Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Vision Zero and murder in the city

Murder in District 5

The Vision Zero campaign/slogan reminds me of the kerfuffle about gun violence in San Francisco ten years ago. Young Mayor Newsom was frustrated that there was apparently nothing much he and the city could do to stop young black and Hispanic men from killing each other. From the Chronicle way back in 2005:

"We are in constant communication, the police chief and I, trying every strategy we know how," the mayor said. "Gang-related homicides are down, but overall homicides are up...I've tried to deal with this in every rational way I can...I haven't been able to succeed to the extent that I'd like to succeed."

A year later, reality was sinking in. Deputy Chief Morris Tabak was quoted in the Examiner:

There is virtually no way to prevent these homicides...they are not a result of police inaction or indifference...The reality is every year[in a big city], there are going to be between 50 and 60 homicides...Holding the Police Department accountable for every homicide is like holding the Fire Department accountable for every fire, or holding the Department of Public Health accountable for every disease ("Police Mount Stern Defense of Homicide Record," Marisa Lagos, Jan. 19, 2006, SF Examiner).

Given the country's violent popular culture, thug culture, and the easy availability of guns, it's not surprising that people in the city continue to kill each other at the same rate they did ten years ago. City progressives demagogued the issue at the time, but even they have apparently given up blaming City Hall for every murder on city streets (see also this and this).

It's safe to predict the same will happen with the Vision Zero slogan/campaign, since there's nothing much the city can do to prevent most accidents on city streets, unless one of the MTA's planned "improvements" is a change in human nature itself that will result in people no longer behaving recklessly when they drive, ride a bike, and walk on city streets.

Prediction: Ten years from now, when the Vision Zero slogan is long forgotten, I'll write a blog post on the same issues saying essentially the same thing.

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9 Comments:

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/1367321/more-vancouverites-hop-on-bicycles-city-contemplates-new-bike-lanes/

Are you seriously this dense, or just putting up a front? There are ways to decrease death and destruction on the roads, but yet you advocate for all the things that cause the destruction as if nothing could ever change.

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"All the things"? Could you be more specific? The point I'm making is that no matter how many "improvements" the city makes to our streets, there will still be accidents and some people will die. Is that even controversial? I'm a liberal, more or less, but libs and progs often act as if there's a solution to every problem, a "program" that will set things straight and avoid all the unpleasantness about death and injury. City Hall is acting like it doesn't know the difference, that every accident can be avoided.

 
At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are against anything that has been proven to actually reduce deaths and injuries on the road. Vision Zero borrows from proven methods from all over the globe. You object to bike lanes, reducing parking, changing streets like Masonic to encourage people to slow down and take less deadly forms of transit. Someone even mentioned that places like Amsterdam have much lower traffic fatalities as a result of their infrastructure but did you comment on it?

I would think you would advocate for public transit as you use it, but you seem to be against anything like that. even though it's proven to be safer than cars.

So as far as I see it you advocate for people dying on the roads because we the idea of bringing death and destruction down to absolute zero, is just a fantasy. So just widen the roads, increase parking as you wanted with Prop L, and just label anything bad as an tragic accident.

You should be so lucky that changes happen to our streets as you get older and become more and more a potential victim of traffic death and injury. Look up statistics for your age range and try to spin that.

 
At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how disingenuous are you to say that the city is negligent for promoting cycling, and yet perfectly within their right to allow unfettered access to motorists who are known to cause the most accidents and deaths on the streets of SF.

 
At 10:12 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

So much misinformation in one comment!

"You are against anything that has been proven to actually reduce deaths and injuries on the road."

Like what? The point I make over and over on this blog: the city uses outright lies about safety to push the bike projects on, for example, Polk Street and Masonic Avenue.

"Someone even mentioned that places like Amsterdam have much lower traffic fatalities as a result of their infrastructure but did you comment on it?"

Hell, I wrote a post on Amsterdam the other day, the point of which is that cyclists are injured and die on the streets of that city just like they do here in SF in spite of its "infrastructure."

"I would think you would advocate for public transit as you use it, but you seem to be against anything like that. even though it's proven to be safer than cars."

I do in fact support "public transit," but not boondoggles like the Central Subway and the high-speed rail project.

"So you advocate for people dying on the roads because the idea of bringing death and destruction down to absolute zero is just a fantasy. So just widen the roads, increase parking as you wanted with Prop L, and just label anything bad as an tragic accident."

Of course I don't approve of people dying in traffic accidents on city streets, but it surely is "a fantasy" to think that injuries and accidents on our streets will ever be completely eliminated, since some---perhaps all---members of our species sometimes indulge in unsafe behavior that can lead to injury and death. That will be true forever. No one is talking about "widening" city streets; instead we should stop eliminating street parking and traffic lanes on busy streets, since that only makes traffic worse for everyone without making our streets safer.

 
At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh wow I didn't think you were a champion of less deadly forms of transit like walking, public transit, and biking. Here I foolishly thought you were for the almighty majority called motorists & wanted Prop A & B to fail and Prop L to pass. My bad.

 
At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

On a number of occasions I have commented on Rob's blog about how striping new, dedicated right-turn lanes on Folsom Street (with the bike lane to their left) has made those intesections less dangerous for bicyclists and, if present back in 2013, would almost certainly have dissuaded the right-hook truck accident that took the life of a young, female cyclist.

Not a word has ever been posted by Rob criticizing this change to the streetscape or the money it cost the taxpayers.

Don't know what this means but I know what it DOESN'T mean: that Rob is for "all the things" that cause destruction on the streets (like the status quo ante on Folsom) I've given him plenty of opportunity to do so and he hasn't.

 
At 6:30 AM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Excellent article Bob, pointing out how how the public health biz has is routinely challenged by reality. My favorite was that they would wipe out lung cancer by ending cigarette smoking. Well, they achieved neither, there as well. Lung cancer is still the leading form of cancer, accounting for more deaths than many other forms combined.

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Not a word has ever been posted by Rob criticizing this change to the streetscape or the money it cost the taxpayers. Don't know what this means but I know what it DOESN'T mean: that Rob is for "all the things" that cause destruction on the streets (like the status quo ante on Folsom) I've given him plenty of opportunity to do so and he hasn't."

Yes, I have no problem with changes that actually improve safety on city streets. What I think is dumb is redesigning our streets on behalf of a small minority of cyclists against the interests of more than 90% of those now using city streets based on the unsupported idea that doing so will somehow turn a major US city into Amsterdam.

But getting hit by a truck is the sort of thing that can happen when riding a bike on city streets. It's grossly irresponsible of the city to encourage naive, idealistic young people to take up cycling when they have no realistic sense of the danger.

 

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