Thursday, January 09, 2014

City Hall has no credibility on accident numbers

Beyond Chron "grapples" with the recent pedestrian deaths on city streets:

According to Mayor Ed Lee's office, the number of pedestrian deaths in the city has remained around 15-20 deaths for the past decade, and much progress has been made since then-Mayor Gavin Newsome[sic] set goals for reducing deaths and serious injuries through the establishment of the Pedestrian Safety Task Force in 2010.

While activists argue there is a need for new attention to street safety, the San Francisco Police Department believes....that there hasn't been a noticeable increase in deaths to warrant any sort of panic that social media seems to garner. Activists want more action by authorities to tackle the issue and the two deaths on New Year's Eve may give backing to their calls for renewed strength in grappling with pedestrian safety.

However, police and other observers argue that while any death is a dark mark on the city, there needs to be an intelligent discussion over what is actually happening and the perceptions that have been created. "It can be difficult for police and other groups to educate people if there is a pre-conceived notion that it is becoming more dangerous to walk on the streets, when this is not entirely true," said the police official.

This reporter seems unaware that City Hall and city cops are relying on the city's Collisions Report when they claim that pedestrian injury accidents and fatalities have been relatively steady for years (see pages 17-26).

I have also argued that our streets are getting steadily safer over the years based on the city's numbers.

But the city has undermined its credibility by ignoring 1,377 injury accidents to cyclists between 2000 and 2009 as a UC study found by comparing police reports and SF General Hospital records. 

The city now needs to go back to SF General to find out how many other accidents---including pedestrian accidents---it has failed to include in its annual Collisions Reports. Until the city does that, we really don't know how safe/unsafe city streets are

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God save us from the good

"God save us always from the innocent and the good." (Graham Greene)

Hannah Arendt introduced the idea of the Banality of Evil, but what about the Banality of the Good and the damage they do as they toil virtuously to make the world a better place? 

Richard Dawkins worries about how "nice liberals" are clueless about Islam, as does Sam HarrisAyaan Hirsi Ali, who has firsthand experience of Islam---her family mutilated her genitals when she was five years old---also worries about "good men and women" and Islam:

There are many good men and women in the west who try to resettle refugees and strive to eliminate discrimination. They lobby governments to exempt minorities from the standards of behaviour of western societies; they fight to help minorities preserve their cultures, and excuse their religion from critical scrutiny. These people mean well, but their activism is now a part of the very problem they seek to solve. Their efforts to assist Muslims and other minorities are futile because, by creating the illusion that one can hold on to tribal norms and at the same time become a successful citizen, the proponents of multiculturalism lock subsequent generations born in the west into a no man's land of moral values. What comes packaged in a compassionate language of acceptance is really a cruel form of racism. And it is all the more cruel because it is expressed in sugary words of virtue.

Recall that this dubious "multicultural" virtue is also practiced here in Progressive Land, as all good San Francisco progressives were in a dither last year when the ads denouncing violent jihad against Israel appeared on Muni buses.

A local candidate for canonization as an official Good Person in SF is Tom Nolan, long-time Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors:

Nolan was appointed to the board by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2006. He's led pushes for the Central Subway, the citywide bike plan, and a project to streamline Muni performance and reduce crowding. He held earlier posts over the years on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, SamTrans board and other transit agencies---and his style in each job is similar. "He never blows his top, never feels a need to take credit," Heinicke said. "But he's always there, behind the scenes or in front, getting things done."

"Getting things done," like the Bicycle Plan and the Central Subway that will actually damage the city. And  streamlining "Muni performance," like on the #5 Fulton line, where a number of stops have been removed. That line moves a lot faster now that it doesn't have to stop so often to pick up those pesky passengers.

But Nolan is a dedicated helper: 

I recall once attending a community-wide meeting of about 300 people with Tom Nolan as the guest speaker. Tom's opening comment was, "There is nothing special about me, but what is special is the position I hold, and that is the public's trust." It did not surprise me to read Tom Nolan's friends, going back to his childhood, recalled his kindness to others and his dedication to helping his fellow man or woman.

Nolan may be a joy to his friends, colleagues, and family, but he and the MTA are doing a lot of damage to the city that will be hard to undo.

Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. (Isabel Paterson)

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