Monday, December 2, 2019

Why is the Violence of our Autoism so Unremarkable?

So late yesterday afternoon around 4:30pm, two drivers crashed their cars at High and Court. Speed was high enough to force one of the cars onto the sidewalk and rotated away from the one-way grid.

A crash last night at Court and High
two images collaged for clarity, via twitter
It's just so hard to see how prudent downtown driving speeds led to a crash of this violence. (If running a red light at the "lawful" speed has this result, then the speed is not prudent for a downtown environment.)

There's been a lot of traffic violence in the paper lately, and it is just so fascinating - not in a good way at all! - how we normalize this into background noise and move on to the next thing, not thinking at all that this is evidence of a major system problem with our autoism and transportation system. We insist the crashes are the results of bad decisions and bad actors. But any errors are too routine. The evidence is right there, and yet we maintain a cultural blindness to it, choosing not to see what is plain to see.

A couple weeks ago a driver rolled their car just a block away. Again, how does this happen at a prudent speed?

A couple of nights ago on Cordon Road and Sunnyview there was a horrific crash with multiple deaths.

And within the last month there have been two trials with driving carnage featured in the paper. (And daily additional notes about "lesser" crashes.)

How is it possible this is just a routine and acceptable cost, so banal it may not even count as a "cost," for using our cars???

The causes are multiple, and the car industry has taken car to inflame some of them, advertising cars with "professional drivers" on "closed courses" with disclaimers not to try this at home. So much speeding.

But here, in our framing about "congestion relief"; and our engineering standards for "level of service," "volume/capacity" measures, and 85th percentile speed; in enforcement the Police says speeding 10mph is ok, but not 11mph or more; all the messages we send is that slow car travel is bad, and drivers should always expect to be able to zoom. There's a constant expectation for speed.

In this environment, then, bad actors aren't wild monsters; they are just pushing things a little farther, and catastrophe ensues.

Some ingredients to our autoism and carbon pollution,
53% of which comes from our cars
(via VTPI, Salem notes added)

Average temps in Oregon from 1895 - 2018 (L to R)
(Show Your Stripes)
And what will it take to link traffic violence to climate violence?

Our disregard for the problems of autoism is so willful.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Is it bad street design or impatience or poor judgement?

I agree something must be done differently. Last night I almost hit a truck crossing in front of me as the driver was turning into the new shopping center at Glen Creek and Wallace Road. Why the person had to turn in from of a car going the speed limit when a few seconds wait would have provided a clear path, is beyond me. But further why the City designed the access on Glen Creek that requires people to stop mid-way up the hill in a very short stacking lane, and then cross two lanes of oncoming traffic with a bike lane in the middle makes absolutely no sense. It is like building an accident machine!

This near miss was just minutes after I learned that a young girl who is a family member was struck down in a crosswalk out in South Salem. In a crosswalk! The driver stopped only long enough to see if there was blood and to give a phone number. They did not even stay long enough to talk to the police!

It is just not safe out there anymore. I wish walking or biking would provide some answers, but I doubt it. We have to do better.

PS. Regarding the young girl. she will be ok, but her track season may be ruined.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

That driveway on the midpoint of the hill at Glen Creek always seemed problematic, and it will be interesting to see if it is adjusted. They already restriped the green bike lane. It's a bad design as you say. (Here are a few notes on that from two years ago.)

I am sorry to hear about your family member and the harm to her athletic life.

It is bad street design, impatience and poor judgment by individual drivers, and a whole culture and system of autoism.