Seattle’s Transportation Director penned a powerful op-ed about Vision Zero in the Seattle Times this week.
I would paraphrase and analyze it, but reading it really just makes me want to stand up and applaud.
Read it all here. Here’s an excerpt:
A LEADING cause of death for Seattle residents ages 5 through 24 is preventable, not accidental. If it were a disease, our finest doctors would try to find a cure. But it’s not a disease; it’s traffic collisions. And, it’s time to do something new about it.
Vision Zero is an approach to road safety that acknowledges that people make mistakes. It focuses on designing safe and forgiving streets, no matter if you are walking, biking or driving.
Some changes may impact travel times. The average car trip in Seattle is 3.5 miles. If that driver is traveling 35 mph without any interruptions, reducing the speed by 5 mph would add one minute to his or her trip. As a city, we can spare a minute to save a life.
We dedicate these actions to Sandhya Khadka and Sher Kung, young women who lost their lives last year. We dedicate them to Zeytuna Edo, a young girl seriously injured while crossing the street, and to all those who’ve had their lives changed forever by crashes.
I just have to say – I’ve never seen a bigger group of losers in my life than the commenters on that article. Minus the physician.
I have to admit, reading their comments even makes me wish that a few of them get horribly and critically injured in preventable car crashes, so they can get an experential crash course (no pun intended) on the topic.
One day I would love to see ethnographic research on the demographics/population that actually comprises the bulk of newspaper commenter-losers. Who are they? What motivates them? What educational background do they have (if any)?
Don’t judge humanity by the comments on Seattle Times. The only people left participating are people who haven’t already been driven away by the constant negativity. Even so, I don’t wish them harm. They are clearly sad people.
They probably don’t get enough exercise to alivivate their depression. Too bad they are so set against riding bicycles. It would change their viewpoint in more ways than one.
I agree. Those comments really sicken me. That said, the last two are positive. I must confess though, one of them is mine. ;)
Hey Eli. Don’t feel too bad. I’d like to think people are commenting out of their own personal contexts and that most people don’t think like they do. Online commenting in a civil and positive manner takes extreme levels of discipline and empathy. Overall by how people treat me while I am riding I think people are generally civil and kind, it’s the small few who aren’t.
Totally! I am sure you are right that these people are in no way representative of our community.
I guess in my alternative universe where I had unlimited personal research time, I would love to do some sort of interview research into who these people are and what motivates their angry world views. Looking at Google Scholar, people have done content analysis and looked at UX experience elements that support raging assholes (e.g. anonymity for one), but nobody I can see has really looked at the phenomena of studying these people as a human population.
As an aside, if Vision Zero ever became actually contentious, it would be provocative to put together a video crash victims and their survivors reading some of the nastiest, most delusional ST comments.
I think it’s fear of changes that motivate them to complain. And the The Seattle Times lets them vent without consequences.
In my encounters on the road, I find almost all drivers are polite and just like me, trying to get somewhere.
That’s my real-life experience, too. Almost everyone behind the wheel is courteous to me when we cross paths. That keeps my hope alive that the pathetic losers we see in the Times comment section are nothing but a vocal minority.
And I forgot:
* Why do they believe every improvement to the city is part of a liberal conspiracy?
* Why do they assume everyone working in a government role is incompetent?
* Why is it so hard to accept that infrastructure design affects safety given the incontrovertible facts?
I’m curious how many of them are also under the belief that climate change is a liberal conspiracy.
It’s the conspiracy angle that gets me too. Who exactly do they think is going to benefit from this supposed conspiracy to “make it miserable to drive in this city.”
Disgusting, selfish people. Oh well, have fun in traffic! I’ll try to wave as I pedal on by.
I thought that most of those negative comments on the ST piece indicated that they didn’t really read the piece or chose not to understand it. They ignored the key point that SDOT is recognizing that “people make mistakes” and road design should take that fact of life into account. Who could rationally argue with the concept that bikers, pedestrians, drivers and other road users (skateboarders?) are all capable of making mistakes and that those mistakes are usually the cause of collisions? But they will forever make value judgments about which class of road user is more likely to cause a collision. At this point I will put in a plug for the great Powerpoint presentation Cascade has put together on safe bicycle commuting practices. In preparation for Bike Month and Bike to Work Day, West Seattle Bike Connections will be using it in a workshop for prospective bike commuters 6PM April 27th at the Delridge Library.
Would you be able to share the Cascade presentation material with me? I’d love to take a look at it.