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Monday, August 16, 2010

Traffic Sucks and then You Die

New York City’s Transportation Department recently released the most ambitious study of its kind by an American city in which it examined more than 7,000 crashes that occurred in New York City from 2002 to 2006 and that resulted in the death or serious injury of at least one pedestrian. In the wake of the study NYC’s mayor is attempting to make the city’s streets safer for pedestrians. This is a good thing, right? You wouldn’t know it from reading many of the comments on the article in The New York Times.

Instead of applauding the mayor for trying to make the city safer for pedestrians most of the comments either tried to find fault with the study, or criticized the “anti-car” nature of the findings, or blame the inattention of people on foot, or bitched about bicycles and said how they are worse than cars, and a host of other issues not dealing with pedestrian safety. Granted, the article was very poorly written and focused more on the fact that male drivers were more responsible for deaths than women, but what I got out of the study was that something needs to be done to improve the safety of citizens. Although I’ll be the first person to agree that cyclists need to obey traffic laws, I seriously doubt that any pedestrian was killed by a bicyclist.

A lot of people making comments moaned about the cost of the study and how their tax dollars were being wasted. I wonder how much of NYC's budget goes for automobile-related expenses like roads and parking?  A lot of comments suggested that pedestrian safety isn't worth the price of slowing down traffic.

Just what is it going to take to get people to realize that cars are much more of a threat to citizens than Islamic terrorists? Something like 40,000 people die in traffic accidents and there are well over a million injuries every year in America. It simply amazes me that so many people commenting on this article don’t seem the least bit bothered by this fact. To me that is a hell of a high cost of doing business with the automobile.

Drivers here in Valencia are pretty much life-threatening to anyone on the street. The police are completely fucking useless when it comes to enforcing traffic laws. Motor scooters do whatever the hell they want and no one seems to care. I wonder if NYC is anything like Valencia when it comes to traffic enforcement? Getting drivers to behave seems like a win-win proposition to me. If police enforce traffic laws the city coffers will swell with the loot from the fines paid and drivers will be forced to act like human beings while driving. What are we waiting for?

The bottom line is that no one has ever described a city as a good place to live because it's easy to get around in a car. Show me a pedestrian area of a city and that's where people want to be. The sooner we make pedestrians a priority over vehicles the sooner we are to having cities worth praising.


  1. Whenever I drive a car (and, thankfully, I haven't needed to since moving to Madrid), I always approach it with the view that it is a potentially lethal weapon. If you think Spanish driving is bad - go to Dubai, rent a car, and every day you will see unbelievable, life-threatening insanity on the roads - I'm proud to have survived 13 years of that with only one major-ish accident, but it took skill, care, and total concentration to do it, especially in fog.

  2. I think drivers pretty much suck everywhere but for different reasons. Americans are in too much of a hurry while Spanish drivers are assholes because they think a car is a toy. I blame too much Formula 1.


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