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Future Building Society Technology

People will keep dying to cars until we decide their safety is more important than cars’ convenience

Replied to The Urbanist’s Ryan Packer Discusses Worsening Traffic Safety Crisis on KUOW by Doug Trumm (The Urbanist)

The pedestrian safety crisis has been worsening in Washington State and across the United States, even as most other industrialized nations have taken strides to reduce their traffic fatality rate in recent years.

Last year, the state saw nearly 150 people walking lose their lives on our streets, a 31.8% increase in one year and the highest figure seen in at least several decades. That trend is not showing any signs of slowing in 2022.

Graph showing a 30% leap in pedestrian fatalities from 2020 to 2021 in Washington State, after a slow increase over a decade

This is a choice we make when we put efficiency and convenience above all else. The design of our roads, the investments we choose to make in infrastructure for people walking and biking, the timing of our traffic signals, the laws we enact, the driver training we require, the penalty for vehicular manslaughter — these all shape how many people die needlessly on our streets.

One of the people killed was an elderly woman in my city who was hit walking in her own neighborhood by someone backing out of their driveway. Since that day, I always back into my driveway so I have a clear view pulling out.

Traffic deaths should be so rare as to be a shocking tragedy, not an everyday occurrence. It infuriates me when people dismiss Vision Zero as unachievable because there will always be one or two people who die in totally random accidents, using pedancy to avoid confronting a real cost of our time-obsessed capitalist society.

These conversations are vital to have now, before self driving cars become common and accepted — what norms of pedestrian deaths will we accept as our cost of convenience? Especially since self driving cars so far cannot accurately identify a person on a bike.

Categories
Cool History Society The Internet

Human Scale

Bookmarked Ri — The Distance Walked in an Hour by Craig Mod (craigmod.com)

A ri is a unit of measure, it’s about how far a person can walk in an hour at a reasonable pace…Remnants of the ri system are scattered along the old roads of Japan. During the Edo period, ri were marked recurrently by hulking earthen mounds that flanked the road — ichi-ri zuka, “one-ri mounds.”

The idea of a single ri is old, simple, and human scale.

Human-scale things at a human-scale pace.

I feel like human scale is missing in so much of the world these days. Our cities are built at a bigger scale, our sprawling suburbs disconnected from a human pace and reliant on car travel. Walk? No one can fulfill their lives by walking — yet that is the most human of movement (no disrespect meant to those who cannot walk).

The internet is vast and contains multitudes, with few spaces that acknowledge our humanity — websites are designed for growth, more more more, never content to stay small. Never forming community at the scale people build community, because that’s not profitable enough, because community isn’t the real goal. Looking forward to seeing how non-profits and small groups can invent more, smaller public spaces online that operate on a more human level.

See also: Skittish, another experimental online gathering space that works to embody participants. Sounds similar to Gather.