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Old 17 January 2015, 03:30 AM
quink quink is offline
Join Date: 22 June 2005
Location: Calgary, AB
Posts: 3,193

I'm reading Walkable City right now, and one of the points brought up is that a lot of the things brought in to make roads supposedly safer - like wider lanes, one way streets and wide turning - actually make things less safe, partly because they make cars so dominant that drivers see other forms of transportation like foot traffic and cyclists as invaders. I've ranted about the victim blaming in pedestrian accidents for years. The more things are geared toward personal vehicles, the more other traffic becomes the outsider, in the wrong simply for being in the same space. And the more pedestrians and cyclists are in danger, the more we're told to stay off the roads all together, which just makes cars even more dominant.

The second you try to fight back the tiniest bit and ask drivers to give up a single lane for a cycle track or wider sidewalks, all hell breaks loose. I think there are cities in the US that are too far gone to even try. Really, I think the biggest issue with pedestrian safety is that drivers simply don't expect us. In places where it's dangerous or horribly inconvenient not to drive, it's no wonder, because everything has been designed to tell non-car traffic that they don't belong. We've gone from pushing pedestrians into designated zones (which is safer), to trying to remove them entirely. Now it's starting to bounce back a bit, but it's a fight.

My city is pretty well equipped for paths and sidewalks, but I have one small chunk on one of my normal routes where I have to run on the road to get to a major park. It's a narrow, twisting road down a big hill, and it's one of the few places where I don't feel uncomfortable on the street. I think that because it's not a 'safe' road, and it's used heavily by runners, cyclists and cars trying to get to the park (it doesn't connect to anything other than a parking lot at the base), drivers are a lot more careful. Non-drivers are more careful and alert too, since they know they're sharing the road and have to pay attention. When I do occasionally see a car, they're usually polite and will pull over to give me space and wave - which is a lot friendlier than a lot of drivers I encounter in other areas where I'm completely separated from the road.
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