Monday, January 1, 2024

Three Wishes for the New Year

Focus on Cars, Driving, and Speed in Vision Zero

As the City develops a Vision Zero Plan and rolls out a Twenty is Plenty campaign, I hope they give proper weight to cars, drivers, and speed. Speed at impact kills.

They knew better in 1937
(State Library of Oregon)

Angry owl? Or Dangerous driver?

The new Director of Public Works is reaching out some to advocates, and hopefully those conversations will be fruitful.

But so much of the framing on safety generally devolves to pedestrian safety specifically and focuses on special pedestrian safety equipment, as well as on defensive walking. The subtext is victim-blamey: Pedestrians, not drivers, are responsible for safety.

Pedestrian Safety Equipment via Twitter

Same message, Winter 2023 campaign - via FB

Let's talk more about the asymmetry in power and focus on who operates the machine with lethal force. The essential difference between a 19th century Paris street scene and a 21st century walk is the cars. 40mph is too fast for urban streets.

Link Climate and Transportation more Clearly

Let's talk more about driving and transportation as a great driver of greenhouse gas emissions.

Today's paper has a story about humans planting trees in new sites as a way to migrate tree species to more promising land in the face of increasing drought, heat, and fire.


Over the weekend, nationally there was a cluster of stories about water levels, sea levels rising on the coasts, and groundwater levels falling on interior lands.

NY Times, Saturday

LA Times, Sunday

Washington Post, Sunday

Here we recently read about ski resorts struggling with insufficient snow and a warm start to the winter.

All of these should be linked with our driving habit.

More Whimsy and Delight in Public Art

Online the Oregonian had a story a few days ago about new public art in Milwaukie at City Hall.

New public art in Milwaukie

The art commemorates Ah Bing, who may have bred the Bing cherry, who did nurture it, and for whom the cherry is named. Its origin and history had been absorbed into the history of the Lewellings, and this another moment in retrieving a fairer history.

January 16th, 1903
Polk County Itemizer

The artist also underscored legibility, saying "you don't need a lot of interpretation for our art."

Emphasis on legibility

The framing on the Oregonian's picture immediately brought to mind the ways the art at the Police Station has been pictured.

What is this? Legibility at the Police Station
(Public Art Commission Annual Report, Dec. 2020)

The emphasis in Milwaukie on legibility contrasts with the obscurity of some recent art in Salem, which has seemed like high-concept art better suited for a gallery or museum, where people might like to puzzle over it, and for which an artist statement and explanation is generally necessary.

Legible: A cherry mural in process here
(Public Art Commission Annual Report, Dec. 2023)

Instead we should prioritize art that needs no explanatory statement. More whimsy, delight, and refreshment for public art in 2024!


Mike said...

I find it mind-boggling that cities are able to continue with projects in their TSP even if it doesn't make sense for safety or the environment. The State should not have allowed that when DLCD started working on their Climate-Friendly Cities program.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

At the Vision Zero Network, in "What We’re Getting Wrong about Vision Zero & Lessons for 2024" they focus on actually reducing driving speeds:

"Setting a goal of Vision Zero – safe mobility for all – will not make a difference. Nor will simply developing a well-meaning, or even an ambitious, Vision Zero Plan. Even re-designing roads and lowering speed limits in a handful of problematic areas are only isolated, baby steps. Worthy steps – yes – but not sufficient to meet the moment....

First, we must start making decisions based on the realities of physics and second, we must move beyond today’s piecemeal approach to change....

Our most promising way of reducing the frequency and severity of crashes is by reducing speeds, especially where there are a mix of people traveling both inside and outside motor vehicles....

For a community serious about advancing Vision Zero, it starts with recognizing the physics: Vehicle speed at the time of impact correlates directly to whether a person will live or die.