Thursday, August 28, 2014

Streetsblog: "Man killed by Muni bus driver"

Streetsblog thinks there should be a crosswalk here

According to Streetsblog, their team has simply suffered another casualty in the ongoing traffic war on city streets (Man Killed by Muni Bus Driver at Closed Crosswalk Outside Geary Tunnel). This man was apparently jaywalking across Geary Blvd. early Monday morning and was hit and killed by a Muni bus: "Both crosswalks across Geary are closed at that intersection, just east of the Masonic tunnel..."

Look at the photo above, and you can see there are no crosswalks there for obvious reasons. Were there ever crosswalks there? Seems unlikely, given that location near the entrance/exit to the tunnel.

I walked by that area yesterday, and it's clear that any pedestrian who tries to cross Geary there would have to be very reckless, even at 1:00 o'clock in the morning.

You can't clearly hear or see individual vehicles coming from either direction unless you are vigilant. All you hear is a dull, background traffic roar from the tunnel. One wonders if the guy killed was drunk or stoned.

The grammar of the head is what's offensive, as if the bus driver intended to kill anyone and was somehow morally responsible for this death. I've written before about Streetsblog's crude, unhinged reporting whenever a cyclist or a pedestrian is injured by a motor vehicle. It doesn't matter to them how such accidents happen or who was actually responsible. It's all grist for the anti-car mill.

More nuttiness is reflected in their terminology: Geary Blvd. is "a traffic sewer," since it's a major east/west street in San Francisco that carries more than 65,000 vehicles a day, and the #38 Geary line carries more than 50,000 passengers a day. Why can't all those folks ride bikes?

Still more nuttiness:

There are currently no plans to re-configure the intersection, or to close the Masonic tunnel and bring Geary back to grade. The tunnel also prevented center-running transit lanes from being built east of the Richmond District as part of the Geary Bus Rapid Transit project.

Like the goofy idea of filling in the underpass at Geary and Fillmore, bringing "Geary back to grade" would create a horrendous traffic jam at the Masonic and Geary intersection, a prospect the bike people view with equanimity.

Of course the anti-car Walk SF has to pile on to use a death caused by a reckless pedestrian to score points:

“His death is all the more tragic, given the crash occurred on Geary — long identified as one of the six percent of streets which make up the city’s high-injury corridors and account for over 60 percent of crashes involving pedestrians,” said Natalie Burdick of Walk SF...“The city made a laudable commitment to Vision Zero,” an end to traffic deaths, said Burdick. “However, this latest loss of life is a painful reminder of how far the city currently remains from implementing the engineering solutions critical to reducing the number of serious and fatal injuries, which continue to plague the city.”

Obviously there's no "engineering solution" to prevent this kind of accident, unless Burdick and Streetsblog have an engineering solution to human nature itself. Whether on foot, on bikes, or in motor vehicles, people will sometimes do unsafe things.

These people don't seem to understand how dumb they sound when they pretend that every accident on city streets is preventable.

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19 Comments:

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Pursuing absolute and idiot-proof perfection at any cost will only hose the entire system. Some things can't be protected against, nor should they be.

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, Rob is missing the point of the article. It's not about who's at fault, but rather someone has been killed by a motor vehicle. The Vision Zero Initiative is a Swedish Government program that has been highly effective at reducing the number of roadway deaths (http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/en/Concept/) It starts with the premise that we are all human, and we all make mistakes. Then, it looks at what might be the best way to prevent roadway deaths from there.

Sweden's economy hasn't ground to a halt as a result of implementing this policy. Nor have they stopped driving. But they have reduced roadway deaths to less than 5 per 100,000, while the US remains at 10 per 100,000, and while deaths of occupants in cars have decreased in both countries, those for people outside of cars has increased by 4.1% in the US over the last 10 years (http://www.wnyc.org/story/294888-global-road-deaths-reach-all-time-low-car-carnage-not-dropping-everywhere/).

Streetsblog is pointing out that someone died at this street, and that streets like Geary are dispropotionately responsible for roadway deaths in the city. To brush away the individual tragedies at just "one of those things" is a cop out, particularly given that people elsewhere (besides the US) have been successful at reducing these kinds of tragedies. What's more important - shaving a few minutes off your commute, or avoiding more death on our streets. That's ultimately the choice which is being made here.

 
At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Obviously there's no "engineering solution" to prevent this kind of accident, unless Burdick and Streetsblog have an engineering solution to human nature itself. People, whether on foot, on bikes, or in motor vehicles will sometimes do unsafe things."

There are actually a lot of "engineering solutions" that could have prevented this man's death. Once Prop L is voted down we'll get back to putting them all into place.

 
At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had no problems saying a cyclist killed someone well before the facts of the case were in and before the person was convicted.

 
At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

"More nuttiness is reflected in their terminology: Geary Blvd. is 'a traffic sewer...'"

Worse than nutty, it is extremist jargon that betrays a level of hate and hysteria on a par with dehumanization. If the major traffic arteries are "sewers," what does that make the people who drive on them? Who are the groups in history who have made such references about other people?

Desperation does terrible things to a man or woman.

 
At 12:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know what pisses me off is how much we spend on cars in san francisco and the bay area. the BAY BRIDGE is a fiscal DISASTER. They said 1.4 billion in the beginning. Its now costing 6.4 billion -- BILLION -- and who knows how much more were going to spend. All for what?? a bridge to get cars from oakland to the city. that is a COLOSSAL WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY. despicable.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger Adam said...

So imagine that you woke up tomorrow and heard that a 747 crashed in the U.S. killing everyone on board. And then three days later you heard that another 747 crashed in the U.S., similarly killing everyone on board. And then three days after that, and three days after that, and three days after that, and so on. Every day, every year, for many decades.

Would you get on a plane? Would you tell anyone that getting on a plane is safe? Would you say, well, these deaths were all just accidents and we can't really do anything about them? Besides, people need to get where they're going when they fly, so we couldn't possibly change our flight systems around in the name of safety.

This is exactly what's happening in our road system today in the U.S. That's the equivalent number of people who die on it every three days. Every single one of those deaths was an "accident". Somebody forgot to look, somebody was impatient, somebody drank a little too much. But because we've designed our roads with only one thought in mind - how many cars can we move as quickly as possible through this street - we keep having all these accidents.

Of course there's human error. Of course people should take responsibility for their actions. But guess what? We're human. We're all kind of stupid in the end. The thing that Streetsblog and anyone advocating for reducing car speeds, calming intersections, and creating safer streets wants is for those human errors to not be fatal. We shouldn't have to kill a plane-full of other human beings every three days just to get where we want to go a little faster. That's what it comes down to.

 
At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

"Of course there's human error. Of course people should take responsibility for their actions. But guess what? We're human. We're all kind of stupid in the end."

Speak for yourself if you don't know how to cross a street or when. Assuming we're all that dumb and irresponsible would necessitate that we be watched and controlled at all times for our own good. Sounds pretty dystopic...except maybe for the people doing the watching and controlling. I wonder who would be so privileged?

 
At 6:16 PM, Blogger Adam said...

I think that most people know how and when to cross the street. I also think that almost everyone takes slight risks from time to time. Maybe what this guy did was such an egregious risk that he deserved to die. I guess I have a hard time believing that. I have a hard time believing that anyone deserves to die from something as silly as violating traffic laws. But maybe I'm just sensitive, Vince.

 
At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Vince, I'm tired of the FAA tyrannically controlling our airspace. If planes are gonna crash, let 'em crash. It's the passengers' fault for getting on a plane with a stupid pilot.

 
At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

Believe it or not, I'm a sensitive guy, too, Adam, and I certainly don't think that unfortunate man deserved to die. But I don't see how it benefits anyone to organize society around its least competent or most reckless and self-destructive members. Help them, sure, but to be controlled by them? That would create a condition of codependency where everyone remains in a stunted state of growth.

As for airplanes, I'll leave that to our anonymous aeronautical expert.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Once again, Rob is missing the point of the article. It's not about who's at fault, but rather someone has been killed by a motor vehicle...Streetsblog is pointing out that someone died at this street, and that streets like Geary are disproportionately responsible for roadway deaths in the city."

Jaywalking across Geary is an extremely risky thing to do. There's no engineering solution or MTA "improvement" to Geary that changes that reality. Streetsblog is in fact assigning "fault" with the head on the story, which fingers the bus driver as a killer.

"There are actually a lot of 'engineering solutions' that could have prevented this man's death."

Please name one.

"You had no problems saying a cyclist killed someone well before the facts of the case were in and before the person was convicted."

There was really no controversy about the facts in those two cases before the legal process had done its thing. Maybe in this case we'll eventually learn that the bus driver deliberately targeted this guy and ran him down. Seems unlikely.

"We shouldn't have to kill a plane-full of other human beings every three days just to get where we want to go a little faster. That's what it comes down to."

Because people are, well, human and they don't want to take a slow boat every time they go somewhere. People don't want to adopt Leah Shahum's prescription for our transportation system: "Imagine streets moving so slowly you'd let your six-year-old ride[a bike] on them."

"Maybe what this guy did was such an egregious risk that he deserved to die. I guess I have a hard time believing that."

People take risks all the time, but they usually get away with it. This guy was just unlucky. Jaywalking across Geary is one of the riskiest things you can do in SF.

"...Would you tell anyone that getting on a plane is safe? Would you say, well, these deaths were all just accidents and we can't really do anything about them? Besides, people need to get where they're going when they fly, so we couldn't possibly change our flight systems around in the name of safety."

As a matter of fact, flying in the US is pretty safe, since the US has been working very hard to make it that way. Still, accidents do happen occasionally and people die due to the weather, mechanical failure, or human error. There's no way to make life completely safe, and the riskier the behavior the more dangerous it is.

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The man killed has been identified by SF Appeal. Streetsblog continues to claim that the bus driver is guilty of homicide: "Man Killed by 38 Bus Driver at Geary and Lyon ID’d as 22-Year-Old David Getman."

 
At 8:39 PM, Anonymous James said...

Where does it say "homicide" anywhere on streetsblog? He was killed by the bus driver, just as much as the 9 year old girl killed her gun instructor. Streetsblog never said anything about intent. Why don't you mention it on the comment section on their blog... oh wait.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Streetsblog doesn't use the more technical "homicide," but instead forthrightly says that this man was "killed by Muni bus driver," as if he got out of his bus and shot him. The intent is implied, as I pointed out in a more extended analysis of how Streetsblog routinely uses this grammar and terminology when it's clearly inaccurate and inappropriate when describing accidents.

Why do they do that? Because it fits their goofball sense of what's happening on our streets, as if those who drive motor vehicles are waging a war on cyclists and pedestrians. And it plays into the sense of self-pity and victimization that a lot of cyclists have, even though they are responsible for half their own injury accidents due to their own reckless behavior on city streets (see pages 24 and 25 of the city's Collisions Report).

Streetsblog indulges in this crudely biased reporting, but it still hasn't written about that UC study that found that the city has actually been under-counting cycling accidents in the city. The question is, How sincere is their concern about the safety of city streets for cyclists and pedestrians? Seems like they're more intent on pushing an anti-car ideology than they are about safety.

 
At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""There are actually a lot of 'engineering solutions' that could have prevented this man's death."

Please name one."

lol are you fucking kidding me?

a crosswalk. a pedestrian bridge. not having a massive vehicle thoroughfare slicing through a dense city. more visibility from the drivers' direction. lower speeds on geary.

 
At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Putting a crosswalk or new traffic lights in at a place where people are tempted to jaywalk isn't tyrannical in any way. It's practical. Smart people do unsafe things to shave off time on commutes all of the time. Building crosswalks gives people a way to save time and the city a a way to save lives.

 
At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

robs blog is going to shit. you lost a long time ago rob and its showing

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Wishful thinking, Anon. I'm here to stay and will celebrate the tenth anniversary of this blog later this year.

On this accident: I should have mentioned the good possibility that this guy was fiddling distractedly with an electronic device when he was hit by that bus.

 

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