of thousands more are injured… and tens of thousands more than that are afraid to use their public spaces.

      So. I get your point; but to make it seem like overall, things are just fine and dandy on America’s roads I think is a complete denial of reality.

      1. Avatar Sho says:

        So Jonathan, are you just turning BikePortland into an opinion column now? America has it pretty good in regards to traffic compared to the majority of the world, there will always be ways to improve it. Our 1st world problems.

        1. Sho,

          Yes. Sometimes this is an opinion column. And I completely disagree that we have it “pretty good” in America. Have you ever been to the Netherlands or any other country with civilized levels of infrastructure investment and policies to match?

          1. Avatar Chigger Mortis says:

            Much easier to do in a smaller, denser, more geographically homogenous, less racially diverse and more heavily taxed country. Are there even any domestic flights in a country that small?

          2. Avatar Help says:

            Why on earth are you comparing this country to the Netherlands? It has roughly 290 million more people in a land area that is over 235 times as large.

            It’s like stating Alaska should have the same transportation policies as New Jersey.

            1. Avatar Caleb says:

              Again (assuming you’re the Help I’ve addressed in months past) you took from Jonathan’s comparisons things he didn’t state.

              Yes, there are huge differences between the two countries’ populations and land areas, but Amsterdam actually has a higher population density than Portland by about 2,750 people per square kilometer. Perhaps that’s more relevant to Jonathan’s comparison than the vast people-devoid places in the US that you alluded to.

              1. Avatar wsbob says:

                Being ocean locked with precious little land to spread out in, Amsterdam logically has much more motivation than Portland to use the land it does have, for higher population and employment center density and slower types of transportation than motor vehicles.

                It seems U.S. transportation policy justifies higher road speeds because even in a big metropolitan city, much of the population lives not in, but distantly outside the city they work in: example: Live in Vancouver, work in Hillsboro.

              2. Avatar Caleb says:

                Being ocean locked with precious little land to spread out in, Amsterdam logically has much more motivation than Portland to use the land it does have, for higher population and employment center density and slower types of transportation than motor vehicles.
                It seems U.S. transportation policy justifies higher road speeds because even in a big metropolitan city, much of the population lives not in, but distantly outside the city they work in: example: Live in Vancouver, work in Hillsboro.

                I agree with what you’ve said about Amsterdam, which is why I considered Jonathan’s comparison quite pertinent to this bikeportland article. What’s “logical” depends on our values and intentions. Right now common values and intentions seem to put convenient travel before loss of any life. Were that to change, Portland might have much more motivation to use the land it has for higher population and employment center density and slower types of transportation than motor vehicles.

                Just imagine, if people could and chose to live closer to their work, US transportation policy woulnd’t “need” to justify higher road speeds.

              3. Avatar Help says:

                The FIRST sentence states “Road carnage in America.” Not Portland. Not Oregon. America. He talks about a “national” dialogue. I took exactly what he stated. If he miswrote, he can comment about it.

              4. Avatar Caleb says:

                Help, I’m no simpleton, and I can read. I knew he was comparing America to the Netherlends. However, I also believed neither he nor us were omniscient, so in that comparison he could only compare parts of America to parts of the Netherlends and we could only speculate what parts he was comparing unless he told us.

                You rhetorically questioned his comparison and likened it to saying Alaska should have the same transportation policies as New Jersey, but nowhere did Jonathan say anything remotely close to that either literally or figuratively, so don’t you think it’s possible Jonathan was [i]not[/i] referring to rural areas when comparing the Netherlands and America, and that he wasn’t saying any certain policy should be applied at the federal level?

                So yes, you took exactly what he stated, but what he stated was more vague than what you also took in addition to what he stated (the relationships between the two countries’ land areas and populations). Like I said before, you took from Jonathan’s comparison things he did not state. You have done similarly before, and even later in this thread of comments, and others have pointed it out to you, and yet you persist. Do you see the inconsideration and ignorance in this specific behavior of yours? Do you question Jonathan’s comparisons hoping he’ll change his behavior, or do you question them hoping to discredit him? Or is there some other reason I’ve not considered?

        2. Avatar Spiffy says:

          America has it pretty good in regards to traffic compared to the majority of the world

          and that’s exactly the problem he’s talking about… harming the greater good just for the flow of automobile traffic…

          1. Avatar Chigger Mortis says:

            you act as if there are no benefits from automobile travel

        3. Avatar Chris I says:

          The majority of the world? Yes. The majority of the developed world? No.

          Look at this list, and sort by deaths per inhabitants per year:

          Yep, that’s us, right next to Bangladesh, with a rate roughly double of China and most European countries. You think this is acceptable?

        4. Avatar Cold Worker says:

          Can the “first world problems” meme end? Now?

          1. Avatar Caleb says:

            Imagining that people die due to other people’s negligence in every country, I am in favor of ending that meme.

        5. Avatar My Magic Hat says:

          Of course we have it pretty good. Pretty good until YOU are the anonymous victim dying on the asphalt because some dip$#*t just had to send a text message to his passenger.

          Dead or alive. There ain’t much in between. I’m sure you’ll continue to have it pretty good . . .until you don’t.

          1. Avatar Sho says:

            I’ve been hit by a car on my bike and it seems like there is a lot of whining or rants with no one stepping up. If you believe this is an issue then do something! Maus even states he is being a hypocrite due to the rant. Till portlanders and those from vancouver learn to drive well or police start to enforce the laws against both cars and, yes, cyclists we could have an issue. Why would someone take a group of cyclists seriously about obeying laws who can’t do the same? Lead by example and have others join in – call them out when they are wrong. Jonathan – choose a color, how about high vis orange/yellow bracelets for construction workers, cyclists, walkers, runners, etc. Start something, be productive if you are going to complain about the current situation.

            1. Avatar Hoi polli says:

              Ahhhhh,… the words of a truly affected agro-nanny stater who does little but throw barbs.
              I will admit that I do not fully agree with everything J.M. does or says on his blog.
              With that said, one must realize that he is in fact DOING something.
              In fact (much to your frustrated chagrin), I believe he is doing our community and those beyond it, a great service.
              Where else would you go to espouse your verbal disdain?… Vitriol that I imagine is backed up by little if any true action or commitment.

            2. Sho,

              Thanks for the encouragement. In my defense, I feel like part of the reason I’m not “doing something” else about these issues is because I’m already busy doing something right here on this blog. My acknowledgment of guilt is more a product of thinking I could do even more given the platform we’ve created, rather than an admission that I’m not doing anything at all.

              I like to think this site creates opportunities for activism that others (professional advocates, citizen activists, policy makers, elected officials) can take and run with. This site provides the crucial spark and others can go create the wildfire.

              I have often struggled with the feeling that I want to “do more” in the tangible sense of organizing people/rallies/programs/campaigns, and so on — but I’m also often reminded that these issues are stronger when they have a voice and a place where many people can share their ideas, experiences, and knowledge.

              I try to make BikePortland that place. That’s not doing everything but it’s certainly doing something.

      2. Avatar wsbob says:

        “…but to make it seem like overall, things are just fine and dandy on America’s roads I think is a complete denial of reality.” maus/bikeportland

        What jeff said, was “millions of people in this country drive without incident everyday, successfully avoiding collisions or carnage…”. He didn’t say things are just fine and dandy on America’s roads.

        I think he essentially said, that given the transportation infrastructure that millions of people in this country have available to drive upon and that taxpayers can afford to provide, the rate of collision avoidance is commendable. All the same, maybe he would agree that greater emphasis on efforts to reduce collision rates in the U.S., would be important.

        Ways in which roads in the U.S. may be made safer to drive upon for a reasonable increase in infrastructure investment, is something many people in the U.S., are likely interested in. If there are some European countries with percentages of people driving that are equivalent to those in the U.S, spread over a similar sized land mass as in a given area or region somewhere in the U.S. …that have lower rates of collisions, it would be worthwhile looking at how those countries accomplish this, and whether the means they use would be effective in the U.S.

        1. Avatar Caleb says:

          You are correct in saying Jeff didn’t claim things are just fine and dandy on America’s roads. However, neither did Jonathan state anything remotely denying the fact that millions of people drive on American roads every day without incident, so some of us wonder that Jeff’s intention in making his comment might have been to diminish the issue Jonathan was highlighting. No matter how many people drive without incident every day, or how few incidents occur, we can continuously strive to make our roads and users safer without exaggerating how dangerous they are, so Jeff’s comment was irrelevant to Jonathan’s point.

          Maybe, as you say, Jeff would agree that more emphasis on efforts to reduce collision rates would be important, but maybe he would have also stated that directly if he did agree.

    2. Avatar Alain says:

      Actually, I do not get your point Jeff, perhaps you could share a little more? Are you saying that the ratio of living to dying is low, and therefore acceptable?

    3. Avatar Paws says:

      Millions of people every year avoid getting cancer, AIDS, MS, etc. and yet they have marches, fundraisers, runs, and rides (and yes, even bracelets with their own cool colors) to raise awareness and money for the causes. Don’t see what should be different about traffic fatalities.

    4. Avatar Chainwhipped says:

      Millions more people somehow manage to go about their daily lives without setting foot in a car for weeks, months, sometimes years. We often forget that our cars are a product of privilege, even here in the “developed world”.

      People are beginning to notice this reality. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t read yet another report showing a decline in new driver’s licenses, fewer vehicle miles traveled, etc. AAA themselves have recently been vocal about the true cost of car ownership (could you use an extra $9,000 per year?).

      The issue is not merely that people are being killed by very preventable means, it’s that it is happening so very consistently and it is down-played as if there’s nothing that can be done.

      Cars. They’re just simple utilities. Why pretend they’re more important than people’s lives? If our dishwashers were so easily misused that they were killing tens of thousands of people every year and leaving hundreds of thousands more permanently injured, would we rush to the defense of this lethal machine? We’re maiming and killing each other in the name of an appliance, for christsakes!

      If you could have someone back who died in a collision, who would it be? Would you never drive again if it meant that could be alive now?

  2. Avatar TonyH says:

    What do I think? Everytime someone turns the key in the ignition, they are declaring all of this to be “acceptable losses”.

  3. Avatar Peter Micahelson says:

    Before the automobile, mothers told their children to go play outside, which in the city was in the street. Now it’s don’t play in the street! Be careful! Streets preceded the automobile, which then pushed everyone else out.

    I think we all live in fear in the public space, although we’re so used to it we don’t realize. Everyone loves carless areas like parks or Pioneer Square because we can actually relax and chat. We could have much, much more of that finer life if we would agree to limit the auto’s range.

    1. Avatar Oliver says:

      I was just remarking yesterday at how empty the streets were during my commute now that the schools are out. The odd thing being that schoolkids don’t drive.

      1. Avatar gutterbunnybikes says:

        PPS doesn’t offer bus services to those that live within one mile of the school. Reguardless of the roads that must be crossed within that mile. For example if the scholl is like that of Bridger Elementary in SE Portland (near 82nd and Division) the students would have to walk even if they had to cross 82 or Division.

        Throw in the fact that you have numerious schools that are magnets or have students that aren’t in the negihborhood via the lottery.

        Lets not forget that in some cases (like my family) elementary school and middle school start within a 15 minute time frame. And its impossible for to get both kids to school in such a narrow time frame any other way. Bikeing would be an option but the streets are not really favorable for kids riding alone in this part of town. Considering my middle school aged kid would have to ride on one of the high crash corridor streets for a mile and two not fun intersection even for experienced riders.

        Schools cause alot motor traffic.

        Not excussing it, just pointing out a few of the facts.

        1. Avatar was carless says:

          Some school districts, particularly in more rural parts of the state, spend up to 1/2 of their budget on bussing. In light of that, it is highly reasonable for PPS to have their students rely on Trimet, walking, biking or their parents to deliver them to school.

          A corollary to this is some have argued to turn school district bus service in rural/suburban places into full-fledged public transit, as the school districts already have the equipment, the drivers, the insurance, the mechanics, management, policies, etc (and most of the funding needed for the service).

          My school district, which had ~2,000 students, had around 60+ busses to ferry kids around. That’s about 1/10 the size of trimet. Bend, Oregon didn’t have ANY mass transit until… 2006.

    2. Avatar Paul says:

      Peter, here is a quotation from Eric Morris’s dissertation, regarding urban streets prior to the automobile: “Horses killed in other, more direct ways as well. As difficult as it may be to believe
      given their low speeds, horse-drawn vehicles were far deadlier than their modern
      counterparts. In New York in 1900, 200 persons were killed by horses and horse-drawn
      vehicles. This contrasts with 344 auto-related fatalities in New York in 2003; given the
      modern city’s greater population, this means the fatality rate per capita in the horse era
      was roughly 75 percent higher than today. Data from Chicago show that in 1916 there
      were 16.9 horse-related fatalities for each 10,000 horse-drawn vehicles; this is nearly
      seven times the city’s fatality rate per auto in 1997.” Not to justify automobile deaths, but in the interest of accuracy, city streets were designed for transportation, not play.

      1. Avatar Peter Micahelson says:

        Paul, thank you for correcting me.

        I am biased but might I suggest that the comparison would look much less favorable to automobiles if streets today were as filled with children playing and people walking they were in the horse era. Perhaps the auto forced everyone else from the street, lowering the fatalities.

        An additional consideration – how would today’s fatality rate look if emergency medical care were of 1900 standard? That might account for more than the entire increase.

        In any case, what I do believe regardless of the comparison is that most people will be happier and healthier when the automobile is more tightly restricted and controlled.

        Is it really necessary to have nearly every street be an automobile thoroughfare? How about every other street? 50/50 seems fair to me.

        Thanks again.

        1. Actually the upgrade in medical care has caused UK traffic statistics to use the metric Killed or seriously injured (KSI) instead of just fatalities because about 1/3 of the reduction in vehicular deaths was directly attributable to improved medical care. Changing the metric to KSI allowed an apples-to-apples comparison. Basically the KSI is everybody that would have died given 1960 medical technology.

      2. Avatar Psyfalcon says:

        For a lot of history, work was done with slower and more calm oxen. I wonder if there is some sort of parallel with people using flightier horses and the city and using bigger and faster cars.

    3. Avatar Chigger Mortis says:

      Some of the finer things for me come from being behind the wheel. Easier access to stores I want to support, easier to get out into the country, etc. There are plenty of benefits to auto travel as well.

  4. Avatar Kristen says:

    I suppose one could say there is an epidemic of irresponsible driving. But sometimes bad things happen: a person has a medical emergency while behind the wheel, somebody swerves just a little too far into the path of somebody else. I struggle with the analogy comparing this problem to cancer. There is no cure for human fallibility. As long as millions of people are driving, biking, and walking on the roadways–hell, as long as there are millions of people existing–there will be at least a small percentage of collisions and accidents.

    I also struggle with the image I get from some of these stories: that of a band of renegade motorists, speeding around and deliberately killing people. We call these things “accidents” because they are done unintentionally. Negligence does not equal malicious intent.

    1. Avatar bendite says:

      Negligence doesn’t equal accident, either.

    2. Avatar Chigger Mortis says:

      Or it could just be simple chance that there were a lot of accidents this week. I don’t see articles saying “fewer accidents this week”.

    3. Avatar Jonathan Gordon says:

      One aspect of calling accidents collisions that appears to get overlooked is that many of the issues are not individual. Rather, they are systemic. So it’s not so much that I blame a specific driver’s negligence. It’s that I blame the design of roads (prioritization of speed over safety, cars over bikes/peds/etc.) and the concurrent culture of tolerance (everyone talks on cell phones, speed limits aren’t enforced, drivers are rarely held responsible, etc.).

      When seen through this lens, many accidents appear anything but. It is not a surprise or accident to many of us to hear of injuries and deaths when the streets are designed this way and the it’s normal and accepted to use them as they currently are.

    4. Avatar Barbara says:

      But “accidents” happen at a much lower rate in Europe. There are probably a myriad reasons for this. Some are lower speed limits, narrowerer streets that don’t invite speeding, better enforcement. Eg. The speed limit in European cities is generally 50kmh/30mph and then lowered in residential areas. Here the speed limit changes every few yards. No wonder that people tune out and drive however fast the street allows, which is a lot on our wide streets. Also, people make choices und most “accidents” would have been preventable. They make the choice to speed (since I started following the speed limit a few years ago I noticed how everybody else is passing me), following the car in front of them to closely or talking in their phone. And here is something were we all can start to do something about this, at least when we sit in a car: follow the speed limit, keep distance and pay attention. Look out for pedestrians in crosswalks. Don’t be rushed. The rest we have to wait for politicians, like make streets less inviting for speeding or allow using speed cameras for enforcement. But if if we pressure those politicians instead of being the accoeting silent majority, maybe something will happen.

  5. Avatar peejay says:

    I know what color the bracelets should NOT be: yellow.

    1. Avatar Paws says:

      I’m thinking Traffic Cone Orange, myself.

      1. Avatar S says:

        Perhaps white, if that isn’t already claimed. Like a ghost bike.

  6. Avatar David says:

    Via the CDC, deaths per year by cause:

    Heart disease: 597,689
    Cancer: 574,743
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
    Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494
    Diabetes: 69,071
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
    Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

    Not on the list: motor vehicle deaths. In 2010 it was about 32,000.

    Maybe not enough people die this way for anybody to care? Maybe we just accept it as collateral damage: it’s the price we’re willing to pay for “convenient” travel. Maybe we just blame the victims, “They were just driving too crazy. If everybody just drove like ME, this wouldn’t be a problem!”

    1. Avatar Allan says:

      If you look at people under 35, you’ll see guns and cars as the leading causes of death.

      1. Avatar longgone says:

        In the past 3-5 years more people over the age of 50 have committed suicide than have died in/by automobiles…
        I have mentioned this many times here on with little response from the editor, or the commenting public.
        It is a related non-sequitur, if one views the economy/age in workplace/dependency on one owner vehicles/lack of infrastructure-social services… to get us too and fro..

        In addition to the other social side effects of motoring listed above,… I will once AGAIN remind the cycling public of Oregon, that if they are not engaged in writing their Reps. concerning Benzine as a gas additive (still allowed in Or, btw) they are doing nothing but risking high rates of cancer (esp. in children) while breathing on their bikes.

        North Portland has some of the highest levels of airborne Benzine in the entire country…. I “heart” green Oregon bumper sticker . yeah whatever.

        1. Avatar Caleb says:

          I was not familiar with what exactly Benzine is, so Googled it, and came to a Wiki page declaring it’s not to be confused with Benzene, the Wiki of which seems more like what you’re talking about. Did you, perhaps, mean to say Benzene?

          1. Avatar longgone says:

            ..yes, with the “e”……sorry my bad.
            Portland along I-5, and to the west through the north side, are currently over 8-10 times the national standard for air tests that detect particulates of BenzEne . The CRC will only exacerbate the scenario.
            Many states outlawed BenzEne as a gas additive years ago.
            Oregon has not.
            I read last year that the states goal was to reduce it by 15-20% within the next 15 years.. what a joke.
            The Oregon DEQ outline on it is also very funny to read..
            I do not think the state is being challenged on this at all.., and I am a person with only peripheral knowledge, and mild outrage.

            1. Avatar Caleb says:

              No need to apologize, friend. I’m just thankful for the mention of whatever “B” word goes into Portland’s gasoline. I’m glad to have learned something I was not aware of. Thanks!

    2. Avatar gutterbunnybikes says:

      If you’re using the graph that I think you’re looking at (hows about a link), you can get a better breakdown of what constitues an accidents. And number on on the list for nearly every age group is automobile.

    3. Avatar Spiffy says:

      automobile use contributes to a lot of those at the top of the list…

      1. Avatar Jeff says:

        Evidence? Stats? Diet and lack of exercise contribute far more. And I won’t allow you to claim those as automobile caused. Easy on the hyperbole.

        1. Avatar Paul in the 'couve says:

          Auto use is inversely correlated with diet and exercise. People who drive more tend to eat worse and exercise less. Several recent studies have shown that the number one factor correlated with better overall health is active transportation and specifically neighborhoods where people can walk to destinations.

          1. Avatar longgone says:

            My sister and her husband, (albiet wonderful people) struggle in a life of morbid obesity.
            They live in a community with one of,(if not the) the highest commuter mileage’s by auto per capita in the entire country.
            Their dependence on the car to take the husband to his job 52 miles (one way) away,.. every day,.. greatly effects the choices they make when they go to fill the shopping cart. Sad but true.

            1. Avatar Help says:

              Which is a CHOICE that THEY make? Just because it’s unhealthy and you disagree with it doesn’t make it “wrong.”

              1. Avatar Paul in the 'couve says:

                But when we talk about cities, transportation policy, public policy, health and health care in broader context, designing and building cities that make it EASIER for people to make healthy CHOICES then it isn’t about forcing anyone to be healthy. IT is all about providing REAL choices in transportation for people so that people can choose to walk and cycle and when people exercise they often choose to make other healthy choices. Everyone wins.

              2. Avatar wsbob says:

                Not just ‘easier’ to make healthy choices, but also, ‘appealing’ to make healthy choices.

                When people’s 5-6 block walk to the neighborhood grocery obliges crossing or walking narrow sidewalks along a noisy, dirty, dangerous thoroughfare, of course many of them will choose instead, even on nice days, to drive in their comfortable heated-airconditioned, electronic device equipped motor vehicle.

                Give people at least a couple beautiful pedestrian bike esplanades through their neighborhoods, and more people may decide to occasionally bag the motor vehicle for a walk instead.

              3. Avatar longgone says:

                Firstly “Help”, Never did I say I “disapprove” (or feel it is WRONG) of anything related to my family’s life style.
                I simply was sharing facts based on personal observations.
                Secondly, I have a great relationship with my sister and her husband, and we discuss their situation at length often….
                If you were privy to these conversations, you would know first hand the frustrations they share with me concerning the choices they HAVE to make at times.
                There are millions of marginalized lifestyle choices being forced on people all over our nation. I do not judge members of my family for being victims of this.
                It is fine for you to question the intent of my comment, but it is obvious by your MO on that you cherry pick your arguments, bring little that is positive,and are a bit of a protagonist.

              4. Avatar Caleb says:

                I intend this only as support: did you mean to say “antagonist” rather than “protagonist”?

              5. Avatar Help says:

                Well then add more to the discussion. Why does the husband live 52 miles away from where he works? What unhealthy choices are they making? You’re telling me there’s NOTHING they can do to be healthier? It’s all the fault of health care and transportation policy?

              6. Avatar longgone says:

                Batman good, Joker bad… I have no idea why my brain inverted the obvious!
                Sometimes I type way too fast, without reviewing..Arg!
                That is two things ya zinged me on in one post article, Caleb.
                Pretty sad for me.

      2. Avatar Chigger Mortis says:

        unless you drive to the gym, to your bike ride, a hike, etc…..

    4. Avatar Chainwhipped says:

      When we get old enough, we usually die of something on this list. Our bodies simply become more susceptible to health problems as we age.

      Leaving that out,

      Did you just put traffic death – which is 100% avoidable – in the same category as terminal illnesses that we, as collective humanity, cannot cure?

      Or are you comparing death by traffic to suicide?

      1. Avatar longgone says:

        If this is meant for me, you missed my point entirely.

  7. Avatar Mitch says:

    I agree, Jonathan. Other than operate our own vehicles safely and defensively, what can individuals do about it?

  8. Avatar was carless says:

    I believe I have read that on average, every American will be involved in 1.5 car collisions in their lifetime. According to Forbes, its 3-4 per lifetime.

    I’ve been in 3 myself – 2 while being a passenger. Most everyone I know of has been in some sort of collision, even if just a “fender-bender” type of incident.

    In any case, I think people are just numb to it. There is so much violence that is in our media that people tune it out – people are more petrified of murder and kidnappings than automobile crashes. Which, statistically speaking, are much more likely to kill you. But people are completely irrational beings, eh?

  9. Avatar was carless says:

    Also Jonathan, you missed this one:

    “Newberg driver only meant to bump one-legged man as joke, sued for $1.4 million”

    I personally believe that at least 1/3 to 2/3 of human beings on the planet aearth are not mentally fit enough to be trusted with driving autos at any given time. My favorite are when people get fired or go through personal breakups and then hop in their car and go speeding on the freeway! (snark)

  10. Avatar q`Tzal says:

    I think we need to start lobbying the auto insurance industry directly, because we know going for legislators will only get us bogged down in special interest fights.
    We need to encourage the auto insurers to charge more and to financially penalize more severely drivers with even a whiff of past driving misdeeds or diagnosed neurological conditions that make them unsafe to drive.
    We need to encourage insurers to give steep discounts for every minute and mile driven by a self-driving or auto pilot car or aftermarket module as financial incentive to not drive manually.
    We need to legally hold responsible the people and their insurance providers for every CENT of expense that is incurred as a result of injuries and deaths.

    As a society we have offloaded the cost of driver education and road safety on the private auto insurance industry; the only way I see out is to make the auto insurance industry BLEED profits like a video game bad guy.

  11. Avatar BURR says:

    Driving is actually a much higher risk activity than most people think.

    Do some research on google regarding voluntary vs. involuntary risks and how people appraise each of them. People are much more willing to accept high levels of risk (driving, smoking, drinking,etc.) when it is voluntary than when it is not.

    1. Avatar Chigger Mortis says:

      There is a difference behind risk and actual accidents. Cycling is risky, too. That does not mean you always end up in an accident, either.

      1. Avatar Caleb says:

        Yes, but there’s also a difference between potential risk of various activities. What one risks cycling is different than what one risks driving an automobile, smoking, drinking, etc.

  12. Same situation is largely true in Canada. NOT AT ALL CORRECT that not much can be done about the carnage. Europe is way ahead of North America in this. And fatality rates reflect this. Even in USA carnage in some modes of transport is taken far more seriously than what happens on the roads.
    Every airplane crash (including those with private pilots) , but particularly those with even one fatality, is fairly thoroughly investigated. Causes and contributing factors are assessed and suggested remedies to prevent future crashes are detailed in written reports, which are then forwarded to an agency that has the power to act on them.
    If we just shifted to this approach where road travel is involved, over the space of a few years accident rates and fatalities would likely fall significantly.

    1. Avatar Spiffy says:

      good idea..

      when there’s an accident ban every car within 2 miles while they investigate… no driving allowed anywhere near the site until the investigation is complete and a remedy is on the way…

      1. Avatar Chad says:

        It sure would provide a strong incentive to fix the problems on our roadways.

        1. Avatar was carless says:

          “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  13. While the majority of these stories do point out the absurdity of our acceptance of being the human china in the shop with automobile’s bull running loose, I take issue with including the Bieber story. First, anything coming out of Hollywood is just bizarre and not normal as it is. Second, if I were driving, I don’t know how well I could see a guy deliberately standing in my path after having been accosted by several hundred strobe flashes aimed directly at my face. The Paparazzi in this case were acting rather reckless here in my opinion, not the driver.

    1. Hey John,

      I hear you about the paparazzi and the Bieber story. I looked into it a bit more and decided to delete it from my post entirely. Thanks.

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      I don’t know how well I could see a guy deliberately standing in my path after having been accosted by several hundred strobe flashes aimed directly at my face.

      not very well, and stepping on the gas in such a situation is reckless… that seems in line with this article… it’s just like that old “the sun was in my eyes” excuse… you don’t propel your vehicle forward unless you’re sure that nobody is in its path…

      there’s a difference between “I didn’t see them” and “I looked and nobody was there”…

      1. I’m no star worshiper, but I think most of the Hollywood style paparazzi are scum the way they do treat stars (who are people too). Had he waited for a clear path, he never would have gotten one. He revved the engine once without moving to signal his intent to move and then krept out slowly. The photographer that went down actually didn’t get hit by the car, his equipment tangled on the side view mirror and pulled him down (probably hit his knee when he went down). Or that’s the way it looked to me in the second video. Regardless, he deliberately was coming out in front of the car after it was already in motion.

        1. Avatar Psyfalcon says:

          Given the other accounts of his driving though… I’m not sure how much benefit of the doubt to give him. Hasn’t he been pulled over for 100+?

          1. No clue. Don’t star worship, so I don’t follow anything TMZ or the like has to say.

  14. Avatar Zach says:

    Good little podcast here ( from 99%Invisible called “The Modern Moloch” — gives a bit of the history on the initial American citizen response to the first wave of automobile related deaths in the beginning of the 20th century. People were angry, but the automobile industry prevailed by using the same excuse that gun apologists do today: “it’s not the car that kills people, it’s the people [driving the cars] that kill people.”

    1. Avatar Peter Micahelson says:

      Wow, GREAT PODCAST! Very useful tool to explain the issue to our less sensitized friends and neighbors. Jonathan might consider perma-posting on his website as it’s a very digestible and compelling piece.

      Thanks for posting it. Any more like it that you know of?

    2. Avatar JRB says:

      Which is true, but what they leave out is the inconvenient fact that guns and cars make it a hell of a lot easier to kill people.

  15. Avatar aaronf says:

    Does anybody know how safe travel and large scale transportation of goods was before the automobile?

    I’ll hazard a guess that to some degree people accept the dangers of automobile travel because they don’t see a better way which they think will be viable for them. Covered wagons would grind our economy to a relative standstill, and we would hand our moral dilemmas along with our international influence over to Other People in other countries who would be willing to make the decisions for us. Most people don’t see that as a viable outcome.

    I think it’s similar to how people just accept that people die working on construction sites. It doesn’t mean we don’t identify problematic behaviors which appear to cause injury. It doesn’t mean we aren’t empathetic when someone dies at a construction site. But since the alternative is Don’t Build Anything, and we see that as maybe a long-term international competitiveness problem, we find the deaths tragic, yet less tragic than the death of an innocent person who died for no reason at all, for example, during a mugging.

    1. Avatar Matt says:

      I don’t think anyone is arguing that we get rid of trucks and go back to covered wagons, rather that we give up single-passenger vehicles for trips of less than a few miles and go back to walking or cycling.

      1. Avatar Help says:

        And the vast majority of the American public doesn’t want to do that. What’s the incentive? Give up my valuable time because someone else doesn’t know how to drive well?

        1. Avatar Paul in the 'couve says:

          Evidence is to the contrary……

          Surveys in this area very typically find that a majority of Americans want to spend less time driving. A very significant plurality would like to walk if it was perceived to be easier and safer. Some of the highest per sq. ft. residential real estate values are in the most walk-able neighbourhoods (like inner SE PDX).

          Even if it were true that country wide a majority prefers to drive big cars and want to keep it that way, strong majorities in several major cities (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland) want more alternatives to driving cars and better transit, better cycling and more safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

        2. Avatar Caleb says:

          I like to think of it more as re-evaluating the value of my time so that I can minimize risk I impose on others while possibly also encouraging a cultural shift that does the same. None of us knows death, so what are we in a hurry for?

          1. Avatar Help says:

            And that’s great you have a lifestyle that apparently allows you to do that. Many people, in particular myself, do not.

            “None of us knows death, so what are we in a hurry for?” I find that comment to just be sad. I’m in a hurry cause I want to do great things and get as much value from my limited time on this earth. Walking 2 miles to get milk doesn’t qualify for me.

          2. Avatar Help says:

            And that’s great you have a lifestyle and the time that apparently allows you to do that. Many people, in particular myself, do not.

            “None of us knows death, so what are we in a hurry for?” I find that comment to just be sad. I’m in a hurry cause I want to do great things and get as much value from my limited time on this earth. Walking 2 miles to get milk doesn’t qualify for me.

            1. Avatar Caleb says:

              Help, I hope I’m wrong here, but I get the sense your comment was somewhat defensive, because I didn’t mention any specifics about what I do, nor anything about how much time is required for me to do “that”. If you felt defensive, please trust I intended no offense.

              I failed to make this apparent, but I was speaking directly to your question that you give up your valuable time because someone else doesn’t know how to drive well. I perceived that question as one asked on the basis of a false dichotomy, because time’s passing continues regardless of what we humans do, and how we value it does not rely completely on how we travel. Whether valuable or not, time is not something you can give up, though of course what you do during your time is the question. I figured you were getting at the latter by mentioning the former, and that’s why I responded – if you really thought it great that I have a lifestyle and the time to do “that”, then I encourage you, as I was originally trying, to strive for a lifestyle and the time to do “that”, as well.

              My lifestyle and my time is not simply the product of other people’s choices and the rest of the universe’s momentum, but also a product of my choices, no matter how small the latter’s influence on the product is. Since childhood I have deliberately simplified and paced my life in response to countless problems (ranging from mental/emotional to lethal, individual to global, intentional to unintentional) I thought could have been avoided by people re-prioritizing their time to allow for more careful making and executing decisions. Has your past hurrying, perhaps, been part of the reason you don’t have the lifestyle and time to do “that” now?

              So our desires to do “great” and “valuable” things is what I was aiming my last post’s rhetorical question at. How do we determine which things are “great”/”valuable” and which are not? For many people, ideas of the universe’s beginning and our afterlife may impact such categorization, though all those ideas amount to is conjecture, unlike the external circumstances we are actually experiencing now. Some people might not realize how much “value” and “greatness” is simply a matter of perception like that, and in their desires to do “great” things, they might overlook the things they purport “matter” to them, such as the well-being of other people actually in existence.

              You don’t find walking two miles for milk “great” or “valuable”, but in the context of dense pollution, frequent automobile-induced injury and death, sedentariness-induced chronic health problems (including mental/emotional), violence over petroleum, petroleum spills, money and materials spent on building and maintaining roadways and automobiles, small communities decaying as people choose to drive farther, stress people face having no clue why their machine won’t work or if they can afford to fix it, stress people face while driving, emergency vehicles delayed by other automobiles, etc, I would very much value you and anyone else walking rather than driving, whatever the distance, and consider it quite a feat in the face of impulses compelling you to choose hastier means.

              For you to consider that such “trivial” things can actually be “great” is all I was hoping for by making my last comment. Incentive is largely a matter of perception. Thanks for having the patience to read this, Help.

            2. Avatar Chainwhipped says:

              Considering the cost of vehicle ownership, you may be mismanaging your time, altogether.

              Not that I’m against car ownership – I appreciate the hell out of mine when I need it, but it costs money. Money costs all of us our time.

              Even a cheap vehicle costs $6,000+ annually if it’s being used regularly. For a lot of people, that’s more than 3 months’ income at their full-time job.

              Some people are lucky enough to pay only 1 month’s income into a car every year. Still, is that really worth it? 40 hours x 4 weeks. 160 hours of your life every year so that you can go 2 miles for milk in 5 minutes instead of 10, or get to work 10 minutes faster.

              Seriously. It’s kind of depressing that in so many statements we make about our cars and how they’re a necessity, we can replace the word “car” with “drugs” and it basically says the same thing.

              “I need the drugs, so that I can work to get the money to buy more drugs, so I can work, to get the money to buy more drugs, so that I can work to get the money to buy more drugs so I can work to get the money to buy more drugs . . . ”


          3. I was killed for the first time in 2001. I’m trying very hard to ensure there is no second time. Notice my avatar picture I have a full-face bicycle helmet in my left hand. That is for two reasons. First when I was hit back in 2001 I had a partial face detachment and getting that sewn back on was a major bummer during the healing process. Imagine if you will the sensation of ants crawling under your face for several days and nights, that’s what it felt like when my face was healing. Second the hard shell of the full-face helmet is more likely to slide rather than catch on the pavement. When I landed on my face after being flipped violently on all three axis over the weapon vehicle my skull came to a sudden stop, but my brain didn’t. As a result I lost about 1/3 of my IQ and 90% of my vocabulary (but what is in that 90% changes on a daily basis) from a brain injury. Fortunately I had a large cushion of both to lean on (I’m actually between 95 and 109 on the IQ test depending on how my vocabulary lines up with the test on that day, and I had a measured 300000 word vocabulary prior to the test).

            But the point remains that I have been dead, and do not wish to repeat the experience any time soon.

            1. Avatar Caleb says:

              Opus, I generally find myself thankful for your input on bikeportland, and now am thankful for the more substantial context you’ve provided here. I’ve read about your wreck on your blog, but that, of course, doesn’t cover the same detail about your brain.

              I’m not sure what you refer to as “dead” is the same thing as what I referred to as “death”, because I was speaking of what nobody comes “back” from. Do you have memories of being dead and/or in pain during that time, or do you only have memories of before and after being dead?

              Regardless of what we call your experience, I also hope you will never experience anything so painful again. I do hope you will keep sharing your story to encourage social change, though!

              1. I have a few memories of an encounter that didn’t go well because it was not my time to go, but beyond that, I can’t really say what was the near-death experience and what was jumbled up from the crowd noise while I was unconscious. I do remember “waking up” in the ambulance telling the punchline to a really bad joke about being in a wreck… (it had to be a truck because it’s too late at night to be a bus) so there was a whole lot of stuff going on while I was out of it, including me giving the home address for where I lived my senior year in High School, which was not in the same state as the wreck, my parent’s home phone (which was a different state than where I lived in H.S. and where the wreck was), and I think I recited most of the lewis carrol poem about the Jabberwock… or was it the one about the bat like a teatray in the sky?

                But anyway no pulse or respiration for about 2 minutes after the wreck. I don’t know what caused me to reboot, but I did.

  16. Avatar Christopher says:

    I emailed the mayor about the Interstate Ave crashes and got a response from his office with a day, and was immediately pushed to a rep at PBOT. Jonathan, curious if you advocating for people saying something might be helpful here.

    For what it’s worth, the mayor’s email is:

    1. yes. absolutely helpful. I should probably include city/City Hall emails in my stories more often; but it’s a fine line between reporting what happens and encouraging a specific action. But yes, please contact the city and the mayor and tell them Interstate is a joke for bikes and there are no good options. We must create public pressure or there is zero urgency to change things. I plan to do some follow-up on this story/issue as soon as I can.

  17. Avatar doug b says:

    Good post Jonathon, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Where is the outrage from the 30k+ preventable deaths in this country each year, and the multiple injuries. Why is this acceptable?

    1. Avatar davemess says:

      Preventable? In reality these are all not preventable deaths. Things happen, even if we got rid of all cars there would be still be deaths from random things like getting hit by trains, etc. In the same vein if we got rid of cars bike deaths would not go to zero.

      Look at most other aspects of society. There is clear correlation between smoking and cancer/early death, but we have not outlawed cigarettes. There is correlation between obesity and a number of diseases and death, but we have done little to address these issues.

      Do we really need more outrage in society these days? Or do we need level-headed analysis and subsequent progress?

      1. Avatar Carl says:

        This is like saying that Polio isn’t preventable because people still get the disease. Like Polio, traffic carnage will always exist on some level but is largely preventable.

        The fact that this country hasn’t done more to recognize and address that fact is legitimate cause for outrage.

        Public outrage does not preclude “level-headed analysis and subsequent progress.” Absent public outrage, how do YOU propose we change our culture’s transportation priorities and safety sensibilities?

        1. Avatar davemess says:

          I guess we just differ in the use of “preventable”, which to me means 100% avoidable. I guess I would substitute it with the words “highly likely to avoid” or “strongly reduced”.

          And how to fix it? Well I think we have to continue with the slow progress we currently have. This country is not ready for radical change (which is very clear if you step outside of a few select cities (mostly on the west coast)). It takes time and sadly won’t be happening any time soon. We should continue to be activists (this site is a great start). Pester politicians. VOTE. I know these aren’t flashy, ground-breaking ideas, but they’re the best bet moving forward, rather than be marginalized as an “outraged” FoxNews type of movement.

      2. Avatar Chad says:

        Since some deaths would still happen, then we should just allow all of them to. Makes sense. In case you haven’t noticed, we have made smoking in public much more difficult than it used to be. No one is seriously saying that we ought to ban automobiles from all corners of society, but to say that means we should do nothing is absurd.

        1. Avatar davemess says:

          I didn’t say we should ban autos or do nothings. I was simply pointing out that 30k+ deaths are not all preventable.

  18. Avatar Jon says:

    Remember this the next time you hear an ad for a “clean” diesel vehicle. According to the CNN polution article:
    “Expectant mothers who lived in the 20% of locations around the country with the highest pollution levels in the form of diesel particulates or mercury were two times as likely to have a child with autism compared to those who lived in the 20% of locations with the lowest levels of pollution.”

    1. Avatar Chigger Mortis says:

      maybe they just vaccinate more there.

    2. Avatar rider says:

      So then we can expect almost all of the babies born in Beijing to be autistic?

      1. Avatar davemess says:

        autism has become the new fad correlate in research science. Sadly newspapers and news organizations do not properly vet most research and clearly misrepresent the statistics on many occasions.

        1. Avatar davemess says:

          Example “two times as likely” is correct even if the odds are 1:100,000 versus 2:100,000. So yes, twice as likely but still only 0.0001 percent versus 0.0002 percent. Context is everything in the large studies.

  19. Avatar Carl says:

    Here’s an ODOT billboard on Hwy 30, not far from where the man from Scappoose was killed:
    …as though seatbelt use is the solution to this problem.

  20. Avatar JL says:

    I just started driving regularly again after years of commuting everyday by bicycle.
    What I see automobile drivers do every day is very scary. You are basically allowed to do anything you want as long as you have a license plate, and if you have a valid license then that is even better.
    If you don’t have a valid license but no warrants you are okay as long as the car you are driving has some sort of insurance attached to it.

    Very few drivers are going to call you in for tailgaiting them while you’re in the slow lane on the freeway or for talking on your cell phone rolling through stop signs if you are driving an automobile.
    What I hear from conversations though is if you are on a bicycle and it has a tag attached (like they started in Oregon in 1899 through the Bicycle Bill) then you are to be reported immediately to the police.

    Does that sound right?

    1. Avatar Help says:

      Why the switch from cycling to driving?

  21. Avatar bendite says:

    People are asking how should we respond? I think that people should align their fears and behavior with the reality of the risk of driving. Driving is easily the most dangerous activity that most of us do. People have illogical fears about something bad happening to them (or their children) that very rarely happen, and the same person minimizes the risks of driving. e.g. The guy who stockpiles guns because of the possible home invasion, then get up the next day and hops in his car for a 30 mile commute. The parent who is terrified to let their child out in public unsupervised, but doesn’t think twice about tossing the kids in the car, all the while yapping away on their phone. The person who is afraid to fly, so they drive the 1000 miles instead. If people want to be afraid of something, they should be afraid of something that’s actually a high risk and take it seriously while doing it.

  22. Avatar ben4345 says:

    And they want to take away our firearms. When obviously motor vehicles kill and injure more people in the USA, and by a HUGE margin.

  23. Avatar drew says:

    All the carnage is bad enough. But perhaps the greater car caused mortality is due to the related inactivity, toxic fumes and noise.

    The inhospitable nature of the streets for active transportation leads people to seek the perceived safety of the car for transport, which creates a vicious cycle.

    A column of car traffic is really a line of frustrated people breathing each others motor exhaust, while planted in bucket seats, working on generating their own DVTs.

    1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

      “The inhospitable nature of the streets for active transportation leads people to seek the perceived safety of the car for transport, which creates a vicious cycle.”

      This seems especially true for parents who feel they need to transport their one child .75 miles to school in a Nissan Armada. Nothing safer around small kids than a parade of 6′ 6″ SUVs full of blind spots.

      1. Avatar Barbara says:

        And 50% of accidents that happen to kids in front of schoolsare caused by other parents!

  24. Avatar AndyC of Linnton says:

    Profits over people. That’s all I can assess.
    Will there be a change here?
    Take the new Nike/Redbull cycle-track on your new BP/Mountain Dew bicycle and lock it to the Bank of America bike rack and then stroll over to your friend’s house up the new Walmart sidewalk.
    Maybe then. Maybe.
    Actually, no. This still wouldn’t change anything.
    Good luck out there fellow citizens! (I mean consumers).
    Hippy rant over.

  25. Avatar Kristi Finney says:

    Thanks so much for your outrage, Jonathan. I appreciate it. And it is motivating to me at a time when I haven’t been feeling very motivated (though I now speak monthly at 2-3 DUII Victim Impact Panels, 2 High Risk Driver classes, and 2 Share the Road Safety Classes; I also testified before both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees earlier this year regarding increased penalties for hit-and-run with injury collisions [it passed unanimously]). Clearly I am not doing enough.

    I’m surprised at the complacency and even what seems to be a “so what?” attitude in some of these responses. Yes, many more people die from many other causes of death than from car crashes: people over 34! Car crashes are the leading cause of death for those 33 and under… And if a driver didn’t crash intentionally, it’s okay? I’ve forgiven the 18 year old drunk driver who killed my son (hit him so hard he knocked Dustin’s head off his spine and threw him 175 feet, over the head of another bicyclist who was then also struck) and I know that the woman who turned in front of my co-worker 2 weeks ago, forcing him to ram her car with his motorcycle, didn’t intend for this kind, caring 55 year old father and soon-to-be first-time grandfather to die, but he did. After an agonizing and expensive week on life-support.

    … I can feel my own outrage building as I type. And maybe that’s not fair, since I didn’t even know about this daily carnage until my own life was affected by it. I hope no one here who is not taking this seriously ever has to feel the pain I feel every day and wish they’d considered it a bigger deal.

    1. Avatar Aaronf says:

      Thank you for all of the time and work. I am complacent, sometimes, for many reasons (and frustrations) which I won’t elaborate on here. Personally, having known a lot of 16-26 year old men, a good proportion will drive irresponsibly. Until we can get to a place in society where people will sacrifice a freedom of the sacred 16-26 year old male driver, we’re not willing, collectively, to take it seriously. I think that from an evolutionary biological stance, 16-26 year old males are probably hard wired for risky behavior. So put them on auto-pilot. I think Nevada is working out the kinks on the auto pilot implementation. Encourage it. Driving is not a right.

      Your response here is very inspirational for me. Thank you very much. Also, I am very sorry for your loss. I personally have lost two close family members (an aunt and a grandfather) and of course neither of them were driving. Again, thanks.

      1. Avatar Aaronf says:

        I meant to say lost in a DUI “accident”

    2. Avatar A.K. says:

      Thank you for continuing to speak out about this despite of, or in light of, your personal loss. We need more people like you who are willing to confront the horrible emotions of such events and continue to shine a light on what is unfortunately considered by most of society as “acceptable losses” for the sake of driving.

      1. Thanks for your support. About 98% of the people who are mandated to the Trauma Nurses Talk Tough DUII, High Risk Driver, and Share the Road classes for Multnomah County and Oregon Impact’s DUII class comment that they love the classes, learn a lot, and that everyone should be required to take the classes. That makes me hopeful and feel like I’m saving lives. But there needs to be more.

  26. Thanks Johnathan. Personally, I’d love a little more opinion mixed in with the wonk.

    I would make the bracelets camouflage, because unless we are naked we are invisible.

  27. Avatar Stephanie B says:

    I agree, Jonathan. I am so sick of everyone excepting cars as the default form of transportation, of people dying, of having to breathe air that is known to be toxic when I walk around town, of having to keep my toddler locked inside the house so he doesn’t run out into the street, of not being able to go certain places on foot because it is too dangerous, of drivers valuing their comfort and convenience over the lives of others, of pedestrians having to exhaust themselves fighting for a pittance of the transportation budget, of being ridiculed for wanting what is best for everyone… I feel so helpless.

  28. Avatar Kevin Wagoner says:

    I came across this article after I read this.

    We could do a lot more. This is a good editorial. You have a loud horn and a lot of readers, it is right to bring attention to the complacency that we have with the carnage on the roads.

  29. Avatar Willb says:

    Has the automobile become the modern Moloch to whom we pay sacrifice with the lives of our own citizenry?

  30. I think one of the best things to do is get out there on your bike and ride. It seems to me that the more of us that are on the road, the more transportation policies will skew towards bike-friendly infrastructure. That said, I can see the argument that we need to have more infrastructure to encourage people to ride.

    I sent a tweet to PBOT last week asking about better crossings over Powell. As I haul my stuff by bike, I find busy intersections to be difficult for me, since I cannot cross very quickly. Jonathan, your rant will certainly encourage me to make that call to PBOT tomorrow, and ask why there is not better infrastructure for crossing Powell. I promise! Thanks for the kick in the butt.

  31. BTW, how about an organized ride to Salem for a protest?

  32. Many of the examples of carnage can be fixed with a few really easy, mild, solutions.
    * enforce the speed limit.
    * lower the speed limit on “obsolete” facilities, like the I-84/I-5 interchange.
    * have cops pull drivers over more often on suspicion of drunken driving, fatigued driving.
    * zero tolerance of cell phone use while driving.

    None of these are going to make much change in the habits of living, travelling Americans.

    But they’ll sure make a heck of a difference in the lives of the 5000 – 10000 Americans whose lives would be saved in 2014 if we adopted them now.

    Silence is the enemy of reform. Speak up.

    Thanks for bringing this to everyones’ attention, Jonathan.

    Ted Buehler

  33. Avatar El Biciclero says:

    For some contrast, I happened upon an Oregonian story about a young lady who died after being shot at a family barbeque on Father’s Day by a stray bullet from a gun fired by some yahoo a half-mile away who couldn’t be bothered to think about what was downrange from his firing position. Since there were five yahoos all shooting guns, nobody knows who actually fired the fatal shot, but two yahoos were arrested as felons in possession of firearms. I don’t think a single commenter on that story suggests that this poor lady shouldn’t have been outside in a rural area where people are known to shoot guns–no, the outcry is all about arresting the offender and gun control. Why isn’t driving while suspended or revoked treated the same way as being a felon with a firearm? Why, when driver carelessness results in a roadway death do we make excuses about how it must have been a tricky situation–victim not wearing bright clothing, shadows, dusk, sun was in my eyes, “he came out of nowhere”, “that’s a dumb law; it shouldn’t be the driver’s fault”, victim should have known better than to trust a driver, etc.? Why is there no talk of “car control” laws to keep dangerous machines out of the hands of incompetent or misanthropic operators?

    Mindless blindness.

    1. Avatar wsbob says:

      “…laws to keep dangerous machines out of the hands of incompetent or misanthropic operators?…” El Biciclero

      Suggest some realistic, doable means for preventing people from driving, people that shouldn’t be driving. Firearms can be dangerous, but they aren’t a form of transportation. Society has limited resources and capacity to lock people up as a means of preventing them from driving.

      Link to an Oregonian story…(the newspaper a number of people here at bikeportland love to dismiss outright, apparently feeling it isn’t worth their time to read) about a new, never occupied prison facility down in Madras that wasnt scheduled until at least two years from the date of the stories’ publication in ’11:

      1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

        “Suggest some realistic, doable means for preventing people from driving, people that shouldn’t be driving.”

        OK: Confiscate/impound cars. Any car driven by a suspended/revoked driver should be subject to immediate confiscation and sale at auction–just like so-called “drug dealer” cars. Loan your car to a suspended/revoked driver? Not if you want to keep it. Steal a car to get around? Well, now you will go to jail. Want to buy a new/used car to drive around while suspended/revoked? Good luck registering it; the DMV would not allow registration of motor vehicles to suspended/revoked drivers. Want to help out a pal and register a car in your name so your suspended/revoked friend can drive it? You would be liable to prosecution for fraud or for being an accessory to driving while suspended/revoked.

        So, if you do something to get your license suspended, go ahead and keep your car until you get reinstated. Get caught driving with a suspended/revoked license? Lose the car. Literally take the cars away from known bad drivers.

        “Firearms can be dangerous, but they aren’t a form of transportation.”

        I know. I was comparing dangerous things, not ways of getting around. Do felons caught with firearms get to keep them? What happens to those firearms?

      2. Avatar El Biciclero says:

        Once my comment from yesterday gets “moderated” you can see it…

  34. Avatar Peter W says:

    This is something that our transportation plans need to work on. I’ve been serving on the Washington County TSP process, and was shocked that in picking “corridors” to study for “improvements” in the next couple months, the only two factors examined were motor vehicle congestion and major road system disconnectedness (no consideration of safety whatsoever).

    Suggestion: look at Sweden’s Vision Zero stuff. They’ve accommodated increased traffic volumes while swiftly reducing serious and fatal injuries.

    Huge issue. Thanks for covering it.

    1. if you were shocked, then what did you say? I’d like to know more about that. Sounds like something that would make a straightforward blog post. get in touch.

    2. Avatar wsbob says:

      “…the only two factors examined were motor vehicle congestion and major road system disconnectedness (no consideration of safety whatsoever). …” Peter W

      Explain what things led you to feel that safety was given no consideration whatsoever in the county’s consideration of plans for north-south corridor connectivity.

      From reading in the paper, I do know that north-south travel routes in Washington County are considered to be lacking, to non-existant in terms of the need that exists for them to support growth, but haven’t received an impression from those articles that safety associated with whatever would be constructed, is something officials, planners, and citizens don’t find important.

      What I wouldn’t be surprised to hear, if it was borne out in discussions you attended, is that county officials and planners perhaps favor broad north-south corridor thoroughfares that enable the movement of large numbers of motor vehicles, but that likely would be equipped with modest, maybe minimal capacity pedestrian-bike infrastructure in the form of MUP’s and bike lanes, but most definitely not cycle tracks.

    3. Oregon has Vision Zero, too, but I don’t see anything really happening with it. Washington has Target Zero, which I also don’t notice much. Utah’s Zero Fatalities seems to be making progress and is more publicized than the others.

  35. Avatar are says:

    hastings drove his own car into a tree. may not have been an “accident,” but the incident does not really fit the theme of this piece.

    1. did he do it purposely? Maybe he was distracted? Or something else happened? The theme of my thoughts is simply carnage. I’m not trying to blame anything or anyone specifically. Just trying to point out the vast societal destruction wrought by cars.

      1. Avatar Help says:

        So you believe society was better off in the age of the covered wagon?

        And if you want to do something, I presume you’d want to get rid of the car that you own correct?

        1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

          Such straw-man arguments. Nobody is saying “get rid of all cars.” The article is about waking up to the destruction they cause and figuring out a way to use cars more responsibly.

          Anything else that caused as many violent deaths per year as cars would be seen as shocking. In recent years, guns have killed less than half the number of people that cars have, yet look at the outcry over gun control.

          1. Avatar wsbob says:

            The outcry over guns is due to the fact that guns are by design: weapons…whereas motor vehicles are by design: transportation. This is part of the comment response I offered here:

            People commonly know how dangerous to people’s health and life, poor use of motor vehicles can be. What and how to practically address or remedy problems arising from that poor use are answers not so easily come by.

            People don’t change lifestyle easily. I think more ideas about their community from average citizens would be great, but it can be very difficult to actually get those ideas. Go to community meetings and see how modestly attended they often are. People may feel changes in the way motor vehicles are used and provided for in the U.S. must be made, but they tend to be very resistant to the what’s involved in making such changes.

            1. I agree. I was surprised to be one of just four testifying for HB 2542 to increase penalties for drivers of hit-and-run with injury in March and the only one in April. My heart-felt thanks go to the others testifying: Tammi Beers, mother of hit-and-run fatality victim Harley Rocher (killer still at large); Steph Routh of Oregon Walks; and especially attorney Joshua Shulman, who is the only reason I knew of the bill and whose support gave me the courage to stand up and be heard.

              1. Avatar wsbob says:

                Kristi, you seem to do well in speaking out. Some people have the voice, and can handle making the effort to use it, knowing that it can take a very, very long time for others to think over the message given, and use the knowledge therein to actually be motivated to make needed changes.

            2. Avatar El Biciclero says:

              I also noted above that you’ll be able to see my response to your comment once it gets moderated. Basically, we should take away cars. My comparison to felons with firearms (we’ll see if this comment gets flagged now…) was to ask what happens to the firearm when a felon gets caught with one? Do they get to keep it and keep on shootin’? I would bet that it gets confiscated. So should we treat drivers that are suspended or revoked. If you do something to get suspended or revoked, keep your car in the garage until you get reinstated. If you get caught driving while suspended or revoked? Lose. The. Car. I don’t care if it’s your car or you borrowed your boyfriend’s car to drive to the mini-mart; it’s gone. Sold. Proceeds donated to past or current victims of your bad driving, or put into an education fund to teach people that cars used irresponsibly are deadly. Getting caught driving suspended should also double the length of your suspension. Already been caught driving suspended too many times? You’re revoked.

              The problem is that not being able to drive everywhere is deemed such a hardship in this country that taking away a car is thought of in the same way as getting a leg amputated. Except it’s not. We coddle poor drivers in this country to a near-criminal extent. It might be a little tougher and take a little longer to get around, but as my parents used to say, “you should have thought of that before you drove around with a suspended license.” Would you rather be free and car-free, or be in jail with a car waiting for you when you get out?

              1. Avatar Paul in the 'couve says:

                Preach It Brother!!! Amen!

              2. I am also strongly in favor of confiscating vehicles found in possession and use of unlicensed drivers. You can have all the cars you want on your own property (or on someone else’s property that allows it), but get caught driving on a public road with a suspended or no license the say sayonara to that car because you ain’t seeing it again. Sent to the car recycler.

          2. Avatar Help says:

            That’s the logical conclusion from both the post and the comment. The simplest and most direct way to “end the carnage” is to eliminate the automobile. You can nibble around the edges but there is still going to be an unacceptable level of carnage–based on the post.

            And the post is completely wrong anyway. There were less automobile deaths in 2011 than in any year since 1949. Since the peak year of 1972 when auto deaths reached there maximum at 54,500+ per capita deaths have declined by over half and continues to move downward.

            Road carnage hasn’t reached epidemic proportions. It’s at its lowest level since World War II!!!

          3. Avatar davemess says:

            El, I think there are at least a few on here who are basically saying that.

            1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

              OK, I shouldn’t have said “nobody”, but if I may be so bold as to presume, I don’t think it is Jonathan’s position that all cars should be banned.

          4. Avatar Help says:

            That’s the logical conclusion from both the post and the comment. The simplest and most direct way to “end the carnage” is to eliminate the automobile. You can nibble around the edges but there is still going to be an unacceptable level of carnage–based on the post.

            And the post is completely wrong anyway. There were less automobile deaths in 2011 than in any year since 1949. Since the peak year of 1972 when auto deaths reached their maximum at 54,500+ per capita deaths have declined by over half and continues to move downward.

            Road carnage hasn’t reached epidemic proportions. It’s at its lowest level since World War II!!!

            1. Avatar Psyfalcon says:

              Airbags, crumple zones, stability control, seatbelt laws. Very few cars have hood ornaments now, a minor positive for people being hit.

              A modern cheap car has more airbags than a BMW had 10 years ago never mind the features that didn’t exist in any form 30 years ago.

            2. Avatar El Biciclero says:

              Surveys show that per capita VMT (vehicle miles traveled) is also starting to go down. Imagine that–less driving correlates with less carnage.

              Your “logical conclusion” is still a straw man. The logical conclusion of wanting to stop drunk driving is prohibition. The logical conclusion of wanting to have less lung cancer is to ban tobacco. The logical conclusion of wanting to reduce drowning deaths is to ban water. The logical conclusion of wanting to fight obesity is to ban food (or at least sugar). Come on, you can apply the same “logical conclusion” to lots of stuff and it sounds just as ridiculous. As was pointed out to me just above, there may be some that would like to see all cars eliminated, but there are many more who would just like to see their use curbed to reasonable levels and their operators held to higher standards.

              Also, how is the post “completely wrong”? Nowhere does it claim that traffic deaths are at an all-time high. If 30-plus thousand people in a single country all came down with the same disease, would that qualify as an “epidemic”? Would it matter whether 50,000 people came down with the same disease last year? Regardless of fluctuations, violent automobile-caused death and injury is an ongoing epidemic that very few (heh, I almost typed “nobody”) want to acknowledge.

              1. Avatar Help says:

                It’s not a straw man. There have been a large number of traffic fatalities in this country for nearly 100 years now. What’s an acceptable amount for the original poster (or you) for that matter? 5000? 10000? I doubt it’s 25000. What do you propose to get the number to 4 figures? Cutting the speed limit by 5 miles an hour isn’t going to get it done. Enforcement isn’t going to get it done. If isn’t eliminating the vehicle, what drops traffic fatalities by 70%?

                “but there are many more who would just like to see their use curbed to reasonable levels and their operators held to higher standards.”

                Could that be any more vague. A “reasonable” level to you isn’t the same as for me. Who defines that?

              2. Avatar Caleb says:

                Your “logical conclusion” is a straw man, because nobody (not even Jonathan) proposed we entirely eliminate automobiles. That eliminating automobiles is the only way you believe we can “end the carnage” does not mean others encouraging us to “end the carnage” have concluded and attempted to express the same.

                And yes, “reasonable” is vague and subjective, but I get the sense El Biciclero was just trying to outline a general preference in the minds of those he believes are not urging the entire elimination of automobiles, rather than express what he thought was the solution to the “carnage”.

                Side note: If vagueness bothers you, why did you allow yourself to draw a “logical conclusion” from vague comments?

              3. Avatar wsbob says:

                There is some incorrect use of the phrase and meaning of ‘straw man’ going on in some of the comments to this editorial. From wikipedia’s page for ‘straw man’:

                “A straw man or straw person, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally,[1][2] is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.[3] To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.[3][4] …”

                Help’s comment to which it appears Caleb and El B have responded to, assuming a straw man has been raised:

                ” Help June 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm

                So you believe society was better off in the age of the covered wagon?

                And if you want to do something, I presume you’d want to get rid of the car that you own correct? ”

                No proposal, but instead, a question from Help has been asked of the writer of this editorial, bikportland’s editor-publisher Maus, which he has declined to answer.

                At any rate, Maus has written an editorial in which he expresses dismay about what he feels is insufficient response to what he considers to be an excessive incidence of injury and death rates associated with automobile use in the U.S. compared to other places around the world…and this latter bit only in a comment in response to one of Help’s here:

                It’s an editorial, and in that type of writing, people can more or less write anything they want, using as few or as many examples or facts as they choose. Not being specific though, leaves what the person says, open to conjecture.

              4. Avatar El Biciclero says:

                Bob, a “Straw Man” can take the form of stretching your opponent’s position (cars are overused and used dangerously) to an absurd conclusion (therefore, we should ban all cars) and then arguing as if the absurd conclusion were your opponent’s actual position. That is what “help” has done here.

                “I sure wish the neighborhood kids would quit throwing candy wrappers in my yard.”

                “Oh, so you want to ban all candy? Good luck with that. Or would you rather just have all the children killed?”

                See how that works? I didn’t “propose” anything either, just asking questions–ridiculous questions based on the deliberate exaggeration of someone’s original statement. That’s a straw man.

              5. Avatar El Biciclero says:

                “What do you propose to get the number to 4 figures? ”

                Here is what I would start with.

                What we should do is look at the causes and demographics of those causing traffic injuries and deaths. Teens causing too many crashes? Maybe we should raise the driving age from 16 to 20, or make the privilege provisional to some degree, meaning it is much easier to lose your license at a younger age. I’ve said it before, but I’ll restate it here: after any injury crash, cell phone records of all involved should be pulled for the time of the crash. Was anyone using their phone? That should double any penalties; your $200 citation for “unsafe lane change” that resulted in killing someone should at least go up to $400 if you were chatting on the phone at the time (amounts are examples, I don’t know what the fine would be for an unsafe lane change).

                If you are the cause of an injury accident, and your behavior wasn’t deemed to rise to whatever sky-high level of carelessness/negligence/incompetence is necessary to suspend or revoke your license, then you should at least be on temporary suspension pending re-taking (and passing) the DMV driver’s license test–written and road.

                All dashboards should be matte black, to avoid much of the “sun was in my eyes” problem.

                “What’s an acceptable amount [of traffic deaths] for the original poster (or you) for that matter? 5000? 10000?”

                What’s an acceptable amount of food poisoning deaths? Not everybody drives, but everybody sure eats. The CDC estimates about 3,000 people die each year of foodborne illness. Any time such illness can be traced to a specific product or food service business, what happens? Big investigations, inspections, recalls, shutdowns, etc. But even before that, the prevention apparatus is huge: from the USDA to county health boards, restaurant inspectors, etc., there is massive attention given to preventing foodborne illness. If a restaurant doesn’t pass inspection, they get shut down. If an employee at a restaurant can’t follow common safe food handling procedures, they get fired. If a driver habitually drives dangerously (whether it results in deaths or not), oh well.

                What happens to a doctor if they are found to be incompetent and their medical mistakes have killed people? They can have their medical license suspended/revoked and are not able to work again in their field. Is that more or less of a hardship than revoking the driver’s license of a habitual dangerous traffic offender?

                Driver’s licenses and cars are such sacred cows in this country that I think the “acceptable” level of deaths caused by them is artificially inflated because people so dread the alternative–tougher licensing and enforcement standards, and easier suspensions and revocations.

                “Could that be any more vague. A ‘reasonable’ level to you isn’t the same as for me. Who defines that?”

                To some extent, people will define it for themselves when we run out of room for more and more and more cars in tight urban confines. When alternatives are easy enough to access and the hassles of waiting for a train or bus become less than the hassles of dealing with other angry drivers clogging the roads and fighting over the same parking spaces. When people realize how much their cars are costing them in payments, maintenance, insurance, storage space, etc.–that the convenience of driving a car everywhere is similar to the convenience of grocery shopping at 7-Eleven–they might be influenced to cut down on the number of cars they keep, or at least use those cars less. If the government ever wakes up and decides that subsidizing private auto use isn’t sustainable (not that the government is into sustainability), and drivers are asked to pay more of the true cost of their driving and storing vehicles on public property, it might influence some to seek alternatives.

      2. Avatar are says:

        high enough speed the car was completely destroyed, with the entire transmission shaft a hundred feet from the wreck. but it could have been the bad guys.

  36. I’ve been a cyclist and have traveled mostly by bike since 1978. I’ve collided with motor vehicles twice, once in 1993 (shattered right kneecap, blame accepted by motor vehicle driver) and again in 2011 (run down by 91 year old) who gave me a ride home and paid my medical and bike repair costs.
    I believe that most collisions are caused by driver inattention. Until and/or unless this issue is recognized and remedied people will continue to be injured and killed on our streets and roads.

    1. Avatar wsbob says:

      Not just ‘drivers’, but people. Drivers aren’t some alien species…they’re people…easily 80 percent of the people traveling the road, some of them possibly your own family members. You haven’t offered your suggestion for society remedying problems with people’s attention while they’re driving.

      People, whether they’re driving, biking, listening to their kids, wives, SO’s, playing golf, football, or any of the myriad activities human beings engage in, are not continuously attentive…they’re rarely always attentive, even when it’s essential they be attentive.

      This is something that’s probably generally recognized, but that seem to be alternately denied or disregarded when flailing about for ways to achieve higher, more consistent levels of attentiveness to the demands of driving, which likely doesn’t exist.

      1. The difference between those other activities and driving is that momentary inattention while driving kills, mostly people other than the driver. I should also point out that cars sold since 2006 are required to be built so that they can be driven into a concrete wall at 35 MPH and every occupant be able to open the nearest door and walk away from the wreck, while people outside that car have between a 50% (30 MPH) and 85% (40 MPH) chance of dying should they get hit at that same speed.

  37. There are 2 million deaths as a result of motor vehicles around the world each year. That’s a holocaust every year that nobody says a word about.

    It’s similar to the 60,000 deaths by starvation and preventable disease each and every day around the world.

    Somehow it’s acceptable and really paints the true portrait of just how sick our society has become.

  38. Avatar Dave says:

    A good motivator to the nation would be losing an oil war in the Mideast; could be the greatest blessing to ever happen to this country.

  39. Avatar peter michaelson says:

    I agree that we all talk about the dangers, but most of us don’t do much. Change is a matter of organizing an effective political movement. I think a critical mass could be quickly formed around lowering speed limits and enforcing them diligently.

    1. No one is hurt. I really don’t think going 30 vs 20 in the city (excepting arterials) saves anyone a significant amount of time, yet the statistics on mortality are striking. “Twenty is Plenty”

    2. Doesn’t cost anything. Enforcement could be made to pay for itself.

    3. Politically feasible. A simple, fairly non-controversial platform that many could get behind. A March for Safe Speed Limits could get critical mass. Mothers Against Dangerous Driving! Poster children galore.

    4. Good for business. I think it would be great for business, as Portland would become an even more attractive and livable place.

    Who’s in?

  40. Avatar FM says:

    Here is an attempt to do something. Sign and broadcast this petition that a friend of mine created:
    together with this longer explanation:

  41. Avatar Kevin Wagoner says:

    I like Peter Michaelson call out in number 1. I am completely perplexed on this. The data is there, it totally sucks getting hit by a car at 30mph and over because the likelihood of death is high. It still sucks getting hit at 20 mph but the likelihood of living to tell about it is higher. Call out number 2 is perplexing too. Let’s create a revenue stream with enforcement that re-invest in our infrastructure (paving commitments by May Hales, new bike lanes, and a couple hundred miles of sidewalks). Lower speed limits and enforcing the laws seem like no brainer.

  42. Avatar Spiffy says:

    Oregon City: “Bodies were flying:” Girl watches as little sisters are run over

    1. Avatar Paul in the 'couve says:

      Very sad situation and one that happens everyday. I so often see people going through stop signs and turning left without looking for anything smaller than a school bus.

  43. Avatar Peter Michaelson says:

    Would anyone like to help me form an Action Committee?

    I am thinking to focus on the easy stuff first. Enforcement of existing laws, perhaps.

    Nothing gets done in a democracy by one person. We would have to gather a group to get the ear of our elected authorities. Fortunately, this process does work in Portland. I really think we could be successful and make a difference. Even just enforcing the existing laws would make Portland a lot safer and more hospitable. I do believe the City has a legal obligation to enforce the law. Who would be against such an effort?

    Anyone interested? It will take some time and patience, so I figure we might as well start now.

    Feeel free to email me at Thanks.

    By the way. I’m not saying I’m the right person to lead, communicate, politicize or anything else. Happy to yield to a more qualified person anytime.

  44. Avatar Caleb says:

    Batman good, Joker bad… I have no idea why my brain inverted the obvious!
    Sometimes I type way too fast, without reviewing..Arg!
    That is two things ya zinged me on in one post article, Caleb.
    Pretty sad for me.

    I like, when I’m confused and it’s possible, to have others verify I follow what they are saying, that I might make certain I’m not ignorant to their intended meaning. No zinging, but just seeking of clarity. 🙂

    I don’t think it’s sad if you know your error, that being not reviewing. At least that’s an issue you don’t have to figure out before you can remedy it. Without the review, it’s just a simple slip of the brain (which constantly manages so much data!). Peace to you, too, longgone.

  45. Avatar megan says:

    I think your reporting on the autism link is irresponsibly handled, by leaping into “pollution causes autism!!!” mode. None of the research that they are reporting on is strong enough to say there is a causative link. The researchers are clearly quoted in that article saying that they have found a correlation but that they don’t yet know what causes it and that further research needs to be done.
    Autism is an very complex and likely multifactorial condition. A whole lot of people like to make claims that _______ causes autism without any actual science to back it up. Amplifying the noise of non-verified scares only serves to confuse and frighten parents further.
    I understand that this isn’t a site that specializes in medical or scientific reporting, but I think you could do way better than the paragraph you have.

  46. Avatar Caleb says:

    Help’s comment to which it appears Caleb and El B have responded to, assuming a straw man has been raised:
    ” Help June 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm
    So you believe society was better off in the age of the covered wagon?
    And if you want to do something, I presume you’d want to get rid of the car that you own correct? ”
    No proposal, but instead, a question from Help has been asked of the writer of this editorial, bikportland’s editor-publisher Maus, which he has declined to answer.

    I interpreted Help’s question as a rhetorical question proposing Jonathan’s perspective was believing society was better off in the age of the covered wagon, which is something Jonathan never expressed or even vaguely alluded to. I understand it’s an assumption to believe Help was indeed implying that “straw man”, but that’s an assumption I’m willing to make in the context of other comments Help has made…at least until Help comes along and convincingly explains how Help didn’t intend to misrepresent Jonathan’s position.

    Do you, wsbob, believe Help’s question was asked out of sincere curiosity?

    1. Avatar wsbob says:

      It seems to me his questions to Maus were generally sincere.

      I think the ‘covered wagon’ reference was just a device to imply a certain absurdity exists in generally referring to injury and death associated with motor vehicle use as vast societal destruction:

      “…Just trying to point out the vast societal destruction wrought by cars. …”.

      If maus wants to get people roused to thinking or action, using some sensational words, over something he believes to be true, even if it isn’t necessarily so, that’s fine, given what he’s written is in the form of an editorial. Of course, there will be people that dispute the basic premise of the editorial. No big deal.

      I think most people in the U.S. generally are concerned with injury and death resulting from motor vehicle use, rather than being apathetic about it. Some changes need to be made though, even if rate of injury and death associated with motor vehicle use isn’t as bad as some would say it is: no injury or death associated with motor vehicle use is really acceptable.

      The bigger need, is for more ideas helping to tackle basic road use problems, and problems associated with motor vehicle use, rather than simply expending energy countering people’s opinions expressed in editorials.

      1. Avatar Caleb says:

        Sorry if I was unclear, but by “sincere curiosity” I referred to Help actually wondering if Jonathan thought we were better off in the age of covered wagons. Referencing covered wagons as a device to imply Jonathan’s opinion was absurd or anything like that would not be an example of what I referred to as “sincere curiosity”.

        If Help’s issue is with Jonathan’s language, and you share that disagreement, then how can we be certain Jonathan is using “sensational” words and that you two aren’t “sensationalizing” Jonathan’s words (much like Help perhaps “sensationalized” Jonathan’s position by referencing covered wagons)?

        For example, you may not think and/or feel the destruction in society resulting from automobile use is “vast”, but perhaps Jonathan does. The term is relative to an individual or group’s arbitrary standard of measure, so are you interpreting Jonathan’s use of the word as he intended it, or taking for granted that he’s trying to persuade others into disproportionately ascribing some sort of value to the “carnage”? Jonathan’s article provides specific examples of what he calls “carnage”, and from that we, the audience, can determine for ourselves how to think and/or feel about the “vastness” of the “carnage” he reported, so my impression is that Jonathan is not using words to manipulate anybody’s reactions, but simply sharing his sentiment.

        Judging by some of the comments made in this thread, I’m unwilling to assume any portion of the total population is apathetic or ambitious about injury and death via motor vehicle.

        And I basically agree with what you call the “bigger need”, but would add that the mind’s complexity dictates we don’t know just what benefits may or may not result from countering opinions in editorials, so long as we counter opinions without disrespecting each other, I would make no effort to divert people from expending energy that way.

        1. Avatar wsbob says:

          If you’re happy with the editorial, and don’t find cause to question much in it or about it…great!

          1. Avatar Caleb says:

            Based on your other comments’ questions, I’m under the impression you haven’t made a sincere statement here. If you don’t consider what you perceive of me to be “great”, then please don’t say it is. However, if you actually would be in favor of me being happy with the editorial and without question about it, then I retract the above. But I encourage you to consider alternative “If’s” pertaining to my thoughts on the editorial, because the one you’ve proposed isn’t accurate. If you actually want to discuss those thoughts, please feel free to ask me questions.

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