It’s Time To Break Up With Cars

Americans didn’t immediately fall in love with cars.  It’s been a Machiavellian relationship for a century, so maybe we can break up now.

The Car Culture That’s Helping Destroy the Planet Was By No Means Inevitable

Jeff Sparrow

On the Relentless Campaign to Force Americans to Accept the Automobile

“In 1995, comedian Denis Leary recorded a track called “Asshole,” a song about an all-American guy who likes “football and porno and books about war.” It concludes with a monologue: 

I’m gonna get myself a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado convertible
Hot pink, with whale skin hubcaps

And all leather cow interior
And big brown baby seal eyes for head lights
And I’m gonna drive in that baby at 115 miles per hour
Gettin’ one mile per gallon
Sucking down Quarter Pounder cheese burgers from McDonald’s
In the old-fashioned, non-biodegradable styrofoam containers
And when I’m done sucking down those greaseball burgers
I’m gonna wipe my mouth with the American flag

And then I’m gonna toss the styrofoam containers right out the side

And there ain’t a goddamn thing anybody can do about it …

Yes, there is. Vote.

For those concerned about the environment, cars are an ecological catastrophe, while the current president celebrates car ownership as a true hallmark of freedom for blue blooded Americans, and the US remains the “spiritual home of car culture”.   Vote.

So are we doomed to live forever in a polarized country where there is a constant war for space on the road between people walking, on bikes, and driving, and over 40 thousand people die in automobile collisions each year?

Maybe there is hope.   Vote.

Cars don’t have to own us.

Here’s something to think about as American cities (and yes, we in Asbury Park) try to figure out how to keep people safe while social distancing by opening streets to people walking, riding bikes, skateboards, scooters…there could be one good thing that comes out of Covid-19.

The spaces between parked cars can be for people, not for car domination. It’s so in cities where drivers don’t rule the roads. As one Face Book commenter in the thread notes, when he drives into one of these streets he “immediately wonders whether he should be there, then sees the benefits to everyone, and drives slowly and cautiously to his destination”. With American car culture could this happen here, or would we continue to see angry, entitled drivers claiming their right to the road, endangering us all?

Here’s the link to Modacitylife FaceBook page, where you can enjoy beautiful city inspiration, listen to the audio book,  Building The Cycling City, and buy the book here.

Do It In The Road: Asbury Park ReOPEN and Slow Streets Pilots

Everyone deserves to have safe streets to access work, businesses, and recreation, especially now when we need more space to move about our cities with appropriate social distance without risk of vehicular traffic.

Asbury Park ReOPEN, a pilot which currently runs Thursdays through Monday mornings, is helping businesses to generate revenue with restriction of capacity, mask requirements, distancing, and limited hours. Separately, “Slow Streets” will be set up on various streets in the city, where vehicular traffic will be limited to local only, allowing residents to move about safely on the street playing, bicycling, walking, and rolling without risk from cars and trucks.

Many cities across the US and the world have implemented these measures, including in CATXKY, OHMA, and many more.  Jersey City’s Slow Streets pilot program is 24/7, described here:

Due to the Covid-19 safety measures, the City of Jersey City is working to provide residents additional open space that supports safe physical activity by designating certain streets throughout the City as “Slow Streets”. These streets will be closed to through traffic so that people can more comfortably use them for physically distant walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging, biking and exercising all across the City.

Enjoy the following blog post and photos from a visitor to Asbury Park’s Business District.

Stay tuned for continued adaptations to the program in neighborhoods all over the city, and upcoming implementation and photos from Slow Streets in Asbury Park. We welcome your thoughts and constructive comments.

WESTWORDS

TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2020

Asbury Park Says Be All You Can Be

ReOpen Asbury Park: Cookman Ave Business District.

Restaurant seating set up on the street.

 

A “Streaterie”, in this case resembling a Parklet

 

Businesses selling wares on the street.

The Book Co-Op set up on the sidewalk for passersby to browse.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Close Some Streets To Cars And Allow More Space For People

There’s less traffic everywhere in the world right now. More people are staying close to home, and many are walking and riding bikes. At the same time drivers are speeding more. Maybe it’s an increased sense of driver entitlement with more open roads, or the knowledge that police are less likely to engage with speeders, and in some cities even refusing to respond to calls for non-injury crashes, all making streets even more dangerous.

As always, but especially now we need to be more aware of the most vulnerable moving about in our cities: people walking, biking, and using other forms of micro-transit.  To maintain 6′ distance during the viral outbreak, people walking must move off too-narrow sidewalks into the street. Those who ride bikes must also maintain 6′ distance.  But bike riders fearful of speeding and distracted drivers may feel safer on sidewalks, even if there are bike lanes. Paint doesn’t protect.

The problem isn’t walkers or people on bikes. It’s #toomanycars, and #slowthecars.

Let’s consider closing some Asbury Park streets to automotive traffic to allow more space for people.  If we envision the successful street closures during the Sea. Hear. Now Festival, we can see that Ocean Avenue could  be closed to cars, at least temporarily while the boardwalk is closed (and probably soon the beach).  Cookman Avenue would make a great walking plaza, especially now while businesses are mostly closed, and maybe it could remain permanently a place for people.  It’s becoming evident all over the world that cities are more vibrant where there are fewer cars. This would be a great time to try it out.

How to Open Streets Right During Social Distancing

“The first place we should start, the advocates we spoke to argued, is with closing off as many streets as possible that run through our parks to motor vehicles — not just a handful of them, as may cities are doing now. And it’d be even better to close off roads adjacent to parks, too: Mike Lydon and Tony Garcia, tactical urbanism superstars and co-principals of Street Plans, offered particular applause to Minneapolis’ decision to allow limited road closures near its river front.

Next stop: the cul-de-sacs. Streets that are already pretty quiet have absolutely no reason to allow non-resident traffic right now, when the risk of killing new crowds of of walker vastly outweighs the risk of holding up a traffic pattern that has largely come to a standstill. And that goes for through-streets that don’t connect major essential services, too.

Third stop: those small, walkable shopping districts where all the businesses are closed anyway. Jason Roberts of Better Block thinks it’s particularly important to give residents safe, contactless access to window shopping, street vendors, and even shuttered restaurants, which can be converted into open-air markets through Better Block’s free downloadable shelf plans.”

Read all about it:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/04/08/how-to-open-streets-right-during-social-distancing/

Slower Speed Limits Will Help Stop Corona Virus

With a concern for overcrowding in hospitals, Italy and Spain have, as of March 16th, banned cycling in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Health authorities there are urging cyclists not to ride because of the risk of being injured on the road and putting additional stress on an already over-burdened healthcare system.  This is a backward approach.  The real danger is speeding motor vehicles. Cars, particularly speeding cars killed over 40,000 people in the US last year. Each year, 1.35 million people are killed on roadways around the world.  Driving a motorized vehicle is far more dangerous than riding a bike, so let’s #slowthecars so we can ride safely, now – and always.

Let’s encourage people to ride bikes as the healthiest way to get around.  We need to limit speeds for motorists to make roads safe for people riding bikes and walking. #20isplenty

Lowering Speed Limits Will Help Stop COVID-19

The last thing our hospitals need right now is more car crash injuries.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/03/16/lowering-speed-limits-will-help-stop-covid-19/

IT’S TIME TO DESIGN FOR SAFETY, NOT SPEED

We know how to save the lives of people walking and biking…but will we #slowthecars?

Policy makers might not understand how to design safe roads, but more problematic, they are influenced by the automotive industry, so it behooves them to prioritize motor vehicles over other road users – the most vulnerable are not driving or buying cars.

Traffic engineers by definition prioritize the level of service (LOS) of automobiles moving in traffic. In the world of traffic engineering, speed limits are determined by allowing drivers to self-govern, thereby setting speeds according to the 85th Percentile Speed – the speed at or below which 85 percent of vehicles travel. 

The numbers of deaths increases drastically with every 10mph. (See graphs/images in the article.) APCSC would like to see Asbury Park determine speed based upon safety. Most drivers know that they can exceed speed limits by 10mph, so how about #20isplenty?

 

SAFETY OVER SPEED WEEK: THERE’S ONE THING THAT ALMOST EVERY FATAL CAR CRASH HAS IN COMMON

It’s “safety over speed” week here at T4America, and we are spending the week unpacking our second of three principles for transportation investment. Read more about those principles and if you’re new to T4America, you can sign up for email here. Follow along on @T4America this week and check back here on the blog for more related content all week long.

Let’s start with a number: 49,340.

That’s how many people were struck and killed by cars while walking on streets all across the United States between 2008 and 2017. Almost 50,000 preventable deaths.

And yet, by and large, we call these crashes “accidents”. We still believe that these 50,000 deaths, and the deaths of almost 32,000 people every year killed inside of vehicles, are either just the cost of doing business for our transportation system, or were the product of bad behavior: distracted drivers, fatigued drivers, drunk drivers, or drivers not wearing seat belts.

There’s no doubt that distracted driving increases crash risk and should be punished. But distracted driving can’t explain all of these deaths. There’s one thing that almost every crash has in common, though: high vehicle speed.

When crashes occur at higher speeds, they are more likely to be fatal, especially when they involve a person biking or walking.

Read all about it:

http://t4america.org/2019/11/04/safety-over-speed-week-theres-one-thing-that-almost-every-fatal-car-crash-has-in-common/#easy-footnote-bottom-1-28661

#FATALFACTS

We can’t ignore this anymore. Scooters and bikes ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. These numbers are unacceptable.  We’re working on  solutions in Asbury Park. #toomanycars #slowthecars

Vehicle Deaths Estimated at 40,000 for Third Straight Year

For the first time since the Great Recession, the U.S. has experienced three straight years of at least 40,000 roadway deaths, according to preliminary estimatesreleased Feb. 13 by the National Safety Council. In 2018, an estimated 40,000 people lost their lives to car crashes – a 1% decline from 2017 (40,231 deaths) and 2016 (40,327 deaths). About 4.5 million people were seriously injured in crashes last year – also a 1% decrease over 2017.

Discouragingly, last year’s estimated 40,000 deaths is 14% higher than four years ago. Driver behavior is likely contributing to the numbers staying stubbornly high. The Council’s estimates do not reveal causation; however, 2017 final data show spikes in deaths among pedestrians, while distraction continues to be involved in 8% of crashes, and drowsy driving in an additional 2%.

“Forty-thousand deaths is unacceptable,” said Nicholas Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC. “We cannot afford to tread water any more. We know what works, but we need to demonstrate the commitment to implementing the solutions. Roadway deaths are preventable by doubling down on what works, embracing technology advancements and creating a culture of safer driving.”

Read more.

https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatality-estimates

Asbury Park Gets A Grant For Safer Streets

Residents on through streets who have been rightfully concerned about speeding will see traffic calming measures put in place to #slowthecars.  New bike lanes will be implemented so students can ride to school, and pedestrian safety will be improved with new signals. Thanks Safe Routes To Schools and Transportation Manager Mike Manzella. Asbury Park is building infrastructure to become a model city for biking and walking.

Asbury Park Grant For Pedestrian Safety Improvements

The funds will be used to make pedestrian safety improvements focused on three main areas of resident concern.

By Tom Davis, Patch National Staff | 

“We’re proud of our current Gold Level standing with the Safe Routes to School Program and thankful to EZ Ride for the significant support they’ve provided the city in reaching that goal,” said Transportation Director Michael Manzella. “We have been putting in the work to build and maintain our standing in the program in anticipation of applying for grants such as these and securing future funding.”

Read about it:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/asbury-park/asbury-park-grant-pedestrian-safety-improvements

 

Parking Problems Everywhere

The issues of parking in Australia are the same as those in the US. Comforting to know that we’re not alone struggling with this, and in every city with the same problem, it all comes down to #toomanycars. There’s tension between the auto industry desperately trying to keep cars on the roads, engineers who persist in designing roads for cars, and the oil and gas industries vs environmentalists who have been letting us know that emissions are killing the planet, and urban planners who realize that streets should be designed as places for people and that #slowthecars will save thousands of lives each year. Cities designed with alternative transportation options are more livable – healthier and safer.

OF ALL THE PROBLEMS OUR CITIES NEED TO FIX, LACK OF CAR PARKING ISN’T ONE OF THEM

“…cars dominate our cities, supported by decades of unbalanced planning decisions favouring space for cars over other land uses or forms of transport. “

Car parking is such a pervasive feature of our cities that we have become blind to how much space it takes up. 

“Finally, providing more housing options without rigidly attached parking spaces will encourage people who don’t actually need to drive to choose to drive less or switch to other forms of transport.”

Read more…

https://theconversation.com/of-all-the-problems-our-cities-need-to-fix-lack-of-car-parking-isnt-one-of-them-116179

What’s An LPI? Pedestrians First!

 

Correction!

Although APCSC advocates for LPIs-

Unfortunately Asbury Park Main Street redesign does NOT include LPIs. Main ST is NJ 71, a state highway, and NJDOT engineers are not including LPIs in the traffic lights, although they are recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Drivers have been injuring and killing people walking, and  people on bikes at an increasing rate. Mixing people with cars is a bad combination. #slowthecars #toomanycars

Canadian cities are grappling with the same issues that we are here in the US. Speed kills, and there are too many cars. One way to make streets safer for people is the traffic signal that lets people cross before drivers are permitted to go, called an LPI, Leading Pedestrian Interval.  (There are also LBIs in many cities, which allow people on bikes to go first.) Asbury Park will experience the benefit of LBIs at intersections when the Main Street reconfiguration is completed.

‘We need to implement this everywhere’

Critic calls for installation of LPIs, which give head start to pedestrians at crosswalks

 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/we-need-to-implement-this-everywhere-is-vancouver-dragging-its-heels-on-pedestrian-safety-1.5093227

What Are We Going to Do About It?

If you wouldn’t let your kids ride a bike or walk across town in your city, or if you, as an adult are fearful of riding your bike around your town or for a bike ride to another town, there’s something seriously wrong.  And the tragedy is that we know what it is. It’s cars. We know cars kill.  We know that streets and roads are engineered to move cars quickly, and not to enable people to move about safely. So what are we going to do about it?  Check out the podcasts.

We Need a Sea Change in How We Think About Roads and Streets

March 12, 2019

“You are grossly negligent if you show a conscious indifference to the safety of others. In other words, you’re aware that the safety of others is endangered, but you don’t do anything to act on that knowledge.”

— Charles Marohn

#8 in our Greatest Hits collection of the best Strong Towns Podcast episodes you may have missed the first time around, here’s “Gross Negligence” from June 2015. In it, Chuck Marohn describes:

  • An exercise from army basic training in which he had to crawl through a trench while an expert marksman sent bullets whizzing nearby. No parent would let their child do this. So why do we accept that this is basically the condition of being on the sidewalk of an American stroad?
  • Why we tend to associate speed with mobility and economic opportunity—and why we’re wrong.
  • The incoherence of common responses to tragedy on our streets, such as a proposal to remedy an unsafe highway through a park in Buffalo by simultaneously making it more like a city street… and more like a high-speed road.
  • What we would do if we actually wanted to make safety the number one priority on our streets.  The podcast:  http://podcast.strongtowns.org/e/greatest-hits-7-gross-negligence/
Read more…

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/3/12/we-need-a-sea-change-in-how-we-think-about-roads-and-streets