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[@ccess] Technology, accidents, design, maps, Bog otá, and local activism to support Car Free Days

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  • eric.britton@ecoplan.org
    Paris, Tuesday, March 28, 2000, 5:32 PM Dear Randy (Carbusters) and CFD partners, As perhaps you may recall, Randy, I am not an anti-car guy, as such. My
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2000
      Paris, Tuesday, March 28, 2000, 5:32 PM

      Dear Randy (Carbusters) and CFD partners,

      As perhaps you may recall, Randy, I am not an anti-car guy, as such. My
      life-time interest and concern is with the at times all too uncomfortable
      fit of man, his behavior and all that his "embodied knowledge to act on
      himself and his surroundings" (and that is of course what we mean in plain
      English when we say technology). So, my job in life is see cars as part of
      this much broader problem set. Useful here, murderous there, and all too
      often the twain doeth meet.

      My take on all these issues of technology and society is, again as you may
      recall, what I call the Prodigal Son thesis. In bible class terms that boils
      down to the fact that most of us are, as things work out, sinners - at least
      as far as our personal choices in terms of sustainability and social justice
      are concerned. On the other hand, we have a choice and don't have to stay
      that way, and our hope lies in the possibility that we can somehow come to
      grips with all this and do better. Which of course is why I like the Car
      Free Day approach. It gives us a chance to look, reflect, realize, and then
      maybe do better. (All this of course without a drop of religion to it.)

      Anyway, I share this with you this afternoon because I have just come back
      from an errand where I saw one of the saddest things that one can imagine in
      the city traffic scene: a young person, lying terribly still and barely
      covered by a foil blanket, who had obviously been riding a bike and who had
      been struck minutes ago by a speeding car. The police were there and the
      ambulances and there was clearly nothing for me to do... other than come
      back here and think about it.

      What was more than a little saddening about this particular accident (and I
      don't know how many of these we have each day in Paris) is that it was
      unnecessary. It happened not only because the car was there and the driver
      was in a hurry and the young man was also there on his bike, but also
      because the street system has been painstakingly redesigned by experts to
      permit public transit and taxis (and anyone else who wants to zip along
      there during rush hour) to move with alacrity in the lane closest to the
      curb, which also turns out to be perceived by many as one of the 'safe'
      refuges for cyclists. Now this particular configuration is almost the
      opposite of what was intended by the Woonerf: a world made safe not for
      people, but for cars. I guess the courts will say that that young man was
      guilty of an infringement of the law. But I do not think they will be able
      to punish him.

      Okay, well you and your lot know all this by heart, so why do I bother you
      with it today? Fact is it gives me an idea which I now intend to try to fit
      into the program of virtually every Car Free Day that we have anything to do
      with - and that is to see if we can find local environment groups or others
      who are willing to do what is needed to draw up an accurate traffic accident
      tally and map for their city. Some kind of refinement of the categories will
      be helpful (estimate of unreported accidents, reported, reported with
      injuries (to whom), fatalities). Also, it one could draw up a map of the
      city which would show the 'hot spots; for, say, the annual total for the
      last year for specific intersections, links or locations. Etc. etc.

      Referring back to the Bogotá experience that we have reported on at some
      length here, one of the most striking and widely discussed and appreciated
      results was that, whatever the failings of that event may have been, it was
      the firs day in years that no one was killed in traffic. Along these lines I
      reproduce below the summary that we received only last night from the
      mayor's office there.

      So Randy, if one of the contributions s that Carbusters can make will be to
      find local activists who are willing to get out there on the street and help
      in these practical and useful ways, what a wonderful thing that would be.

      With all good wishes,

      Eric Britton

      ecopl@n ___ technology, economy, society ___
      Le Frene, 8/10 rue Joseph Bara, 75006 Paris, France
      Eric.Britton@... URL www.ecoplan.org
      Voice/Videoconference +331.4441.6340 (1-4)
      Voicemail/Fax hotline: Europe +331 5301 2896
      Voicemail/Fax hotline: North America +1 888 522 6419 (toll free)

      ON FEBRUARY 24, 2000

      Accidents involving bicyclists 7[PARA](6 before 6:30 am) 7-8
      Accidents involving motorcyclists 5 12-14
      Total injured (including car impacts) [PARA]24 [PARA]90 per day
      Simple impacts or collisions 26 110-120
      Total fatal victims 0 2-3
      Total tickets 406 930 (for "Pico y Placa" reasons)

      Average from Paloquemao to northern highway intersecting 170th street
      [PARA][PARA]30 Km/h [PARA][PARA]20 Km./h[PARA]
      Population using public transportation [PARA]85% [PARA]75%

      Total emergency calls 676 1.000
      Hospital receptions caused by transit accidents 12 20
      Hospital centre receptions caused by other reasons 18 30-35

      Nitrogen oxide -8%
      Carbon monoxide -22%
      Particulate material lower than 10 micras -21%

      * Rain volume from 6 a.m. To 4:00 p.m. was 21.2 millimetres. Principal
      rainfalls appeared at the northern side of the city.

      It has been estimated that 1'500.000 people used bicycles as a mean of
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