Saturday, October 03, 2015

Case studies: Street safety is vital ... unless an election cycle interrupts the equation.

Especially in densely populated urban areas, and even in England, speeders assuredly surely are criminals -- and it isn't unusual anywhere on the planet for politicians to be cowards.

We wouldn't want to disturb suburban Democratic commuters, would we Jeff?

Is that why the Speck study is up there on the shelf, collecting dust, even as you take credit for downtown revitalization you've done nothing to support?

The Benefits of Slower Traffic, Measured in Money and Lives, by Eric Jaffe (City Lab)

In May 2014, three school kids in New Brunswick, New Jersey, were hit by a car on Livingston Avenue while in the crosswalk. They were each injured—one seriously—and rushed to the hospital. A cell phone video taken at the scene is pierced with anonymous screams.

Fortunately, according to news reports, the kids recovered. Unfortunately, the trauma they and their families endured is all too common on the streets of U.S. cities. What makes the situation in New Brunswick so much more regrettable is that city leaders knew about the safety hazards on Livingston Avenue but hesitated to change traffic patterns for fear of offending drivers.

That’s the frustrating conclusion one gets from a new case study about implementing a road diet on Livingston. The analysis finds that the safety benefits of reducing automobile space and speeds on the street would far outweigh any losses from driver delay. But the report’s authors state that officials were concerned from the start about upsetting the car-centric status quo:

This was expressed in an early meeting with city staff. There was a desire to complete the work prior to the start of a mayoral election campaign, since the plan was seen as controversial and would likely be opposed by voters.

An earlier version of this same report was presented to the city back in March 2014. Officials praised its findings to the press and spoke of doing whatever it takes to make street safety a priority. But they didn’t take any urgent measures, and two months later the children were hit.

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