Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sauntering through the New Crosswalk

With the new enhanced crosswalk on Commercial Street at Royvonne,* it was natural to want to see it in action!

Four cars stopped without hassle, recognizing the marked crosswalk where they had largely ignored the unmarked one, and I sauntered through it, enjoying my right-of-way.

4 cars stopped for the crossing
A commenter on FB scolded those of us who might like to saunter, and disputed the value of our current crosswalk laws.

Important people have cars and schedules
They seem to think that only the little people walk and their time is not important; by contrast, the important people have cars and schedules, and deserve priority. They also use emissions to greenwash free-flow traffic.

It is somewhat offensive, and because of the way they are located in our local politics, they should know better. They punched down when they should have been punching up.

(The other criticism was mostly in-group signalling by demonizing an out-group, and demonstrating they hadn't bothered to click through and read past the headline.)

Our Culture of Hydraulic Autoism and Pedestrian Impedance

But it's not surprising that people cling to notions of autoist priority.

From 1937 this remains our ideal - via NYRB
As long as we continue to center congestion as the primary problem in transportation, we will have attitudes to walking and to other mobility as collateral damage. As long as you define free-flow as the desired norm, anything that interferes is noise and impedance, elements or qualities to be engineered out of the system.

"traffic hampering...long delays" = congestion as main problem
(final Congestion Relief Task Force summary)
We saw this with the hostility to walking in proposals to close downtown crosswalks on Front Street.

Pedestrian delay is anti-walking!
(Note this is at Commercial Street, not Front Street, also
from draft recommendations)
With one hand the City may create a new marked crosswalk here on Commercial, but with the other hand it proposed to take them away downtown. The DAB recently came out against closing crosswalks, and this element of the slate of actions appears to be close to being rejected.

But our conversation about "congestion," the terms on which we carry out that analysis and debate, reinforces hostility to walking and other mobility. If we are serious about improving safety and comfort for people on foot, we need to rein in our relentless complaints at the City about congestion. The City needs to lead on changing cultural norms about congestion and redefining the conversation.

from Walkable City Rules by Jeff Speck
This will of course also mesh with our interest on emissions and reducing driving. The City needs to say that in addition to electrification, we have to start driving less. Efficiency and changing fuel doesn't get us to our targets.

In every way, we need to decenter "congestion" as the main problem. Safety and emissions - life itself! - should be at the center of a new paradigm, instead.

* A commenter the other day also complained about calling it simply "a new crosswalk."
Not to be too much of a stickler for terminology -- this is not a new crosswalk. There are crosswalks at every intersection....
This is of course true, but they must not be a regular reader. The word "crosswalk" right now is ambiguous: It can refer to the paint, markings, and other structure that signifies a marked crosswalk, to the physical evidences of a crosswalk; or it can refer to the location and idea of a crosswalk, whether marked or unmarked. The crosswalk here is in fact new when we are talking about the infrastructure of a marked crosswalk. But it is, on the other hand, merely marking a crosswalk that already existed in an unmarked form. We'll try to be more explicit about unmarked crosswalks, marked crosswalks, and enhanced crosswalks; but in context it should be clear what we are talking about.

No comments: