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.

Labels: , , , ,