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The sorry state of non-car infrastructure in the US

My bias is generally pro-vulnerable users of infrastructure, so I came into this article in the NYT expecting to have my existing views reinforced. Even so, I learned a lot from the piece.

The article shows how deaths to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are increasing in the US, even as they decrease in other countries. Fatalities didn’t even go down during the early days of the pandemic, when far fewer people were driving.

Some of the main drivers of this cross-country discrepancy is because our roads are designed to enable cars to drive fast, and the limited power states have over their transportation budgets and ability to set basic stuff like speed limits, which are often hampered by federal laws. .

From the article:

In 2021, nearly 43,000 people died on American roads, the government estimates. And the recent rise in fatalities has been particularly pronounced among those the government classifies as most vulnerable — cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians.

Much of the familiar explanation for America’s road safety record lies with a transportation system primarily designed to move cars quickly, not to move people safely.

“Motor vehicles are first, highways are first, and everything else is an afterthought,” said Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Read the article for more.


November 28, 2022


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