I often feel that what’s often lost in our debates about transportation projects, policies and funding is a conversation about the staggering toll driving extracts from our city.
In 48 hours starting last Thursday evening, I noticed a stream of police alerts come across my computer. It was a startling spate of incidents that underscored this toll. They involved people using cars dangerously and without respect or consideration for others.
As we have conversations about how to invest precious resources in our transportation system, we must keep in mind the many — and very serious — negative consequences that comes with our car-centered culture and the infrastructure that facilitates it.
48 Hours in Portland…
Thursday March 9th at 11:19 pm: Fatal Hit and Run Crash Investigation Underway on Southeast Stark Street
East Precinct responded to the report of a pedestrian struck by a driver at Southeast 148th Avenue and Stark Street. The 9-1-1 caller reported that the driver fled the area in a dark-colored vehicle, last seen southbound on 148th Avenue. Officers and medical personnel arrived and located a pedestrian deceased at the scene and evidence of a vehicle collision.
Friday March 10th at 4:45 am:
The suspect involved in this fatal hit and run crash turned himself in to police. 23-year-old Israel Aldama-Sanchez was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Criminally Negligent Homicide and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run). Aldama-Sanchez will be arraigned on Monday in Multnomah County Court.
9:46 pm: Drunk Driver Crashes into Police Car Blocking Traffic at Crash Investigation
East Precinct and Traffic Division officers were investigating a crash in the 3800 block of Northeast 82nd Avenue, where a pedestrian was hit by a driver.
While officers were conducting a crash investigation, a driver crashed into a marked police car that was blocking the northbound lanes of traffic. The police car’s emergency lights were on at the time of the crash, no officers were inside the vehicle.
Officers contacted the driver, determined that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and took the driver into custody.
22-year-old Kiri Anna Guthridge was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) and Reckless Driving.
The pedestrian injured in the initial crash suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
10:34 pm: Friday Night Crash Injures Three People – One Driver Cited for DUII, Another Driver May Face Charges
Central Precinct and Traffic Division officers responded to the report of a serious traffic crash on Southwest Naito Parkway at Market Street.
Officers, firefighters and medical personnel arrived and found four vehicles involved in the crash – one vehicle rolled over. Five people suffered injuries, three required transport by ambulance to Portland hospitals.
Traffic officers learned that 34-year-old Maika Otsuki was driving a gray Infiniti SUV northbound on Naito when Otsuki veered into oncoming traffic, collided with a tree on the westside of the street, then crashed into a 2009 Toyota Camry being driven by 51-year-old Heidi Dirkse-Graw.
The collision caused the Camry to spin and crash into a Red Subaru Forester driven by 38-year-old Ernest Syes. The Infiniti rolled over, landing behind the Toyota Camry and crashed into a fourth car, a 2009 Ford Focus driven by 27-year-old Carissa Cunningham.
Otsuki, Dirkse-Graw and her passenger 34-year-old Richard Graw, were all transported by ambulance to Portland hospitals with various injuries that were serious but not life-threatening.
Officers determined that Dirkse-Graw was impaired by alcohol, so she was issued a criminal citation for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII). Otsuki’s driving behavior remains under investigation and she may face charges upon completion of the investigation. Neither Syes or Cunningham were seriously injured.
Saturday, March 11th at 11:34 pm: Suspect Arrested After Traffic Pursuit in East Precinct Late Saturday Night
On Saturday March 11, 2017, at 11:34 p.m., East Precinct officers attempted to stop a driver in a red 2000 Honda Civic in the area of Southeast 113th Avenue and Division Street but the driver began to elude the police.
The driver led police on a chase in the neighborhood as officers attempted to use numerous pursuit intervention techniques to end the pursuit. At approximately 11:47 p.m., officers were able to get the driver stopped at Southeast 112th Avenue and Division Street where he was taken into custody.
22-year-old Levi Denison was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charge of Attempt to Elude by Vehicle, Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Reckless Driving. Additionally, Denison was lodged on a parole violation.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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5 ways to cut deaths to zero in under one year, with almost no added budget..
a) Investigate every crash with a vulnerable road user
b) Repeat offenders given more monitoring and less driving and free transit pass
c) Every dollar spent to make roads safer, not spent on trip time reduction
d) Cite drivers for speeding and use of screens while driving
e) Take spending decisions away from ODOT and to local municipalities
Most of these incidents were in East Portland, where transit service is spotty at best; all were late at night or in the wee hours, when transit service is least consistent if it’s operating at all; except for the incident on 82nd, all were on PBOT facilities. I agree with you about your other points however.
you really think that will cut deaths to zero within one year?
How about instead of casting aspersions, you made a constructive proposal of your own?
It’s constructive to point out incorrect assumptions. The suggestion that those would reduce deaths to zero within one year is simply unrealistic. So eliminating a non-starter is constructive. It’s called “addition by subtraction”.
“It’s constructive to point out incorrect assumptions.”
I’ll venture that you don’t actually know if those assumptions are incorrect. The list is a pretty good one, and if enacted I suspect the reduction in deaths would be dramatic, especially if we include the potential for a campaign of this sort to, over time, attract supporters who (like you) initially could only be counted on to mope and blow smoke.
My point being that your contribution on this subject amounted to nitpicking something that—although you apparently can’t see it—holds promise, that might even achieve the stated goal, if we were to actually put our muscle behind it. The reason we here come to Vision Zero with a twenty year lag is that we inexplicably give far more airtime to mopes and naysayers here than they do in Sweden.
That’s not enough. People need to do jail time for killing someone when driving illegally. When “I didn’t see them” is a viable excuse, people won’t give driving the responsibility it deserves.
Should we criminalize imperfect cognition? A more viable solution might be to declare driving so inherently dangerous it should be banned.
If cars were invented today their public use would be banned outright as a safety issue. Your argument is invalid.
Would they? We’d probably be overjoyed to be rid of the equine menace. It’s one of the reasons cities welcomed cars when they did.
Horse poop everywhere. Icky.
…actually there was quite a bit of initial push back on the negative affect on pedestrian [and horse] safety that the first generation of car drivers had on our urban communities; remember the law (UK?) that required a person to walk infront of a horseless carriage waving a red flag? This all changed once the DOTs got organized (conferences), collected data and developed the viewpoint about “jaywalking” pedestrians…
“Otsuki’s driving behavior remains under investigation and she may face charges…”
That there is genuine doubt whether she will face charges is a terrible indictment of how insanely we enable a reckless driving culture.
It’s not which charges she might face, it’s whether she might face any at all. She may not have been under the influence and she didn’t run, so that’s two legs of the stool; “I didn’t see them” is usually the third. With all three, the city tends not to prosecute.
Story does not give enough info to draw any conclusions about Otsuki. Could have been a medical problem, or even mechanical problem. They will figure it out. If not due to her negligence, then criminal charges would not be warranted.
Probably choked on a soda.
There’s about a .01% chance that a new Infiniti SUV had a legitimate “mechanical problem” that would result in a crash like this. I’m going to go with incompetent driver and/or texting.
Your guess is what I’d suspect too, but I’m not going to say “charge her” until they’ve looked at the evidence.
There’s already evidence: “Otsuki veered into oncoming traffic, collided with a tree on the westside of the street, then crashed into a 2009 Toyota Camry being driven by 51-year-old Heidi Dirkse-Graw”. Pretty sure it’s illegal to do that.
What laws do you think were violated?
Basic speed rule, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, vandalism, destruction of private property, vehicular assault.
She drove into oncoming traffic, so there’s one at least. Also vandalized a tree in the park, so that’s two. But that’s not really the point.
If she’d hit the other car with a sledgehammer she’d be arrested and held in jail until they figured out exactly which law they wanted to charge her with violating, but there wouldn’t be doubt that charges were forthcoming.
Had she slashed it with a knife, that would also result in arrest pending charges.
Baseball bat? Same.
Kicked it with a steel-toed boot, denting it? Same.
But she used a *car* to hit it SO LET’S NOT JUMP TO ANY CONCLUSIONS.
One of these things is not like the others, and that is a — possibly the — problem.
Some combination of these, and maybe others.
ORS 811.310 Crossing center line on two-way, four-lane road
ORS 811.295 Failure to drive on right
ORS 811.135 Careless driving
ORS 811.340 Improperly executed left turn
ORS 811.350 Dangerous left turn
ORS 811.370 Failure to drive within lane
ORS 811.430 Driving on highway divider
>>> But that’s not really the point. If she’d hit the other car with a sledgehammer… <<<
That's exactly the point. Intent is important. If the driver lost control of their vehicle, they may be liable for the damage they did, but they are not held to be criminally responsible for it. This is consistent with other areas of life… if you are working on your roof and a hammer slips from your hand and falls on a passerby, you are not presumed to be guilty of a hammer attack, but you may well have to pay for the medical treatment and ensuing fallout.
I can't rule out the possibility that the driver's acts were intentional, but I highly doubt they were. People are not criminally liable for every bad thing that happens on the road, and I think that is a good thing.
“If the driver lost control of their vehicle, they may be liable for the damage they did, but they are not held to be criminally responsible for it.”
Here is where we clearly disagree.
When I get into the driver’s seat of my car and start to use the public roadways, I am — and should be held — responsible for keeping my vehicle under control. I may even have to be just a little foresighted to keep everyone safe from the damage I’m capable of inflicting; e.g., if I’m prone to choke on a drink then I shouldn’t drink water while driving, or if I have an intermittent medical condition that could render me unsafe then I need to manage that.
And if I do lose control, I’d prefer the state assume that I should have kept control and treat the situation as such. A mechanical failure wouldn’t be an automatic excuse (did I maintain the vehicle properly? I am responsible to do so), nor would a previously existing health condition, nor would the appearance of an animal or pedestrian — these are all things a reasonable person can foresee and should be ready to handle. If there were some reason that I couldn’t have reasonably foreseen then let that come out in my defense but for the love of all the lost lives on the roads quit letting the default assumption be that we shouldn’t even levy charges.
And to directly address your rather questionable analogy — where are we when I’m dropping this hammer? If I’m suspended over a public sidewalk, I do think dropping a heavy tool would be criminally negligent. I’d expect to be charged for that, and to defend myself I’d have to show how a perfectly reasonable person wouldn’t have either marked / cleared the sidewalk beneath the work area or secured her/his tools. Because not doing that would be endangering people…criminally.
You are responsible for keeping your vehicle under control. Of course you are. And if you don’t, you’ll have to pay for the damage you do. That’s how our society, for better or worse, handles restitution.
We are not talking about responsibility, but criminal liability. And that (generally) requires some showing of intent, or, in some cases, a high level of disregard for the safety of others.
Was there intent or blatant disregard for safety of others in this case? Maybe, I don’t know. Do you?
I don’t know either. We both know she broke several laws and hurt several people but we don’t know why. We have one way of finding out: let’s charge her with breaking those laws and see what she says in her defense.
Let’s do that to everyone who fails in their responsibility to keep their cars under control.
We have a better way to find out: Do an investigation. Once we have some, you know, actual facts, then we can make a decision on whether there is a criminal case.
“Once we have some, you know, actual facts, then we can make a decision on whether there is a criminal case.”
Except that you seem to be forgetting how most of these go… All too often we know exactly what happened: driver mows down three people in a crosswalk(!) and yet there are no consequences. How do you square this all-too-common finding with your blase let’s get all the fact first approach?
“Better?” That’s what we’ve been doing. How is that working out? Traffic violence solved, people taking responsibility? This weekend was a hunky-dory success?
There are a number of things she’s almost definitely guilty of (Dan listed several above, and that list is not likely exhaustive).
This is not an isolated incident. People are hurting each other every day by driving irresponsibly, and we are not doing enough to hold them accountable for their actions. The question should not be *whether* to bring charges but *which* charges. Some may be criminal, some merely traffic violations that put people into the hospital, but a crash is virtually NEVER fault-free.
I am proposing that we should take this violence more seriously than we do, and that if we were to do so then we would gradually see less violence. That’s my goal and how I’d measure “better.” What’s yours?
9watts: what is your alternative to investigating the facts before making a decision with huge implications?
Paul Atkinson: yes, better. The solution to the problem you identified is better investigations, not doing away with them.
To both of you: I have a hard time understanding how you think making a decision to charge someone with a crime before doing an investigation could possibly be a good idea. If nothing else, it will result in a ton of lawsuits, and probably get the prosecutor disbarred. It will not result in justice.
“9watts: what is your alternative to investigating the facts before making a decision with huge implications?”
Your question suggests or implies that the huge implications follow from the decision. But I think that we have even huger implications right now from not making a decision/from shrugging/from essentially skipping over the fact that someone ‘s life was just needlessly ruined or ended, regardless of the degree of intent. Frank Bohannon kills Kerry Kunsman with his truck. What happens? As far as we know, essentially nothing. Marvin Ford kills Hank Bersani with his truck. What happens? As far as we know, essentially nothing. John Taylor kills Dave Apperson with his truck? What happens? As far as we know, essentially nothing. And the list goes on and on and on.
I’m not for ignoring facts, doing an investigation. But I have little more than zero confidence that in the majority of cases we’ve heard about the upshot from these investigations is zilch. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I know that it doesn’t smell right. All we ever hear is that, well, it didn’t rise to the level of criminal/intent. And the whole thing is dropped, disappears from public view. Is a civil suit is filed much less won we never learn, can’t even seem to find out if we try (I have).
“To both of you: I have a hard time understanding how you think making a decision to charge someone with a crime before doing an investigation could possibly be a good idea. If nothing else, it will result in a ton of lawsuits, and probably get the prosecutor disbarred. It will not result in justice.”
Red Herring. I’m not for rushing to judgment; I’m for proceeding with sincerity and exhuming the (presently absent) sense of the need for justice to be served. The above cases don’t pass this test in my view. I’m open to being convinced but mostly it just looks like a collective shrug.
To most people, being charged with a crime is a big deal. Besides, what would you charge someone with if you don’t even know which, if any, laws were broken?
You are totally advocating for a rush to judgement. What other interpretation can there be to your call to criminally charge someone before doing an investigation?
Please note that I am not saying that our current investigations are thorough or complete, or even that our current laws are correct and well written. I would support reforming the way they are conducted. But that is very different than the concept of trying to figure out what happened before throwing the full weight of the state against someone who may be completely innocent of any legal wrong-doing.
“Please note that I am not saying that our current investigations are thorough or complete, or even that our current laws are correct and well written. I would support reforming the way they are conducted. But that is very different than the concept of trying to figure out what happened before throwing the full weight of the state against someone who may be completely innocent of any legal wrong-doing.”
You admit that the process we currently have doesn’t yield what we might agree are just outcomes. Asking for reform is always in season and easily mouthed, even endorsed. But what have we to show for it, today, in 2017? And to the person whose brother, mom, little sister, granddaughter was mowed down all this hand wringing doesn’t really amount to a hill of beans.
What I am asking is why in this country that is supposed to be one of law and order the guy on foot or on a bike who is mowed down is more often than not treated as expendable, as in the way, as collateral damage, as simply part of the cost of our automotive society? When it comes to these crashes and their investigations, we tie ourselves in knots about intent, about whether the person piloting the auto was careless or reckless, but all this debate rarely amounts to anything useful since those we’ve deputized to handle these situations do nothing, mete out no punishment, hand down no finding of guilt of any flavor, when it is quite obvious to many of us that running over an entire family in a crosswalk violates a dozen well-known laws.
I’m not advocating a rush to judgment; I’m registering my disgust over the so-called investigative & legal processes.
Case in point:
>>> You admit that the process we currently have doesn’t yield what we might agree are just outcomes. <<<
I don't "admit" it, I agree with it. I also accept that driving is a dangerous activity, posing risks to the driver and others alike. The danger can be mitigated, sometimes, but not eliminated. I also accept that people are flawed, and all of us suffer from imperfect cognition. We can all not see things that are right in front of us. (If you've never seen the basketball-counting selective-attention test, you will find your 90 seconds well rewarded: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo).
You want better outcomes? Change the roads; change the rules; enforce the laws; change our norms. But even with all that, tragedies will occur, and some of them will be truly accidental.
That’s a great test that doesn’t prove much of anything related to the point. If I was driving and there were a bunch of people passing a basketball around in the middle of the road directly in front of me, I wouldn’t run over the gorilla in the crowd and say that I didn’t see him. I would stop and wait for the whole crowd to move to the side of the road so I could proceed.
In addition to spoiling it for anyone who reads your comment before watching the video, I think you missed the point. We are not robots.
It is a traffic offense for sure, but may not be a crime punishable by jail if for example she passed out and it wasn’t her fault.
“There’s about a .01% chance that a new Infiniti SUV had a legitimate “mechanical problem” that would result in a crash like this…”
Perhaps not. Newer Infiniti vehicles employ a steer-by-wire system which they call “Direct Adaptive Steering.” I could imagine a number of software and/or electrical glitches that could disrupt such a system and send the car in an unanticipated direction. Recall Toyota’s throttle issues some years back. The mechanical steering remains in place as a backup, but a system error that causes a vehicle to suddenly veer might also induce enough panic to cause a driver to freeze up and fail to correct. We’ll need to see what turns up in the investigation before any judgment can be made.
I’ll grant I only scanned the top 10 articles after googling for this, but apparently that system has never once failed. So yeah…this might be the first time ever, but to pre-excuse the driver based on the never-before-happened possibility seems a bit on the dodgy side. So charge the driver for breaking multiple traffic laws, and if the car itself is genuinely at fault then let that come out in the trial.
But the bigger problem is how far you were willing to stretch to try to excuse letting her walk away without any charges. If she’s innocent then she can prove it, but there’s no question that multiple traffic laws — at least — were broken.
“But the bigger problem is how far you were willing to stretch to try to excuse letting her walk away without any charges. If she’s innocent then she can prove it, but there’s no question that multiple traffic laws — at least — were broken.”
Agreed. Let’s treat her as guilty until she proves her innocence.
Presumption of innocence doesn’t mean that we never charge anyone because they might possibly be innocent. It means that once at trial the burden of proof is on the prosecutor.
Did you genuinely not know that, or was your comment disingenuous?
Wouldn’t it make sense to figure out if there was any evidence of a crime before charging someone of one? We know something bad happened. We don’t know whether a crime was committed.
Exactly. You don’t charge people at the scene of an incident. It take some time to sort out evidence, decide on appropriate charges, if any, then commence charges—usually days or even months later.
I think if you may have committed a crime they let a grand jury decide if you were justified or if you may need to be charged and go to trial – at least that’s what happens if you blast an intruder.
Where am I missing “new” in the description of the Infinity?
I didn’t see it either.
Both incompetent and texting. Either implies the other.
Working to understand why the collision Otsuki was involved in, might have occurred, may be the reason her driving is yet under investigation:
“…Traffic officers learned that 34-year-old Maika Otsuki was driving a gray Infiniti SUV northbound on Naito when Otsuki veered into oncoming traffic, collided with a tree on the westside of the street, then crashed into a 2009 Toyota Camry being driven by 51-year-old Heidi Dirkse-Graw. …” police report
Otsuki probably wasn’t drunk, but maybe was othewise DUI by way of a form not so easily detected as alcohol. What else may have factored into her veering into oncoming traffic? Legit? ..or not legit? Interesting that as her car is whipping around, it crashes into the car of another person driving, Heidi Dirkse-Graw, just rolling along, whom the police apparently had no difficulty at all figuring out was drunk. If her car hadn’t been struck by the car of someone else driving, would she have made it home without mishap? Is driving drunk something she does with some regularity, always before without mishap?
Something I’m regularly reminded of personally by people I know, is that there are people on the road driving drunk or otherwise DUI, whose driving doesn’t necessarily indicate that they’re impaired…until things come together just so, and they suddenly slip up, resulting in a collision. Hard to catch these people before a collision is the result of their ineptitude.
“Hard to catch these people before a collision…”
Breathalyzer-based ignitions have gotten harder to defeat these days. Why not use these for repeat offenders? Or someday we’ll maybe have chipped driver licenses to start cars, but I’m not holding my breath.
>>> It’s not which charges she might face, it’s whether she might face any at all. She may not have been under the influence and she didn’t run, so that’s two legs of the stool; “I didn’t see them” is usually the third. With all three, the city tends not to prosecute. <<<
Not every bad outcome is the result of a criminal action.
But many actions that result in “bad outcomes” are criminalized, such as hurting people or damaging their property.
Clearly and rightly so. And if any of those actions were committed, I would support prosecution.
Actually, I misunderstood your point. There are tons and tons of ways someone can injure you or damage your property that are not criminal.
No there aren’t.
There are. Our courts are packed with people suing each other seeking recompense for non-automotive injury and property damage.
Shooting a gun into the air in the city is illegal, and if your bullet hits someone and they can prove it, you will go to jail for manslaughter. But if you drive 40 in a 30mph zone and kill a pedestrian in a crosswalk, you won’t face criminal charges unless you were otherwise impaired. Ethically, these scenarios are the same, but our society treats them quite differently.
And the craziest thing is that this double standard is not how it is done everywhere. Not all countries give drivers a pass when they kill or maim like we do.
Ethically those are very different scenarios, unless you believe the act of driving itself is akin to firing a gun in the air.
“…But if you drive 40 in a 30mph zone and kill a pedestrian in a crosswalk, you won’t face criminal charges unless you were otherwise impaired. …” chris I
Criminal charges aren’t, or shouldn’t be lodged unless, based on facts, there’s good reason to believe that, a criminal act has occurred. In the example of collisions, just the simple fact that someone’s vehicle was where it wasn’t supposed to be, or that this having occurred, with a collision, and injury or death of another person being a result, isn’t by itself, grounds for a criminal charge or conviction.
Apparently though, some people would prefer not to make such a distinction, where among the persons involved in the collision, one of them was operating a motor vehicle; they seem to want the person driving to be found guilty, plain and simple.
“Criminal charges aren’t, or shouldn’t be lodged unless, based on facts, there’s good reason to believe that, a criminal act has occurred.”
You and Hello, Kitty are fond of wrapping yourself in this circular language.
The point some of us are trying to make here is that it is the lopsided application of what is and is not a criminal act that we’re objecting to. Walking around while black is frequently considered a criminal act punishable by immediate death in this country. Running over children in a crosswalk with your car because you didn’t look whether the light was red apparently is not even good for a fine or a license revocation.
Call your legislator and ask them to propose a law that revokes the license of anyone who rolls a red light.
Based on the article, this doesn’t sound like a driving problem. I think you have a “people” problem. Undisciplined, irresponsible people.
Two of those people were obviously upset by the new 30 mph speed limit on Division and tried to flee to Stark, where no such speed limit exists. By making Division “safer” we have made the rest of East Portland even less safe. Way to go PBOT – thinking with your spinal cord, as usual.
Irresponsible peopke are everywhere but how muvh damage they can inflict depends on how easy it is for them to use dangerous machines and how much damage they can create with these due to infrastructure, enforcement etc.
You’re totally right. We shouldn’t allow people to drive cars. Better shut down the roads until this self-driving stuff works out.
Good luck with that.
I can’t wait to sabotage self driving cars. I hate them already. I trust drunk drivers more. When is humanity going to wake up?
If you’re right, they’ll wake up the moment insurance companies stop covering automated cars. But all evidence suggests they are already much better than you fear.
I don’t trust drunk drivers at all, but I do trust my own driving more than a self driving car. No way I’d own one.
“No way I’d own one.”
Don’t worry. It’d own you.
That’s not what I said. My point is just that other factors than irresponsible drivers matter. This is the basic idea behind vision zero: people make mistakes but we can influence how these mistakes translate into consequences.
“Based on the article, this doesn’t sound like a driving problem. I think you have a ‘people’ problem. Undisciplined, irresponsible people.”
“People” who—at least in whatever condition or state of mind they were in at the time—should not have been driving. Every one of these cases is most clearly and definitely a driving problem. If it is this easy to wreak this much destruction on your fellow humans using cars, then permission to operate cars needs to be a much more restricted and tenuous privilege.
There are far more destructive ways of doing harm than cars, or those hand-held metal devices that make loud noises. (I’m trying here to avoid the word police.) And I can think of at least one that a huge percentage of homes is equipped with – probably a majority in the metro area. All it takes is a bad person to use it and cause mass casualties. Cars are not the problem – people are the problem.
“Cars are not the problem – people are the problem.”
Potatoes are not the problem, people are.
Well, now you’ve made a different statement: “cars” vs. “driving”. I will stand by my implication that cars make it entirely too easy to destroy things because it is an inherently destructive device that literally millions of people use every day. And most, yes most of those people do not possess the level of competence needed to truly do it “safely” in all circumstances. We just luck out that the circumstances that would require skill beyond most drivers’ capabilities don’t crop up all that often. Yet there is still that segment for whom even basic situations prove too difficult.
If we accept your problem statement, which I mostly do, the question is what to do about it. How much are we, as a society, willing to pay to provide genuine alternatives to driving, better training for drivers, and otherwise fix things so that, in your estimation, our streets are “safe enough?
In other words, you feel our current balance of safety vs. cost vs. mobility vs. freedom vs. energy consumption vs. physical effort is out of whack. What would a better balance look like?
“How much are we, as a society, willing to…?”
I think this is a fair question, as far as it goes, but the reason we have such difficulty answering it is that meaningful alternatives are never presented (here). Other countries that don’t spend most of their public funds on the military and military bases in more than 100 other countries, and debt service, and spying have gobs of money to do great things such as what you list, and a thousand others (free health care, free post secondary education, world class infrastructure, public transit that runs on time and often and is clean and widely used, paid vacation, serious unemployment benefits, etc. ) The reason I think we never get there is that folks here by and large have no personal experience with a system that is so different than ours, where the government manages to provide a ton of great stuff that people value and don’t, on the whole, mind paying taxes to get.
Our society is just not like that and so we are in this downward spiral of misspent funds, mistrust of government, demagogues in high places, etc.
If millions of Americans were trying to get out of the USA and move to the countries you claim are so great, then you might be making a valid point. The fact is that millions of people in every nation on earth want to move to the USA. There are so many that we’re going to be building walls to keep them out. The proof is in the pudding. Your argument is 100% false. But if you want, you are free to buy a ticket to anywhere you want and move there.
You didn’t read what I wrote: “meaningful alternatives are never presented (here)” As such, Hello, Kitty’s question and your claims are fairly meaningless since the public they both presume is unaware of how things works in other countries and/or can’t conceive how we might get there from here.
Interesting that you didn’t take up or dispute any of the specifics I mentioned.
“Your argument is 100% false.”
Seems statistically unlikely.
People who say “you can live anywhere” have obviously never tried it. Getting residency in most countries is as hard as it is here.
Actually for what it’s worth… immigration has been falling for the last decade, not rising. The massive flooding inrush described by certain political figures is mostly imaginary.
“How much are we, as a society, willing to pay to provide genuine alternatives to driving, better training for drivers, and otherwise fix things so that, in your estimation, our streets are “safe enough?”
I suppose it isn’t realistic, but part of me wishes we’d just start revoking more licenses, crushing more cars, leaving more folks to find alternate ways to get around, let them realize there aren’t nearly enough of those, demand more, and let “The Market” sort it out. Go Invisible Hand…
>>> this doesn’t sound like a driving problem. I think you have a “people” problem. <<<
Of course, on one level, this is true. The cars didn't drive themselves. But, like gun violence, a gun doesn't cause the violence, but it does give more power and make it easier for those who are predisposed to commit violent acts. Likewise, cars make it easy for inherently reckless people to endanger others.
So, on another level, your statement is completely wrong.
To quote the great Eddie Izzard: “Guns (Cars) don’t kill people, people kill people. Well, I think the gun (car) helps). If you just stood there and yelled BANG (VROOM), I don’t think you’d kill too many people.”
There you go again…with your false equivalency (Cars = guns).
In this example, they are similar. It is quite difficult for a drunk person to kill someone if they are not driving a car.
Are you kidding me, Adam? Did you read what you just said?
Maybe he hasn’t been to the places you and I have.
Says the ‘bikes = cars’ guy.
Your line of thinking is not legitimate. Are we going to outlaw every object that can cause harm? Be careful. You will not like the result if you say yes.
What did I propose outlawing? I just think the “guns don’t kill people” line is total BS.
My gun does if I need it to. I never say that it doesn’t . ( insert winky-like emoticon )
I also don’t like it when people tell me ” it’s all part of Gods plan”.
I don’t know why I’m posting this Kitty, other than the fact that I couldn’t find the correct spot in the thread to jump in and say you present the most logical point about intent to vandalize. Geez. What a asinine concept of law. It’s like Portland Witch trial 1692. Keep on’em.
Well, I’ll admit that it is true that many experts agree with you:
Be careful what you wish for – you might get it.
So much of the south side of Naito Parkway functions as a race track. Daunting on a bike ride. This trend is horrendous.
If this were the Seattle times, they would blame the bike lanes.
Regarding the sidebar subtitle for this post:
“Necessary”: definitely not.
“Normal”: sadly becoming more so every day.
I’ve mentioned it before, but again, I don’t know what happened over last summer, but some time just before school started this last year, it seems traffic mayhem skyrocketed and hasn’t let up all winter. Has there been a spike in VMT since gas prices dropped? Is there really this strong a correlation between VMT and destruction? I’m sure it would vary by city, but I’d love to see some statistics or a formula for the amount of “destruction” (units? Dollars? Number of crashes?) as a function of per capita VMT. My admittedly biased gut imagines it isn’t a linear relationship, and the Metro area has somehow reached a tipping point where an x% increase in VMT has resulted in a nx% increase in “destruction”, where n > 1.
I remember when people didn’t drive like crazy people around here. It was not that long ago. What is happening to people? Is it simply that enforcement has been lax for so long now, EVERYBODY knows they can drive with impunity? Or is it that Portland attracts people who are (sorry, for lack of a better word) narcissists? Both, I guess. Just blows my mind, daily, though.
Borrowing my sis’s car the other day I was behind a girl who was clearly staring at her phone as she drove down traffic-heavy Division. The light ahead turned red and she kept rolling. I honked and motioned as she looked in her rearview mirror. She waited for the light and then when it changed, kept staring down at her phone and rolled forward again. Two more times on this single drive, I saw the exact same behavior from other drivers. It makes me want to scream and punch them all.
When was that 1922? Portland is no different than any place in this regard.
My child’s mother,while pregnant was driven off road in front of me at 12th and Sandy riding in a normal fashion, in the bike lane in 2002.
Eleven months later a car squeezed our baby trailer against the curb, rendering it inoperable, with our child in it, trying to squeeze past us, somewhere close to home…. The driver left the scene despite my attempts to stop them.
My point is that shitty people have, and will continue to do shitty things. This really isn’t going to change.
The Shift guys wanted to interview her back in the day, because she was one of very few women at the time riding with a child in a trailer.
We thought that was funny, because it was a normal lifestyle thing for us. We had bike toured all over the world together.. I rode defense behind them often, because I didn’t trust drivers here, any more than anywhere else we had lived.
Portland. Same as it ever was.
Har, longgone–yes, that’s exactly when I meant. 1922. How clever of you! How long have you lived here, exactly? Traffic and the driver behavior has changed drastically in only the past 5 years, significantly in the past 15. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can glooogle ample statistical evidence, as well as anecdotal. I can’t relate to or understand a viewpoint that sees it all as the same as it ever was. ???
No one’s saying it’s ever been a delight to bike around traffic in Portland–I’m certainly not. But traffic got so bad in recent years, it actually was the final push for us to get rid of our car entirely 5 years ago. That wasn’t a spurious decision. I’ve stopped riding my bike, pretty much (I’m sorry to say) in the past three years because I don’t feel safe, and I did (relatively) before. I had ridden and commuted to work for 15 years before that. Am not a nervous nelly, either–I take the lane. I worry excessively about my still-bike-commuting husband’s and sister’s safety. Any day I expect to get that call. You think it’s all in my–and scads of others’– imaginations? Why would anyone make that up?
The phone issue is real, and still fairly new, and is the main factor influencing my recent decision to ride less. I can only do so much to protect myself. If people are driving without looking at the road, we’re all screwed. And I see them do it–so many!–every single day. It’s become the norm. And bendite’s right–all ages are doing it: the crotch stare (you made me laugh, Smokey). Though I definitely notice more younger people at it.
Also–I seem to remember reading that Oregon/Portland is at the top of the list for alcohol and weed consumption. So there’s a lot of drug-impaired drivers to contend with, too, in addition to the willfully distracted/negligent.
Every stoner knows weed doesn’t impair your driving. It makes you paranoid so you drive slower and more carefully.
Well, there you go. I don’t drive stoned. I just drive while curling my hair and putting on my makeup and eating Cup o’ Soup.
I just LOVE Cuo o’ Soup!
It’s almost as good as Cup o’ Soup!
I still ride, every day. That will never change, and I’ll never get rid of my automobile.
I hope it never does change. Good luck to you.
Speaking as a guy nearing 50, I think we have a generation of people who have been conditioned to look at their phones nearly constantly. I grew up in an era when they did not exist, so we ended up just looking around us for sensory input. Now, it’s all on the phone. I gave up counting how many pedestrians I have seen crossing the street looking at their phones. Trusting their safety to drivers who are also probably looking at their phones.
Research suggests that older people text more often while driving, so I don’t think the ‘get off my lawn’ theory fits here. My anecdotal observations supports the data.
Define your terms – what constitutes “older”?
49% to 43%, adults vs. teenagers.
I have noticed that the vast majority of drivers at stop lights are looking at their crotches – I assume there’s a phone down there. It’s irritating because they have rear-ended me while I was stopped and they will not go when the light turns green. I guess if you’re stupid, a self-driving car would be a good choice.
A quick look at traffic fatality rates from before the era of everyone-staring-at-their-phones will hopefully convince you that self-driving cars will be an improvement even without accounting for more modern sources of distraction. Humans suck at assiduously monitoring for low-probability events over long periods of time. Plus hazard acclimatization and all that. Computers are great at making up for our poor attention.
I’d never be in a car I could not control myself. Computers have a long and sad history of failing – anyone who has used them for more than a year or 2 will understand this.
Much of the lower fatality rates are probably due to air bags, other safety features.
I’ve gotten into the habit of consciously being extra careful around full moons, just based on experience. Call it whatever you want…
Just curious, do you work in emergency response or law enforcement?
Jonathan, you don’t have a picture of the hit and run driver. You posted a picture of a guy who got arrested for firing a weapon at a truck.
I am lucky that I don’t have to and never ride my bike or walk on the road after 9pm. One common factor in these crashes is the time – all 4 happened after 9pm. The percentage of drivers that are alcohol and recreational drug impaired is very large at night and visibility is poor. According to he NHTSA (https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811523), from 9pm to midnight 46% of fatal crashes involve a drunk driver, from midnight to 3am 66% involve a drunk driver. From 6am to 9am only 15% of fatal accidents involve a drunk driver.
It is definitely luck – my BF worked swing shifts a few days a week so he could go to school at the same time. It worried me to death that he was riding during prime drunk-driving time. And ironically, Trimet wasn’t a safer alternative because its late-night service is so spotty.
He’s looking for another job right now, and I’m crossing my fingers that he finds something that doesn’t require a late-night bike commute. Between these stories and what happened to Michael Cooley, it keeps me up at night that folks who need protection are so vulnerable.
Additionally, many people believe that pedestrians and cyclists have no business being out at night, and deserve whatever happens to them. Look at ANY story where somebody has been hit at night and read the comments.
This. What is up with this? Is it just obvious what a drunk driver was doing out at 2am, but an inscrutable mystery what their pedestrian/bicyclist victim could possibly have been doing?
I suspect it’s more along the lines of arguing that non-drivers “shoulda known better” than to be out on the street when they know that’s when the drunks come out.
This is the “wild animals” perspective. Asking what a pedestrian or bicyclist was doing out at that hour is similar to asking a camper, “why would you set up your tent in those woods? You know that’s bear country!”
it’s almost as if people behind steering wheels know there’s little chance of enforcement or consequences. until they really dun goofed and hurt/kill someone.
And even then, you have to be DUII or doing something really reckless. You certainly aren’t required to see people on the road directly in front of you.
You are correct. It is not a crime to not see what you don’t see. But, regardless, you are still responsible for providing compensation for the damage you do.
IF the family sues and IF you lose the civil trial. Larry LaThorpe ran over 3 children in a crosswalk who had the light and was ordered to pay a fine of $435. I guess blowing through a red light and killing 3 people doesn’t rise to the level of the maximum fine of $12,500. $115 per life. Or maybe it’s reimbursement for their clothes? I can’t find any info regarding a civil suit for that incident, which happened two years ago.
There was no other payment to the victim’s family? I would find that surprising. A fine, of course, does not go to the victim, so that’s not relevant to the question of compensation.
“would find that surprising.”
Welcome to the club.
That pretty much covers it for me.
I would think that in almost all similar cases the driver’s insurance would pay for some damages/liability/etc.
I would like to see some evidence of that happening, from a similar case. Or one like this:
Driver runs over person in the road, dark & windy & raining outside, driver is not cited. What’s the likelihood that his insurance company coughed up money for the family when the driver wasn’t even cited?
I believe you can be considered at fault for an collision with no legal wrongdoing at all.*
*If there are any lawyers who want to correct me, I’m standing by!
Let’s assume you are correct. How much sense does that make?
Why are we (as a society/legal system) always bending over backwards to exonerate those at fault if they happen to be behind the wheel?
Maybe we don’t typically criminally sanction those with no criminal intent? Maybe we recognize that people are human and imperfect and make mistakes? That requires no moral gymnastics for me.
There’s a difference between being criminally charged and being cited with a traffic offense. That driver wasn’t even cited for violating the Basic Speed Rule.
Kitty, would it be a crime if I drove with my eyes covered? Because when I “didn’t see them” when they are directly in front of me, that means I wasn’t looking for them. Their image hit my retina, but my brain was only looking for cars.
Yes, it almost certainly would be.
So would not looking also be a crime?
I would say that would depend on the particulars.
I don’t see how willfully closing your eyes is any different than willfully driving too fast for conditions.
Hmm, yes, now I’m convinced.
I don’t know whether there is such an infraction, but “failure to keep a proper lookout”, or “failure to exercise due care” would be the type of offense I would expect to be applied in the “I didn’t see him/her” case. We tend to use “failure to yield”, but that wouldn’t apply (except to the victim) in the case of a pedestrian being hit (even killed) while attempting a mid-block crossing outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Now, even I will admit that it is impossible to look in all directions at once, and there may be sudden appearances of pedestrians or bicyclists—or other cars—that a driver cannot see in time to avoid hitting. Those situations ought to be exceedingly rare, as drivers should always exercise extreme caution any time a crosswalk or side street/driveway is obscured (usually by parked cars—another problem altogether), or when driving in a residential area, business district, or near a school or park.
The difficulty in situations where the driver “just didn’t see” something is proving whether it was possible to have seen whatever it was in time to do anything about it. As we learned from the Mark Angeles case a couple years ago, proving that a person on a bike “could objectively be seen” is apparently hard to do, even at noon-ish on a sunny day. The unfortunate reality, in my opinion only, is that, as you say, most drivers are only looking for other cars, and those who investigate cases where a non-car was hit tend to sympathize, relying (apparently) on their own experience of having difficulty seeing VRUs to conclude that, “yeah, who could have seen that guy? He came out of nowhere!” If the driver was merely attention-blind, or “bias-blind” (looking only for cars), rather than not paying attention at all, then the only conclusion investigators can reach (seemingly) is that the victim must have either leaped suddenly into the path of the driver, or else was camouflaged to such an extent that he/she was “invisible”—hence calls for pedestrians and bicyclists to “be seen” by wearing garish clothing. This is what leads to an inordinate amount of victim-blaming in such cases.
We have a transportation system that depends on people making good judgements and staying focused, with rare but disproportionately severe and random outcomes when drivers inevitably fail to meet those standards.
The problem is not driver inattention, it’s the inconsistent and occasionally fatal consequences for a lapse in attention.
I would agree there, too, hence my faint allusion to parked cars being a problem in that regard. I think you are restating (at least one of) the Vision Zero tenets: that driver mistakes, which will inevitably happen, should not result in severe injury or death.
This is an interesting problem. We’ve allowed just about anyone and everyone to engage in a daily task that is by most measures quite dangerous, yet has become too complicated/difficult for most people handle safely. On one hand, we’ve tried to make it easier to handle by adding new features to cars that will beep at the driver or stop automatically in some situations, but we’ve also made it harder by attempting to cram multiple modes into streets that have too-high speed limits or other “features” that make it dangerous to do so without the careful planning that we seem unwilling to do. We allow—either explicitly or tacitly, by lack of enforcement—dangerous behavior like speeding, failure to yield (in all its forms), parking too close to corners, speeding, parking in bike lanes, overgrown shrubbery, speeding, distracted driving—any number of things that in any other context would be considered shockingly risky, yet on the road, in a motor vehicle, are NBD.
So far—thanks, I guess, to the All-Powerful Auto Lobby—we’ve attacked this problem from the wrong (in my estimation) end, by admonishing pedestrians and bicyclists to “take responsibility for their own safety”. At the same time, we make it as inconvenient as possible to get anywhere by bicycling or walking, while making it as convenient as possible to drive as fast as possible absolutely everywhere.
Thankfully, it appears we’re starting to see a change in attitude, at least among some of our city officials, resulting in small steps that attempt to place the responsibility for traffic destruction where it usually lies. I can’t wait to see more of the practical implementation of this newfound attitude.
I generally agree, but not with this:
>>> So far—thanks, I guess, to the All-Powerful Auto Lobby—we’ve attacked this problem from the wrong (in my estimation) end, by admonishing pedestrians and bicyclists to “take responsibility for their own safety”. <<<
"Admonishing" people to take responsibility for their safety is something we do routinely, in all manner of circumstances, and it is not different in the case of street safety. We tell people to lock their bikes, to avoid certain neighborhoods at night, not to walk under ladders. We tell drivers to "drive defensively" and protect themselves with seatbelts. The "Auto Lobby" is not to blame (and yes, I know the history of the term jay-walk); taking precautions is a logical and obvious way to protect ourselves in a dangerous environment.
We should, and I believe we are, attacking the problem from multiple directions. Tell drivers to be careful; tell pedestrians to be careful. We all need to be careful — it doesn't work if we rely on others to take our care for us.
“We should, and I believe we are, attacking the problem from multiple directions. Tell drivers to be careful; tell pedestrians to be careful. We all need to be careful — it doesn’t work if we rely on others to take our care for us.”
The Auto Lobby (and advertisers) is largely responsible for fomenting and hammering home the idea that streets are for cars, and anything/anyone else is magnanimously granted temporary access for crossing under tightly-controlled, specific conditions, or is allowed at-your-own-risk access for any other use, such as bicycling.
This notion has subsequently be reinforced by our laws and enforcement “discretion”. There’s what we tell road users, and then there’s what we actually do to back it up. We tell drivers to “slow down under low-visibility conditions”—but has any driver ever been cited for a violation of the basic rule after striking someone during “dark and rainy” conditions while driving within 5 mph of the posted speed limit? We cite bicyclists for straying out of the bike lane, but do we ever cite drivers for encroaching on it? We tend to assume that, unless drunk or otherwise physically impaired or verifiably engaging in reckless behavior, a driver involved in a collision with a non-driver must have been doing everything right, and everything else—from the sun angle, to street lighting, to “conditions”, to behavior (including fashion choices) of an impacted pedestrian or bicyclist are scrutinized to find some way of excusing the poor driver, who now has to live with the thought they hurt or killed someone (which, really, isn’t that punishment enough?). Meanwhile, we tell pedestrians and bicyclists to follow our safety recommendations or die—and if you die, there’s very little anyone can/will do about it. It’s sort of lopsided in that way.
We also have to be careful distinguishing between putting responsibility where it belongs (proportional to the amount of destruction one is capable of bringing to the environment around one), and claiming that anyone is abdicating all responsibility for themselves. Expressing a desire for more responsibility (translation: blame) for running over people to be placed on drivers does not equal a desire for vulnerable road users to be relieved of any and all responsibility for themselves. I would argue that the threat of death is pretty strong motivation to watch out for oneself as a matter of self-preservation. There is no such motivation whatsoever for drivers to watch out for pedestrians or bicyclists, other than altruism or fear of paint scratches. I would further argue that if drivers knew without a doubt that in any collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist, they would be “guilty until proven innocent”, and would at the very least be cited for “colliding with a VRU” (regardless of fault), there might be more motivation to drive with a bit more care.
Whatever happened to comment of the week?
Did Michael Andersen take that feature with him when he departed?
>>> I would further argue that if drivers knew without a doubt that in any collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist, they would be “guilty until proven innocent”, and would at the very least be cited for “colliding with a VRU” (regardless of fault), there might be more motivation to drive with a bit more care. <<<
The evidence would suggest otherwise. We currently have what amounts to a death penalty for unsafe driving, with no appeal, and still people drive recklessly. And get killed doing it.
“The evidence would suggest otherwise. We currently have what amounts to a death penalty for unsafe driving, with no appeal, and still people drive recklessly. And get killed doing it.”
Which brings us back to the fact that rather than a 6-inch spike cars are equipped with air bags in the middle of the steering wheel. I think you are missing the degree to which drivers think they’ll be fine, (and society, engineers, etc.) are working very hard to reinforce this message.
“The evidence would suggest otherwise. We currently have what amounts to a death penalty for unsafe driving, with no appeal, and still people drive recklessly. And get killed doing it.”
I’ll try to control my italics this time…
Yes, but the “death penalty” is truly only applied to drivers under extreme circumstances—they have to be trying to push the limits of their vehicle’s capabilities, or their own capabilities to control said vehicle. The number of people who engage in truly intentional reckless driving is also proportionally very small. What I’m talking about is motivation to drive more carefully, not merely less recklessly. How many times have I seen pedestrians (including myself) brushed back by drivers who just don’t feel like yielding right now—even when I have a clear walk signal and they have a full red light?! I don’t expect you to know the answer to that, but it’s been several; many, even. How many times have I been out in my front yard, or worse—on the cargo bike taking my son to school—when That Guy blasts past doing obviously more than the 25mph residential speed limit (again, you don’t have to answer). It is more care and caution in these everyday situations that I’m after. I’d like drivers to drive more slowly just in case there is a kid chasing a ball just in front of that parked SUV. I’d like drivers to stop behind the crosswalk before creeping forward to make that right on red, just in case there is a runner or bicyclist who happens to be approaching at a speed greater than an ordinary walk (I’d also like RTOR drivers to look to the right before they drive to the right). I’d like drivers to scan both ends of crosswalks while they are still far enough away to stop just in case someone decides to dart across. I’d like drivers to be expected to slow down and look for silhouettes and shadows on dark streets, not just bright orange reflective vests. I’d love it if the speed limit was indeed considered a limit, not just a suggested speed guideline. It would be nice if drivers could lose licenses (or, as I’ve said here before, actual cars) for less egregious offenses than it seems to currently take. Some of these things could be done with better street design, but a lot of them would take better enforcement of stronger laws.
And maybe you’re right. Maybe too many people suffer from “it could never happen to me” syndrome and wouldn’t feel one bit motivated by better enforcement of stronger laws—until they got busted for something…
I’d like those things too… I just don’t see a practical way to get there before the dawn of the robot drivers (which will, I hope, make most of these issues moot).
“I’d like those things too… I just don’t see a practical way to get there before the dawn of the robot drivers (which will, I hope, make most of these issues moot).”
Part of the problem is a lack of support for many of El Biciclero’s ideas, even here.
“…Because when I “didn’t see them” when they are directly in front of me, that means I wasn’t looking for them. …” bendite
A person not seeing a person directly in front of them, doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t looking for people in front of them. When they’re looking, and seeing, the situation may be that they’re not being presented with the visual cues that enable them to distinguish between the person in front of them, and the background, and or foreground.
Years ago, there was a kind of controversial cover photo of demi moore on cosmopolitan magazine. Full frontal starkers, but it looked like she was wearing a nice pantsuit or some other getup, because an artist had painted her up to look like she was wearing clothing, when she actually wasn’t. Lots of other far more mundane examples abound, such as the camo natural defense of birds and other critters in the wild. Soldiers in combat situations borrow the technique animals come by naturally.
“A person not seeing a person directly in front of them, doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t looking for people in front of them. ”
In your comments here going back years, you are all about taking responsibility; this is a classic example of where the person behind the wheel needs to take responsibility for seeing/be held accountable for not seeing. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.
And if they don’t/are not, then the whole notion of responsibility and accountability loses all meaning.
“Taking responsibility” is a moral statement; “Not perceiving” is a biological/cognitive issue. It is not obvious to me where the two should connect up.
then we need to (be forced to) go slow enough to be able to react in time to avoid the consequences of our biological limitations. Not hard at all.
Do we all travel at the speed of the person with the slowest reactions, or does everyone get their own customized ruleset?
The reaction time that matters is the one of the pilot of the faster vehicle. If I (fail to) see a quadriplegic in a wheelchair in a crosswalk it is my speed/reaction time/not seeing that is the problem, not how slow the victim’s reflexes are.
You misunderstood; should the speed limit be set based on my reaction times, or yours?
Would you also factor in a worst-case scenario: dark, rainy, pedestrian wearing dark clothes, crossing at an unmarked crosswalk, or perhaps even illegally, and factoring in the presence of parked cars and unmaintained foliage?
“You misunderstood; should the speed limit be set based on my reaction times, or yours?”
We already have the basic speed rule that governs exactly this. The problem is it is never(?) enforced.
“Would you also factor in a worst-case scenario: dark, rainy, pedestrian wearing dark clothes, crossing at an unmarked crosswalk, or perhaps even illegally, and factoring in the presence of parked cars and unmaintained foliage?”
See above: Basic Speed Rule.
How do you justly enforce a law that is based entirely on subjective factors and judgement?
Is that a rhetorical question?
(a) ignoring a rule that we already have on the books and that speaks to exactly your concerns seems like a suboptimal strategy
(b) the point is to bring about a situation in which the need to enforce it has all but evaporated. Lowering speed limits that reflect our considered assessment of the easily observable gap between prudent behavior and the carnage on our roads; and enforcing *them* would be a start. Requiring the citing authority to defend their judgments, and let’s not forget that we started with collisions, which seem to be prima facie evidence that speed/reaction time/looking were an issue. I have oft asserted here and still maintain that 90%+ of crashes could be eliminated through a combination of throttled speed and closer attention. We need to do whatever it takes to scare vehicle operators into doing that… or else.
(c) judgment enters the situation right now all the time, let’s not kid ourselves. I was cited by a Portland cop for an offense I didn’t commit (passing on the right) while the cell phone law is basically never enforced, etc.
should have read unsafe passing on the right.
It’s a very real, practical question. How does a judge decide between “yes they were” and “no I wasn’t” with no objective evidence or basis on which to decide? Maybe there is a reason why that law is rarely enforced.
Ah, we’ve hit on something interesting.
In the Frank Bohannon/Kerry Kunsman case I found it easy to argue at the time that Frank’s speed was quite obviously too fast for conditions. However the cops said “speed had nothing to do with it,” which I found incredible.
Perhaps you can explain to me how someone in a large truck on a country road can manage to kill a well reflectorized and illuminated person biking on the shoulder at dusk and yet we learn that speed had nothing to do with it? This seems absurd to me given what we know about (a) the likelihood that others (deer, people on bikes, boulders, other cars, etc.) will be present on these roads, and (b) the relationship between vehicle speed and reaction times.
I get that the cops (and a lot of others) would like to think that when in a car they are protected from legal liability by a force field that exonerates them for anything a ‘normal (i.e., not hypervigilant)’ driver might be found to have done, but what kind of legal standard is that?!
“…should the speed limit be set based on my reaction times, or yours?”
Perhaps obtaining or keeping a driver’s license should be based on a set standard for reaction time as measured in a driving simulator test required of all applicants for new or renewed licenses. To argue over whether the speed limit—or any other law—is adequate to protect people from incompetent drivers is to assume we must continue to license those incompetent drivers and allow them to drive. I would vote we just don’t. If you run over someone, it’s off to the simulator for you, and if your reaction time or biological ability to see is found to be lacking, then you forfeit your license. Maybe you can try again later after some martial arts training and/or laser surgery, maybe you just can’t.
I would fully support a more vigorous driver training/testing regimen.
Germany does this pretty well, though they still have a fairly high traffic death rate (lower than us, though), so that can only be part of the solution.
“still have a fairly high traffic death rate”
comparing it on a per 100,000 inhabitant basis: 4.3 vs 10.6
on a per 100,000 vehicle basis: 6.8 vs 12.9
on a per billion vehicle-km basis: 4.9 vs 7.1
Yup — those are the rates they have achieved with better training, stricter licensing, a world class train system, strict vehicle safety inspections, more enforcement, better road design, consistent speed rules, more bicycling, and a very serious outlook towards driving.
Still, even with all that, their death rate is much higher than would be ideal. It’s probably an insurmountable task, but achieving those levels here would be quite an accomplishment.
“It’s probably an insurmountable task”
The difficult we do right away, the impossible takes a bit more time….
Have you looked at Sweden’s statistics?
2.8 vs US at vs 10.6 per 100,000 inhabitants
4.7 vs US at vs 12.9 per 100,000 vehicles
3.5 vs US at vs 7.1 per billion vehicle-km
“…In your comments here going back years, you are all about taking responsibility; this is a classic example of where the person behind the wheel needs to take responsibility for seeing/be held accountable for not seeing. …” watts
I don’t believe people driving are, or should be obliged to shoulder the entire responsibility for the safety of other people using the road…where other people using the road have their own responsibility to attend to, in part consisting of taking measures to help counter difficulty that people driving, and looking out for vulnerable road users, may have…in distinguishing people in front of them, from the background or foreground of situations both are traveling in.
wsbob, I can barely make out what you are saying.
We are long, long ways away from ‘entirely’.
This morning I was riding up one of the ramps from the Esplanade to the Hawthorne Bridge. I was riding slowly (because it was uphill), and was pretty far to the right, which is the inside of the curve.
At the same time, a guy was walking down toward me, on his left, which put him on the same side as me. He was wearing a dark jacket, which happened to exactly match the color of the railing there. Sight lines were limited, and when he “appeared in front of me”, I almost hit him, and had to swerve out of the way. A narrow miss.
What did I, as the “driver” in this scenario, do wrong? I was “looking”, though I did not expect a pedestrian in that location (as I’ve never encountered one there before). Had I struck him, should I have been criminally liable for “not seeing” him? Would the pedestrian have shared any of the blame for the collision? (I can’t point to anything he did wrong, but his clothes really did blend in with his surroundings, which definitely delayed my “seeing” him.)
Help me up my game! How can I be a safer rider?
Excellent question and (generally) familiar scenario. I too have as a driver and cyclist occasionally been surprised by someone I didn’t see (as soon as I’d have liked/would have been ideal). This is quite reasonably a (general) problem. But where I come down is who’s responsibility this is.
Quite a few auto-apologists here on bikeportland, not to mention our law enforcement and legal system seem to for the most part shrug and say, well that’s too bad; accidents happen. I think that your scenario highlights exactly why we who are the faster party, the party able to inflict pain and worse, to throttle our speed in any situation so as to avoid hitting or maiming or killing the other, slower, less visible participant. Always expect the unexpected.
How could it be else? Our inconvenience at having to go slower/slow enough to not smash someone else is hardly too much to ask. I think our reluctance to entertain this stance speaks volumes about how we in this country prioritize the entitlement to speed over safety. Saltzman’s reputed reluctance to embrace 20s plenty exemplifies this.
I agree that speed is almost always a factor to some extent, but what they police would likely argue was that speed was not the _primary_ cause of the crash (and, if pressed, would probably say that is what they meant). That’s what ODOT has argued to me when I’ve engaged them in conversations about safety on Powell.
Circling back, had I hit the pedestrian this morning, speed would certainly have been a factor, but no one could seriously argue that the 5MPH I was doing was unsafely fast, and I doubt you will argue that cyclists should not exceed this speed because doing so will increase the danger of a crash. There HAS to be a balance of needs.
“I can’t point to anything he did wrong”
He was walking on the wrong side of the path, reducing the time that you had to spot him.
That occurred to me as well, but pedestrians are often told to walk against “the flow of traffic”, so I’m not clear he was not in the right place.
“…when he ‘appeared in front of me’, I almost hit him, and had to swerve out of the way. A narrow miss.
Help me up my game! How can I be a safer rider?”
Sounds like you’re already a perfectly safe rider who has stumbled upon the right speed for dark conditions on a curving path with limited sight lines that is shared with pedestrians. Had you been standing on the pedals and going, say 8 mph up the path, what do you think would have happened? But you, observing that it was dark, and knowing that pedestrians might be encountered, chose a speed (or gravity imposed a speed on you) that was completely appropriate for avoiding collisions, however narrowly, with dark-clothed pedestrians walking toward you directly in your path. How many drivers do this? Most drivers expect any other road users to either scamper out of their way or be lit up to the max, or they deserve to get run over.
On a side, but related note, as I was riding home yesterday, the last part of my trip was on part of a lovely path along a power line corridor that traverses a wetlands via a bridge that has several angled turns and a railing that hides much of what might be around any of those turns—especially small children, which are often out walking with their parents, particularly on a nice day like it was. There were a fair number of folks out walking and I paid attention to how they reacted to my approach. Sadly, most of the reactions are similar to what one tends to expect of pedestrians walking along the edge of a shoulderless road with cars approaching. Something like sudden panic when they hear my bell or squeaky brakes, then a small moment of confusion as they decide which side to scurry to. People will leave the paved part of the trail entirely, even though it is wide enough for me to pass with no problem. Parents will literally leap to grab their children out of the way of the approaching menace. It made me a little sad, and I wanted to tell people that it was OK, you can stay on the trail; I’m not going to run over your kid; continue enjoying your stroll—but I somehow felt like I had ruined everybody’s time, even though I was only going about 5-6 mph and was perfectly happy to stop, if necessary, to avoid impinging on anybody’s walk. I can’t help but think we have a universal motoring mentality to thank for this kind of reaction to a person on a bicycle.
All road users have some responsibility for guarding their own safety in using public ways; roads, bike lanes, MUP’s esplanades. Would the person you encountered, likely have known in advance of walking on this MUP, or recognized quickly upon seeing it, that this was travel infrastructure that other people likely would be using as he walked along?
If so, that would be an automatic cue for him to be on guard for someone else coming along, so as to reduce the chance of possibly getting tangled in each other’s direction of travel. You say you were only going 5mph. Well, that in itself isn’t too fast, considering a normal walking speed is about 3.5…but that the infrastructure you were on was one of those spiraling ramps…the curve may have critically reduced your opportunity for advance visibility of the guy. That reduced distance visibility is one of the the trade-offs of such ramps. They call for extra care when ascending or descending, in order to avoid collisions.
I think their reaction would have been the same in the horse era before the first car was ever built (assuming the sight of you on your bicycle wasn’t seen as a terrifying work of the devil).
“assuming the sight of you on your bicycle wasn’t seen as a terrifying work of the devil”
You’ve obviously never seen me on my bicycle… 🙂
“That occurred to me as well, but pedestrians are often told to walk against “the flow of traffic”, so I’m not clear he was not in the right place.”
Only on roads.
On a path, everyone should be traveling in the same direction, on the right.
Good ramp looks like a pedestrian path; there’s no hint that users should organize themselves in any particular way. The pedestrian was not in the wrong.
Since the 1950’s our economy has been based on what I call ” Happy Motoring Capitalism”. Which is primarily based on oil, car manufacturing, drive through business’s, auto repair, car insurance . road construction and suburban tract housing. Because of this the hidden bias in all dealings with motor cars is to keep as many people driving as possible. Hence, rudimentary driving tests, low penalties for bad driving, etc. Untill we realize that”Happy Motoring Capitalism” is killing us and the planet at an increasing rate and decide that our societal bias must be to minimise the use of the private automobile and take every opportunity to cut down on the number of people driving none of this will stop.
Here is my personal perspective of how it would look like with lower car dependency. During my 20s, I lived in a European city similar in size than Portland. Compared to other European cities it did not have above-average bike infrastructure or transit but bike model share was about 15-20% and public transit about 20% or more. I did not own a car and most of my friends did not, either. It was not necessary — you could get everywhere by bike or transit –, having a car was expensive, parking space was a headache, and with that model share, going around town with a bike was normal and socially accepted.
Looking back, I feel lucky that I lived in a place where driving was both unnecessary and not economically. Back then, I would have said that I am a good driver (as most drivers do), but I tended to drive risky at times and it is so easy to injure or kill someone in a vehicle. So perhaps the greatest benefit of living there was that I was never at risk of seriously harming others with my driving. Shifting people away from cars by making other modes of transportation relatively more attractive must be a central goal of vision zero in Portland.
Maybe we should stop reproducing and bringing in millions of people who are even better at that process than those of who have been here for a while. Or at least get it under control. Ever consider that?
As long as there are apparently legal excuses like “I didn’t see him/her.” and apparent immunity from prosecuting while texting, giving the same excuse. No enforcement except camera enforcement for lights and speeding, Vision Zero does not have a chance of diminishing deaths.
If they can show you were illegally using the phone to talk or text then you would not have immunity.
$4.00/gallon gas tax would solve every problem we have. (Welcome to my fantasy life.)
We tried that not so long ago (or at least close to it).
A $4 tax?
Oh sorry, no, I misread… but we had prices over $4 per gallon… a $4 tax would push prices up a little higher, but probably not much more than $5.50 or so. Prices that high would have a similar effect on consumption and driving habits as what we saw a few years ago (i.e. some, but not huge). It would push people to buy smaller cars. The main difference there is that the extra money went to oil producers, and not to the government.
For the record, I support that idea, but would favor a more-encompassing carbon tax on all carbon-based fuels. But permanently (we thought) high gas prices a few years ago did not usher in a bicycling utopia, and I see no reason to think that will change when we get them again.
I’d rather see usage fees, commensurate with the damage and congestion inflicted to the transportation system by the weight and size of the vehicle. A carbon tax is fine for curbing emissions and resource consumption, but it doesn’t directly relate to the transportation system. A zero-emissions, environmentally sound truck (should one ever be built) will still clog and tear up the roadway at the same rate a dirty one does. The carbon tax useful, because moves us toward developing the environmentally sound vehicle. Usage fees serve to maintain a system.
Every mile traveled by every user should have an appropriately scaled, associated cost that directly contributes to the ongoing upkeep of the system. Yes, I do include pedestrians and cyclists in the “every” category. (Commensurate fees is the key idea here. There is no free lunch.) Also yes, I have no idea how to levy usage fees in fine enough detail to be a useful deterrent to driving. Ideally, one might get up in the morning and look at the pro-rated costs of the trip to work ranked by choice of vehicle, check the schedule and the bank account, and then decide how to proceed. Obviously that isn’t going to happen.
Nevertheless, until we put the the full costs of our transportation choices in the limelight, we aren’t likely to see changes in those choices.
I think the structure you describe already is in use in all 50 states. Big rigs pay a lot of money in taxes every year, some of it I think is based on mileage. Gasoline powered cars pay via gas taxes. The heavier the vehicle and more damage it does to roads, the more gas it will use, and so pays more tax. Could the tax be higher? Sure. But the system is already there. The more you drive the more tax you pay.
EVs could be taxed by the mile perhaps, since they don’t pay a gas tax, but if you want to encourage their use, then best to be careful how much you tax them.
Agreed, we have something like what I propose, but it’s not fine grain enough and it doesn’t fully cover the costs.
“Once we have some, you know, actual facts, then we can make a decision on whether there is a criminal case.”
Except that you seem to be forgetting how most of these go… All too often we know exactly what happened: driver mows down three people in a crosswalk(!) and yet there are no consequences. How do you square this all-too-common finding with your blase let’s get all the facts first approach?
I’m not all that wrapped up in the distinction between negligence and intent. The fact that someone contributed to this outcome is quite bad enough, and our system should have ways to seek to make it right again, to the extent that is even possible.
didn’t nest below Hello, Kitty. Oh,well.
There are (almost) always consequences, just not always criminal ones. Our system does attempt to “make it right again” (ignoring the fact that in many cases this is impossible via any mechanism), which is financial compensation. Over history we’ve tried a lot of different ways to do this, and this seems the least flawed.
“There are (almost) always consequences, just not always criminal ones.”
That is not my impression. I realize that this is what we tell ourselves to feel better about our system, but if you actually look case by case, I don’t think this is what you’ll find.
“Our system does attempt to ‘make it right again’ (ignoring the fact that in many cases this is impossible via any mechanism), which is financial compensation”
See above. I don’t think, for the most part, this is how it works in practice. I could list dozens of people killed by someone in a car that was reported here, and in the majority of cases (DUII sometimes excepted) I’m not aware of things working out the way you suggest.
Who pays for the medical bills of someone who is struck by a car (assuming the driver is known)? Who pays for the damage to another driver’s car after a crash?
“Who pays for the medical bills of someone who is struck by a car (assuming the driver is known)?”
My hunch: in most cases, the person who was struck.
Without a finding of guilt on the part of the driver (what we are talking about I think) aren’t the chances of financial compensation/medical bill coverage by driver pretty slim? Or perhaps I’m missing something.
another case in point:
I think you’re missing how liability works.
As to the new story: What would “justice” be in this case?
Oregon law says…well, you stopped, you weren’t drunk, and you did run a red light but that could happen to anyone, so…go on home, son. I’m sure you feel terrible. Of course without a finding of guilt, the family will have a very hard time recovering any costs from the driver(‘s insurance company…the driver himself would face no penalty at all beyond perhaps a slight increase in insurance premiums).
Is that justice? If not, how would you change Oregon law to make it so?
A finding of fault is not the same as a criminal conviction.
I think you’re missing how Car Head works.
justice in this case? Well for starters, a finding of not guilty when someone mows down a family in a crosswalk makes a mockery of the entire system. I’d venture that *anything* else would be preferable. But justice, for real, could entail any number of outcomes:
(a) how the legal systems deals with the case – given the obvious facts, guilt seems pretty much a foregone conclusion (see how we don’t need the sham of an investigation here?)
(b) what the punishment is – that seems open to a variety of options: forfeit license, vehicle, do penance in form of payment, community service, be required to go on lecture circuit with a mea culpa act…. I don’t know, there are a million meaningful ways to proceed here that could help make another such heinous act less likely to occur again, discourage it, scare the shit out of others who aren’t paying enough attention to how they drive right now.
Werner Herzog’s anti texting movie comes to mind.
There was no trial and thus no finding of guilt/non-guilt. Do you really believe the police in this case were so “car head” that the death of children mattered less than letting a fellow driver escape punishment? That the police were so jaded that they would let an “obviously guilty” child murderer roam free for whatever reason?
“Do you really believe the police in this case were so ‘car head’ that the death of children mattered less than letting a fellow driver escape punishment? That the police were so jaded that they would let an ‘obviously guilty’ child murderer roam free for whatever reason?”
Car Head is everywhere, taints everything we do. I’m curious: How do you explain this finding?
I don’t think the fact that he was guilty of killing the children (guilty in common parlance, rather than apparently in a legal sense) is in question. Anyone looking at the outcome of this case would, I think, say that something is wrong. Do you think this is just fine?
I think the outcome is terrible. I don’t think there is any acceptable outcome.
“There was no trial and thus no finding of guilt/non-guilt. …” h kitty
Trials don’t happen unless investigation indicates there is reasonable grounds for a charge. At least they shouldn’t, not here in the U.S.
Responding police officers to a collision, are just one part of the legal structure that can result in a charge being brought against someone having done something that may be a crime, and that may result through a trial, in their being found guilty, sentenced, etc. The responding officer, is though, likely to be a key point person on the scene. And while very possibly, many could be better versed in the law, I believe traffic cops do generally regard their knowing the provisions of Oregon’s statutes to be an important obligation of the job.
So when they’re called to a collision location, they survey the situation, interview who they can, take notes, ride a report. Maybe there’s indication of a crime, maybe there isn’t. Against people driving that come to be involved in collisions with other road users with injury and death resulting, some people might want a criminal charge, conviction and sentence lodged against the person that was driving a motor vehicle…but that’s not how most people in the U.S. believe justice should be carried out.
Various countries and countries around the world where corruption rules, have wrought their form of justice that way…even the U.S. has an unfortunate history of sometimes succumbing to that temptation. We in the U.S., make it our obligation to try not to wrongly accuse people of doing things they didn’t do, and I think that’s continues to be a good obligation to continue meeting.
If someone really believes it can be a reasonable addition to the U.S. system of justice, to have people that were operating motor vehicles and that came to be involved in a collision with other road users, particularly vulnerable road users where the result of the collision was injury, death, or damage of property…automatically presumed, and more importantly, considered to be guilty of a crime or crimes based solely on simple fact that they were driving a motor vehicle…the person believing so, definitely ought to try make their case before the public, to have their idea enacted into law. Or maybe they could somehow be accepted as an immigrant to a country where their idea of justice, contrary to that of the U.S.’s, would be welcomed. Some people have actually done this, it’s not a new thing. Anyone wanting to live under such a system, go for it.
“We in the U.S., make it our obligation to try not to wrongly accuse people of doing things they didn’t do, and I think that’s continues to be a good obligation to continue meeting.”
Maybe you haven’t heard. There are black people living here in these here United States who not only don’t get that opportunity to be accused of anything; they’re just shot on site. Not sure why you keep persisting with this fantasy law and order talk.
watts…the U.S. system of justice is no fantasy. It’s fairer and far superior to that of many other countries around the world. Of course there are problems with equally and consistently applying it to every citizen and non-citizen deserving of it in the U.S.
If you are, or want to be among those people working towards consistently fair application of this country’s system of justice for all, that’s excellent…good for you and everyone that will benefit. If what you really want to only do, is take a sarcastic and negative view of a good system that isn’t perfect, it’s unfortunate that you’ve taken that position.
“the U.S. system of justice is […] fairer and far superior to that of many other countries around the world. ”
And less fair and inferior to many other countries you conveniently left off your comparison. I guess I’m not sure what your point is. We have huge and growing problems with how our system works. I have little patience with those (privileged, presumably) who say things are fine, no they’re excellent, better than many other countries because that does nothing whatsoever to advance on these problems we have been discussing.
“And less fair and inferior to many other countries you conveniently left off your comparison. I guess I’m not sure what your point is. …” watts
What other countries? If you think so, then you should go to one of the countries you think are better, immigrate, and become a citizen there. Better yet, trade places with someone in one of those countries, that would rather be here in the U.S. Lots of people would jump at the opportunity if there were an arrangement for that sort of thing.
You’re not helping out here with the attitude you have.There’s too many spoiled people born here in the U.S. taking for granted what they have, not willing to bother to learn any semblance of the laws the freedom they benefit from here, is founded on. Not the case with immigrants seeking citizenship. They actually study those principles and take the tests to prove they understand them, and count their blessings that they’re fortunate to have the opportunity.
I don’t know who it is you’re referring to that thinks everyone in the U.S. is consistently treated perfectly and fair, because it’s certainly not the many millions of people in this country, including myself, that are thinking so. Problems with how justice is carried out? Sure. And people in this country are concerned about that and working on it…no thanks…yet…to the current administration.
Here in the U.S., people actually can have open discussions about problems with the system, critical if need be, of the people given responsibility to have justice be administered fairly. Instead of being thrown in jail just for speaking out. You seem not happy with this. Bon voyage, watts.
“What other countries?”
Lets start here, shall we?
I’d be curious to hear your thoughts after reading the very short book. I can email you a pdf if you contact 9watts-at-gmail.
from the review linked above: Clinging to a false sense of superiority is the absolute worst strategy for actually attaining superiority. And yet it seems to dominate American political discourse.
“If you think so, then you should go to one of the countries you think are better, immigrate, and become a citizen there.”
Such a tired evasive maneuver. Instead of hearing my critique you trot out the old, why don’t you move there if it is so good… How does one ever get a place (my country as much as yours) to improve if one takes this absurd jumping ship approach you parrot?
“You’re not helping out here with the attitude you have.”
How do you figure that?
I always thought that critiques and criticism were essential to the functioning of a democracy.
Are you helping?
“I don’t know who it is you’re referring to that thinks everyone in the U.S. is consistently treated perfectly and fair, because it’s certainly not the many millions of people in this country, including myself, that are thinking so.”
I was responding to this upthread statement of yours:
the U.S. system of justice is no fantasy. It’s fairer and far superior to that of many other countries around the world
“Here in the U.S., people actually can have open discussions about problems with the system, critical if need be, of the people given responsibility to have justice be administered fairly. Instead of being thrown in jail just for speaking out.”
Have you heard of Cointelpro? Domestic surveillance? The ongoing fight for Civil Rights? Edward Snowden? How our system all too often treat whistleblowers, blacks, immigrants, sexual minorities, poor people, women? I am charmed by how you want to believe the positive spin we in this country are addicted to.
“You seem not happy with this. Bon voyage, watts.”
What I’m not happy about is foolish happy talk designed to paper over the real issues we have in this country. My hunch is that you are not a member of any of the groups I just listed, and as such may not realize the extent to which your happy memory of our justice system is not matched by actions.
I copied below the introduction to the book I linked to above:
“Forty years of neoliberalism and plutonomy have taken their toll on the United States of
America. Not so long ago the American way of life was, and rightly so, the envy of the world. Memories of America’s once greatness at providing for the many a society for human fulfilment and happiness live on. But the times have changed. This book of 65 tables shows that in terms of the quality of life that it offers its citizens today, the USA is near the bottom of the third division of the thirty OECD nations.
The tables speak for themselves. They fall into seven categories: Health; Income and Leisure; Family; Education; Generosity; Public Order and Safety; and Freedom and Democracy. In each category there are eight indicators. The 30 OECD countries are ranked for each of these indicators; a final table in each category shows each country’s average ranking across the eight indicators.
The purpose of this book is not to embarrass a nation, but rather to help its citizens face up to the facts, with the hope that the shock will awaken in them the courage of their fore-parents and inspire them to take back from the few the country that once belonged to the many.”
And yet, for all that, the 2017 World Happiness Report put us at #14, so maybe we’re doing something right.
Interesting. That is not a report I’d ever heard of.
The thrust of the report, though, seems to mirror Fullbrooks decline thesis:
States can and should raise happiness by ad-
dressing America’s multi-faceted social crisis—
rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and
distrust—rather than focusing exclusively or
even mainly on economic growth, especially
since the concrete proposals along these lines
would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the
deepening social crisis.”
” While the US ranked
third among the 23 OECD countries surveyed in
2007, it had fallen to 19th of the 34 OECD
countries surveyed in 2016.”
Also on their front page:
Happiness has fallen in America
The USA is a story of reduced happiness. In 2007 the USA ranked 3rd among the OECD countries; in 2016 it came 19th. The reasons are declining social support and increased corruption (see Chapter 7) and it is these same factors that explain why the Nordic countries do so much better.
9watts at… March 21, 2017 at 10:27 pm:
It seemed to me that in reply to my comment saying of the U.S. system of justice is “… It’s fairer and far superior to that of many other countries around the world. …”, you were going to name some countries you believe have systems of justice fairer and superior to that of the U.S. . That should have been an easy thing to do, if there are any such countries.
Why did you not do that? Instead, posting a link to, of all media sources…’….’ ? I don’t even want to print the name of it here…that’s how much I think of it. Your idea of ‘helping’ towards having the U.S. be a better place for people to live, seems to amount to taking the sarcastic, negative attitude towards the U.S. system of justice, just for starters.
Being sarcastic and negative about issues you take exception to, electing not to offer instead, positive and encouraging ideas and suggestions for resolving problems with various aspects of life in the U.S., is not helping to resolve any problems.
You’re intimidated by Al Jazeera?
I’m not sure what to say to that.
“electing not to offer instead, positive and encouraging ideas and suggestions….”
Pot calling the kettle black?
“It’s a stark fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we have almost 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. The numbers today are much higher than they were 30, 40 years ago despite the fact that crime is at historic lows.”
And there’s more:
“The 2015 World Justice project Rule of Law index was published in June 2015, ranking 102 countries based on a host of indicators, including criminal justice. The criminal justice factor measures impartiality, due process and rights of the accused, and effectiveness of the countries’ criminal investigation, adjudication and correction systems. The United States ranked 23rd out of 102 countries, 16th among 24 regional peers, and 23 among 31 income peers.”
details in this chart: http://data.worldjusticeproject.org/#/groups/USA
(Looks like we rank in the lower half of the 24 countries to which we are directly compared.)
Knowing that Al Jazeera spooked you, I chose a source that you might find more to your liking.
Who pays when a driver hits a pedestrian?
this was to me unintentionally humorous as well as problematic for casting everyone but the driver as prone to carelessness:
“The best way to avoid pedestrian accidents is to understand that “defensive driving” means being wary of people who walk, use a bicycle, operate a wheelchair, rollerblade, rollerskate, ride an electric scooter, and play in the road. Pay particular attention to young children and older adults. These individuals may be less aware of drivers on the road. They are more likely to stray outside crosswalks and not pay attention to traffic signals.”
Let’s all weigh in on this question:
Do you drive a car regularly in congested traffic?
Yep. More than I’d like. Don’t imagine for a second I have no perspective on what it’s like to drive, if that’s what you’re fishing for. I’ve also trained myself in scanning techniques, don’t carry a smartphone, drive the speed limit (or slower if conditions warrant), and generally try to think of driving a car as the equivalent of waving around a loaded shotgun. Am I as careful as I can be with it? Probably not, but awareness is key.
Good way to drive. Should keep you out of a lot of trouble!
Biggest waste of time and productivity I could imagine, plus it beats the crap out of any semblance of a positive attitude. My office is nearly 50 miles away, but if my company didn’t give me the flexibility to avoid peak traffic I’d quit and go back to a closer job I could bike to (I miss that). They seem OK with my one or two days a week there, and I get lots done so they keep giving me awards and promoting me… maybe it’s not just the best company I’ve ever worked for, but possibly has something to do with being able to stay focused and energized on productivity.
So to answer your question: No, not unless I can’t avoid it. (And yes, I carpool at times and have checked on reasonable alternatives to driving there).
agh just crazy on the roads these days. hit n runs? why 🙁 be safe all
Last April a Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputy ran over a disabled veteran at Sandy & 238th at 4am, while driving 33 in a 25 with his lights off. Stephen Heberling was dragged 95 feet, and he died in the emergency room. This current story is about the lawsuit.
Subtle victim blaming in the story:
“It was not particularly bright clothing, but it’s not like one of those dressed all in black sort of routines,” Traffic Lt. Ryan Lee told reporters during a press conference at the time. “Not the most visible clothing, but nothing terribly odd given that we live in a cold weather environment.”
Police also noted that Heberling was standing in the roadway, not a crosswalk, at the time of the collision. Investigators weren’t sure why Heberling was traveling by foot that night.
Olympia-based attorney John Kesler wrote that Krumpschmidt’s headlights were turned off, but the industrial area was well-lit and the deputy “was familiar with” the location.
Here is the memorial. No idea where Heberling was standing….in the lane? on the shoulder? The closest crosswalk is about 800 feet away.
I get bothered by these reports that lead to quick assumptions based on the conversation framing. Not long ago an older gentleman was killed turning left on his old, heavy bicycle on a wide, busy road in Sunnyvale, CA. Witnesses said he ran the red light, which the police confirmed with video. I wasn’t there for the collision (saw the aftermath) but know the intersection extremely well, and myself have a hard time making the same left on the short green/yellow cycle as a fit cyclist on a race bike.
When I viewed the video that police shared, what I saw was a man slowly pedaling left on a green with two lanes of motor traffic, and then opposing traffic accelerating straight immediately on their green (the video was cut to avoid showing the collision). What struck me was that the police had used video from a gas station showing the oncoming drivers perspective, and not video from the bank adjacent to the cyclist which (if the angle existed) would likely have showed him entering the intersection on a reasonably fresh green light.
Comments of course pointed out “he ran the red, now he’s dead.” It was broad daylight; I’m still wondering why the driver who ran him down didn’t see him directly in front of her windshield. (Yes, I saw her distraught and “cooperating with police”, as all news of car-bike collisions are obliged to report).
Don’t you just love how privilege works?!
“with his lights off…..”
“…It was not particularly bright clothing”
Also of note in the story, the deputy reputedly was patrolling the area because he typically sees people “wander[ing] around at night in that area”. So he drives over to an area where he normally sees people wandering around, and then proceeds to drive too fast with his lights off. It’s almost like he was trying to hit somebody.