Monday, May 27, 2019

"Really bad behavior" on city streets continues

Dear Ted,

It was refreshing to read your letter in the print edition of the Chronicle on May 21 (pasted below). In my experience, anyone who reminds us that “Increased traffic fatalities are not due primarily to speed “ or “Altering the streetscape will not cure distracted and careless behavior” is a voice in the wilderness, sitting in a forlorn corner of SFO along with SFPD commander Ali who was banished there after publicly concluding that most SF traffic fatalities were the result of “really bad behavior.” Oh well, good to read that I am not alone in my perceptions.

“Getting to from one place to another” is the purpose of streets and sidewalks? Puh-leeze. Don’t you know that their purpose is for people to zone out and blissfully enjoy themselves, high on the meth of “Vison Zero”? There’s a reason our city is called Disneyland for Adults, where nothing bad can possibly happen to anybody.

I wish I could fathom why so many ordinary people in our city are swallowing the idea that excess traffic speed is such an important factor in traffic mayhem. Are they experiencing this in their everyday life? I walk the sidewalks 80+ miles per month and ride a bike 3500 miles a year within SF city limits, and the number of times per year I see somebody exceeding the speed limit is something I can count on the hands of one finger. It’s too congested out there to go too fast.

As for the politicians and the media, I have no proof but I suspect they are highly influenced by speed-camera-company PR and lobbying, and perhaps by Uber and Lyft, who would love it if they could DISTRACT people into thinking speed, not their impatient and inattentive drivers, is what’s increasing the danger on the streets. Pun intended.

Happy trails,
Deane Hartley

Increased traffic fatalities are not due primarily to speed. When drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users are on the street, they have to pay 100% of their attention to the task at hand: Getting from one place to another successfully. Whether distracted by mobile phones, music, self-interest or making bad assumptions, the result will be injuries or death.

Everyone using our streets must be operating on the same set of rules. Unfortunately, many cyclists think they are exempt from traffic laws and the application of common sense. Many motorists believe the road belongs to them. Too many pedestrians watch their phones rather than the vehicle traffic as they cross the street. Altering the streetscape will not cure distracted and careless behavior.

We are all part of “city traffic,” which requires all of our attention, respect for the rules of the road, and doubling our commitment to logic and safety. Pay attention and put your phone away!

Ted Loewenberg

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