Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bikes offer Best Mobility During Eclipse; and the Agentless Car

A couple of items in the paper yesterday express two different forms of autoist bias, both a kind of erasure.

Editorial today + ODOT Advice
Eclipse mania is heating up. The paper published an editorial on the eclipse, and this past week the City announced a website on the eclipse.

Both of them miss what at least ODOT hints at: Your bike will be the best mobility around! Super easy for short trips, and still excellent for medium-length trips. At a moderate pace of 12mph, or even a slow pace of 8mph, you can traverse the length or width of the whole urban area in less than an hour. Silverton is a little more than an hour.

People on bike whiz by and have way more fun!
in Halifax via Twitter
Bike mobility is your best bet!

The City should correct this. They've got a long bit on "Parking in Salem & the Surrounding Area During the Eclipse" and don't mention the advantages of bicycling at all.

This is just silly. Instead of erasing bike mobility, the City should be saying, "bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes," hammering away at their utility and advantages in exactly this kind of situation.

The agentless, autonomous car: No driver is responsible
More seriously and tragically, in the announcement about a memorial service for Shatamera Pruden, we have reverted to the rhetoric of the blameless, autonomous car, erasing the agency of drivers:
Shatamera was crossing the street with her 13-year-old sister Jaleaha to visit friends at a nearby apartment complex when she was struck by an FJ Cruiser traveling southbound near the intersection of Commercial Street SE and Royvonne Avenue on Monday, July 3.

She had passed through the first two lanes of traffic and was waved on by a driver in the third lane to continue crossing, but was struck by [Zane Hilton, who was driving] the FJ Cruiser in the fourth lane of traffic, said Lt. Dave Okada of Salem Police Department. [italics added]
In the current legal environment, which disadvantages people on foot, Hilton may have been operating legally at 40mph, may have not been required to yield to a person outside of a marked crosswalk, and may in the end not be cited for any traffic violations. Details on the crash investigation have not been released, and so we don't know who was traveling legally.

The posted speed is 40mph at the crash site on Commercial
But a person still operates a motor vehicle, is in control of it, and is responsible for its safe operation. By erasing the person driving, the rhetoric shifts blame onto the person walking, who is named.

The crash investigation is not yet complete, and journalists should adopt a more neutral description of the crash.

via Placemakers
Even if in the current legal environment, drivers are operating legally, the crash description should also indicate that at 40mph, a person on foot has essentially no chance of survival, and that the system structure here, including road design, design speed, the lack of marked crosswalks at every legal intersection, profoundly disadvantages people on foot.

Additionally, kids deserves safe passage on our roads, and our road system should function for kids, who may not always make the most prudent of decisions, for the elderly, and for disabled people who reasonably want to minimize out-of-direction travel to a distant signalized crosswalk.

On a different discussion about safety in general - not specifically about this crash - a person wrote:
I would like to see some pedestrian responsibility and education too. No more mindlessly texting in la la land while cars narrowly avoid killing you!
But the person employing lethal force is the driver of a car. There's a false equivalence here that is essentially victim-blaming.

A minor error by a driver in an automobile, like errors in braking, steering, or speeding, is often "forgiven" by our autoist standards for a "forgiving" road design, which routinely induce speeds 10 and 15mph above the posted speed limit.

A minor error by a person on foot too often ends in death or serious injury. There is much less forgiveness in road design for errors on foot.

(See also "Why Pedestrian Rights themselves may not be Sufficient.")

Pruden's memorial will be at 2pm today, Saturday the 15th, in the gym at Leslie Middle School, 3850 Pringle Rd. SE.

Whether we ignore the utility of bike travel in fighting traffic jams or we ignore the agency of drivers in a crash, both gestures of erasure advantage cars and their drivers. These are part of the deeper cultural norms of our autoism, and we need to change them.

1 comment:

Walker said...

When I used to grade papers, I would write "the passive voice was used" whenever someone would shift into what I call "The Language of Non-Responsibility." In 99.99% of the cases it's the surefire tipoff for someone trying to hide an inconvenient fact.