Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Urban Design Kills

Our passion for the automobile, wide open roads and the wind through our hair is killing people. A recent review of fatalities and survey by Transportation for America (PDF report here) reveals that Florida is among the most dangerous places for pedestrians. Over the past decade, almost 50,000 people have died in the USA alone because of our love for the open road. 688,000 pedestrian have been injured. That equates to someone being struck by a car or truck every 7 minutes in America.

The "Dangerous by Design" report is a sad commentary on our society and the things we place value in. Recently, some friends of mine complained about the City of Vancouver's elimination of roadway and the building of bike lanes. My response was, what does our society really value?

I was totally surprised to NOT see Los Angeles in the top 10 for the most dangerous cities for pedestrians. LA was ranked 27th on the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI). I guess LA has lots of catching up to do compared with Florida. Take a look...

Los Angeles is #2 however for the number of accidents involving pedestrians that end in death. New York/New Jersey were #1. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, as this report makes it clear that over the past 10 years, pedestrian conflicts with vehicles has increased. I'm thankful that folks like Dan Burden are out there helping to reduce these conflicts and putting our roads in "diets".

Our bad habits and focus are killing people. Our elderly are most vulnerable to this carnage. We really need to end our obsession with the automobile and find efficient mass transit solutions for our cities. I long for the day that Langley, British Columbia offers choices for mass public transit, walkability and community design that puts the emphasis on people. Read this report and you sense the sober reality of where we have placed our passion and where that has led us.

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