(click on title to follow the link to The New York Times article)
Although fairly hostile towards pedestrians,* this is one of the few articles of this nature that I have seen in an American publication and a message that Americans need beat into their heads every day.
Zurich’s planners continue their traffic-taming quest, shortening the green-light periods and lengthening the red with the goal that pedestrians wait no more than 20 seconds to cross.
“We would never synchronize green lights for cars with our philosophy,” said Pio Marzolini, a city official. “When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am worth less than a car.”
As far as Valencia has come in the years I have lived here it is still maddening how long pedestrians have to wait at many intersections just to cross the damn street. Often they are also forced to wait two times to cross a single intersection just so cars can keep driving well over the legal limit. More than anything Valencia needs to slow traffic the hell down. As fast as a lot of traffic moves in this city any accident involving pedestrians or cyclists will have a very serious result, to put it mildly.
Of course, because The New York Times is closely monitored by far-right nut cases seeking to turn back the tide of socialism, the first comment to this story comes from a member of their half-witted ranks.
“Lets keep European ideas and implementation of Traffic in Europe where they belongs. Don't import these ideas and plans to this country. I don't want a Nanny government to dictate how I travel and what modes of travel I use.”
So by this logic the government shouldn't be building roads. as the glorious free market will provide for all our needs. As if America should ignore any idea simply because Europeans thought of it first. I don’t want a “nanny” (I hate that over-used word) government telling me that the only way that I can get around is by car. I doubt that the person who wrote this semi-literate comment even bothered (or was able) to read the article and they certainly skipped over this part:
“Mr. Fellmann calculated that a person using a car took up 115 cubic meters (roughly 4,000 cubic feet) of urban space in Zurich while a pedestrian took three. “So it’s not really fair to everyone else if you take the car,” he said.”
It’s time we made car drivers pay the true societal and environmental costs of the automobile. Highways and streets are horrifically expensive yet people scream bloody murder every time the government spends a dime on rail service, as if Amtrak should make a profit while highways continue to deplete tax dollars. I realize that many people in the USA would find it difficult or impossible to live without cars but this is only because we have made the decision to build our cities to exclude any transportation model besides the personal automobile.
*Here is just a short inventory of the ways the tone of this article paints pedestrians as basically criminals intruding on the rights of car drivers.
creating environments openly hostile to cars
The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable
Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs.
Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters.