Monday, April 24, 2017

Katherine Roberts, Ed Reiskin, and Vision Zero

Katherine Roberts had a cycling accident last week that's the most common for cyclists: a "solo fall" that had nothing to do with another vehicle. Her bike slipped on the piece of obtrusive metal (above) on streetcar tracks. She wasn't wearing a helmet and suffered a concussion.

The Muni driver and an inspector, by the way, behaved with petty callousness when Roberts asked for a ride to a nearby hospital.

That accident was not a "collision" as per Vision Zero terminology, since it was the sort of mishap that will happen on city streets as long as people ride bikes, that is, forever. Especially on San Francisco's streets, which are famously and chronically in disrepair. Poorly maintained streets are a nuisance for motorists and can damage cars, but potholes are a serious safety hazard for cyclists.

Speaking of Vision Zero, MTA's Director, Ed Reiskin's op-ed in the Examiner last week tried unsuccessfully to make an intellectual case for that slogan disguised as a policy:

Not long ago, deaths caused by smoking, plane crashes and not wearing seatbelts were accepted as routine and commonplace in ways that are unthinkable in today’s United States. We’ve proven that, as a society, we can improve safety to achieve once inconceivable outcomes.

But those safety advances were not "inconceivable," which is why they were achieved. But planes will still sometimes crash, people still die from smoking, and some people still don't use seatbelts. 

Reducing injury accidents and fatalities to zero is not really achievable, which is why Vision Zero advocates sound both stupid and insult the intelligence of the public with this kind of nonsense:

That’s why in 2014, we as a city adopted Vision Zero and said that by 2024, we would make traffic deaths a thing of the past. It may seem ambitious, or even unattainable, but no other goal is acceptable. We can absolutely prevent traffic deaths if we have the will to make it happen. We have seen dramatic success toward this goal in other cities and countries, and there’s no reason to think we can’t do it here in the City of St. Francis.

Yes, that's a sensible goal, but it's not really "attainable," unlike mere improvements "toward this goal," which surely are. So far Vision Zero in the city has mostly benefited Reiskin's bloated agency and the Department of Public Works, which implements all those "improvements" to city streets.

Reiskin feints toward reality before his silly non sequitur:

Everyone knows it’s unsafe to drive too fast, to text while behind the wheel or on a bike or walking across the street, to cross the street outside the crosswalk or to run a red light or a stop sign. Yet many of us do one or more of these things on occasion. A recent survey by the AAA Foundation found that while most people understand speeding and distracted driving are not OK, many admit to doing so. We can change that starting today.

No, we can't because of a thing called human nature. We are an endearing but flawed species that will at times do dumb, unsafe things on city streets, like taking their children on their bikes in dangerous city traffic. Everyone knows that driving while drunk is wrong and foolish, but it is still common, and it will always be with us.

Reiskin's other attempts at Big Thoughts on transportation were also unimpressive. See Ed Reiskin's phony "public health emergency" and Ed Reiskin and the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome.

Recall, by the way, that Katherine Roberts was a party to the unsuccessful litigation that tried to prevent the construction of the parking garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park. See Why Katherine Roberts is like a Japanese soldier and Katherine Roberts: "Please get your facts straight." 

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At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Potholes and bikes. Well yes of course, since MTA decides not to really try to maintain streets that serve cars (aka death monsters) it is only right that a bike or two hit a pothole everyone once in awhile, with more serious impacts to the biker than car. So I guess MTA will take care of potholes in or near bike lanes only, yes indeed.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, it's not at all clear that the city will do even that.


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