Sunday, February 17, 2013

From PPS: "Walking is Not a Crime: Questioning the Accident Axiom."

A longer Sunday read, applicable to bicyclists, too, and overall, well worth the time to read. The excerpt below offers solutions only, but please, read the whole piece.

Walking is Not a Crime: Questioning the Accident Axiom, by David M Nelson (Project for Public Spaces)

There are many things that can be done to keep pushing the message back to a place that values human life first, and speed and efficient movement of automobiles second. On the policy side, get a Vulnerable Users Law introduced into your state legislature. Vulnerable Users Laws shift the burden of evidence onto the more dangerous individual. Drivers are responsible for cyclists, cyclists for pedestrians. I’m a huge fan of these laws, because pedestrians are put on a pedestal. They’ve been popular in Europe and are catching on in the United States.

You can also pursue other policies like Vision Zero, famously applied in Sweden and currently being campaigned for by Transportation Alternatives in NYC. Essentially, Vision Zero is a directive to eliminate all pedestrian and cyclists fatalities in quick order. The central premise being, “that no loss of life is acceptable.” Concerning law and order, you can find local lawyers to represent and advocate for justice on the behalf of pedestrians and cyclists injured or killed by drivers.

You can work to lower the speed of traffic. More specifically, advocate to decrease the range of speeds driven over a segment of road. A fundamental belief in traffic engineering is that differences in operating speed causes higher risks of crashes. Spread can be reduced by lowering speed limits and using roundabouts instead of signalized intersections. The end result is travel times remain the same but maximum operating speed and the range of speeds are significantly lowered. Other geometric changes include narrower lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, neck-downs and Rightsizing.

However, only so much will be accomplished until our local papers and the nightly news starts putting pressure on state DOTs and public works departments to keep our citizens safe on foot. So, first and foremost, pay closer attention to the way that pedestrian deaths are portrayed by the local media in your area, and don’t be afraid to put pressure your local news outlets when you see improper coverage that blames the victim. It is easy to find language in your State Statutes that debunk published misconceptions about crosswalks and jaywalking. We all have the right to walk—and like most rights, it’s one that must be defended.

1 comment:

bayernfan said...

As one who walks around alot, I can document numerous near-misses, even in crosswalks. One thing I always appreciated are places where drivers actually STOP before a crosswalk, even if there wasn't a stop sign or light, to let people go across. Would be refreshing to see here too.