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Opinion: Vehicular violence hits home again. We cannot ignore it again.

Posted by on January 26th, 2021 at 11:39 am

Memorial at Southeast 19 and Stark for victim hit and killed Monday.
(Photo: Sarah Mirk)

A man behind the wheel of a four-wheeled weapon raged through southeast Portland less than 24 hours ago. Many details remain unknown, but the underlying issues that led to yesterday’s tragedy are all too familiar.

The man who drove that silver Honda SUV didn’t kill, injure, and frighten “pedestrians” and “cyclists”. He did this to Portlanders — people with names and families and friends who should never be minimized to a convenient and narrow label so others can file it away as something that doesn’t impact them.

Some call what happened an “accident” (it wasn’t), many others are shocked. While it’s certainly shocking someone would do something so horrible to innocent people; it is not an aberration. Nor should it come as a surprise — at least not to those of us who’ve been paying attention to our broken traffic culture and those who enable and exploit it. We’ve seen this behavior before. I’m afraid it will continue until we all understand and embrace our role in what caused it, then do the work it takes to change.

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The suspect, who reportedly showed no remorse for his actions and was fully aware of what he did, shouldn’t be seen as a deranged monster. His actions are a natural evolution of a culture that doesn’t value human life on either side of the windshield and thinks it’s acceptable to act like you don’t.

We’ve been warning the community to take traffic violence seriously for many years now. I’m afraid it still hasn’t sunk in.

Remember back in 2006 when hosts of a popular local sports radio show promoted hatred and violence toward people on bikes? One of them said she carries bottles of water to throw at people outside her car. Another said, “If you are a cyclist you should know I exist, that I don’t care about you. That I don’t care about your life.” BikePortland was the only media outlet to take that seriously from the outset and we hounded the radio station until the host responded and the program manager apologized.

In 2017, following a spate of injuries, deaths, and damage from reckless drivers, I wrote an editorial that included, “The motor vehicle menace is out of control. Large steel vehicles and people inside them imbued with a feeling of invincibility fueled by a pervasive culture of selfishness and speed mixed with a systemic acceptance of its consequences has led to nothing short of chaos in our streets.”

Ten months later a man intentionally drove his car up onto a sidewalk on the downtown campus of Portland State University and plowed through several people, causing serious injuries.

Later that same year we reported on Todd Foulk, the former owner and producer of Portland Fashion Week, who said he believed the way to respond to people protesting in the street is to, “drive right thru killing as many as who will stand in my way.” There was also Hawthorne Cutlery owner David Rappoport, who wrote in an email to the Hawthorne Blvd Business Association list that, “Sometimes running over bicyclists and pedestrians is the only way they’ll learn.”

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The crime scene on Southeast Stark yesterday.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This past summer traffic violence became a regular occurrence. In June a Portland Police Bureau office drove recklessly through a crowd of people on the street during a protest. A few weeks later someone violently revved their engine and sped through a peaceful group bike ride in northeast Portland. Six days after that we reported on a City of Gresham employee who put an “All Live Splatter” sticker on their truck. These are just a few of the many vehicular assaults that took place.

Despite all this, too many leaders still don’t think we can do anything about it. Or even worse, they just ignore it. I’m afraid that’s a recipe for more tragedy.

In 2019, an advocate with The Street Trust mentioned the term “traffic violence” during testimony about a speed limit bill in Salem. One of the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation bristled at the mere mention of it and seemed to have trouble acknowledging that someone would intentionally use their vehicle to commit violence.

When Trump supporters used their vehicles to violently drive through downtown Portland streets in August, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Lovell had an opportunity to fortify our streets against the threat and denounce the behaviors. They failed on both accounts. “There was no indignation about people spraying mace or attempting to run over innocent people,” I wrote at the time.

Just last week I shared how our transportation bureau has not fully acknowledged the traffic violence problem or their potential role in addressing it. In response to a tragic 2020 that saw a record-level of traffic deaths and a big spike in reckless driving, the Portland Bureau of Transportation shirked an opportunity to show resolve and commitment to taking back our streets. This continues an unfortunate trend at PBOT.

In 2016, following the killing of Fallon Smart on Hawthorne Blvd by a reckless driver, former PBOT Director Leah Treat told The Oregonian, “I don’t know if there is anything anybody could have done to have prevented that fatality except for the driver… I don’t know how Vision Zero is going to address that kind of fatality.”

This casual acceptance of vehicular violence and recklessness as a random occurrence we can’t do anything about is unacceptable and must change. I’m afraid more people will die if we don’t.

Our enforcement policies need to be better at flagging high-risk drivers. Our mental and public health services need to find at-risk people and give them more support. Our transportation agencies need to fortify our streets by adding more concrete and protected spaces wherever and whenever possible. Our community needs to call out traffic violence in every form, every time; whether it’s spoken, typed, or acted upon.

I’m afraid of how we’re handling this issue; but I refuse to be afraid of our streets. So many times this past year we saw the power streets have to unite us. “Whose streets? Our streets!” isn’t just a chant, it’s an acknowledgment that we all own a piece of the responsibility to keep them safe.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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citylover
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citylover

Thank you for this: “I refuse to be afraid of our streets.” While it is hard to harness this today, as pedestrians and cyclists we can’t cede these spaces where we have a right to be. I go over what I’ve taught my kids about safety now that they go out on their own biking and walking and are still young. 1) never cross mid-block 2) even if you have the walk signal don’t assume traffic is stopping, someone might make a right turn, run the light etc. 3) make eye contact with drivers so you know you have been seen. I redouble the effort to follow these common sense rules myself.

My family lives near Buckman Elementary. I wanted to let folks know that a vigil is planned tonight at 5pm for the victims of the vehicle attack yesterday. It will be at the field adjacent to Buckman Elementary (SE 19th and Stark). As many know, two victims were biking and the rest were walking.

hamiramani
Subscriber

Thank you for the information regarding the vigil.

Bob R.
Guest
Bob R.

Back on August 29th, KGW’s Pat Dooris played footage of pro-Trump protestors in vehicles charging at pedestrians (mostly BLM protestors) in a crosswalk. The pedestrians clearly had a walk signal and every legal right to be crossing the street. Pat Dooris characterized this on-air as “protestors blocking traffic”. I happen to know a producer at KGW and I messaged him about it. His response was that conservatives complain that Pat is too liberal. So I guess that means the coverage was fair and balanced. To my knowledge, KGW has never issued a correction or apology for portraying pedestrians getting run into by vehicles while having the walk signal as somehow responsible for the violence.

citylover
Guest
citylover

So lame. They are playing to their audience, I guess. KOIN is reporting that PPB investigators say the attack was not terrorism or politically motivated– how could they possibly know this at this time? Doesn’t there need to be a full investigation?

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

On his way out of town Trump ordered his followers to use their imagination to “create chaos.” One can’t help but think incidents like this, plus today’s internet outage in the northeast caused by an intentionally cut cable are just the start.

hamiramani
Subscriber

Bravo, Jonathan. Powerful and accurate. Your editorial represents my sentiments exactly.

And, yes, more people *will* die if our leaders continue to fail at their work to keep us ALL safe.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

It is not possible to keep everyone safe, especially in an open society. The best we can do is change the tradeoffs between safety and other values and constraints.

We’re currently in a weird place where the far-left is pushing us in a more libertarian direction by pushing for fewer government intrusions into our lives, but without the message of personal responsibility that comes with most libertarian thought.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Glad someone else noticed that also. The Far-Left seems to run away from the concept of personal responsibility and agency (and yes, I have criticisms of the Alt-Right also 🙂 )

dwk
Guest
dwk

What is the Far Left you speak of? Seriously who are they? As few as they are , they certainly have no power in this country.
We have the most conservative Senate and Supreme court we have ever had.
The straw men you create……
The Alt Right just left the White house BTW…

Alex
Guest
Alex

Hardly. Here is an example of the far-left (albeit not in Portland) solving their problems and taking responsibility: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/07/we-can-solve-our-own-problems-a-vision-of-minneapolis-without-police.

How are the far left pushing us in a libertarian direction? Just hearing you say this makes me really think how far out of touch you are with the “far left”. I think the people in the far left really do want participation from everyone, it’s just that most people don’t want to put forth the effort or change how society works to truly act that way. Most people would rather just see the same old institutions flail than push for any real change into the unknown.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

They sound like a Neighborhood Watch group. There is plenty of precedent for self-designated volunteers (like George Zimmerman) patrolling their neighborhoods, but I’ve never heard a serious suggestion that they could be a replacement for professional police.

But I’m happy to consider evidence that they can.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

One can argue that “Far” either direction are the ones who are out of touch. But Anarcho-Communists are a good example.

NM
Guest
NM

I’m guessing you are referring to calls for defunding the police as ‘fewer government intrusions’. All the calls for ‘defund’ include, and are centered around, calls for a reinvestment into preventative and restorative methods of justice and safety that don’t involve armed police. Spending our tax dollars on more nuanced, community driven solutions is not what I would call libertarian. If you’re referring to something else, I’m curious what that is.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Spending our tax dollars on more nuanced, community driven solutions is not what I would call defunding. I absolutely support developing a broader array of services to help those who need it, but that is going to be very expensive and will require significantly more resources than we’re currently able to muster. As I have mentioned many times in this forum, I am willing to pay more for better results, but I suspect that many are not.

Alex
Guest
Alex

It’s funny that you don’t get to define what “defunding the police” is. When people talk about “defunding the police”, they mean to defund the police and fund more nuanced services that don’t have guns and are actually held accountable. I don’t think it just means quit paying taxes and cut down services. It means fix the broken system by creating a new system. So call it what you want, but find common vernacular and not just defining things how you wish to see them would probably be a good place to start, aka listening.

JBone
Guest
JBone

“fund more nuanced services that…are actually held accountable”?? Have you seen what a bureaucratic nightmare almost every public institution has become (and possibly always was/will ever be? Truth is, many ‘conservatives’ actually want the same outcomes many ‘progressives’ wish for, they are simply more realistic about the nature of people re: motivation, discipline, integrity, etc. and rightly don’t trust government. If you really wanted to persuade all of us bleeding heart conservative types, you’d seriously hold the existing institutions accountable, not with protest parades and all the other nauseating posturing.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I think if you’re really going to help people, you need to accept that some portion of your resources are going to be wasted; moochers, layabouts, and malingerers will take some of the support meant for people who really need it. But rather than tighten the screws to prevent that, and exclude some who really need it, I think you just need to accept there will be some degree of inefficiency.

But… when we put that into practice, we get lots of handwringing after-the-fact about all those who didn’t really need it getting covid aid from the government, from both the left and the right. And even then, the screws might have been too tight because plenty who did need assistance didn’t get it.

So conservatives are right that there is inefficiency in the government. But that’s going to be true in any large-scale endeavor in an area that’s inherently messy. Conservatives need to make peace with that if they want to live in a compassionate society.

JBone
Guest
JBone

Yep, good point, but I think most conservatives (the rational type) expect/accept the system to be gamed by a small percentage of “moochers”, but it is all the built-in waste (thinking of my time as a SPED teacher and environmental consultant, where paperwork dominated my time/energy often at the expense of the things I was charged to care for – kids and environment) and incompetency (thinking of Cover Oregon debacle, PERS, news stories of all types of cyber attacks including the known $17billion theft of CA unemployent https://apnews.com/article/california-bdb79d54d86c3758650fa4f7163cebb2) that is unacceptable to us.
Addressing (hell, even acknowledging) these gaping holes will need to happen before 1/2 the country feels good about sending more $ to government.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Sure – but it’s funny that none of the “bleeding heart conservatives” (is there really such a thing), want to hold cops accountable. They just throw up their “blue lives matter” flags and try to keep the status quo as much as possible. If right-wing groups really didn’t trust the government, I would expect large amounts of right-wing people to favor more police accountability. The simple fact of the matter is that they don’t back more police accountability in any real form. This is seen over and over again.

I would love to read some articles about how “bleeding heart right-wingers” want to hold police accountable. Please send me articles. Please send me anything that tries to actually hold the government accountable and doesn’t just punish and blame poor people rather than the government and actually offers up realistic solutions.

I will wait.

JBone
Guest
JBone

Thank you for the civil response and desire to understand the other ‘side’ a little more. I Googled ‘do conservatives want police reform’ and have posted the first four results and I’ve also included an article by John McWhorter @ Quillette.com that adds context to the prevailing narrative. There is a lot more out there from centrist, conservatives, and other classic liberals of all stripes…everyone from Lars Larson to Coleman Hughes, Mark Levin to Bret Weinstein, etc.

From my anecdotal experience talking with friends of all ideologies, listening to podcasts of all persuasion, and observing the news, it seems as if many progressives have an inaccurate, narrative-driven caricature of many conservatives as being ignorant and selfish whereas most conservatives have a pretty clear understanding of the progressive position. (It’s very unfortunate and frustrating; I blame the media and academia). All the protest, violence, and vandalism that happened this summer was a great opportunity lost. If the better angels among us had had their voices elevated, folks from all ideological persuasions could have found much common ground and moved forward with meaningful change in unity. Now we’ve got a polarized mess on our hands that won’t be resolved anytime soon.

Unless we intentionally lay aside our bias and pursue logic and truth (of the absolute variety, not the relativism type), we will only see what we want to see. My hope is for folks to question their bias and listen to opposing perspective with the hope of being persuaded so that we can move forward in authentic community, not the pretend and coerced version now being promoted.

https://quillette.com/2020/06/11/racist-police-violence-reconsidered/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-poll-exclusive/exclusive-most-americans-including-republicans-support-sweeping-democratic-police-reform-proposals-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKBN23I380

https://www.thecornellreview.org/a-conservative-approach-to-police-reform/

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/17/senate-republicans-reveal-police-reform-bill-that-breaks-with-democrats-on-key-issues.html

https://www.gwu.gop/single-post/2020/06/12/opinion-why-conservatives-should-support-police-reform

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

Those that silence or try to silence voice because of their political affiliation isn’t doing us any favors.
People should be adult enough to hear voices from all sides.
But there’s just too much censoring because someone doesn’t have a popular opionion.

JBone
Guest
JBone

I’m grateful to Jonathan for allowing respectful voices to be heard and for those among us who are listeners.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

It’s funny that you don’t get to define what “defunding the police” is. When people talk about “defunding the police”, they mean to defund the police and fund more nuanced services that don’t have guns and are actually held accountable.

I’m not defining anything; I’m taking folks at their word.

But even if you redefine defund to mean “reallocate”, the math doesn’t work. The police budget can’t begin to pay for the services we need, and as Jonathan pointed out when asked if he’d rather send a cop or social worker to the scene, he’d send both. That means you still need plenty of cops even when you have more social workers. That means more money. Lots more money if you want the backend services needed to really help folks. And lots and lots more money if you include what’s needed for prevention on the front end.

I totally support building a new system; I think everyone, including the police, would support this (even if, down the road, it meant shrinking the police because our other services proved successful). Just be realistic about the time frame, complexity, and cost involved, and likelihood that the new system will have as many problems as the current one.

Alex
Guest
Alex

> The police budget can’t begin to pay for the services we need, and as Jonathan pointed out when asked if he’d rather send a cop or social worker to the scene, he’d send both.

In this specific instance, sure. But in most instances? Probably not. Most crimes are not violent crimes and you don’t need both. The math could most definitely work out if we aren’t outfitting our cops like they are military waging war on our population.

> I think everyone, including the police

Bwahaha. Yea. Sure. Ok. You think the cops are going to vote for losing their jobs and not being guaranteed anything. Good luck with that. Have you heard what their union says on a regular basis?

You live in a fantasy world.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I’ll believe the math when I see a budget that shows it working. Hiring one social worker is not going to let you fire one cop. And, unless the social workers are slotted into the police structure, you’ll need a whole new bureau structure to support them.

Cops are definitely going to vote for not dealing with lose-lose interactions with drug addicts and the mentally ill. Talk to them; they hate that work, and aren’t trained for it, so if a social worker will take point on those sorts of calls, they’ll be on board.

Alex
Guest
Alex

It’s not just about firing a cop and hiring a social worker. That’s a pretty naive thing to say, but it definitely has been your line this whole time. How about instead of hiring traffic cops, buy more speed cameras and/or pull traffic enforcement out of a monolithic police force and remove guns, deal with profiling for traffic stops specifically? How about getting ahead of the crime by being proactive rather than reactive? Providing mental health and drug rehab services is a lot better than just throwing more cops at the problem to throw more people in jail and harass people. Even if it costs more, that’s honestly fine with me. What we are doing isn’t working. You haven’t offered any ideas for any sort of change. The status quo isn’t working and it is why we are even having this discussion. What’s your plan? Hire more cops? Arrest more people? Buy the cops tanks? Keep escalating? You sure seem to love to set up straw men and argue on the internet, but even tho say you want to build a new system, I haven’t heard one thing about that new system from you.

The cops have never voted to get rid of cops. Cite one example of where they have. Every single time they vote for less accountability and a larger budget to, guess what, hire more cops and buy military gear.

JBone
Guest
JBone

I’m curious if you’ve ever done a ride along or had friends that were officers. Also wonder your experience with mental health and drug rehab. I’ve had extensive experience with all of the above, and it absolutely rocked my naive, idealistic world. I feel that before one criticizes a group or institution, a fair amount of honest due diligence should be done.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yes. I have and do. I don’t think any of those jobs are easy and there are no easy answers. If you think I am criticizing a specific person, I am not. It is a broken system. Police have been militarized, there is the greatest wealth gap in the history of mankind, and I think the police have shown themselves to discriminate based on skin color(this is objectively true). Again, I feel this is basically just feedback into a system that isn’t scaling well and with an input of a very racist history.

What have I said that isn’t fair? We need to devote time and money to fixing this problem and we as a society have the resources to deal with it, we just choose not to. I don’t think throwing money at the cops is a great return on investment at this point and the institution is riddled with problems.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

As I mentioned several times, my ideas for change are similar to yours, including more drug treatment, mental health services, and social workers in the field.

Where we diverge is on the timetable in which these actions can be effective (I think decades), the costs involved (I think very high), and the consequences for police spending in the meantime (I think cutting security services is premature until we start to see the payouts from our investments).

In other words, I think the rhetoric around “defund” is, at best, naive, and at worst a barrier to accomplishing the goals defunders claim to want. I say “claim” because I think a great many of them are only interested in the culture war goal of punishing the police, not finding a workable solution to improve society.

If we’re going to make the big changes in society we agree are needed, we have to stop with the culture warrior BS that has come to dominate both the left and the right. I think unilaterally disarming is the only way forward.

hamiramani
Subscriber

“ALL” is a goal, not a “Far-Left” philosophy. You know…”liberty and justice for ALL”? That’s the sort of “ALL” I speak of. Without aspirations we are left with the status quo, a “free-for-ALL”.

I believe deeply in personal responsibility as well. That is why I choose to put my life on the line nearly everyday as I ride a bike or walk to my destinations. I also take the personal responsibility to commute car-free thereby prolonging my trip by more than an hour.

So, no, I’m not advocating some lefty ideal; merely talking about human ideals.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

It wasn’t the ALL, but the “keep us safe” that I was responding to. “Safe” is not a goal you achieve, but an axis along which you move, and each increment towards “more” comes costs and tradeoffs against other things people value.

I think that rather than ask our leaders “keep us safe”, it would be more effective to help them understand what tradeoffs you’re willing to make for that next increment of safety. In my case, to pick one relevant example, I’m willing to trade lower speed limits and increased vehicular travel times in exchange for safety. It took decades, but now we have 20MPH speed limits on many city streets, and I’m advocating for further reductions in my neighborhood.

“People will die” and “keep us safe” are the same messages that permeated the post 9/11 world and heralded in NSA dragnet monitoring, “enhanced interrogation” and other abhorrent policies, so forgive me for being skeptical of them without discussion of what we’re giving up in return.

hamiramani
Subscriber

Understood. Government’s job is to keep us safe. They ought to do it by implementing infrastructure that aspires to that. Drivers certainly should be slowed and streets calmed through diversions and other means. Everything in society is about trade-offs. The problem is that vulnerable road users have been at the deadly end of those trade-offs for far too long.

pruss2ny
Guest
pruss2ny

believing the govt exists to “keep us safe” is a vague and unobtainable goal that sounds super nice but simply lends cover to overreach.

the constitution guarantees civil rights and liberties to individuals, not “safety.” And it spells out that any powers not explicitly given to the govt are reserved for the individual…not the state.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Traffic was calmed on Stark, and it didn’t keep folks safe, so I’m not sure what else PBOT should have done to prevent this sort of murderous rampage. I’d love to hear some actionable ideas from you or anyone else who has them.

If there is nothing else that could have been reasonably done, it’s not really fair to blame the government for not doing it.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Actionable idea: Speed governors on cars and trucks, like we already have on scooters and electric bikes – the maximum speed allowed would be linked to the posted speed limit (already being tested in Australia.)

pruss2ny
Guest
pruss2ny

feel like this gets rebuked pretty easily as it disables a potential safety feature of a car.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I don’t know…it seems what this opinion piece is calling for is more personal responsibility for vehicle operators. We can’t keep everyone safe, but an open society should not privilege one form of transportation. Pedestrians and cyclists are not responsible for driver behavior just because they are inherently more vulnerable on the street.

9watts
Subscriber

There is a pretty easy way to test this theory, that Jonathan suggested, which is that government could, Leah Treat’s comment notwithstanding, do more to keep us safe. That easy way would, as so often in these contexts, be to look beyond our shores, our own particular and dispiriting experience with what government accomplishes, and see whether in this case vehicular violence is at the same level in other countries to which we might wish to compare ourselves, or is lower, or higher, Without looking I’d guess that it is not the same and we might temper our outrage that this is all about personal responsibility.

I’d start with Sweden.

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

Though it is a good idea to look elsewhere for things that work, all too often in Portland (and Oregon) politicians can’t stand that they didn’t come up with an idea on their own, so committees will be formed to reinvent the wheel. It’s no wonder that anything of substance ever gets done.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

> Our enforcement policies need to be better at flagging high-risk drivers. Our mental and public health services need to find at-risk people and give them more support. Our transportation agencies need to fortify our streets by adding more concrete and protected spaces wherever and whenever possible.

+1, but Jonathan perhaps we should add: “less-dangerous 4-wheelers”.

Because perhaps vehicles, like SUVs and even rational-sized autos, should not be designed to so easily serve as stand ins for semi automatic weapons. No leader or legislator in Oregon can deny this pattern of vehicular violence, and things like AEB (automatic braking) and pedestrian crash tests exist (in Europe at least), so it’s inexcusable that in 2021 you don’t have lawmakers addressing the physically dangerous design of “sport” (or other) vehicles on Oregon roads.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

One way to make this enforcement concrete and immediate is to install ubiquitous traffic cameras, with violations counting toward a points system eventually resulting in retraining, car booting, or loss of license. NY has seen monumental results from simply placing cameras in school zones. It has been so successful at reducing crashes and speeding, that legislators wish to expand to other areas of the city.

soren
Guest
soren

I agree with Leah Treat. Vision Zero won’t prevent people from choosing to intentionally kill people with ubiquitously available lethal devices (automobile or gun). Other than banning non-commercial automobile ownership entirely* or creating some form of truly draconian “car/gun control”, there isn’t any kind of easy structural reform that will prevent USAnian mass-murder from occurring.

IMO, USAnian car/gun mass murder is a direct result of the way USAnian society tolerates, enshrines, and promotes violent behavior/ideation. It’s a collective and ubiquitous cultural sickness that won’t be fixed without a massive cultural upheaval/revolution.

*As long as we create a genuinely equitable transportation system, this has always been and remains my preference.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Sounds like an argument for well-intentioned Authoritarianism (the best kind!).

Alex
Guest
Alex

Or…it sounds like a less centralized, more distributed government with greater local participation where people actively participate. Unfortunately, we, as humans, have a long history supporting the more authoritarian form of governments/economic systems rather than the more equitable and distributed systems.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Like neighborhood associations with some actual power?

Alex
Guest
Alex

I would hate to use the words neighborhood association because of historical context and how they have acted.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Ok, so like neighborhood associations with some actual power and a different name?

soren
Guest
soren

exactly like neighborhood associations except with participatory democracy, intentional inclusion of underrepresented communities, and an accountable committment to no longer tolerate and/or promote bigotry, classism and racism.

JBone
Guest
JBone

A massive cultural upheaval/revolution? Is there a historical model you have in mind? I don’t understand or like our collective bent toward might and violence, but as MLK eluded: 1) only light can drive out darkness and 2) justice is a long arc. I would hope that you’d be thinking a sustainable and effective long-game, like 5 generations in the future, not a short-term foreceful overthrow to get what you (and your fellow idealogues) want right now. I know it might not be apparent though the MSM or in social echo chambers, but there are a significant number of decent, fair-minded folks who are sick of the radical solutions that are being thrown out. We want change (many voted for Obama), but it has to be non-tyrannical, logical, and honest. Truth>freedom>love,not mandated love through wack social narratives (CRT).

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

In order to remove the cultural assumptions associated with the use of vehicles (since it is so widespread) I try to imagine, as proposed in Crash Course, replacing each of these quotes and behaviors with a slightly different, yet culturally neutral behavior. Replacing “driving” with “moving a piano” might be suitable for some people to see how bizarre our culture looks at, shrugs, and simply accepts car violence. Driving a vehicle should be looked at in the same way as moving a piano. It can easily be done safely, but we choose to accept when a mover wishes to do it carelessly, rapidly and distractedly. Then we state afterward: “Nothing could have been done,” or “We just can’t prevent people who want to drop pianos,” when a pattern of reckless behavior predates the inevitable.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

One key flaw in your analogy is that moving a piano is something most of us will never do, and is generally handled by professionals. If piano moving were as commonplace and democratized as driving, I am quite sure the culture of safety around it would be as lax as it is around driving. Likewise if driving were rare and professionalized, its safety culture would be different than it is.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

That is the exact reason for the analogy HK. Please consider it again. We have places in the world where cultural acceptance of traffic violence is close to nill, and it has very little to do with how commonplace vehicular use is.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

“Cultural acceptance” is the key to effecting change. How do we change the culture here? Perhaps past successful efforts to do that could act as a guide. We changed cultural norms around drinking and driving, seatbelt use, smoking, dog “residue”, and more. Not sure how to make it happen, but it obviously can be done, though I’m not sure that a few successes in small, Nordic countries really mean we can enjoy the same level of success here (just a Europe, with its differing culture, has not made the same progress with smoking that we have.)

But regardless, without those cultural norms in place, it’s hardly surprising that officials make the decisions they do.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

Our laws and policy reflect cultural norms. When we design roads that are inherently dangerous (ie design primarily for speed and capacity of cars), implement policy to allow a pattern of dangerous behavior (eg lack of traffic cameras), we build a pattern of behavior in people that becomes the norm. That’s what we need to change.

It’s not merely a few nordic countries. Compared to other countries the US is approximately 50th in road fatalities per capita, well behind all of the other industrialized nations.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Of course, we drive a lot more per capita too, so that’s not the whole story.

It sounds as if we agree that we need to change cultural norms. How do you convince government to take the lead on that, especially if the effort is costly, without a popular mandate? With restrictions on smoking, for example, the mandate came first; government limits on where we could smoke lagged significantly.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

I am not a politician/bureaucrat (nor do I ever want to be), but personally I suggest writing to your representatives at local and state levels particularly, and asking to: 1) Follow the heirarchy of evidence (including international studies) in all policy and street design 2) Remove parking and build a network of physically separated bike lanes 3) Install an ubiquitous system of traffic cameras under a behaviorist model. There are other steps, but these are the most bang for their buck and-I cannot understate-would have a dramatic effect on our culture.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I’m not really sure what (1) entails, but it sounds reasonable, subject to site-specific constraints. (2) and (3) require hella political support (and thus public support); it sounds as if you are saying that if we build it, everyone will realize how great it is and get on board. I’m skeptical of that claim, and I can see why PBOT is not willing to do this on their own.

But that still begs the question: how do we convince enough people to give our agencies the support they need to move forward with this vision? (And to convince lawmakers in Salem to permit more use of cameras?)

I’m also unsure if there is evidence suggesting that, for example, protected bike lanes on Hawthorne would be safer than greenways on Lincoln/Salmon.

9watts
Subscriber

“I’m also unsure if there is evidence suggesting that, for example, protected bike lanes on Hawthorne would be safer than greenways on Lincoln/Salmon.”

Maybe it isn’t about a flat measure: ‘safer’ per se, but about the longer game: instantiating cultural values that putting bikes on major thoroughfares would communicate: ‘bikes belong,’ as opposed to ‘bikers, skedaddle, get thee onto the side streets and out of MY way!’

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I actually like that approach and use it frequently because it moves people out of their personal (cultural in your example) frame of reference and into one that is usually more objective.

Like when someone gets treated badly by someone with whom there is a personal relationship but tries to rationalize it or make excuses for the other person – I’ll ask them “so how would you interpret that behavior if they did it to someone else other than you?” Them: “Oh, that person is a j*rk”. e.g., “That behavior really appears absurd when you put it that way”, but admittedly context does also matter.

bettie
Guest
bettie

I propose (again) that the DMV administer a mental health assessment before administering driver’s licenses. I also do not give s sh*t if drunk Johnny needs a driver’s license so he can get to work because he needs to pay his child support; he can take the bus.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I don’t disagree, but how would that stop those who want to kill with their car from doing so?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

You can’t stop everyone, but you can reduce the odds by providing everyone with access to medical care and mental health services.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Assuming, as I don’t, that those who do this sort of thing are conventionally mentally ill. And that if they were, they’d want treatment.

I strongly support universal access to medical and mental health care, but I don’t think it would help in this sort of situation.

marisheba
Guest
marisheba

This feeds into stereotypes that people with mental health issues are potentially violent. Most mental health issues do not increase the risk of violent behavior at all (but do increase the risk of being a victim). Meanwhile, most mentally ill people still need to get to work, and unless and until we can create a transportation that in genuinely multimodal and allows people to conveniently access their work without a car, for most this will mean driving.

Also, no drivers license is required to go on a rampage like this one.

bettie
Guest
bettie

no, that’s what that means. Stop reading shit into it.

Christian Samuel
Guest
Christian Samuel

It’s a shame recent police budget cuts eliminated the entire traffic division. Not that they would have been able to prevent this horrible event but I do feel more enforcement of traffic laws would reduce traffic related injuries and fatalities.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Of course we can ignore it. We’ve decided on no traffic enforcement and the result is disregard of traffic laws on the part of a growing segment of the motoring public. No enforcement. No consequences. Increasing death toll. Do you still believe it is a coincidence?
How many deaths until we begin taking it seriously? Given our acceptance of 400,000 US deaths from COVID and the failure of half the population to even wear masks, my guess is that we won’t start taking vehicular killings seriously until we’re at 3 per week in Portland. Sad and disgusting.

Andyfah BeaLaMont
Guest
Andyfah BeaLaMont

Yes cyclists! Don’t be afraid. Ride down the middle of streets and ignore all traffic regulations as you always do. Show your anger and ride down the middle of I-84 with no reflective gear on at night. You’ll show them!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Solid argument.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

It is 100 percent certain that it will be ignored again.

Tod Foulk
Guest
Tod Foulk

pathetic taking me out of context again fool writer! we even spoke on the phone. typical now of weak press who instead of reporting simply play into dram. maybe you should speak to my lawyer as well! placing me in the same league as this psycho is libel! get it right/write jerk! yes come at me in a swarm and attack me at a red light while I simply wait for it to turn like the poor old gentleman whom I was referring to and YES you will be hit if you dont get out of the way! violence is met with violence all too often. and again jerk writer trying to make me sound like a cold blooded murderer is piss poor writing, you simply suck.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Your comment is pretty clear, and I think readers understand the context. I wonder why you are filled with so much hate, though?

Nadia Maxim
Guest
Nadia Maxim

Tod, I am sorry you feel falsely accused and associated with the perpetrator of this recent violence. I might suggest instead of lashing out you just reiterate your commitment to non-violence. I think that would do the most to improve your reputation. As Mahatma Gandhi once said…”Non-violence is a weapon of the strong”
Peace to you.

Don Courtney
Guest
Don Courtney

Yes, this was a good summary of my feelings and policy positions on this topic. Thank you Jonathan.