Many of us had bad feelings about the chaotic traffic on North Flint Avenue during school drop-off. Now those concerns appear to have been very warranted.
Less than two months into the school season, a young student walking to class was injured by an auto user as she crossed the street in front of Harriet Tubman Middle School yesterday morning.
Several readers contacted us about the collision and we were eventually forwarded this email from the school’s principal, Natasha Butler:
Dear Harriet Tubman Families,
I wanted to inform you that one of our students was involved in a car accident this morning. She was crossing the intersection of Flint and Russell with her brother when she was struck by a car. The student’s family was informed, and after her mother arrived at the scene, she was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The student suffered some scratches, but was talking and coherent.
Police were at the scene and took a report. The driver of the car was not speeding and was not on a cell phone, and no charges will be filed. If your child witnessed or has knowledge of this accident and is in need of support, please contact our School Counselor, Ms. Drew.
Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Christopher Burley confirmed the collision with us today, saying the girl was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital for treatment of her injuries. “The girl was in the crosswalk at the time of the crash according to witnesses,” Sgt. Burley shared, “At this time there have been no citations or arrest.”
One school parent who emailed me about this collision said, “There have been a lot of concerns from families about walking to [school].”
Another source who contacted me about this said he thinks, “They should ban cars on that street in the morning and afternoon.”
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Umm, is it not a crime to hit a child with your car in a crosswalk???
You would think if nothing else, careless driving. It is time to change the police mentality about this and if necessary, the law.
no charges will be filed — why?
Because the driver did not see the girl in the crosswalk.
That is all, and all you have to say. You need no excuse except to say you just
did not see the person in front of your car.
Simple as that.
When I used to drive a cab I once got distracted messing with my radio and rear-ended another car. Nobody was hurt but I basically had to pay the cab company’s insurance deductible, plus a fine. When the incident was later reviewed by the cab company’s governing board, one of the questions they asked me was “Is there ever a time when you’re not responsible for ascertaining what is in front of your vehicle.” The answer was “No, I can’t think of any.”
This was a minor collision and what I’m assuming happened is the same thing that happens all the time with collisions like this: The responding officer used his/her discretion to not cite because it wasn’t a severe enough injury that required a deployment (and investigation) of the Major Crash Team and the auto user was remorseful and cooperative. It frustrates me too, but this is just how this stuff goes down. There’s a sense from the police that the citation won’t really help/change anything so they figure — as long as both parties have exchanged insurance information – why bother. Keep in mind that there’s a chance this case is still open and that the auto user could be ticketed after the fact… But given how minor this was I highly doubt that will happen.
This is car culture at work folks! The way to change it is to dismantle car culture. BTW, have you all subscribed to the War on Cars podcast yet?
I usually cringe at your evangelistic talk on these subjects, but in this case, you are right on.
So if I merely chip the guy’s tooth with the gun I wave in his face rather than kill him…. does that mean I can also pull this same excuse and get off scot free?
I don’t see why the severity of the person’s injuries play into the finding of fault/citation. In fact I strongly doubt they do. Chris teen Osborn was all but killed by Wanda Cortese on Hwy 101, and she (Cortese) suffered no consequences that I know of except for a $260 ticket for failing to maintain her lane.
Maybe because there is a difference between a deliberate action and an accidental one?
A familiar retort, but that is what is (otherwise) called manslaughter.
We all know that cars are involved in 40,000 deaths per year just in the US, not to mention what must be millions of injuries. So I’d think there would be some minimum responsibility attached to piloting a motor vehicle, regardless of intent. We of course don’t have strict liability, but I’d think we could revisit the VRU law regularly. Check in on it; see how it is doing.
Involuntary manslaughter refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony (such as a DUI).
That is to say that most crashes are not deemed criminally reckless or negligent, and do not result from a misdemeanor or felony act.
The legal system has had this this figured out for centuries.
“That is to say that most crashes are not deemed criminally reckless or negligent”
But you might agree that this is all rather circular.
If we *define* all but the most egregious car piloting behavior as lying outside these categories, we needn’t be surprised when cars smashing into human flesh are met with a collective shrug.
I don’t think we define it as such, I just think we don’t regard it as such.
Is not looking while you move 4,000 lbs through an area where there may be people an accident?
Like driving blindfolded?
Near as makes no difference to 4,000,000 injuries last year, by the by.
Or a difference between a gun and a car.
This is the difference (as I, a mere lay person understand it) between a “dangerous” weapon (car) and a “deadly” weapon (firearm). One was designed for a different purpose, like transportation, sports, or culinary activities—but can be used off-label as a weapon. The other was conceived, designed, and manufactured first and foremost as a weapon. These are legal definitions, to the best of my recollection, which are not based on the potential results of use/misuse of an item. The laws appear to be much different when dealing with one vs. the other. I think that’s why the frustration of hearing, “well, the victim’s injuries didn’t rise to the level of making the driver’s actions subject to greater penalties” exists. If someone shoots at me, or in my direction with a deadly weapon, it’s a severe offense (why? because the potential consequences could have been severe?), but if someone merely “drifts” in my direction while overtaking me on the road (even if they do it intentionally, since there is no way to prove it), the potential consequences aren’t taken into account. Even if the drifter hits and injures me, I have to be hurt “bad enough” for it to really matter. A raving gunman on the loose shooting randomly (but not hitting anyone) would get a full manhunt underway.
I also think there is a fundamental assumption that all drivers are good, well-intentioned, and competent unless they are drunk, distracted (by what?), or were flagrantly violating multiple laws just prior to any incident. Things that happen due to mere momentary attention lapses aren’t seen as anything bad at all, which is I think due to the “it could happen to anyone” mentality. If only the mentality were more along the lines of, “that could have been my kid!” Legal penalties aside, it really seems we need to follow the same kind of procedures that I imagine are in effect for other safety violations: suspension until a full investigation is complete, or renewed proof of competence can be demonstrated.
Good points. Actually, one place potential for harm comes into play is with drunk driving. The whole premise of drunk driving enforcement is based on potential for harm, since somebody driving drunk doesn’t harm anyone just by the fact they’re drunk.
I also agree people (including law enforcement) identify with drivers, because almost everyone drives. Many fewer people bike, especially in traffic. Not sure why more people don’t seem to identify with people walking–maybe because few who walk have been hit by cars themselves.
“Not sure why more people don’t seem to identify with people walking–maybe because few who walk have been hit by cars themselves.”
I think this is true, but I also think there is a larger “groupifying” mentality at work: Adults vs. Children, or even more broadly, Responsible People vs. Irresponsible. It doesn’t matter who is actually which one, but all else being “equal”, we tend to think of children as irresponsible, so if one gets hit by a car (whose driver wasn’t drunk) then the blame first fixes on the kid, cuz, they probably “darted” into traffic without looking—you know how kids are. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people make the same distinction between people who happen to be driving at the moment, and people who happen to be riding a bike. Drivers are seen as responsible adults, and anyone on a bike is seen as an irresponsible person who just refused to “grow up”, probably because they’re a little off, you know—mentally; or else they were irresponsible enough to lose their driving privileges. We just have to stratify people somehow, either by looks, wealth, “success”, intelligence, community “standing”, etc.
I think the immediate stratification we do as humans tends to lift one corner of the blindfold we imagine is worn by personified Justice.
I share your dislike of stratifying or grouping people based on superficial characteristics such as what mode are you using at the moment.
Many people do identify with walking — walking a short distance to or from their parked motorvehicle.
That biker/scooterbro almost hit me as I was walking to my car (which I will drive signifciantly over the speed limit while being inattentative)!!!
“This is car culture at work folks! The way to change it is to dismantle car culture.”
This is just counter-productive. First it’s trolling in the sense that it’s basically the same as demanding chefs not use anything metal…it’s a straw man argument really.
There is no such thing as “car culture” in the context used in the above quotation, it’s accurately described as “modern culture”.
If we “dismantle car culture” what are we doing?
Does this mean humans cannot use modes of transportation that use motors and go faster than 20 mph? This is a serious question and it demands a specific answer which no one can provide…”cars” are bikes with more wheels, cargo space, and a motor.
Cars are unmatched in functionality. To “dismantle” everyday people’s ability to use cars is absolutely impossible because people must have the ability to use powered vehicles that can carry several passengers and cargo long distances.
We need to accept reality and work together, not create straw man arguments and demand obtuse, unworkable things.
What if by car culture we mean ‘broad immunity from consequences that arise from driving around with too little attention?’
I’d be for dismantling that.
Jonathan doesn’t like the phrase Car Head, but it captures this dynamic pretty well.
“What if by car culture we mean ‘broad immunity from consequences that arise from driving around with too little attention?’”
Then you’re just trolling. You’re phrasing something *everyone* agrees with in language that changes the meaning significantly.
It’s like saying, “I’m for broad gun rights, and by ‘gun rights’ I mean people using guns safely”
Don’t cause pointless arguments…
And one more thing, car drivers agree that actions should have appropriate consequences…car drivers have children too, and if they are hurt they want the same accountability bike riders do…please learn this forever and change.
Hard to follow.
Car drivers have children too….?
I disagree with the contention that everyone wants consequences for people who drive with too little attention. At least, for my definitions of “consequences” and “too little attention.” Speed limits, crosswalk laws, and cellphone laws are routinely broken, yet using automated enforcement or percent-of-income fines are political hot potatoes nationwide. Cellphone laws have not been passed in many states, and arguments about them get heated too, despite the clear evidence that cellphone use decreases attention paid to driving.
And even in this case, do you think “all” or even majority of Americans would support giving the person who hit the kid with their car a ticket, much less a sizeable consequence for a middle-class person? If you hit a kid crossing in a crosswalk by a school, that seems like pretty obvious evidence of too little attention to me. But I bet most voting adults would at least partially identify with the person driving and say, “Well, school drop off is pretty crazy, mistakes happen, I’m glad we have some mercy and don’t ticket people at the drop of a hat.”
A law that said “if you shoot someone in the head and kill them, there will be consequences” would seem, on its face to be quite reasonable. And yet there are a myriad of circumstances where we’ve decided there should, in fact, be no consequences (self defence, accident, etc.)
Likewise with a child struck in a crosswalk, the outcome is not evidence of the circumstances that led up to it.
“Too little attention” seems a difficult standard to define legally.
I think the real solution to the school-specific situation is to discourage parents from driving their kids to school, and when they do, require them to drop off a couple of blocks away to diffuse the craziness. Close the immediate streets to vehicles for one hour in the morning. Give kids little prizes if they don’t get driven (allowing, for example, kids to walk the last few blocks to qualify, to avoid excluding those that really do need to drive).
Wouldn’t you agree that one way to discourage parents (and everyone else) from driving when the trip could be accomplished without a car would be to up the penalties for failures to exercise sufficient care to avoid smashing into human flesh?
No. For most people, the thought of injuring a child is already a huge deterrent. I know you will argue otherwise, but I think that seeing this as a problem that stiffer punishment will solve is to misunderstand its true nature.
“is already a huge deterrent”
How do you figure that?
If that were true how do you explain the need for and success of Vision Zero?
No, driving is simply a poor fit with the cognitive abilities of homo sapiens under a variety of everyday conditions. No amount of good intentions are adequate to reining in its inherent risks.
Most people don’t want to kill a child.
I agree people are not well suited for the talk of driving. It is difficult to focus on a complex task for long periods, we are easily distracted, and we consistently misjudge risk.
This is one of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about the possibility of replacing humans as the principle operators of vehicles.
“The outcome is the true deterrent” therefore we don’t need consequences.
I disagree, and here is a bona fide example. I work in the electricity sector. Hacking is a huge concern. None of the employees want to be the reason the company I work for gets hacked, and I’m sure everyone would feel horrible if they were the reason. However, the company still has a very strict standard of not falling for phishing campaigns hook line and sinker. The IT department puts out fake phishing campaigns on a regular basis. If you fall for one and put in your network credentials, you get written up. If you fall for (two or three, I forget), you’re fired, period.
Compared to other workplaces, this has a real way of focusing my attention on security when I’m choosing what to do with an external email. Yes, other measures need to be taken too – but a credible threat of punishment for inattention *does* increase attention.
Do I think it’s a political winner? No. Do I think it’s something politicians should do as a moral matter? Yes.
Fascinating example, Alex.
To be clear, I’m not trying to argue that this instance of not yielding to people walking in a crosswalk should necessarily be subject to worse penalty than any other instance of not yielding to people walking in a crosswalk, just because in this case someone was hit. My ideal would be to have substantial – but income/wealth-graduated – penalties for the bad *behaviors* rather than be super-duper-punitive only in cases of bad *outcomes* (crashes).
But yes, if someone drives into a person walking in a crosswalk, and all the eyewitnesses agree that the hit person was not at fault (no, we don’t have that yet in this article), then I’d say that the person who drove should be ticketed, just like anyone else who doesn’t obey the crosswalk laws. It’s a bad behavior to not pay enough attention to avoid hitting people legally walking in crosswalks, and it should be cited.
I totally agree with punishing bad behavior rather than bad outcome. And I also agree that distraction is a big problem, which is why I totally support bans on cell phone use while driving for example.
I think where we disagree is mostly a matter of degree rather than principle. As you make your statements more nuanced, they seem much more agreeable.
Regarding outcomes being a deterrent. I don’t think this is so obviously true. Granted, “nobody” wants to run over a kid. However, if you asked people on the street, “Hey, how would you like to lose $1000?”, most people would say “no”, but if you peek into any casino anywhere, there are people happily losing hundreds or thousands of dollars on any given day. More closely related to traffic behavior, most people would agree that running a red light is “wrong”, but you don’t have to wait on the sidewalk for long before you’ll see someone speeding, weaving, or otherwise driving unsafely to beat a yellow light before (or as) it turns red—there is always a chance that the speeding won’t work and they’ll end up stopping anyway, but lots of folks will still try.
Most people, in my observation, tend to be gamblers. Most people are clueless about probability and statistics. People are selfish. Put those all together, and people are all too willing to engage in behaviors that increase the probability of the very adverse outcomes they claim not to want. Why? Because first, most of us want to believe that “it won’t happen to me”, and second, I think in any given context, most people want to “win” whatever currency is traded there. Money, “points”, political capital, time, safety, bragging rights—name your currency—and in the context in which it is traded, most of us are willing to risk something to come out ahead.
The trouble with “Car Culture” is that it allows us to put the risk onto others, so that to “get ahead” on the road, there is little risk to ourselves, as long as we’ve taken the responsible step of choosing to drive around in an armored cage. One fix might be to increase the adverse outcomes (other than “feeling bad”) for drivers that risk the lives of other people with their roadway gambling.
Liability insurance exists exactly to solve this problem… It internalizes the external costs of injuring others with your car. It so tells us what those external costs are, because insurance companies would be out of business if they priced it too low.
“appropriate consequences”: people driving have the right to “accidentally” hit, injure, maim, and.or kill people walking or rolling simply because these human beings are seen as cultural norm-breakers.
You write “Cars are unmatched in functionality.” I don’t think this holds true for dropping kids off at school. I do no know this school in particular, but at many schools cars not the best means of dropping kids off in terms of safety, speed, and use of space.
But they may excel in other ways: out of the weather, warm, when linked together with another car trip, lack of physical exertion. It’s fraught to judge what’s best for another person, especially in the abstract.
“It’s fraught to judge what’s best for another person, especially in the abstract.”
Dweendaddy specifically mentioned safety, speed, and use of space. I think it is reasonable to suggest that something other than the car could measure up for the task of dropping your kid off at school on those three criteria. Unfamiliarity with other modes and habitual car use mask plenty of alternatives that could turn out to be objectively better.
As for the ‘for another person’ bit, I think it is fraught to reflexively personalize this decision as if what was most important to know was the individual’s preference. There is a lot else going on with automobility (public implications) that a strictly individualized (private) perspective will miss.
This has everything to do with individual perspective and circumstance. That’s how people make decisions.
“This has everything to do with individual perspective and circumstance. That’s how people make decisions.”
You seem very determined on this point. Or perhaps we are talking past each other?
My point is that some people do take more into account (e.g., inequality, climate change, public safety) than merely what is in front of them, what affects them directly when making decisions. The way you are talking about it sounds to me unhelpfully narrow, selfish.
Yes, different people consider a different array of factors in different situations. Some generally take a more global outlook than others. Sometimes you are running late and just need to get your kid to school; a infinitesimally tiny effect on climate in 30 years may not be foremost on your mind that morning. Is that selfish?
It’s hard for me to call someone selfish for seeing things differently than I do. The solution is, I believe, to incentivize, not judge.
“It’s hard for me to call someone selfish for seeing things differently than I do. The solution is, I believe, to incentivize, not judge.”
There are many other possibilities besides incentivizing and judging. You like carrots. I think carrots are less effective than clear rules that communicate proscribed behaviors and are enforced consistently and fairly.
If we ramped up the penalties for driving without due attention over time to something intimidating (car crushing, loss of license, lien on property, income-based fines, etc.) I think we might all agree that the care with which people would pilot their autos would increase, probably significantly.
We are of course doing nothing like this.
You seem to be spooked by this approach, but given the very real and widely distributed costs of automobility which we all can appreciate I think the onus is on you to explain why you’d prefer to give out M&Ms rather than stiff penalties for thoughtlessness-while-behind-the-wheel.
Can’t specifically state for Jonathan, but I’m thinking “car culture” is the sense of prioritizing auto transportation (convenience) over everything else, and the normalizing of the consequences of such. Continually letting drivers off the hook for what police/judges/jury consider an “honest mistake” while driving reinforces the idea that people don’t need to take real, full responsibility for the incredible power they wield when they get behind the wheel.
“Dismantling” that culture can simply mean prioritizing the safety of PEOPLE over the convenience/mobility of CARS (why do autos tend to get the shortest/most direct routes when their operators have the least amount of physical effort required compared to those who walk/ride/bus?). Change/design streets to force cars to drive more slowly and reduces driver complacency, and put policies/laws in place that make drivers fully accountable for their “mistakes”.
“prioritizing the safety of PEOPLE over the convenience/mobility of CARS”
this is a false dichotomy…and it speaks to the core of why the “kill all cars” paradigm is actually counterproductive
**we can do both simultaneously**
everyone wants safety, everyone rational…drivers don’t want to hurt cyclists, they just want to get to their destination
we can have best-in-the-world bike infrastructure AND handle commuter traffic
this idea of “if it’s good for car commuters it’s bad for cyclists” is absolutely wrongheaded and counterproductive
So how would you propose we realize your plan, maximize two variables simultaneously?
“So how would you propose we realize your plan, maximize two variables simultaneously?”
We use all the tools at our disposal…
One example, mainly these days urban planning is all about data modeling and analysis.
We need to understand that simple truth that 2x a day 5 days a week a lot of people are going very specific places. We need to model and plan ways to make rush hour traffic flow, not be congested.
Another example, use data analysis to plan bike routes that are safe and convenient.
On the flip side, we build a strong community by doing a lot of things that bikeportland.org encourages like neighborhood events and such to promote and educate people on all the options besides cars.
It’s a multi-faceted approach but the idea is we don’t start from a notion of, “Bad for cars, good for everyone” philosophy.
“we don’t start from a notion of, ‘Bad for cars, good for everyone’ philosophy”
I take no pleasure starting from that notion, but unfortunately that is what we face. Ivan Illich figured this out in the early seventies. And many more have come to this conclusion since.
Gil Penalosa, for instance, who famously asks:
”Should we be building cities for cars or for people?”
The fact that this doesn’t sit well with you is unfortunate, but hardly makes all those smart people who have long since figured out the zero sum situation cars introduce into cities wrong. The onus is on you to show how these folks are mistaken.
“We need to understand that simple truth that 2x a day 5 days a week a lot of people are going very specific places. We need to model and plan ways to make rush hour traffic flow, not be congested.”
Ha ha ha. No we don’t.
If traffic isn’t congested at rush hour, then the roads are way overbuilt. And the highways will become more popular, people will live further away, and eventually the highways will be congested again.
I sure would like to hear your specific plans someday. Your generic criticisms have run their course.
“One example, mainly these days urban planning is all about data modeling and analysis.
We need to understand that simple truth that 2x a day 5 days a week a lot of people are going very specific places. We need to model and plan ways to make rush hour traffic flow, not be congested.”
You mention urban planning and rush hour traffic together. But you don’t mention that one of the central pushes of urban planning is to reduce the need for commuting, and even more so reduce the need for driving. “Making traffic flow” during rush hour by any means other than reducing the number of cars on the road at rush hour just leads to the return of congestion.
Urban planning is not on your side in this.
Sorry Sikoler, but as of the last IPCC report on climate change no realistic plans for modern future include personal automobiles. We have now crossed the rubicon and autos have become a dangerous relic. From here on in , those that support thier widespread use will be viewed by future historians as villains .
Don’t conflate driving a car with burning fossil fuel. They often coincide currently, but will start to diverge more and more in the near future.
I’m sorry, Kitty, but that is foolish talk.
Just because a vanishingly small fraction manages to plug their EV into a wind turbine tells us nothing about where this going, whether this could scale. The entire system is positively drenched in fossil fuels, from A to Z. Materials, manufacturing, delivery, maintenance, the grid, it is *all* impossible without fossil fuels at every step.
It will have to scale. There is no alternative.
If you disagree, I will bet you $10,000 that in 2030, the vast majority of Americans will still be driving, regardless of what happens with the climate.
You are going to argue with physics, with meteorology?
Your insistence means nothing.
This is our problem. We in the US have for centuries gotten used to lording it over everyone else, over the planet. But eventually (soon enough) our position of apparent dominance will come to an end, and the rest of the world will cease to do our bidding. When that happens all your foot stomping won’t amount to a hill of beans.
Look, I agree with you about the underlying problem. Where we disagree is at whether there is any hope of mass societal social change, or whether we’re going to need a technological fix. I simply don’t have as much hope in reforming our society as you apparently do. Yes, at some point circumstance will force the issue, but by that point it will be far, far, far too late. Since I don’t want to wait until then, I’m looking for a fix that can change our trajectory. I get you don’t think we’ll find one. So once again… we are both speculating about what the future will bring. I’m not going to further try to out speculate you. What will happen will happen, regardless of what either of us predicts.
“Where we disagree is at whether there is any hope of mass societal social change, or whether we’re going to need a technological fix.”
I’d rephrase that slightly.
Are we as a society capable of acting prudently under conditions we can both imagine/seem to agree are likely? Unlike with meteorology, if enough of us believe this it will come to pass. As for technological fixes, a long series of these have arguably gotten us into this mess.
“Since I don’t want to wait until then, I’m looking for a fix that can change our trajectory.”
I am not suggesting we wait either. A fix would be good, but how about one that pays dividends, generates positive feedbacks?
“What will happen will happen, regardless of what either of us predicts.”
I guess, but if that is your general stance there would be exactly no reason to converse here.
This is why I support a carbon tax.
“IPCC report on climate change no realistic plans for modern future include personal automobiles”
We live in the USA not the IPCC.
Sorry I couldn’t help myself…but the point is valid. The IPCC isn’t some kind of document that we the people (who run this country theoretically) have voted on and approved.
It is not relevant to the discussion at hand.
“We live in the USA not the IPCC.”
That’s some strange talk.
Can you explain why you think limits* don’t apply to us in the USA?
* my interpretation of what you are saying
“Cars are unmatched in functionality.”
Have you heard of buses?
“.”Have you heard of buses? ……or b-i-c-y-c-l-e-s?”
Try to run 3 errands at extreme points across town while dropping off kids and picking kids up on a bike. It’s physically impossible to bike with 8 bags of groceries, kids, and cargo in any comparable manner.
Or think about small business owners…
Really this is bordering on crazy talk…if I have to elucidate all the things you can do with cars that bikes cannot do this whole conversation is pointless.
In other words I’m relying on your common sense…if none exists then we’re done here.
“Try to run 3 errands at extreme points across town while dropping off kids and picking kids up on a bike. It’s physically impossible to bike with 8 bags of groceries, kids, and cargo in any comparable manner.”
It sounds to me like you either
* are spooked by the mere thought, or
* have not tried this
Because many people do what you are describing with a bike/trailer/cardo-hauler. Where there is a will… It is tiresome in 2018 to be told that it can’t be done . Having no experience with something like this, being uncertain how you might approach it are not the same thing as finding it physically impossible, being unable to do this.
You’re describing a system designed an built around a single form of transportation, one definition of ‘car culture’.
I hope you can realize that your perceptions of what is possible is based on 100 years of investment prioritized for that one form of transportation, even your perceptions that you need 8 bags of groceries at a time is a function of that investment, including land use policy.
Oh, I see what you meant to say.
“Cars are unmatched in functionality when:
1. You consider extreme examples that are unlike the vast majority car trips.
2. You ignore that complicated and expensive infrastructure has been created and is being maintained to support car use and the sprawl that it has enabled. And the extreme examples in number 1 were created as an extension of over dependence on cars.
3. You don’t consider e-cargo bikes, choosing to live in a population dense urban environment, choosing shopping, work choices school etc. to limit car use.
4. You believe that our current public transportation system is as good as it gets. And, don’t believe that if we invested a fraction of the money that we waste on cars into better public transportation the majority of urban/ suburban Americans could go without personal car ownership, insurance, parking costs etc. and only use a car when there is a specific need.
5. You believe that our current car-centric lifestyle is sustainable, that the IPCC report was bogus, that EVs will save us even though most of U.S. electricity is generated with CO2 production as a byproduct. Or that the children you are driving to 3 different schools will thank you for those glorious days of rolling around in a mobile living room when they are dealing with all of the disastrous effects of a 1.5-2 C rise in global temperature.
6. You like to live in a car sewer where wealthy people can purchase lives that are insulated from the noise, smell and danger of cars and poor or moderate income people live with the daily anxiety of their children, pets or themselves being hit by cars. And, they find it difficult to walk for any significant distance without having to navigate speeding and distracted drivers. And, people are afraid to let their children walk to school because of drivers.
7. No one has ever told you that obesity rates due to inactivity have dramatically increased in the US causing an extremely expensive public health crisis; and that this is associated with lower SES and living in areas that are hostile to walking and exercise because of traffic.
8. You recognize that car dependence has created the problems that it is designed to solve, but believe that our current predicament is permanent and children being hit by drivers is the price of doing business.
Other than that, and ignoring that a large number of people in the world in diverse settings live without a car and owning a car would not improve their quality of life, cars are unmatched in functionality.
Or maybe cars are unmatched in their functionality to create a dangerous, inequitable and unsustainable transportation system.
Tldr: My salad spinner is also unmatched in its functionality, but it would not be wise to design my entire kitchen and diet around my salad spinner.
People that choose to “run errands” at 3 extreme points of the metro area aren’t really the type of people we should be accommodating with our transportation system. No wonder we have crippling traffic every day…
There are places on Earth where a much greater share of personal trips are taken on mass transit, foot and bike and where, as a consequence, there are far fewer fatal road crashes. All the while, people are getting to where they want to go and the economy’s doing fine. Cars are useful but America relies on them way too much.
>>> Cars are useful but America relies on them way too much. <<<
I agree with this 100%. The problem is that breaking that reliance will be hugely expensive, and no one seems to have the stomach to pay what it would take to redo the last 75 years of development. I think it will be far easier to find ways to reduce the problems associated with cars (pollution, safety, etc.) thank to break our dependence on them. (That said, some trips would be easier to eliminate than others.)
The time’s coming when it’ll cost more to keep using cars than to develop alternatives. Economics alone — never mind safety, environment, climate change — will push Portland away from car-based transport toward mass transit, biking and walking. I don’t know how long the average commute has to get before voters finally break. In Seattle things got pretty dire before Sound Transit 3 passed.
Let’s resist the urge, the habit to always only tally the costs of action (replace automobility).
The costs of inaction (of pretending automobility can continue) could easily be greater.
It will continue.
You are fond of asserting this, and are of course free to continue doing this. But prudence would suggest tallying the costs on both sides of the ledge, in case you are wrong.
As much as I see the necessity, the argument that society will make huge sweeping changes because it would be prudent to do so is simply not convincing to me.
But I hope you’re right.
Can you be more specific? The analogy should be self-explainatory.
It’s not self-explanitory to you, we can agree on that.
Tell me what you don’t understand about it and I will try to help you.
JM said that in order to solve these problems we need to “dismantle car culture.” 9watts defined car culture as “broad immunity from consequences that arise from driving around with too little attention”.
Do you think that doing away with broad immunity from consequences that arise from driving around with too little attention is analogous to “demanding chefs not use anything metal”? If so, please explain how.
The analogy would be appropriate only if I were forced to share the kitchen with the chef, had to pass through that kitchen to accomplish any of what I need to do elsewhere, and the chef was a clumsy idiot who totally sucked at cooking and tended to throw knives and meat cleavers around. While drunk and looking at his phone.
A metal knife is to cooking what a car is to transportation?
Maybe the analogy would be better if “knife” was replaced with “18,000 BTU Gas Range with Convection Oven”. Hundreds of millions of people make trips every day without using cars.
Even then, I don’t anyone injured by a gas range, especially by someone else using one, and I don’t think they’ve had many negative impacts on cities or public health, as have cars.
“Cars are unmatched in functionality. To “dismantle” everyday people’s ability to use cars is absolutely impossible because people must have the ability to use powered vehicles that can carry several passengers and cargo long distances.”
“Dismantling car culture” doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating all use of cars.
Cars may be “unmatched in functionality” currently, for some people, for some uses. Otherwise your statement is wrong. I (and many people) can walk or bike to many places in our daily lives faster than we can drive and park, way more cheaply and conveniently.
“People MUST have the ability to use powered vehicles….”? Not nearly as much as you may think. I lived in a town with NO motor vehicle access, at least not larger than a Vespa. Tens of millions of people live in cities without driving or riding in motor vehicles. They’re not living independent of all use of all motor vehicles, but then nobody here is talking about eliminating all use of all motor vehicles.
I believe that the students family could use the citizen initiated citation process in this case. If it isn’t a serious injury the vulnerable road user law would not apply but this seems like a fairly easy case to prove failure to yield to a person in a crosswalk.
Exactly. If the police can conduct crosswalk stings and fine people for not yielding, why can’t the driver in this case, at the very least, be cited for failure to yield? It’s unmarked but still a legal crosswalk.
Good question. If someone hit or pushed the kid without help from a car it would probably be a different story.
Driving a car insulates you from the environment and negative consequences.
If someone hit or pushed a kid accidentally, it would end up much the same, but without someone calling an ambulance. I’m just glad she wasn’t seriously hurt.
To be successful in court, a prosecutor has to prove intent to commit a crime. Breaking a law is not enough.
You can get a speeding ticket without intending to speed.
If you want to talk traffic infraction and not crimes, the burden of proof is pretty low. But go to court and challenge your ticket. The policeman who wrote the ticket will testify to the judge that you were speeding and present evidence. You will have to convince the judge that you did not intend to speed. What will you use as your defense? My speedometer is broken? He will say, “Do you have a functioning speedometer?” “Yes, your honor.” Or, “No, your honor.” The Judge will then say, “Why not?” Either way you are stuck with negligent behavior.
Who would claim their speedometer is broken? The same person who has a kid claimed the dog ate their homework?
“I hereby find you guilty of using a cliched and lame excuse! Get this bozo out of my courtroom!”
Well, exactly. If you were speeding, it’s going to be hard to convince a judge that you were not aware that you were speeding. Intent is pretty clear.
Ummm… really? I’ve can think of tons of believable varieties of “I spaced out for a little while – I didn’t realize I was going that fast!” or “I didn’t know that was the speed limit in that area, I must have missed the sign!” I know I’ve heard a couple of them in real situations, even though the police actually giving out speeding tickets seems exceedingly rare nowadays.
The underlying problem is that, in general, Americans don’t regard driving as a deadly serious activity that requires an adult’s full attention, 100% of the time, without impairment of any sort. In fact, I would submit that there are adults without recognized impairments who in an ideal society shouldn’t be driving because they (we?) are too distractible just by our thoughts and things we see out on the road.
>>> Americans don’t regard driving as a deadly serious activity that requires an adult’s full attention, 100% of the time, without impairment of any sort <<<
I believe this is an impossible standard than no one here could live up to.
I don’t think we’ll get to 100%, but that ought to be the goal. Judging by the number of people I see using mobile devices while driving, eating while driving, doing personal hygiene while driving, etc., and the negative reaction I receive when I tell my friends, “Hey, how about we just wait a minute while you do that, then we can get going again?”, my belief is that most people don’t set 100% full attention on driving as their goal. All those other things can and should be done while not driving.
On that we totally agree.
You say you agree. And yet your comment to which Alex is responding doesn’t allow for, anticipate, or suggest his far more useful, constructive, engaged perspective.
Well then let me lay it out for you. I do not believe that most people are capable of giving a complex cognitive task such as driving their complete 100% attention at all times.
I also don’t think people should be putting on their makeup while they’re driving.
And yet you are reluctant to craw any conclusions, suggest any changes that might reduce the potential consequences of this ubiquitous misalignment.
Except of course wait for micro-chips to take over…..
I have suggested many changes, here and elsewhere. Some in this very thread.
I recall the M&Ms.
Killing someone ought to be, at the very least, a traffic infraction.
Regardless of circumstance?
If it involves a motor vehicle, yes!
Can you explain why you would be concerned about this?
I think intent and circumstance are foundational to any system of justice.
And yes, I fully agree that currently many people who commit misdeeds are going unpunished, and that this too is unjust.
“intent and circumstance are foundational”
OK, but why cast the net so narrowly?
Intent: I am going to infer that you are inferring a narrowly conceived intent want to get kid dropped off in time for school but there is no reason not to conceptualize intent to include others my intent must include not hurting, maiming, killing others with similar objectives. If I fail at that more broadly conceived intent then I should be held accountable.
Candice Palmer looking straight ahead instead of tending to her dog in the back seat while driving on Multnomah Blvd would have made it far less likely she would maim Reese Wilson with her car.
Circumstance: adding a car into the mix changes the risks, the potential for harm. Everyone knows this. And there is no need to pretend otherwise.
Marvin Ford riding a donkey instead of driving a pickup would have been incapable of killing Hank Bersani on Hwy 99W.
Yes. Let them go to court and contest the infraction if they feel there are circumstances that made the killing unavoidable.
That’s the whole point. There could be no contesting, regardless of circumstance.
Uh, well, would you rather encourage students to cross there, or have them cross at the traffic light that is 50 yards to the east of Flint? The answer is not always more infrastructure.
Kids are crossing there because it’s convenient. If you know a way to get middle school kids to cross at the “right” intersection rather than another legal but unmarked intersection, I think we parents of middle school kids would love to hear it!
From a strictly legal standpoint, if there is a marked crosswalk 50 yards from where this happened, would that invalidate the unmarked crosswalk, and make it not a legal crossing?
Oregon law only requires you to use a pedestrian tunnel or bridge 814.060. Portland law requires you use a crosswalk if within 150′ it doesn’t not say you’re required to use a marked crosswalk over an unmarked one 16.70.210 and their definition of a crosswalk is the same as Oregon’s.
I’m sure I’ve seen it, but cannot find it now.
i thought u guys resolved this in 2016 w/ the scholarly input of famous legal mind:
October 7, 2016 at 9:28 pm
Yes, it looks like marking only one crosswalk instead of both at an intersection is the equivalent of marking one, and putting up an “illegal to cross” sign and barrier at the other one.
Today, after becoming aware of the laws, I saw examples all over of single marked crosswalks, including ones where the nearby (less than 150′ away) unmarked crossing had curb extensions and ramps. According to the law, that’s absurd, since it means money is being spent all over the city to encourage people to cross illegally.
I don’t trust that guy (q) so I looked up the article that comment came from:
It was John Lascurettes who deserves the credit for finding this:
“Crosswalk.” “Crosswalk” means any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere that is distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway that conform in design to the standards established for crosswalks under ORS 810.200 (Uniform standards for traffic control devices). Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.
Then look here–same thing:
Whenever marked cross- walks have been indicated, such cross- walks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.
When two streets cross in a “+”, how many intersections are there? Most people would say 1, but it sounds as if you are suggesting there may be 4. Am I reading you correctly?
The marked crosswalk takes precedence over the statutory crossing *at that location* when the marked crossing differs from the statutory. An intersection can have a marked and unmarked crosswalk on opposite sides of the cross street and both are legal crossings.
“An intersection can have a marked and unmarked crosswalk on opposite sides of the cross street and both are legal crossings.”
I think that’s how it should be, but how does that jibe with Oregon’s: “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection”
or with Portland’s, “Whenever marked cross- walks have been indicated, such cross- walks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection”?
Your answer sounds the opposite of those. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just want to understand why you are right, if you are.
I’ve never heard of there being a hierarchy of cross walks. A cross walk is a cross walk, regardless of how much paint there is. I have a hard time understanding why this should not be so.
They just added zebra stripes at Flint and Page fairly recently too. I’m all too familiar with this busy street since I live off Vancouver Ave in between Russell and Page. I frequent Ex Novo and bring my dog to the park across the street. In fact my dog was almost hit 4 years ago and that prompted me to write PBOT about N Flint. I let them know it was craziness not having striped crosswalks or speed bumps so close to a school and park. That and it’s a busy bike greenway.
So years later the speed bumps go in, but little has changed. People fly down this street. And yes, this includes occasional commuters on bike going too fast when there is congestion.
Spend a half hour having a beer on the patio at Ex Novo and you’ll be audibly reminded too often hearing the undersides of cars scraping against the street because they are going too fast over the speed bumps.
“Many of us had bad feelings about the chaotic traffic on North Flint Avenue during school drop-off.”
I followed the link you provided and did not find any comments specific to this issue. In particular, I did not see where anyone was expressing concerns about children trying to cross Russell at Flint. Being that there is a traffic light at Russell and Vancouver, about 50 yards east of Flint, it would seem the student chose a riskier place to cross. Is it now PBOT job to “do something about this” so that kids can cross safely here rather than at the traffic light?
Yes, it’s the job of PBOT and people who drive cars to make this intersection with a legal, unmarked crosswalk safer for vulnerable users.
It turns out that my son, a Tubman eighth grader who walks to school, witnessed this collision. I don’t have any extra information to add about the collision itself, though I do know he gave a witness statement to police.
But I do know that parents have been talking about that particular intersection quite a bit because of the potential (and now realized) danger. Faubion was at Tubman for a while, but more of those kids were taking the bus to school. Tubman mornings seem much busier, likely because more kids are walking and biking from home to school. There also seems to be a lot more car traffic than with Faubion. I asked other parents to please consider carpooling if they weren’t already.
There are almost six hundred kids attending Tubman. It’s a large population going to one place in a very short window of time.
I’d encourage folks who bike through that area in the mornings during drop offs to consider staying on Vancouver for a few blocks more and turning right onto Tillamook and then left onto Flint, and bypassing the school area completely. This is a change I’ve made in my morning route. It’d be much better if there were fewer cars on Flint, but reducing commuting bike traffic might help reduce the volume overall. It’s also a lot easier to bike if you don’t have to dodge kids and cars.
I’d also ask folks who drive cars down Flint who aren’t going to Tubman to stay off of Flint. But I’m not sure those folks are reading BikePortland.
We need PBOT to step in and look at the safety situation for a few blocks around the school.
“Faubion was at Tubman for a while”
Can you explain? Who is Faubion?
(Sorry, replied as a comment below, not reply to this question.)
I believe Faubion was a school name.
I think it was a typo; she meant Fabio, who is well known for turning heads and causing distraction.
My son is also an 8th grader at Tubman. He thought that the student that was hit was on a bicycle. Does that jibe with what you heard?
No, my understanding is that she was walking. My son didn’t mention a bike. I’ll check with him later.
I’m confused why you would advocate for reducing bike congestion. Wouldn’t more vulnerable road user “traffic” help increase caution on the part of drivers or at least slow them down? I’d rather see the street fill up with pedestrians and bikes than to suggest we send them elsewhere. But tell me why I’m wrong.
Yeah, I hear you, but many folks on bikes are commuting to downtown and not looking out for middle school aged kids, not always the most attentive pedestrians, who are crossing Flint from east to west to get to school. I’m not suggesting bikes are the problem. However, as a person on a bike, I have found it’s faster and less stressful for me to continue a few blocks down the quiet part of Vancouver south of Russell and then turn onto Tillamook.
We folks on bikes aren’t used to thinking of this as a school drop-off zone because the school was closed for many years. It’s a change. It’s okay for us to think about changes to our routes that don’t have us biking through a school zone.
There are 600 kids all going to same place within about 30 minutes. If they’re on bikes, great. If you’re commuting through, maybe choose a different route.
Apologies to all the kids here, in particular the one who was walking to school and got slammed by a motor vehicle operator. No ticket? That’s appalling. If the child had been found to be in error (walking to school, what were they thinking?) no doubt the “officer” would have followed the ambulance to drop off the ticket. Of course the driver “feels bad”. But let’s be clear: “feels bad” is when you salt your coffee or drop your phone in the toilet. Bang a child with a large machine? –no adequate expressions for this, rest of comment cancelled.
I ride Flint past Tubman, and in my opinion diverting cyclists off it would make it much *more* dangerous. Drivers rarely care that much about speed bumps by themselves, and will often accelerate more erratically when they’re around. With regular cycle traffic added to the mix, most drivers end up driving slowly behind a bike in front of them until they have a speed-bump free stretch long enough to pass in the opposing traffic lane, which doesn’t happen on Flint until you clear the school and reach the bridge.
On top of that, the primary reason why there aren’t even more cars taking Flint during rush hour is that us cyclists are forcing drivers to go more slowly (and actually follow the school zone speed limit). Almost nobody would choose Flint simply by looking at a map, the people on it are most likely routed there via wayfinding apps, which take into account traffic on the adjoining routes and average trip times of users to determine where to route. If the few cars that do take Flint can shorten their trip time by doing so, the apps will just route more on when traffic is busy on Williams/Vancouver or Interstate. Slowing them down limits that, and since bikes aren’t generally routing via wayfinding apps they don’t increase traffic if their trip times are shorter.
I think folks in cars choose Flint because you can’t turn right onto Broadway from Vancouver, heading south. So, if you are west of MLK and want to take the Broadway Bridge, you can either drive east to get onto MLK to Broadway, or, really, the most obvious route is to take Flint.
I actually contacted the Portland police to complain about the speed of cars on Flint a few years ago. Folks drive way too fast down Flint. It’s not an arterial but they are treating it as such.
Ah, but that’s my point. if I look at a map of the area and want to get from anywhere north of Legacy-Emanuel to the Pearl, without *already knowing* that I can’t turn right at Broadway and Vancouver, I still wouldn’t pick Flint as a cut-through street because a map implies that I *can* stay on Vancouver and turn right at Broadway. There are no visual indicators to let me know a right turn is prohibited there unless I look up a Google Street View of the intersection.
So the people who do use it as a cut-through fall into two categories – they either know the route because they know the area (and therefore probably also know it’s a school zone), or they don’t know the route but are being routed onto it by a wayfinding app because *it* knows that they can’t turn right on Broadway. That second set of drivers are by far the most dangerous, they’re driving with one eye on their phone to tell them where to go and they have no idea there’s a school on their route until they get to it. Wayfinding apps will also route drivers exiting I-5 at Broadway to take Flint north instead of Williams, if they’re heading for the Mississippi area.
The road is tacitly endorsed as a cut-through by the city currently, even if they did toss some speed bumps on it to “encourage” people to cut through slowly. Bikes on that street actually force drivers to drive slowly and discourage wayfinding apps from routing them to it; if all the bike commuters started following your advice, you’d quickly see a huge influx of cars taking their place. Many of them would probably be the ones that almost hit me every day heading south on Vancouver while they’re trying to pile into an already-full freeway entrance lane – they can’t fit, give up on the freeway and continue heading south on Vancouver hoping to cross the river later on. If they’re using a wayfinding app to pick the shortest route to work, guess where it will route them…
Yes, sorry! Faubion PK-8 was temporarily relocated to the Tubman building during a big renovation/construction project. That’s a different neighborhood, and many of those kids took a school bus. Since Tubman is the middle school for the neighborhood, my sense is that many more kids are walking and biking there and getting dropped off by parents, versus when Faubion was using that building.
On a different but related subject, I regularly walk by Harriet Tubman during the school day and routinely see several dozen or more student bikes locked to the railing along Flint in front of the school.
They just spent a bunch of money retrofitting this building, why didn’t that work also include new, upgraded bike parking for as many students who want to use it?
The old bike racks at this school were pathetic in type, weather protection and number of spaces available, and I believe they are currently inaccessible because they are inside the ongoing construction zone.
We do not need to continue to allow minimally (at best) trained amateurs to operate killing machines. We hand out drivers licenses to minors after a laughable written and “behind the wheel” test with no continuing education requirements. Would you tolerate that from your dentist? CPA? Electrician?
And suggesting that modifying/ending car culture would amount to limiting people to 20 mph travel is the strawman. Commercial pilots and train engineers go through rigorous training. But when people end up injured or dead in collisions with motorists the internal defenses within the public kick in which says ” I could have made a mistake like that.” Because we all know it; we all know that very few of us possess the skills and concentrated effort needed to safely operate such powerful machines.
And yes, this is my fiercest anti-car rant which I know isn’t practical. But on a news item which can best be summed up with “middle school student hit by car operator while walking to school (in a crosswalk!) and city police shrug”, I’d rather go full “war on cars”
Slow your roll, everyone. According to the unofficial, but fully binding manual of Portland street safety, we should wait for a fatality before making a small incremental change.
Great, another Vision Zero success! (It was not a fatality.) Pats on the back all around city hall!
Marked crosswalk; sunny day; taken by ambulance to hospital. Zero Consequences.
It is not just Tubman. more than once I have been pinched to the curb on 26th at Cleveland High. the last time, I used my “outside voice” to draw attention to myself, and the embarrassment I imparted on the “little darling” in berating the oblivious haus frau may have a more lasting effect on the driver than a ticket.
Cleveland is terrible for many reasons. One them is pedestrians behaving badly. I’ve wanted to use my outside voice for the pedestrians while biking past there.
All children are bad pedestrians. That’s why we have school zones and take special caution around schools. You’ve broken a very basic principal of driving if you hit a kid.
I love your enthusiastic certainty, untainted by the ambiguities of life! With this approach we could greatly simplify our traffic law!
I love sitting at Ex-Novo enjoying a beer watching the madness unfold. N.Flint is madness at that school.
Even if there is not a fine the citation/warning, the process is needed to collect data and prevent these accidents in the future.
Medical transport triggers a police report and legally compels a DMV report.
My car has been stolen twice, and each time when recovered, the police did nothing other than remove it from the stolen vehicles list. My bicycle was stolen, internet sleuths helped me identify the perpetrator. Police helped me recover the bike, but did nothing else. A group I was dining were accosted while seated outdoors at a restaurant, police were called, individual was asked to depart by police.
In each case, a law was broken and perpetrators identified. Police did nothing.
“Car culture at work” is a glib way to overlook the fact that the Portland Police don’t issue citations or pursue charges all the time on what are deemed to be low level incidents, crime, thefts, etc.
Get over yourself. This isn’t car culture. It’s a city that is groaning under the strain and no one is going to write tickets over minor offenses. And yes, this one seems minor, as much as you see it symbolic of a larger problem, police seldom write tickets to support symbolism.
I am going to guess you are white and have a roof over your head.
You might sing a different tune if you were poor, homeless, a protester, or a person of color. Our police stay busy, just not with situations you notice.
Nice to throw out the racial stereotyping, that’s a great way to keep a conversation going.
But you’re right, I am. And I don’t expect the police spend much time with me since you are right, they are busy with issues in areas with poverty, with homelessness, with higher crime rates. And you just made my point. This isn’t about car culture.
“The police are busy with issues in areas with poverty, with homelessness, with higher crime rates.”
Actually it doesn’t work quite like that. The crime rates have nothing to do with it; the police just look harder, spend all the time harassing people in those sections of town, and eventually find pretexts.
White guy gets his car stolen; police do nothing. White guy gets his bike stolen, finds the thieves, the police do nothing. White guy accosted at a restaurant, police do nothing.
I guess I don’t see hitting a child with my car as a minor offense. Any number of variables could have resulted in a much worse outcome. You would probably feel different if it was your child.
The examples that you mention would require much more effort from the police than writing a traffic citation.
Police give out traffic citations for much less than driving into a child walking to school in a crosswalk all of the time.
You are right, I probably would. Any number of variables could have, but they didn’t. The cop had to make a decision, and the decision was not to ticket one parent when there was no sign (yet) of serious injuries, or another parent demanding action, at a busy street corner in a busy part of the morning.
And of course police give out citations all the time for less minor offenses.
But that demonstrates the opposite of a claim of “car culture” right?
The issue is does this demonstrate some sort of “car culture” where offenses by cars are given a free pass. And I think nothing about this incident demonstrates that, instead is demonstrates a cop given a middle class parent a pass for screwing up and bumping a kid with a car.
It’s stupid for sure, but if anything it demonstrates middle class privilege, or busy cops, or whatever. But “car culture,” please.
“Bumping a kid with a car”?
Article says kid was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. That’s quite a “bump”.
“But that demonstrates the opposite of a claim of “car culture” right?”
One of the main tenets of car culture is that only cars should be on the road or at least that roads are for cars and anyone using them without a car is infringing on space designated for cars . Through the lens of car culture a child that is walking is less entitled to that space than a car.
Tickets given to cars for tail lights, speeding, parking, illegal u-turns etc. are to protect drivers from other drivers, so they are not evidence of the non existence of car culture.
This is car culture if a ticket is not given because not yielding to a pedestrian in a cross walk is a traffic violation and if the driver hits someone they are either negligent or intentionally harming someone.
The officer was already there, it would have been easy to give a ticket, but they did not. The most likely reason is that like you, they think its no big deal to hit children with cars, potentially believe that the child should not have been there anyway, and they are not aware of their bias against people using the road without a car.
Do you really think anyone thinks “its no big deal to hit children with cars”?
I mean, really.
A few comments up, someone referred to this incident as “bumping a kid with a car”, even though the kid was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
That statement was made in the context of a specific incident where the consequences were known to be minor. I interpret that much differently than accusing the police of being part of a culture that sees hitting children with cars is no big deal. I do not believe that culture exists.
You did ask, “Do you really think ANYONE thinks “it’s no big deal to hit children with cars”? And the answer is that at least one person commenting does seem to believe that, at least if the injuries are minor.
But yes, I agree there’s no “culture that sees hitting children with cars is no big deal”, and I’d guess just about everyone would agree it’s a big deal no matter how minor the injuries, perhaps because people realize that once a child is hit, whether they end up with a bruise vs. broken bones or worse comes down to almost to luck and chance.
I guess you were technically correct. Which is, of course, the best kind of correct.
Not a big enough deal to give a citation is “no big deal.”
Based on the bias demonstrated by some officers over the years, I don’t think it’s too far out to think that if the injuries aren’t severe some would look at it as “no harm, no foul” and tell the kid to be more careful; in a manner similar to the way that the above commenter continues to frame this incident.
You really have no idea what the officer was thinking, or why he or she decided not to issue a citation. You have no knowledge of what happened besides third-hand accounts of the incident reported in the media.
You mention that some officers have demonstrated bias over the years. While I don’t doubt this is true, I do reject the notion that that provides any evidence of what this officer was thinking under this set of circumstances.
Assigning presumed “group attributes” to an individual is the essence of profiling.
“Assigning presumed “group attributes” to an individual is the essence of profiling.”
But you keep committing something worse in my opinion. In your eagerness to individualize the situation, make this about the judge’s mindset, you disctract from the PATTERNS we all recognize, and which are far more consequential when it comes to justice, and the reasons why our society seems so unable to deliver it.
Aren’t “patterns” just what police who profile claim to be looking for?
You tell me.
Power is very unevenly distributed in this country. Patterns involving state violence concern me a whole lot more than putative patterns those same actors invoke as justification for their actions. The Rampart division of the LAPD also tried to claim they were doing important work. Right.
Your attempt to shift the focus , suggest equivalence reminds me of the phony claim by certain groups about voter fraud. 31 cases have been identified **out of 1 billion votes cast** since 2000 in this country. Meanwhile millions who should have been allowed to vote are kicked off the voter rolls, disfranchised, suppressed by those same interests crowing about their made-up bogeyman voter fraud.
I’m not “shifting blame” at all. I’m saying that concluding this police officer thinks it’s no big deal for a car to hit a child is an example of the same sorts of thinking that leads to profiling.
SD is not saying that we need to carefully monitor the police for possible bias because they have great power, a statement with which I would agree. SD is instead saying that this officer, in this case, thought something outrageous because other police have demonstrated bias in other situations. It’s not about right and wrong, it’s about drawing faulty conclusions about people without evidence, based solely on the idea that group membership means a person thinks or behaves a certain way.
If you want to understand what happened in this situation, you really need to start with some facts, of which we have few.
“If you want to understand what happened in this situation”
What would specifics we don’t already know add? I think we know plenty without any more forensics.* I’d be much more interested in taking three steps back, reflecting on what is going on all around us; how the pieces fit together; why justice is almost never served.
* Person driving car smashes into child in cross walk; child is transported to hospital in ambulance; law enforcement shrugs (as they tend to do, even in cases far more consequential, and for reasons we’ve already learned and discussed here in these pages thousands of times over).
Shrugged? How can you possibly conclude that? Do you have even the tiniest iota of evidence to support that possibility?
Perhaps the child stepped in front of the car in such a way that the driver had no opportunity to stop (kids get distracted too). Perhaps the officer was unable to ascertain with certainty what happened (writing tickets that aren’t supportable is abusive). Maybe the officer suspected the driver was at fault, was anguished about what happened, but just couldn’t figure a way to make a ticket stick. Maybe the officer and the driver had a good chuckle over the thought of some kid in the hospital and met later for cocktails.
We just don’t know. And when I don’t have facts, I try to withhold judgement. And when I can’t do that, I try not to start with the most outlandish conclusion, which is, in this case, that this officer sees children getting smashed into by a car as something to just shrug about.
HK, I agree with most of what you are saying, but it would make more sense if it were directed at someone else’s comments. You’ve attributed extraneous meaning to my comments and made assumptions from what I wrote that I didn’t make. No worries, we can continue this thread the next time a driver kills or harms someone and doesn’t receive a citation.
My fundamental point, and one that applies to your comments as well as those of others, is that we need to know the facts before drawing a conclusion.
>>> The officer was already there, it would have been easy to give a ticket, but they did not. The most likely reason is that like you, they think its no big deal to hit children with cars, potentially believe that the child should not have been there anyway, and they are not aware of their bias against people using the road without a car. <<<
Maybe you meant something different, but your conclusion seems to be that the driver deserved a ticket, and that the officer did not do their duty by failing to issue one. Maybe that's not what you meant, but if it is, I would ask what basis you have for believing the driver violated a law, and which one, and is it likely that the officer had sufficient evidence to make it stick? As far as I could see, no facts or allegations are presented in the description of the event that would suggest any particular ticket should have been issued.
ORS 811.028 Failure to stop and remain stopped for pedestrian.
Maybe I am missing something, but how do you hit a pedestrian with your car without violating this law? The same law where officers ticket people in safety enforcement actions.
As far as what I meant; I think that it is more likely and definitely not unreasonable to consider that the reason the officer did not issue a citation was due to a perception that it wasn’t a serious offense. It is also possible that the officer was not aware that this was a possible citation or that they thought the driver learned their lesson. As far as making it stick, this seems unlikely if there were witnesses and the driver did not deny hitting the person with their car. If there were mitigating circumstances that cleared the driver, I would expect those to be in the O article or be brought forward by people who are closer to the situation. I don’t think anyone is waiting to see if there is a bigger better citation that can be issued, but maybe this is possible.
I am not claiming to know what happened. This explanation is the simplest and is consistent with the way that non life threatening injuries to people driving, walking and biking are treated all of time.
Did I miss something? Where does it say what street the student was crossing? If they were crossing Flint at Russell, that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. People making the left onto Flint: quit passing aggressively in the corner!
If they were crossing Russell at Flint, that is _still legal_, although more risky because of rampant disregard of well-known crosswalk traffic laws, but just the sort of thing a human operating Any Vehicle should expect near a school. Expect, prepare for, and defend by slowing their own vehicle. I will drop my bike in front of you if I see a small pedestrian in the corner whilst you are, like, hitting your apex. Take it to the track.
Not looking and blindfolded are almost the same thing.
I’m curious about the minimum pedestrian volume requirements for installing crosswalks. Is there any negative about installing them, other than cost? Perhaps an idea that if there are too many people will ignore them?
It seems like a school is a special case. There may not be a high (4,000 per the chart) daily volume of people crossing, but twice a day there’s high demand for it, and the people crossing are especially vulnerable.
When nobody’s using a crosswalk, it creates no inconvenience for people driving. It’s not like a stop sign. Why not mark all the crossings near schools?
Oops, I read that wrong about the 4,000. I still wonder, though, why not do lots more marked crossings at schools. Is it the “false sense of safety” argument?
You probably shouldn’t believe everything you read. The school’s property ends about 350 feet south of Flint. The crash did not occur “..in front of Harriet Tubman..” as stated. PBOT places school zones up to 100 feet from school property, and school crosswalks are typically marked only near schools, or where schools agree to patrol those marked school crosswalks. Standard pedestrian crosswalks can be marked, but since all intersections have crosswalks, marking can be redundant. Also, I believe the student was struck crossing Flint. PBOT would encourage pedestrians to use the Vancouver signal controlled crossing to cross Russell.
10 over-get a ticket. Hit a kid, off the hook.
Hell, you can intentionally shoot someone and not even get arrested. It’s almost like we live in a complicated world!
I understand that you’re trying to show that there’s nuance to life and every situation can be different, but it’s not like this person bumped the kid in the crosswalk because they were fleeing someone with road rage who was threatening them or they had a swarm of bees suddenly fly into their car.
Years ago I got caught in a crosswalk sting operation and cited for a failure to yield. I was in the left lane on Powell and my view of the pedestrian was truly blocked by two large vehicles in front of me in the right lane (who were also pulled over). By the time I had a view of the pedestrian starting to walk out I braked hard but knew I couldn’t stop completely so rolled through as slowly as I could. Keep in mind the pedestrian wasn’t even halfway into the right lane yet, so there was technically no real risk of me colliding with her at the time. I still got a ticket. How is what I did worse than this driver who actually hit someone in the crosswalk, in an area with lower speeds and where they should have arguably been expecting more pedestrians?
You probably got a ticket because a traffic officer witnessed the event, and so knew specifically what law you had violated, and was able to provide evidence to support the allegation.
In this case, I don’t know whether a law was violated and a ticket was due. I don’t know how much evidence the responding officer had. And that’s the point. People here are second guessing what happened based on zero details about what occurred, and drawing ridiculous and unsupportable conclusions such as the responding officer thinks it’s no big deal for a car to crash into a pedestrian.
It would be far more productive, in my opinion, to focus on figuring out how to make this crossing safer, rather than looking for ways to demonize people with zero evidence of their motives or mindset. Some commenters have done just that, and that’s where I think we should focus our conversation.
“I don’t know how much evidence the responding officer had. And that’s the point.”
Some years back I received a $260 ticket, not for something the office witnessed (he pulled a guy over for running a red light, who convinced him I had made him do it – by passing him on the right with my bike). It was a circus, took endless time and hassle to sort out on my part, eand the officer didn’t even know the language of the statute for which he ticketed me. My point is, when someone is ticketed for something as conjectured and dubious as I was, and then someone else (in a car) violates actual laws and bumps/smashes/hits someone in a crosswalk who is then transported to a hospital, with witnesses, and yet receives no ticket you can perhaps see why folks come to these conclusions which you are saying are premature.
So… you got a dubious ticket from a different officer at some point in the past. What does that tell us about this situation?
You mention witnesses. What did they say happened?
“What does that tell us about this situation?”
I figured I would leave that for anyone to interpret as they see fit.
But since you asked me: The arbitrariness/bias when it comes to being ticketed.
-> Person on bike easy to ticket/teach a lesson/waste their time for dubious nonsense;
-> Person in car who not only breaks a law but sends someone to the hospital, no ticket.
“You mention witnesses. ”
…in the situation we’re discussing/Flint/crosswalk
But you see, what many of us are railing on about for this specific case is how it relates to that general “culture” thing that’s been mentioned many times. Obviously, different situations need to be looked at individually, but when instances similar to – or even worse than – this start to feel predictable in the outcome, it’s quite justifiable for people to feel a bit incredulous about the situation.
Yes, tickets can be issued in an arbitrary manner. And since we know nothing about what happened or what the witnesses said, we can conclude nothing about what happened in this particular situation.
Ryan — feeling incredulous or skeptical are rational reactions. I would totally support people digging in a bit and trying to discover the facts about what happened, that might allow us to conclude whether the outcome was reasonable given the circumstances. It may well not have been.
I’m arguing that in the absence of any information, it is not reasonable to draw rather extreme inferences about the mindset of the responding officer.
“we can conclude nothing”
You (and the long-not-heard-from wspob) are fond of saying this.
I continue to be perplexed by this. I think the facts we do know are more than enough to draw conclusions, make sense of the situation, proceed. Especially when we take into account the range of situations in which tickets *are* issued. That was my point in bringing up my case.
You draw a connection between a BS ticket you once got and this situation. I contend you have established no such connection, and are (perhaps unintentionally) disguising that fact by using the passive voice.
It’s like what Soren said in the Holzmann thread… you are stereotyping one individual (s/he doesn’t care about kids getting run over) based on what another did (issued a BS ticket). That is invalid thinking.
I am stereotyping no one.
I am questioning your we (always) need more facts before anyone can get cited stance.
I’d be happy to start with some facts. The police are biased? Fine. What did the witnesses say?
The VRU law has now been on the books for almost eleven years. People not in cars have been killed and seriously injured in Oregon by those in cars at comparable rates before and after passage of this law as far as I know.
Here’s a case in which it was applied (immediately I will note): https://bikeportland.org/2013/07/11/careless-driving-to-blame-for-death-of-woman-in-se-division-crosswalk-90164
I have no idea (I asked at the time but never got an answer) why it was applied here and yet not in dozens of other superficially similar cases before and since. And I realize that in this case on Flint no serious injury was sustained by the child in the cross walk, but I’m pretty confident that the probability of the VRU law being applied if that child had been seriously injured or even been killed is extremely low. There is an arbitrariness about when this law is invoked, due largely to our cultural reluctance to mete out severe consequences for acts of carelessness committed with the auto.
You will no doubt say that the particulars matter, are all important. But while I appreciate the risk of jumping to conclusions, the basic risks, vulnerabilities, responsibilities in these situations are crystal clear. Which is why in other jurisdictions they have Strict Liability.
Yes, I say the facts matter. Prejudice is not enough.
How is the concept of Strict Liability = prejudice?
“False dichotomy”? You’ve obviously made your mind up and aren’t bothered to see what’s actually going on, but whatever…
You conflate what I said about making safety for people a higher priority than car mobility/convenience as a “kill all cars” mentality. Hardly. As I’ve gotten older and have been able to experience many different countries/cultures/transportation environments all over the world, I can totally understand where people come from who are in the “kill all cars” camp, but stating that car convenience should be a lower priority is not the same as wanting them all gone. You think that we can increase safety for all people while simultaneously keeping car mobility at the top of the list of priorities, yet history is not on your side. While on the other hand, prioritizing alternate transportation modes has actually been shown to also increase safety for ALL people, strengthen local economies, reduce health care and insurance costs, reduce instances of preventable diseases…. But yeah, I’m just some wacko with no common sense that wants to destroy all cars.