The video's supposed to be light-hearted, and so we shouldn't place too much stress on it. At the same time, it ostensibly offers a statement of Mayoral priorities, and so it's not something to ignore completely.
The council-related events of last week overtook it, though. Maybe now we can revisit it a little.
|Food is a distraction also: At the drive-thru coffee shack|
Again, it's meant to be light-hearted, but this style and form reinforces our propensity for dangerous driving, and suggests driving is no big deal, that drivers can conduct any number of other activities while driving. There's nothing outrageous here, it's important to say, but it very nicely expresses our current norms and cultural expectations for a certain inattentiveness on the road. This is normal, banal, perfectly acceptable autoism. But it's actually dangerous.
As for substance, the Mayor's number one priority? Uber.
Frankly, that's a little bizarre. Of all the things to say as number one, that's it???
Salem said "no" to ride-booking companies for genuine reasons.
But the ride-booking companies want to frame it up as municipal misbehavior. Look at the tone here.
The Uber facebook page says:
Uber came to Salem then left because the City of Salem would not play by Uber's rules. It's time we make the minor changes needed to bring Uber back.That's an interesting read. "The City of Salem would not play by Uber's rules."
|Nyet: Uber needs Licenses|
From a recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic research:
Passengers have faced a history of discrimination in transportation systems. Peer transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft present the opportunity to rectify long-standing discrimination or worsen it. We sent passengers in Seattle, WA and Boston, MA to hail nearly 1,500 rides on controlled routes and recorded key performance metrics. Results indicated a pattern of discrimination, which we observed in Seattle through longer waiting times for African American passengers—as much as a 35 percent increase. In Boston, we observed discrimination by Uber drivers via more frequent cancellations against passengers when they used African American-sounding names. Across all trips, the cancellation rate for African American sounding names was more than twice as frequent compared to white sounding names. Male passengers requesting a ride in low-density areas were more than three times as likely to have their trip canceled when they used a African American-sounding name than when they used a white-sounding name. We also find evidence that drivers took female passengers for longer, more expensive, rides in Boston. We observe that removing names from trip booking may alleviate the immediate problem but could introduce other pathways for unequal treatment of passengers.The wild-west of "Uber's rules" poses some real problems, and it wasn't so much that the City didn't want Uber, but it was that Uber was unwilling to play by the City's rules that are meant to ensure safety and fairness.
Some of the important questions that remain involve background checks, insurance coverage (people walking and biking are especially vulnerable in the coverage gaps Uber wants to see), and safety inspections. (Others have raised questions about the contractor/employee ambiguity and wages, and the ways the companies don't always share information they are supposed to.)
|Cherriots Flexible transit: 3 to 5 boardings per hour|
Additionally, drivers tooling around while waiting for a fare are certainly not reducing the number of cars on the road. Ride-booking companies may help reduce car ownership and perhaps also demand for parking, but they do not necessarily reduce the number of car trips.
Ride-booking companies would be nice to have, but not as the bull in a china shop. They should be more willing to play by the City's rules, not the other way around.
Salem should work towards figuring out a framework in which ride-booking alternatives to taxis can flourish.
But it's far from clear that this should be the number one Mayoral priority and that Salem needs to be the one to should back down on all of the requirements.
|Two-way State Street and biking - maybe not so sure about that?|
But that's actually a project for downtown that is worth a high priority! Bennett should have led with that and they should have talked about it a lot more.
Conversation about the State Street project then segued into a vague reference to bicycling - and then a "squirrel" shows up.
I want a two-way state street. It's our connection, I think, to the park.I worry that we're talking here about a two-way State Street and about bicycling as emblems of being up-to-date, and not as fully considered commitments or interests. The rhetoric may be working at the level of symbol only rather than policy. And to go back to the point about distracted driving, it is difficult to square a real concern for bicycling with so much distraction and amusement in the car. (Also, the SRC has been going on for nine years, and it will harm bicycling in Salem far more than whatever has been done in Salem over the last nine years.)
What are your thoughts on a more bikable Salem. Salem is already very bikeable.
I've been one of the real proponents of it over the past nine years. It's gonna be really exciting what's going on. [Squirrel!] Comedy...
At the end of the video, there's an amusing attempt-slash-skit to use the Mayor to get out of parking tickets, underscoring ideas about access to power and the expectation for free parking.
You might say this is taking the video way too seriously, squeezing out meaning where there is none or there is just fun. And there is some truth to that. But it also offered up a kind of statement of Mayoral priorities, and it is worth therefore taking it seriously also.
* Over at CANDO, they've been strong critics of the Homelessness Task Force and there are very strong questions, again, about whether the rhetoric is meant to operate only at the level of symbol or is meant to lead to meaningful policy actions.
Also, for a strong contrast with the autoism of the Mayoral video is this new smartphone ad.
It's not the smartphones that make this "a perfect day," it's the bikes, the independence, and mobility they offer kids. The smartphones are really just a secondary prop.
The Pixies cover is more than a little underpowered, but the joy on bikes? Right on. Maybe we'll come back later and discuss the ad in more detail, as it also is an interesting cultural text.