There have been so many great calls for safer streets from people all over the city recently that I have had trouble keeping up. This is, of course, a great problem to have!
Here’s a quick roundup of a few pieces that caught my eye. If you can think of others, leave links in the comments (or write your own!).
War is about destruction and chaos. It’s an easy metaphor to use when we’re discussing transportation, but not a particularly productive one. The transportation system in Seattle is pretty simple, really. We’re all trying to go from here to there, from point A to point B, without getting banged up, dented, or killed.
After the recent spate of pedestrian and bicycle tragedies on our streets, it is time we all stop being jerks on the road, put down our middle fingers, and strive for peace.
Here are some actions we can collectively take to promote détente:
· Follow the Rule of “Soft over Hard”: Rule 1. Pedestrians have priority in the crosswalks, but pedestrians must stay on the sidewalk when the Don’t Walk signal is flashing. Rule 2. Bicyclists give way to pedestrians on sidewalks and obey the traffic rules. Rule 3. Drivers must remember that they aren’t the only ones on the roads. Watch out for cyclists and pedestrians, and pay attention to the stop lights. Pretty easy.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who commutes to work by bicycle, said, “It’s time to stop finding fault with each other, and to start finding a remedy. There has been a lot of overheated rhetoric about cars versus bikes or bikes versus cars, and it’s not helping make our roads any safer.”
It is true, as the mayor says, most people who bike also own a car or walk from a car to get to a destination. The antagonism — the absurd righteousness about one mode of transportation over another — has gotten completely out of hand.
The mayor has called a summit on road safety. Good for him. Our region needs to expand education and improve enforcement for all users and abusers.
Infrastructure improvements, made by smart spending within existing budgets, are also part of the equation.
It is important to keep this year’s fatalities in perspective. The annual average number of such fatalities statewide is 10. Any number is too high. We have to do better.
Leaders such as City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, M.J. Kelly from Cascade Bicycle Club, and Lisa Quinn from Feet First called for safer shared roads through enforcement, infrastructure and most importantly, conduct.“We all are horrified to hear about the accidents that have occurred this past month,” said City Council member Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the Transportation Committee.“This month, three did not return home. The city is very upset about this,” Rasmussen said, calling for the people of Seattle to stop pointing fingers, remind ourselves that “our lives are precious”, and to agree to share the road.
Representing the King County Board of Health, County Council Member Joe McDermott said he felt “proud to add [his] voice of concern and of alarm of the health and the safety of all people of King County”.“These fatalities affect the health of all of King County,” he said, calling the fatalities a deterrent that keeps people from benefitting the many health benefits that biking provides.Lisa Quinn, Executive Director of Feet First, an advocacy group promoting safe walking conditions and walkable communities, called for changes in infrastructure.Speaking of her own experience of being hit by a car three weeks ago, she said, “I was lucky to be able to walk away from that incident but we need more than luck to safely go by foot or by bike in this city,” she said.
People of Seattle are encouraged to get involved in their communities. Join the Neighborhood Greenways movement, for example, to show that your neighborhood wants these improvements.
What do we want to see as a result of today’s event?
- Zero fatalities. We want to see a recommitment from our cities and our state toward the vision of zero traffic fatalities.
- An informed, engaged public. More people who thought they were on the sidelines are coming together and realizing they can do something to make our city better and safer.
- Less rhetoric. We want to hear a decrease the divisive, inflammatory rhetoric so that a civil and responsible conversation can take place about how to make our city streets safer and better.
- Leadership. We call on our elected officials to make protecting our most vulnerable roadway users and improving public safety a top priority.
And, of course, if you want to get out on the streets and do something now, you can volunteer to pass Proposition 1.