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

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?

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