(Image: Google Street View)
Portland has some of the safest streets in the country, and in general, they’ve been getting safer as our use of cars has continued to decline — not just for people on bikes but those on feet and cars, too.
But as a string of street deaths and a vigil Friday remind us, that safety isn’t evenly distributed across the city.
It’s often said that cars are the only form of transportation that will ever be popular in East Portland. That’s debatable, since one in three East Portland renters already lives without a car. But when the street you need to travel on looks like these, is it any wonder that few choose to bike or walk, even to reach a bus or train?
When police release the people driving the fatal vehicles without a citation or arrest, as they did in many of these cases, they’re saying (rightly or wrongly) that many other people would have made the same choice given the situation on the street.
What’s often forgotten is that by forgiving the driver, police are essentially indicting the street.
Here’s a look at 10 local streets that need to be brought to justice.
Jan. 29 – Heather Fitzsimmons, 29
Northeast Glisan and 78th
Fitzsimmons was struck by someone driving a Chevy Blazer while tried to cross Northeast Glisan at 78th Avenue in a crosswalk. This summer, the city narrowed this road to three travel lanes, plus parking on each side.
Feb. 14 – Tommy Gann, 56
Southeast Holgate and 14th
Gann was crossing Holgate diagonally, headed from his apartment to get a cup of coffee, when he was struck. The driver fled the scene and doesn’t seem to have been apprehended. (Police named the suspect as Victorio Nogueda-Berrera, 57.)
Feb. 28 – Morgan Maynard-Cook, 5
Southeast 136th Avenue at Harold
Cook was walking home with a 13-year-old friend. Someone driving northbound yielded to them as they crossed 136th in front of their home, and Cook hurried across the street where she was killed by another person who did not yield.
April 13 – Brian Francis Kenny, 62
Southeast Division and 142nd
Kenny was walking near a crosswalk when someone driving a car struck and killed him.
July 9 – Renee Jean Bates, 43
Southeast 148th and Division
Bates, 43, was walking through a crosswalk with her husband when a school bus operator turned her bus right in a right-turn-only lane and ran into them, killing her.
Oct. 4 – Joseph Randall Stone, 25
SE Division and 156th
Stone was hit by someone driving an SUV while crossing Division at a marked crosswalk.
Nov. 15 – Richard Carl Rode, 49
Interstate 5 at Rose Quarter
Rode, who was homeless at the time of his death, was walking across the freeway when he was struck by a southbound motor vehicle operator.
Nov. 19 – Rochelle Ariana Riffe, 23
Southeast 111th near Harold
Riffe was walking along the west side of the street when someone driving a Subaru Legacy struck her from behind.
Dec. 13 – Valentine Khubeyeva, 70
13300 block of Southeast Powell
Khubeyeva was struck by the driver of a GMC Yukon while crossing Powell midblock from south to north.
Dec. 17 – Vijay Dalton-Gibson, 59
Northeast 117th and Glisan
Dalton-Gibson was walking her dog in a marked crosswalk across Glisan at the time she was hit by a westbound car.
In many ways, Portland’s streets do continue to improve. Look for another post in the next few days that explores this. But as we gather with our loved ones for the holidays, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the work of fixing Portland’s still-deadly streets is finished.
And let’s hope our leaders don’t, either.
I don’t like the headline. The cars didn’t kill anybody, the car drivers may have though!
That was also my first reaction. The focus on the model of vehicle throughout the article continues this emphasis.
The part that I think I will never understand is how our system utterly fails to penalize people who do this; how the car is (perhaps unique) in that besides airbags it comes equipped with a blanket of immunity for the driver.
Thanks 9watts and Barney,
I agree with both of you. I just now finished editing the piece and I’ve changed the headline and the rest of the language in the story. — Jonathan
Notice a geographic pattern?
I notice or imagine that I’m noticing lots of patterns: wider roads, higher speeds, a preponderance of these deaths occurring East of 205, a preponderance of SUVs originating in the Detroit area. I also don’t see anyone killed by someone riding a bicycle.
I can’t hear you with all that smugness in your post.
Here’s a link to a map just in case you need a visual. https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zoycXzTyOR_4.kbNrVH-ZkFtM
Wow, there were 3 deaths on SE Division in 3/4 of a mile, between 142th and 156th. In all, 6 out of 10 pedestrian deaths happened in outer SE Portland: there were 2 on SE Harold and 1 on SE Powell in the Powellhurst-Gilbert area.
and 4 out of ten of these deaths occurred in crosswalks.
One year’s data does not a pattern make.
No, but several year’s worth of data does. Metro’s regional safety study found that lower density neighborhoods had a higher relative rate of pedestrian crashes. http://library.oregonmetro.gov/files/appendix_22_safetyreport.pdf
Start on p. 67 for the land use analysis. While it doesn’t get into neighborhood specific detail, the indication is that areas with higher vehicle speeds and less pedestrian infrastructure (and therefore, fewer people walking) are more dangerous in a relative sense.
The areas where the crashes happened in East Portland are actually higher density neighborhoods that have the infrastructure typology of a rural area or exurban area. The problem is the spatial mismatch of the facility type (and distance between services/retail and housing unit concentrations) with the population density.
For comparison – look at N/NE Portland inside of 33rd. The population densities are similar to East Portland, yet they had no car vs pedestrian fatalities last year.
I am not sufficiently familiar with these streets/roads. Besides the assumed difference in sidewalk saturation, what can we say about street widths and auto speeds (signed and actual) in these two parts of Portland?
My chief problem with sidewalks is that they are about shunting us, who are bipedal, off to the side and out of the way of people in cars, who get the middle of the road, and in whose shadow the rest of us get (or in some cases don’t get) second class infrastructure. Spending untold sums on a parallel set of tracks for us to walk upon–in 2013–seems a suboptimal way to prioritize the funds we don’t have.
I’m well aware that the larger conversation about scaling back the space given over to cars, about winding down that allotment over time, isn’t happening right now, and that in the absence of that conversation not building sidewalks in neighborhoods that lack them is not going to go over well. I mention it mostly because we don’t actually seem to have anywhere near the money right now to do any of this properly–the CRC pipe dreams notwithstanding. Other countries that have real gas taxes do have this kind of money, money for all of it, and with a bunch left over.
To me figuring out how to scale back the automobile’s presence on our streets, and slotting pedestrian infrastructure into that larger effort, is a more promising way to go.
While the roadway widths (and I would posit the lack of curb extensions at many major crossings) contribute, there is also a systemic issue with the lack of street connectivity in East Portland. Pedestrian fatalities are more likely to occur on arterial streets, but this is also where pedestrians must travel if they want to go any distance or access services in East Portland, because the neighborhood streets don’t connect through.
So, there’s a lot of factors at play –
1. Roads with less than 20,000 ADT and more than three lanes need to be restriped to three lanes for automobile traffic, with bike facilities added as space allows. Curb extensions need to be added at crossings- with no greater distance than 1/10th of a mile between improved crossings.
2. Roads with greater than 20,000 ADT need to have curb extensions added at crossings – with no greater distance than 1/10th of a mile between improved crossings. Rapid flash beacons should be added at all crossings where high use transit stops and/or commercial services exist.
3. All roadways in areas where the population is greater than 3 people per 10,000 square feet should have sidewalks.
4. Neighborhood areas that lack connectivity should have through streets added where possible, if a full size street is not feasible shared use roadways (woonerfs) or bike/ped only paths should be added to achieve bike ped connectivity comparable to 300-400 square foot block grid permeability.
Of course, these should be considered guidelines/goals. Every project is different and has to take into consideration land-use, terrain, legacy users, etc. ..
See section 4.4.9, figures 4-46 through 4-48 for an illustration of why curb extensions are important.
Absolutely great information. As new transportation co-chair of North Tabor I have taken on the Burnside High Crash Corridor as my pet project (among other things). At 44 feet curb to curb and 4 foot sidewalks handling 18K autos per day it is a death trap. The only controlled crossings are at 1/3rd to 1/4 mile a part. Admittedly, not anywhere nearly as bad as in East Portland. The modeling data I received from PBOT showed that a three lane configuration with bike lanes seems to be easily doable at least from 47th east……if we PROVE to PBOT that we want the parking removal. Which is going to become my job as no one uses those pro-tem parking spaces anyway as it is too dangerous to park there at least from 60th east.
The recent death at 117th and Glisan spurred a flurry of email responses from the three transportation chairs along Glisan. At 10K per square mile in population, pedestrian/Bike safe conductivity under new NACTO guidelines should take priority over automobile speed when allocating street space.
Great comments Cora. The only thing I’d differ from you is on what to do about roads with higher than 20,000 ADT.
Like Todd B. suggests below, These streets are so dangerous and destructive to the surrounding communities, we should try to eliminate them rather than design around them. At 20,000 and under, you can go down to one lane in each direction. At 20,000 and under, you can replace signalized intersections with safe, single-lane roundabouts.
Curb extensions and crossings are great – lets do them. But they will not transform the inherent danger of high-volume multi-lane streets. As long as East Portland is filled with 5-lane arterial streets, and inner portland is filled with 2 or 3 lane arterials, East Portland will always have more crashes, more injuries and more traffic death.
Cars Are The Problem (see post). Funding? Taxing gas, car purchases, and drivers licenses are the usual remedies. But when are we going to end the free ride we give all these religious institutions, and tax them for much needed revenue and/or sell or lease their freeloading properties?
It also happens to correlate with this article: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/12/east_portlands_housing_explosi.html
Yeah, well. That article points lots of fingers, except at our cultural penchant for celebrating growth and scrupulously avoiding ever discussing fecundity. An important organization, Alternatives to Growth Oregon, was the lone voice on that side of the conversation, but they didn’t gain much traction during their tenure. Go figure.
An easy fix that wouldn’t (well shouldn’t) cost additional funding beyond what is already expected would be for proper enforcement by the police and city itself to hold the drivers accountable for situations like these – assuming the driver was at fault (i.e. not the highway incident). We can modify the streets all we want but until those committing the crimes are properly punished for not paying attention when driving (or just not caring) they never will change and fewer will learn the significance of driving well.
The fact that all resources flow to areas coveted by developers, while the
folks in Outer SE have no sidewalks, is a painful truth that the folks on this blog need to contemplate. BPS takes credit for anything good that happens in Portland, but when they make huge planning errors and make no effort to correct them, they take zero responsibility. Well, those who
take credit for “vibrant walkable neighborhoods” get partial credit for
dead school girls.
Very few on this blog would be willing to trade, say, public funding for bike share, to build these sidewalks in SE. That speaks volumes about this community. Talk is super cheap.
Cora Potter, if you don’t run for office soon I swear I am going to start writing your name in. This threat is REAL. You have the brains & diplomacy for public service. I am drafting you.
“those who take credit for “vibrant walkable neighborhoods” get partial credit for dead school girls.”
I think the jury is still out on whether it is sidewalks or speeds that are the bigger culprit here. Both surely play a part, but the one is a long term, expensive, proposition, where the other is in principle at least a quick and much less costly fix. It still does boil down to cars: Too many of them; too fast; too little driver attention; too few consequences when you kill someone with one.
Do you ever see those neighborhoods at night? I do, and the lack of lights and sidewalks is appalling. Putting in sidewalks in Brentwood is one thing the city could do today (as opposed to getting your neighbors to stop driving in these no-infrastructure neighborhoods). Sidewalks are do-able.
Changing driving behavior in Neglected Portland is a harder sell. Why, for instance, should anyone in Brentwood believe anyone from the BTA or
Metro or the City? It’s been all lies and inequity for years.
So- I have lobbied (and will) for sidewalks while others wait passively for that utopian carless future that won’t come fast enough for school kids.
As mentioned in the article with the factors involved in the improvement of the statistical trends of motorist collisions with cyclists for this region…I would add another one…and potentially the greatest influence…that more local drivers have experience as a cyclist using the roadway network vs. say 10 and 20 years ago. This factor in addition to the engineering and legal influences plays a big part in lower crash rates in the NL etc.
…though this same relationship does not yet seem to be influencing pedestrians as drivers yet. There may just be too may distractions and a too poor of a pedestrian facility quality in these post-county (like post colonial) developed areas to help.
I was surprised that the geographic clustering of pedestrian collisions in Portland did not include more (or any) incidents in the SW hills for 2013…this area shares many of the same pedestrian infrastructural deficiencies and poor land use/ block layout as the east city areas.
Time will tell …and a future PSU study… if the difference is a socio economic (lack of modal mobility options), education attainment, or land use (poor co location of retail/ transit with pedestrian traffic safety investment).
There may also be a poverty component to the demography of the victims.
SW Hills, plenty of $, not so many elderly folks walking to the grocery store on dark December nights.
Outer SE, lots of people too poor to drive a car.
Just a suspicion.
My suspicion would be that at least some of these people whom we may mistake for poor based on their travel behavior are actually immigrants from countries where getting around without a car was standard procedure. Coming to this country they may have assumed that this would still work.
You see no connection between the city spending millions on SE Division and 12th, and putting no money into Division and 112th? You don’t notice that the school girls who were killed did not come from Ladd’s Addition?
Well, at least you aren’t speculating that the problem is “immigrant” driving and walking patterns (as suggested by 9 Watts).
“speculating that the problem is ‘immigrant’ driving and walking patterns.”
Oregon Mamacita, you should read more carefully what I wrote. I was responding to Ted Buehler who suggested that the walking was explained by poverty, and I offered that it might also be due to inherited (and to us foreign) patterns of mobility. I said nothing about this being the problem. In fact I am having a hard time imagining any place or circumstance where walking could be viewed as a problem, much less *the problem*.
Driving is, far too often, a problem. But I know nothing about and was not speculating about the nationality or income bracket of those driving. Where I grew up (West Germany) a much higher percentage of the population (all ages and income brackets) took the bus, walked, or bicycled than is typical here in Portland. I’ve been to many other countries where this was also true.
What I do notice in the street views is that nearly all with marked crosswalks have lines so deteriorated, that it’s more of a dashed line than a crosswalk. This is something I’ve noticed as pretty bad in Portland as compared to anywhere else I go.
As a transportation planner…I have often recommended to city traffic engineers 5 critical tools for areas in flux that are developing denser in pockets without the full traditional urban pedestrian network in the interim:
1) lower the speed differential through heavy traffic calming, if sidewalks do not exist and pedestrians must share the roadway, this would be an 85th percentile of ~20 mph max [what is the traffic safety rational of keeping arterial speed limits at conventional/ existing rural higher limits when sidewalks do not exist and pedestrian survivability rate drops steeply as MV traffic grows?];
2) lay out generous width bike lanes that pedestrians can use now until development creates the traditional urban sidewalk network;
3) arterial roadways have a logical upper threshold of affordable traffic safety measures that max out at 25,000 cars per day…any volume higher should be “sent” to the next parallel arterial, along with its development, etc. (per Zegeer et al’s research; but turning it on its head);
4) plan informal (non ADA) unimproved pedestrian short cuts through blocks now and not after the lots have been laid out and it is too late…this will work for kids now and adults later; and
5) coordinate transit stops, retail/ school, informal trail termini with enhanced pedestrian crossings.
It is critical to understand that development moratoriums do not work nor does traditional concurrency when only half street improvements are used for years and sidewalks do not exist on both sides of the street while dense pockets of residential developments are “air dropped” into zones.
PS. Vitality is the goal…and not simple density. Read Christopher Alexander’s book, Pattern Language.
Those “generous width bike lanes” are actually pedestrian traps. If vehicles start queueing the in the auto travel lane, they become defacto passing lanes for autos.
I still have not seen this in Portland. Where do you see this happening with any regularity?
This is a common occurrence on SE Powell east of 205. It’s only a two-lane street with no center turn lane, so anyone turning left blocks up the whole flow.
Raised bike lanes would help prevent this bad behavior too.
And those “curb extensions” are death traps for bicyclists who are suddenly forced out into car traffic to navigate the extensions. Why aren’t we focusing on the REAL problem here, cars? The elephant in the way! Cars Are The Problem! Make cars (and their endless, costly, polluting, destructive & deadly needs and concerns) the exception, not the rule.
Make no mistake: walking and riding a bike are very dangerous when cars are around.
When I cross the street as a ped, the choice is 100% mine whether I make it to the other side or not without being hit. Car drivers don’t have a say in it IF I CHOOSE to not be hit. IF I CHOOSE to not be hit I will look both ways and not get in front of your car until you pass or until you acknowledge my presence and yield to me; I don’t give you the option of hitting me.
BUT SOMETIMES I MAKE MISTAKES, and I turn my back on cars, AND I KNOW EVERY TIME I DO IT THAT IT IS A MISTAKE, but sometimes I’m lazy or SOMETHING, and I DO IT ANYWAY – I’ll cross the intersection knowing a car is waiting to turn right or left across my path and ASSUME THEY WILL STOP. Stupid on my part to put my safety in the hands of idiots driving cars, but sometimes I do. Intersections are very dangerous places for peds. Assuming you can move quickly, it is FAR safer to cross mid-block when there are no cars coming: the distance is the same, but you only have to look two ways; at an intersection you have to look many ways, and intersections encourage drivers to try to “beat the light”, etc.
Bottom line: if you are a safe ped a driver can’t hit you, but if you are lax and trust the drivers then your safety depends on the attentiveness of idiots.
Bottom line: if you are a safe ped a driver can’t hit you…
Tell that to the kids in NYC who were *on the sidewalk* when they were run over.
Tell that to a 79 yr old lady. Is she supposed to stand on the curb until midnight when traffic volumes finally get low enough that she can make the crossing?
“When police release the people driving the fatal vehicles without a citation or arrest, as they did in many of these cases, they’re saying (rightly or wrongly) that many other people would have made the same choice given the situation on the street.”
Wrong. What is says is double jeopardy is in play. You can’t be tried for the same thing a second time if already convicted, or exonerated, once. Not citing the motorist means the DA can bring greater charges if the investigation finds negligence. Often, once the investigation is over, if there is not sufficient evidence for greater charges, citations are issued.
“Not citing the motorist means the DA can bring greater charges if the investigation finds negligence. Often, once the investigation is over, if there is not sufficient evidence for greater charges, citations are issued.”
Or not. My impression–and I’d love to be proven wrong–is that in practice this double jeopardy thing is a fig leaf, a collective shrug; the real issue which I think Michael is pointing to is that these people frequently get no more than a slap on the wrist. Wanda Cortese? Did she get more than the $262 ticket for ‘failing to maintain her lane’? Not that I’ve heard.
Sorry to any city workers who might be on this forum, but Portland seems to be full of a lot of hot air when it comes to making streets safe. I’ve been trying for years to get something (Anything!) to calm our 25 mph residential street that is used as a drag strip. I was told even a mobile speed reader board is “just not in the budget”. Thanks for nothing Portland. Unfortunately it will take a death or death(s) here in Parkrose to get anything done.
Name the road.
30 mph, not 25.
112th or Shaver are the only ones that might get close to the definition provided “Parkrose, 25 mph, residential”. 112th is a collector and traffic calmed, and east of 112th Shaver is a collector (Not calmed). Shaver west of 112th has traffic calming approved and is just waiting for funding.
One more thing, ‘Mossby Pomegranate’ doesn’t appear in the City database for service requests, go figure. 823-SAFE is where you request investigations, BTW.
Wow. You are an ace detective! The street in question is Sacramento.
Those roads all look like miniature freeways, and unfortunately they are driven as such.
Excessive speed. Maybe the city should make wider use of speed cameras? They seem a much more cost-effective means of speed enforcement than a police car or motorcycle.
Crosswalks poorly marked and signaled. Lighting, flashers, curb bumpouts, pedestrian refuges, speed bumps and rumble strips, plastic bollards are all ways to make drivers slow down for and pay more attention to crosswalks.
No sidewalks. Alas, sidewalks are expensive, no way around it. We can build them, but it will be little by little.
Roadways too wide. I’m happy to see the city actively putting some higher-speed four lane roads on diets. It makes room for bicycle lanes and also makes crossing safer for pedestrians.
“What’s often forgotten is that by forgiving the driver, police are essentially indicting the street.”
The police exonerate the drivers; ODOT* exonerates the streets. This is just grand. Glad we have bikeportland.
Not a single driver was named in this story, but “someone” sure gets around.
The more I consider these safety issues, the more I think a “Zero Tolerance of Speeding” policy is the easiest way to bring an immediate improvement in pedestrian safety to the whole city.
Thanks for this coverage, Michael.
A car kills just as effectively at 1 mph as 100, much to the rolling stopper’s surprise. Apply serious penalties for serious crimes: $500,000 fine and 1 year suspension for Vehicular Homicides, half for Assault with a Deadly Weapon, or Attempted Vehicular Homicides. Motorists could learn to pay serious attention with serious penalties. See: Cars Are The Problem.
There will be a street fee on the voter’s ballot soon in Portland (let us NOT debate the merits of it…that is NOT my point). I am personally going to bring a resolution up to my neighborhood association to only support the new street fee if a “significant portion of the street fee is returned to the local neighborhoods BASED ON POPULATION to be used locally with advise by the Neighborhood Association”…. when politically appropriate.
This would accomplish multiple things. First. allow local areas of Portland to funnel transportation money where they need it. A higher density east Portland neighborhood could put it into crossings, sidewalks and path connections to create conductivity. Inner neighborhoods with complete sidewalk networks can use it to pave the local streets with horrid surfaces.
Second, it would get more younger activist types involved. One issue I have noticed in my wanderings around public meetings over the past few years is that some of the NA’s have been run by the same individuals for a very long time. It is also VERY difficult to get renters involved. If there was a financial incentive….as in, where do you want this $$$ funneled in your neighborhood there would be a lot more involvement, younger blood and new more progressive ideas.
It also would provide some equity when it comes to who gets what funding. A lower density neighborhood with large lots and great pavement (I.E. Eastmoreland/Laurelhurst) would get a lot less money than a higher density neighborhood (Like Montavilla or Powellhurst-Gilbert) which has a lot more problems and needs.
There also would be a lot more trust and reactivity with and from PBOT. They do react positivity when they can…..maybe not at the speed needed, but sometimes small suggestion in the right place and time do get results. It also would encourage lower density neighborhoods to be more responsive to in-fill as higher population would correlate directly to higher improvement funding.
Terry, good post.
My fear is this fee is to create another city “piggy” bank. Being a long time east side resident has made me cynical.
Exactly. This is a feeling that is common place in the outer neighborhoods all over the city. The population center of the city has shifted significantly east over the past few decades yet the power center in city council has not. If enough neighborhoods take a stand like this, the the street could be written in a way that REALLY would benefit residents fairly. Also, would broaden the base of support of overall modernization of our street network.
It also would educate the general population as to what improvements really cost. Do you want that $300,000 stop light, a few blocks of new pavement or a mile of roadway re-striping and four safe pedestrian crossings?
“Do you want that $300,000 stop light, a few blocks of new pavement or a mile of roadway re-striping and four safe pedestrian crossings?”
If we had a real gas tax we wouldn’t have to choose between these but could have all of them, and money left over.
One track mInd you are.
you were the one who brought up the funding issue 🙂
I also said That is was NOT about the merits of the street fee. First line.
In Montavilla alone there are literally thousands of acres of untaxed real estate and businesses costing us untold millions in needed revenue: all religious freeloaders. There is even a good-size TV station that’s been in mothballs for several years. With the revenues from these properties and businesses we could clean up our portion of 82nd, install segregated/buffered bike lanes on key thoroughfares and provide food and shelter for the homeless. People, let’s address our priorities!
I did not realize that building was empty.Perfect for the Montavilla food co-op. There are a lot of empty buildings on Glisan from the Hospital (a “non-profit”) east. Taxing them though butts up to federal law. 🙁 You should comment on the Comp Ap for zoning changes ; deadline is the end of the month.
I like your proposal. It just doesn’t seem redistributive enough for me. A head tax that is also given out equally to rich, well-served neighborhoods and poor, badly-served ones?
I’d favor giving out part of the money somehow proportionate to collisions. 33% by population, 33% by serious-injury collisions in the past 10 years, 33% by deaths in the past 10 years?
I would certainly also support dedicated % to bring whole corridor’s up to par. The city would take on….let us say Burnside and 122nd one year, then Sandy and Barbur. Sometimes the worst streets are the ones on the neighborhood borders that get constantly ignored. I also like automatic triggers in the case of poorly constructed ped crossings. If there is a death found to be “no fault” then an enginneering sollution is required to bring it up to NACTO safe urban design standards.
CARS ARE THE PROBLEM!
(This includes motorized vehicles from 3-wheelers, cars, vans, SUVs, PUs to semi trucks.)
1. Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety cannot be seriously addressed until we recognize the number one, arguably the only, problem with safety, Cars. In fact, remove cars, and all our problems with today’s roadways disappear. (Yes, pettifoggers, there are several minute problems cars don’t cause, and when we reach that level of nirvana we can address them, too.) Cars Are The Problem!
2. Unfortunately we have allowed greed and avarice to supplant our concerns where transportation is concerned and the Automotive Industrial Complex has monopolized our planning, development and transport needs. So our dangerous & polluting car problem is entrenched, like our archaic gun laws still are, and like slavery and lack of civil rights equality were. Reform happens, but we have been derelict of duty as citizens to push for reforms we so desperately need! People are harmed and killed daily due to our civil neglect and exploitive private interests. We need to deemphasize our consideration for and dependence on cars to the smallest level possible, the cost savings, safety, environmental and quality of life gains will be gigantic.
3. Cars kill & maim people, pollute the environment and destroy roadways and anything else in their path. They are giant rolling bullets continuously and repeatedly firing at the whim of drivers, who receive the scantest of training and are variously distracted or preoccupied by cells phones, kids, pets, or an endless list of personal problems, intoxicants, or combination thereof. Traversing a crosswalk, passing in front of lanes of cars cocked, aimed and ready to fire, at you, as soon as that damn light changes, is like crossing the line of fire of an amateur firing squad. Most motorists are completely unaware that their cars are deadly weapons, their main concern is getting to their destination. But a car coming to a rolling stop while you’re crossing the street is a slow moving bullet fired from a gun, and Bicyclists and Pedestrians are expected to trust that it won’t hit them. Consider the change of perception, expectation and tolerance if Pedestrians and Cyclists regularly pointed guns at motorists. Motorists should have to experience cars from the receiving end as part of their training.
4. When a person kills another person it’s called a Homicide. When it’s done with a car it’s called a Vehicular Homicide. If the victim survives, we add the prefix “Attempted.” Pedestrians and Bicyclists killed by cars are victims of Vehicular Homicide. We have to drop this “accident” label. This is a much needed step toward treating Vehicular Homicides with the same degree of importance as manslaughter or murder. Vehicular Homicides are harder to dismiss as “paperwork hassles” or mere “traffic violations” that sometimes do or don’t warrant even a traffic citation. Perhaps then we can apply the same legal importance to Attempted Vehicular Homicide as Attempted Homicide (or murder), or Assault with a Deadly Weapon. And with a greater degree of importance to these crimes, perhaps greater penalties can be applied for punishment. How much is a Pedestrian’s or Cyclist’s life worth? $10,000? $100,000? A $Million? And how long should the guilty driver have to be a pedestrian or cyclist with a suspended license? A month? Six months? A year? Just think how careful motorists could become if there were REAL penalties (serious fines and suspensions) for killing or assaulting with a deadly weapon, us Pedestrians and Bicyclists. It might even encourage more people to get rid of their miserable cars and join us.
Let’s treat the serious problem of Pedestrian and Bicyclist safety, seriously. And let’s aim for a greater goal of reform and progress. Citizens, exercise your rights and duties.