Friday, February 17, 2017

Reality check on the Vision Zero slogan/policy

Traffic is seen on Highway 101 in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie, The Chronicle
Photo: Gabrielle Lurie, SF Chronicle

From the Chronicle on Wednesday:

...One exception to the increasingly deadly trend was in San Francisco, where figures collected by the Department of Public Health show that the city’s Vision Zero efforts to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024 could be making progress. The number of traffic deaths in 2016 was 30, a slight decline from 2015 and 2014 when 31 people were killed in each of those years in motor vehicle collisions. The figures also showed a one-year decrease in pedestrian deaths with 16 in 2016 compared with 20 in 2015. “It goes to show that our Vision Zero efforts are working, but not fast enough or aggressively enough,” said Nicole Ferrara, executive director of Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian advocacy group...(‘Complacency’ sends traffic deaths soaring in California and US)

This is the problem with the Vision Zero campaign: it just makes advocates and even those who write about it sound stupid. Obviously one traffic death in the city is such "a slight decline" it's not statistically significant. Neither is the decline in pedestrian deaths.

From another Chronicle story last November:

Despite San Francisco’s heralded Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024, the number of those killed or severely injured isn’t budging. So far this year, 11 pedestrians, three drivers, five car passengers, two bicyclists and a motorcyclist have died on city streets. That’s about the same total as this time last year, said Nicole Ferrara, executive director of Walk San Francisco, which advocates for pedestrian safety. “We certainly haven’t seen a big decline, which is why we launched this group,” Ferrara said. (Traffic victims’ families unite to make SF’s streets safer)

The truth is that the city has already experienced historically that "big decline." The Vision Zero premise---does anyone really believe it?---is that deaths and injuries on city streets can be eliminated.

Look at the historical record from the MTA's last---and final---Collisions Report on page 5:

Click on graphic for larger view

There were 64 traffic deaths on city streets in 1990, which went down to 28 in 2011. Since then the number has hovered around 30 deaths a year.

For even more shocking numbers, see pages 4-7 in this document, which show that more than 100 deaths a year on city streets were common in the last century!

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Pic of the Moment
Democratic Underground


Steve Bannon: Crackpot

Image result for steve bannon pictures
Steve Bannon

...Steve Bannon, on the other hand, is quite something. I’ve read and reread his 2014 speech at the Vatican to see if I can find any coherence in it, and I confess I failed. It’s a hodgepodge of melodrama, hysteria, and a defense of some kind of “enlightened capitalism” along Judeo-Christian lines, in the face of an imminent Islamist takeover of the planet. It’s the 1950s versus jihad, an attempt to convey the gist of the entire Drudge Report every day and turn it into a thesis. 

He argues that we are just “at the very beginning stages of a global conflict” that could eradicate 2,000 years of Western civilization. It reads like the apocalyptic, paranoid fantasies of someone who writes letters to the editor, single-spaced, in all caps.

Now go check out this Vice journalist’s impression of Bannon in 2014. It does not reassure: “He’s buzzing with intensity, with two pens clipped to his shirt collar. Over the next 90 minutes, he barely touched his food and never took off his coat.” He just prattles endlessly and manically on. 

Among the gems that emerge from the conversation: Ebola requires a massive immigration crackdown or we’re all going to die; ISIS is plotting to assassinate the Pope; and then this calm overview: “The world is in a meltdown right now. I mean, the world is on fire. And all of a sudden it’s going to dawn on people, this is not a problem for guys in the Middle East. This is a problem for you in Kansas City.” You begin to realize that he called himself a “Leninist” for a reason.

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