Year In Review 2021 Part Two

And Now For Some Good News

Sharing the news collected and reported by our friends at StreetsblogUSA about reducing dependence on cars and improving conditions for walking, biking, and transit.

Let’s take a look at some of this year’s best news — and start thinking about how to build on it in 2022.

Advocates found big silver linings in a flawed bill

Those bright spots included new dollars for transit station accessibility, electric school buses, and road diets, as well as a 60-percent boost for the largest federal program aimed at building safe walking and biking infrastructure. A slate of new policies became law, too, like one that will force most urbanized states to spend more money on saving vulnerable road users lives, and a new requirement that automakers test how likely their vehicles are to kill a vulnerable road user in a crash and make those stats known to prospective buyers.

New US DOT leadership wrote some great grants

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been the subject of intense scrutiny among sustainable transportation advocates since he was confirmed to the top spot at US DOT in January, some of whom who questioned his mobility resume and commitment to radically reimagining the role of safety for communities of color in the street realm. But in the months sense, many have been pretty happy with how the former mayor’s team has wielded their limited discretionary power so far – and optimistic about how he’ll allocate the billions of new grant dollars that will fall under their sole purview in 2022 and beyond.

Feds promised a potential sea-change on safety

The other good news out the Buttigieg administration followed some of 2021’s worst news: that road traffic deaths were on track to reach their highest level in over a decade.

To its immense credit, US DOT responded to that news by immediately promising a new “National Road Safety Strategy,” which the agency said would be “rooted in the Safe System approach” that’s been embraced by the countries around the handful of countries world that have made the most progress towards Vision Zero.

The Covid-19 bike boom kept booming

The uncertainty of 2020 may have effectively scared many erstwhile transit commuters onto two-wheeled transportation — or at least scared them out of gyms and onto outdoor rides. But even after mass transportation was largely proved safe and gyms started re-opening their doors, many Americans stayed in the saddle, and advocates are hopeful that cities will start building infrastructure to serve that sustained surge in riders.

Big state and local wins

In sustainable transportation, some of the most seismic victories seem pretty small at first — and 2021 was full of significant local wins that could set an example for cities across America.

Happy New Year To All From Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition!

 

Year In Review 2021

Bad News First  

(Don’t worry: we’ll have the good news tomorrow.) 🎄

Thanks to our friends at Streetsblog USA for great journalism reporting every day.

Here were the five biggest bummers on the Streetsblog beat last year, and a few thoughts on what we can take away into next year.

Traffic violence on the rise…

…And legislators were slow to respond

Bad news for pollution — even during a pandemic

EV-mania instead of mode shift

An infrastructure fight with disappointing results

As always, love to hear your thoughts.

Onward.

Change Policing Of Our Cities, Starting With Traffic Enforcement

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition supports a reallocation of police resources, specifically of traffic enforcement, and also in calls involving mental illness, homelessness, and other non-criminal issues where other professionals can be of much more effective service.  Since the early 1920’s the often violent consequences of policing traffic has been borne mostly by people of color.  You’ll read below how our roads have become over policed, and how Berkeley, California is “de-copping” traffic enforcement.

To fully understand the history of the policing of American roads, take a listen to this great War On Cars Podcast:

The Automotive Police State

The podcast introduction:

“For a century, the automobile has been sold to Americans as the ultimate freedom machine. In her groundbreaking new book, “Policing the Open Road,” historian and legal scholar Sarah Seo explodes that myth. Seo shows how modern policing evolved in lockstep with the development of the car. And that rather than giving Americans greater freedom, the massive body of traffic law required to facilitate mass motoring helped to establish a kind of automotive police state. Is a car a private, personal space deserving Fourth Amendment protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures?” Or is a car something else entirely? It’s a question that courts have struggled with for decades, ultimately leaving it up to the police to use their own discretion, often with horrifying results, especially for minorities. In this revelatory conversation with TWOC co-host Aaron Naparstek, Seo offers an entirely new way of looking at the impact of the automobile on American life, law and culture.”

 

Read the excerpt in The Boston Review, Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom by Sarah A. Seo:

How Cars Transformed Policing

“The overpolicing of cars is a fact of life for people of color in the United States.”

“In their book In Context: Understanding Police Killings of Unarmed Citizens, scholars Nick Selby, Ben Singleton, and Ed Flosi concluded, “No form of direct government control comes close to [traffic] stops in sheer numbers, frequency, proportion of the population affected, and in many instances, the degree of coercive intrusion.”

 

To learn about Berkeley, CA becoming the “first in the United States to take police officers out of traffic enforcement, read this  Streetsblog USA article:

Berkeley To Become the First US City To De-Cop Traffic Enforcement

“Racism in street safety law enforcement, of course, is not unique to Berkeley — and some street safety advocates hope that their own cities will consider similar proposals.”

Click here to read more.