Dealing with good and evil (in traffic)
In 2010 a 38-year-old motorist filled with remorse entered a police station in the Netherlands to give himself up. Twenty years earlier he had run over a child and was ridden with guilt. The man explained that he slept badly since the accident, suffered from nightmares and could not find a decent permanent job. The approximately five-year-old child unexpectedly crossed the road and he could not brake in time. While another motorist took care of the victim, he drove away and since then he lived contrary to his conscience. Until it was too much for him that morning and he decided to surrender himself.
* Wanted: Curators and contributors for World Streets “Drivers As Victims” Department. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Drivers as Victims
After a century of fearless and uncontested domination, peace and pandering, car/owner drivers around the planet suddenly find themselves in the midst of a raging process of transition to a very different world of privilege and limitation, laws and enforcement, economics and free rides. And unsurprisingly in their own yes they see themselves as victims: having their territory limited step by step to ever-growing parts of the cityscape where they have long been uncontested kings and queens.
The term “refugee” if used in the context of transportation would normally be understood to mean “the movement of refugees”. But what we fail to comprehend is that for various reasons it is our own transport systems, and the values and decisions that shape them, that are making many of us “refugees” in our own cities? It does not have to be this way.
Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, in a wide-ranging conversation with Faizal Khan reporting for the excellent Walkability Asia ( Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities), spells out clearly the inevitability of a non-motorised transport code in India through shocking figures and revealing facts. “We need zero tolerance policy for accidents. This menu of action needs support. Our right to walk is not negotiable.” And on this Roychowdhury is entirely right. On this score we must be entirely intransigent and as part of this to keep pounding away on this important point of citizen activism on every available occasion, until we get the concept of zero tolerance written into the law and respected on the streets. All our streets! Continue reading
Although the number of pedestrian trips made daily in Bogotá is high (3,090,809), we observe that there has been little study of the state of these road users in the city; a state defined on occasion by unsafe streets, the invasion of public space, and a poor and deteriorating pedestrian infrastructure, as well as by, among others, the intervention of various public spheres and the improvement of parks and plazas.
This document has resulted from an investigation process, consultation of various sources, and a critical, informative and constructive analysis on the part of its authors and collaborators. The aim is to develop an in-depth analysis that offers both layman and professional audiences profound insights into the difficulties, opportunities, and challenges of pedestrian mobility in the city, as well as generating a number of proposals in order to contribute to public policy that prioritizes pedestrian well-being.
FOR THE RECORD AND IN BRIEF:
A Slow City is an urban development vision and quantifiable target, the first step of which is (a) to reduce traffic accidents and their human and economic costs to zero in the city, by (b) strategically slowing down traffic, over all the parts and the system as a whole. This gives the city a measurable target output (accident data and on-street and in-vehicle ITS feedback) for evaluation and management purposes, and an innovative platform to link and serve other sustainable projects and programs which are consistent to the theme: reforms and improvements that are Better | Cheaper | Quicker.
The Highway Code: a collection of laws, advice and best practice for all road users, which mainly functions as a written basis for learning to drive as well as stipulating the letter of the law (licensing, required safety equipment, default rules, etc.) In Europe this happens at a national level, with room in some places for stricter local ordinances. In the US mainly a state prerogative. In all cases the code itself is the creature of the automotive age and is primarily concerned with defining the role and characteristics of motor vehicle driver and owner behavior.
Many European cities are of late starting to advance on the idea of establishing a far tougher “street codes”, specifically adapted to the special and more demanding conditions of driving in city traffic. This is becoming especially important as we start to see a much greater mix of vehicles, speeds and people on the street. If streets are for cars, well this is probably not a priority. But if they are “public spaces” and open to the full range of uses and users, then perhaps something along these lines is called for.
The idea is works is that legal responsibility for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means that the driver who hits a cyclist has to prove his innocence, as opposed to today where the cyclist must prove the driver’s guilt (not always very easy to do).
This is not quite as good as John Adams’ magnificent 1995 formulation whereby every steering wheel of every car , truck and bus would be equipped with a large sharp nail aimed directly at the driver’s heart– but it can at least help getting things moving in the right direction.
We propose to make this a major campaign theme of World Streets in 2018 and invite our readers to submit their reports, ideas and comments over the course of the months ahead.
If you look over toward the top of the left menu here, you will see that we have opened up a reader poll in an attempt to get your views as well. We also invite comment here on the results.
Some first references:
Livable Streets discussions of Street Code
What is Street Code?
Code de la rue – Belgium (Use Translate here as needed)
Code de la rue – France
Code de la rue – Wikipedia
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9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France
Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton
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