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/
People are killed every day while walking, even in crosswalks, and with the right-of-way. The narrative we hear too often is that they were “distracted walkers” or officer’s reports stating that the person was “hit by a car* while walking outside the crosswalk …” Do we realize yet that the media is presenting “facts” in such a way as to dehumanize and exonerate drivers*, while blaming victims for their deaths? #slowthecars #toomanycars While lawmakers are still bumbling through legislation to reduce the numbers of cars on city streets all over the US, what can WE do about it in Asbury Park?
The number of pedestrians killed by cars keeps going up
Americans are walking less, but the number of people killed by drivers while walking keeps going up. Unsurprisingly, these deaths happen more in poor neighborhoods of color.
Every year, the amount of time Americans spend walking declines. Driving, on the other hand, has slightly but steadily risen in popularity since 2008. During that period, the number of pedestrians killed by people in cars has skyrocketed.
Between 2008 and 2017 drivers struck and killed 49,340 people who were walking on streets all across the United States. That’s more than 13 people per day, or one person every hour and 46 minutes. The last two years on record (2016 and 2017) were the most deadly years for people killed by drivers while walking since 1990.
Too many Americans are being struck and killed by the drivers of cars, trucks, and SUVs while walking. Dangerous by Design 2019, released today, chronicles the preventable epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, which have been steadily increasing in recent years, even as traffic fatalities overall have been decreasing.
We can and must do more to reduce the number of people who die while walking every day on our roadways. For too long we have disregarded this problem by prioritizing moving cars at high speeds over safety for everyone. It’s past time for that to change. Protecting the safety of all people who use the street—especially the people most vulnerable to being struck and killed—needs to be a higher priority for policymakers, and this priority must be reflected in the decisions we make about how to fund, design, operate, maintain, and measure the success of our roads.
In the past decade, the number of people struck and killed while walking increased by 35 percent. Though fatalities decreased ever so slightly in 2017, the last two years on record (2016 and 2017) were the most deadly years for people killed by drivers while walking since 1990.
This is a big deal to begin making effective change in slowing traffic speeds and saving lives. #slowthecars. First, we need to understand how traffic speeds have been set by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) . On any given street or road speed limits have been set according to the highest speed of 15% of drivers in free flowing conditions. “85th percentile rule,” which pegs the speed limit on any particular roadway to the speeds of the fastest 15 percent of drivers in “free-flowing conditions.” So if 85 percent of the drivers stay below 40 miles per hour and 15 percent of drivers exceed it, that becomes the speed limit, even if 40 miles per hour is a bit too fast for that roadway. The new language requires other criteria are used — like the presence of pedestrians — in setting speed limits, in addition to the 85th percentile rule.
Kenny Sorensen, the talented and well-known musician has been advocating for safe infrastructure for bicycling for years. This is his letter to the editor of the Asbury Park Press. A road diet can be the solution. “While New Jersey traffic fatalities have declined slightly, pedestrian and bicycle deaths have sharply increased. This is a trend nationwide. More pedestrians and bicyclists are being killed and injured by cars than ever before.” #slowthecars Learn more…
Public streets not just for car owners: Sorensen
Ken Sorensen Jan. 11, 2019
Public streets should be for everyone, not just car owners. Our friends in Asbury Park Complete Streets have been successful in implementing a “road diet” on Main Street in Asbury Park. This current project converts four lanes of traffic to a three-lane configuration with a turning lane and bike lanes. It’s much safer for motorists and pedestrians. A road diet is a design tool that reverses six decades of road design focused solely on cars at the expense of pedestrians’ safety and general quality of life.
“The U.S. is an outlier both in terms of road deaths and gun deaths, the analysis shows.”
The horrendous statistics make it clear that the US has to take a serious look at the car culture and make big changes. #slowthecars This can happen one city at a time. Let’s keep up the good work protecting the city’s most vulnerable road users in 2019, Asbury Park.
“The rate of death from motor vehicle crashes among U.S. children and adolescents was the highest observed among high-income countries; the U.S. rate was more than triple the overall rate observed in 12 other developed countries…”
Guns kill twice as many kids as cancer does, new study shows
“The United States is clearly not effectively protecting its children,” the journal’s editor writes.
By Maggie Fox
“Guns are the second leading killer of U.S. kids, after car crashes, according to a new report published Wednesday.”
“…just over 20,000 children died in the U.S. last year, most of them from injuries of some sort. They found 4,074 children died in road deaths, 3,143 from firearms and 1,853 from cancer.”
“Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for children and adolescents, representing 20 percent of all deaths; firearm-related injuries were the second leading cause of death, responsible for 15 percent of deaths,” they wrote.”
APCSC has found that Asbury Park’s Fire Department is coming on board with Complete Streets principles (the concept of the Road Diet is still somewhat a sticking point), but there are still holdouts (and also in our Police Department) clinging to the thinking that it’s all about response times, rather than accepting that faster road speeds lead to increasingly high numbers of traffic related injuries and deaths. It’s about #slowthecars and right-sized emergency vehicles.
Rule 51: Expand the Fire Chief’s Mandate
Rewrite the fire chief’s mandate to optimize public safety, not response times. Replace the 20-foot clear and minimum curb radii with more precise measures. Do not add or keep unwarranted signals in the name of preemption. Size new fire trucks to the community and not vice versa.
By Jeff Speck
Perhaps the most ironic day in the life of every city planner is the one on which she discovers that her greatest opponent in making her city’s streets safer is the fire chief. How this bizarre circumstance has come to occur in city after city across the United States is a veritable morality play on the topics of siloed thinking, the confusion of ends and means, and Murphy’s Law. It goes something like this:
A faster response time is good, but not at the expense of life safety.
The fire chief’s job performance is typically judged on response time. The fire department’s budget is often based on the number of calls that fire trucks respond to. These two facts conspire to replace a fire chief’s natural mandate, optimizing the life safety of the community, with a much narrower focus: sending out lots of trucks, and getting them to their destinations quickly.
A stunning personal story about how a tragic car crash changed a life, starting with the realization that there are no accidents. “…over 35,000 people die every year in the United States from traffic violence. Every two years, more people die in our streets than the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War.”
Misfortune changed this young man’s life. But he knows (as do we at APCSC) that the problem is solvable. He observes in his city: “We continually see elected leaders prioritize publicly-subsidized parking ahead of safe streets. Some publicly shame folks who get around using a bicycle. They wait to improve safety until after people are hit and killed. And most importantly, they often do nothing. They aren’t just killing bike lanes. But we know they can do better because sometimes electeds show leadership. APCSC knows that our Mayor and City Council are showing real leadership. Stay tuned for the Walking and Bicycling Master Plan, and design and implementation all over the city to make it safe for everyone to get around with slower, and fewer cars on our streets.
sA Better Street
By Owen Pickford
“This misfortune irreversibly changed my life, the lives of everyone in that car, their families and their friends. I reacted by imagining life as capricious. Death and suffering seemed to be arbitrary “accidents” caused by human error. Life forced this on me every time I got in a car. With no effort at all I could be killed or kill someone else.
But seventeen years later, I feel much different. My friend’s death was not an accident. All of the 35,000 deaths each year in our streets include painful personal stories like the one I’ve recounted. These deaths are not accidents. Traffic violence is caused by public policy. It’s the result of our collective decisions about street design, speed limits, and land use. We know how to minimize crashes but we fail to care. ”
Asbury Park isn’t alone in working on implementing ways to #slowthecars, and to get drivers to yield and stop for people walking and on bikes. Using “human factors psychology,” (focused on altering group behavior) and positive reinforcement with a “community engaged approach”. Here’s how St. Paul is doing it. Check out the “gateway treatment”. Could AP use this idea?
From Planetizen: “Human factors psychology includes other jargon-y sounding terms like “social norming” and “implied surveillance.” “…clarify more of the concepts behind this tool for convincing drivers to slow and even stop for the safety and right of way of pedestrians.”
To Get Drivers to Yield, St. Paul Uses Psych Trick
By Angie Schmitt
The third wave of enforcement, which was in August, we put up simple R1-6 signs (or “bollards“) . Those went up at our treatment sites and they were very effective. We started doing another wave of enforcement. Then we started seeing compliance in the 70s, which is just a dream compared to where we were last fall.
Then we did our fourth wave in October and we enhanced those in-street signs to “gateway treatments.” A gateway treatment is when you have that R1-6 sign on the center line and then when you have one in the outside lane. So you’re driving through multiple signs on a gate.
Highlights from August 22, 2018 City Council Meeting
“…proposed improvements include an
upgrade of the traffic signal at Third Avenue and Pine Street to include walk signals, 6 neighborhood
roundabouts, 4 vehicle activated traffic calming signs, and bike lanes…”