Monday, April 27, 2015

Ed Reiskin's phony "public health emergency"

From Wikipedia

The MTA's Ed Reiskin and Public Health's Barbara Garcia hyped a bogus emergency on city streets last week in an op-ed in the Chronicle (San Francisco pledges to end deaths on city roadways).

The lies about specific streets and intersections (Fell & Masonic, Polk Street, Masonic Avenue) are now rolled into one Big Lie that covers every busy street in San Francisco.

Reiskin and Garcia begin with a deceptive analogy: 

Consider this: Guns were used to murder 8,454 people[This link doesn't work] in this country in 2013, but more than 32,000 people — almost four times as many — were killed on our roadways that year. While gun violence rightfully draws intense media attention, this country has become collectively indifferent to the many more people killed while walking, biking or riding in vehicles.

The opposite is the reality. The public is evidently indifferent to rising gun violence, but fatalities on our roadways are steadily declining. Reiskin/Garcia cherry-pick the "murder" by guns number, since it's conveniently a lot lower than deaths by firearms overall, which are more than 30,000 a year. 

In fact firearm fatalities will probably top traffic deaths this year, while traffic deaths are steadily declining in the country. 

From Bloomberg:

By 2015, firearm fatalities will probably exceed traffic fatalities for the first time, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. While motor-vehicle deaths dropped 22 percent from 2005 to 2010, gun fatalities are rising again after a low point in 2000, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shooting deaths in 2015 will probably rise to almost 33,000, and those related to autos will decline to about 32,000, based on the 10-year average trend.


Under the leadership of Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, we adopted a goal in February 2014 of eliminating all traffic deaths in San Francisco by 2024, whether people are walking, riding a bike or in a vehicle. It’s called Vision Zero, and it’s admittedly ambitious. But this is a goal that is achievable, makes sense, and — above all — is the right thing to do.

Zero traffic deaths on city streets is of course not achievable by 2024---or by 2124, for that matter, because human beings sometimes behave recklessly with fatal consequences. Unless Reiskin can announce an "improvement" in human nature, that will always be the case.

Vision Zero is not a policy; it's nothing a slogan, like the equally unattainable goal of getting more people on bikes, the "20% by 2020" slogan (The previous goal/slogan was "10% by 2010." Funny but we don't hear about that any more, since riding bikes in SF has been stuck below 4% of all trips in the city for years).

We also have a right to question Ed Reiskin's idea of safety, since he often took his five-year-old daughter with him on his bike in city traffic.  

Before he writes any more deceptive op-eds, why doesn't Reiskin help "finalize" his agency's bicycle count report? Still waiting for the report on last September's bicycle count.

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At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cycling won't be above 6% OF COMMUTES IN 2020, if that. We are building bike lanes as if it will be 20%, at the expense of adding muh more traffic congestion. We are benefitting a group of elitist white males under 45 (that's 90% of SF cyclists) that represent 3.3% of the population over the 96.7% who sue the roadways via bus, taxi, personal auto, uber, etc. its asinine.

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

Have traffic-safety Nazis ever been right about anything?

Remember back when President Clinton relieved the states of the 55mph speed limit? We were told that raising the speed limits would cause highway crahes and fatalities to soar. The exact opposite happened. Turns out that what was killing people wasn't speed so much as it was mixing traffic of various speeds in a constrained space, the danger of which the segregated-bike-lane zealots are once again ignoring.

I think there are some serious acedemics who publish sober and useful research about the true nature and causes of traffic mayhem. But, like the UC study and Commander Ali, they are either disregarded or suppressed.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you same people bitching and complaining when the city wants to put in dedicated bus lanes, or remove some precious side car parking? If we're talking about percentages here I'm sure you'll be more than willing to devote more space to public transit because it takes up such a large share of mode usage.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Citizen X said...

The problem with the car-hating crowd is that any car-friendly solutions are simply not spoken of but anything pedestrian and cyclist safety Nazis want is promoted as a "solution." Safety is their neurotic weapon. But there is a double standard when the bureaucracy does things like encouraging pedestrians to wait off the curb by painting areas around the curb where they should wait, so there can be injuries and therefore another excuse for even more safety Nazi ideas. There's plenty of work for the DOT to do. I'm sure those workers appreciate their job protection. Everything the bureaucracies want to do has involved demonizing driving and indoctrinate the reduction of cars without thinking about the jobs behind those cars, the needs of drivers, and the taxes that drivers also pay including all that ticket money governments steal from the driving public. The solutions I want to see involve elevated bicycle lanes- not several inches above the ground, that's a joke - but elevated bike lanes 20 feet above the street with exit and entrance ramps. I also want to see elevated pedestrian walkways that allow people to cross over the street. This, along with ways to cross under the street, will promote the maximum flow of pedestrian traffic without removing vehicle capacity from the street. These places will be streets and walkways that can be promoted as pedestrian-free, bicycle-free, and car-free zones where those groups don't mix it up with each other. All sides might be happy because there is a demand to be able to cross the street without waiting as there is a demand to being able to turn without waiting. This way people won't violate each other's so-called right of way. Cyclists would also love not to have to deal with mindless people crossing in front of them. Elevated pedestrian spaces could also take up more space in the form of plazas and benches. There needs to be true investment in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure that doesn't involve simply pouring cement onto car lanes to spite the driving community. To me, it should be about how to enable freedom for everyone. Everyone should have a way to keep on moving, if not everywhere, in targeted places. The work for this infrastructure should be outsourced as well to become a reality. To me the freedom to choose what kind of transportation you have is what defines freedom. I think the world needs less bureaucracy, propaganda, infinitely righteous people. And, yes, Vision Zero is a slogan for safety Nazis.


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