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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