When you read this, do not freak out. Do not think “Kevin is on the highway, this could happen to him.” Because this could happen to anyone. Our entire society is dictated by the automobile. More people die in auto accidents than most of our major fears – murder, terrorism, plane crashes. Automobiles are deadly yet we are numb to their destructiveness. If you want your loved ones safe, tell them to eat healhty, get exercise, and AVOID CARS. We MUST stop blaming people who walk and bike – they are making the safe choice, the healthy choice, the socially-beneficial choice yet we kill, maime, and then blame them everyday.
Also, since I know some of you will still worry note that I avoid major highways whenever possible, try to time my riding to avoid times of heavy traffic, and rarely ride after dark.
Just some of the Oregon driving carnage of the past two weeks.(Photos: Oregon State Police) This is an editorial. The Oregon State Police issued a relatively rare safety message to the media today. In light of three collisions in the past nine days that resulted in the death of someone trying to walk or roll…
via Oregon State Police blames vulnerable victims while driving deaths spin out of control — Front Page – BikePortland.org
A typical busy street scene on Sixth Avenue in New York City shows how pedestrians ruled the roadways before automobiles arrived, circa 1903. Via Shorpy by way of Collectors Weekly
Last week I wrote about my run in with an angry driver and how cyclists often discuss how they consistently are in danger of being hit, injured, or worse. I asked “How often do you go home at the end of the day and discuss how your life has been put in danger?” And I answered every day. My message was clear: Slow Down for Life. Presently, Vision Zero campaigns around the world are working to decrease traffic fatalities to an unbelievable number” zero. The video I shared shows how ridiculous people think that idea is. Yet there was a time when streets were ruled by people, not automobiles. Drivers were held responsible and it was assumed that people would be in the street so drivers and transit slowed to a pedantic pace. Last year Collectors Weekly published an article about just that. Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year explores the history of traffic fatalities and looks at a time when the rules and assumptions of the road were very different:
In 2012, automobile collisions killed more than 34,000 Americans, but unlike our response to foreign wars, the AIDS crisis, or terrorist attacks—all of which inflict fewer fatalities than cars—there’s no widespread public protest or giant memorial to the dead. We fret about drugs and gun safety, but don’t teach children to treat cars as the loaded weapons they are.
“The people who really get it today, in 2014, know that the battle isn’t to change rules or put in signs or paint things on the pavement,” Norton continues. “The real battle is for people’s minds, and this mental model of what a street is for. There’s a wonderful slogan used by some bicyclists that says, ‘We are traffic.’ It reveals the fact that at some point, we decided that somebody on a bike or on foot is not traffic, but an obstruction to traffic. And if you look around, you’ll see a hundred other ways in which that message gets across. That’s the main obstacle for people who imagine alternatives—and it’s very much something in the mind.”
Note: there is a video at the end of the article that is somehow both hilarious and terrifying. Be sure to check it out.