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Re: Law Suit for Human Scale Access.

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  • ktsourl@mailbox.gr
    Couldn t human rights violation constitute a third approach? There is an obligation of the state to ensure free movement as well as safety. Human rights should
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 1, 2003
      Couldn't human rights violation constitute a third approach?
      There is an obligation of the state to ensure free movement as well as safety.
      Human rights should be valid for every person for the sole fact he/she is a human beeing, regardless of beeing rich or poor, healthy or sick etc. Thus, free (and safe) mobility should be provided for everyone, even for people with psychological problems, intoxicated with alcohol (which is legal) or other substances, people who can not drive because of their age or medical condition or who can not afford a motorized vehicle etc. If walking (supported by public transit) is not considered as the implied mode of free and safe movement, and driving is regarded as the primary way of moving around, then all these people who can not drive because of various reasons (ie a significant part of the population) should be provided with a car with a chauffeur, which is obviously unfeasible.


      At 03:36 �� 31/1/2003 +0200, you wrote:

      > Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 21:05:26 -0000
      > From: "look384 <kevin.barton@...>" <kevin.barton@...>
      >Subject: Re: Law Suit for Human Scale Access.
      >
      >I was quite surprised to see this question, as I was considering the
      >same issue just today. What triggered my thought was the fact a
      >pedestrian was hit by a car yesterday less than a block from my
      >office. My thought was basically the same as yours, could a person
      >sue simply for being denied reasonable safety? Not whether you're
      >prohibited from walking, but if city design and city ordinances make
      >walking or cycling dangerous. One of the other replies pointed out
      >you can walk in Austin, although they conceded there are parts of the
      >developed city that aren't truly accessible by walking. Their
      >example of walking was more recreational in nature than
      >transportation. I believe a lawsuit based on inadequate or dangerous
      >access for walking as a mode of transportation would have to be
      >proven to be successful. I see two possible approaches.
      >
      >1) Driving is not a right or an obligation. Therefore those who
      >choose to walk or ride a bike but don't have reasonable or safe
      >access are being harmed, especially if you can show some physical
      >(health) or economic harm.
      >
      >2) The American with Disabilities Act was my second thought, and may
      >have better chance for success. However, I suspect you'd have to
      >find someone with a disability who has been harmed by zoning laws and
      >city design. I suppose that would be possible among the elderly,
      >blind, deaf, or anyone who has been denied a drivers license simply
      >for health or handicap reasons. The next step would be proving they
      >don't have the same access as motorists.
      >
      >That's my suggestion as a laymen with one college class in business
      >law. Personally, I would absolutely love to see someone win such a
      >case, it might well set a precedent for every city in the country.
      >If the zoning laws can be beat down, carfree or walkable communities
      >could have a chance to prove their worth.



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    • Jason Davies
      ... hang on this doesn t work. Why should public transport (not free) be any different from cars? Buses are jsut as dangerous as cars. You can t distinguish
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 1, 2003
        >If walking (supported by public transit) is not considered as the
        >implied mode of free and safe movement, and driving is regarded as the
        >primary way of moving around, then all these people who can not drive
        >because of various reasons (ie a significant part of the population)
        >should be provided with a car with a chauffeur, which is obviously
        >unfeasible.


        hang on this doesn't work. Why should public transport (not free) be any
        different from cars? Buses are jsut as dangerous as cars. You can't
        distinguish motor vehicles. So you will also be launching against any kind
        of vehicle that could harm people or cost anything. The only difference is
        one of degree so finding a cut -off point is going to be very hard to get
        any consensus on.
      • Steve <esdol@sprint.ca>
        Jason, Are buses dangerous? No. Are cars dangerous? No. Are drivers dangerous? A big yes. It s how people use objects, offensively obviously are dangerous. Get
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 1, 2003
          Jason,

          Are buses dangerous? No. Are cars dangerous? No. Are drivers
          dangerous? A big yes. It's how people use objects, offensively
          obviously are dangerous. Get the notion that objects are dangerous
          out of your minds. Objects are inert, actionless until a person
          activates it. A gun is only dangerous if a person uses it offensively
          and not defensively. A cell phone, as I noted early, is dangerous
          only if a persons misuses it while driving. By the way, it is same
          for a pedestrian or cyclist who misuses a cell phone!

          Regarding the human rights thing: It might be a valid argument only
          if the pedestrians and persons with disabilities can't cross a street
          because of unsafe drivers who don't respect the bylaws and laws. This
          needs to be explored further.

          Steve
        • Jason Davies
          ... I m sorry, with respect I can t go down this line, not just because it is borrowed from the National Rifle association. Half a ton of metal at 30 pmh is
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 1, 2003
            >Are buses dangerous? No. Are cars dangerous? No. Are drivers
            >dangerous? A big yes.

            I'm sorry, with respect I can't go down this line, not just because it is
            borrowed from the National Rifle association. Half a ton of metal at 30 pmh
            is dangerous, i don't care how good the driver is. Cyclists kill people in
            small numbers from direct impact. A legal argument that singles out cars is
            not going to stand *legally*.


            >It's how people use objects, offensively
            >obviously are dangerous. Get the notion that objects are dangerous out
            >of your minds. Objects are inert, actionless until a person activates
            >it. A gun is only dangerous if a person uses it offensively and not
            >defensively. A cell phone, as I noted early, is dangerous only if a
            >persons misuses it while driving. By the way, it is same for a
            >pedestrian or cyclist who misuses a cell phone!

            Are you talking about the legal or the (for want of a better word) moral
            angle though? I was talking about the legal angle.
            >
            >Regarding the human rights thing: It might be a valid argument only if
            >the pedestrians and persons with disabilities can't cross a street
            >because of unsafe drivers who don't respect the bylaws and laws. This
            >needs to be explored further.

            This would legally have to also be applicable to other people not
            respecting other laws. I don't think it has any chance legally of making a
            case. You might as well sue the council for permitting burglary. You would
            have to show that cars were a special case, where the use of car made it
            almost impossible to avoid breakign limits, jumping signs, etc. And this
            insane 'turn right on red' law has legalised some of the worst abuses.

            Does the US have a 'human rights' law as does Europe now?
          • Jason Davies
            ... shooting someone before they shoot you is *dangerous* whether they were going to shoot you or not. Whether it is justified is a completely different
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 1, 2003
              >A gun is only dangerous if a person uses it offensively and not
              >defensively.


              shooting someone before they shoot you is *dangerous* whether they were
              going to shoot you or not. Whether it is justified is a completely
              different matter.
            • look384 <kevin.barton@t-online.de>
              I certainly like your thought process, however I m not familiar with cases where someone successfully sued based on violation of human rights . A case could
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 3, 2003
                I certainly like your thought process, however I'm not familiar with
                cases where someone successfully sued based on violation of "human
                rights". A case could be made if there were violation of
                constitutional rights, but I doubt you could get anywhere on a claim
                centering on human rights. Either way, I'm not aware of any
                obligation the government has to ensure mobility. I believe you'd
                have to find something where the government is liable, such as a
                poorly designed or maintained road. Even if you did win a case on
                violation of human or constitutional rights, I'm not sure you'd be
                happy with the settlement you suggested, at least not immediately.
                If you removed all the cars from a modern US city, you'd still have a
                city with poor access for most walkers and cyclists simply because
                zoning laws keep everything so spread out. Given the expense you
                mentioned in your suggested settlement, it's quite possible a local
                government may eventually change zoning laws, however since zoning
                laws seem to be a root cause I suggest a lawsuit should target them
                directly.

                Zoning laws are published by the local government and directly
                influence the way a city or town is organized. If the city's
                organization can be proven to harm a non-motorist and the city can be
                proven liable based on the zoning laws, then I believe someone who
                chooses not to or cannot drive has a chance of winning a case. It
                may be hard for someone who chooses not to drive to get started, just
                as it may be hard for someone who cannot drive as a result of their
                own misconduct, i.e. from losing their license from a DUI or
                wreckless driving. However, someone who has been denied a license
                because of mental or physical disability would stand a better
                chance. From my perspective, the American with Disabilities Act is
                applicable because it requires builders to ensure access a design
                feature, and may well be suited to forcing a local government to
                ensure access through both design and organization. I suspect when a
                government sits down to zone a given area the planners are working
                from some frame of reference, such as permissible travel time between
                residential and shopping zones. If that travel time is calculated
                based on walking speeds, then our case is weak. However, since I
                suspect it's assumed we're all drivers, the travel distance is based
                on vehicle speeds, meaning the zones are separated by greater
                distance, requiring excessive time for walkers. Further, since it's
                assumed we're all drivers, facilities such as sidewalks and paths are
                excluded meaning walkers have no place to walk when traveling between
                zones. It's possible the government could be held liable for this
                type of poor and unfair access for non-motorists.

                I believe it's important to know what type of settlement you want,
                such as monetary, change in laws, change in service or facilities. I
                think the best case would be a change or rescission of zoning laws.
                Any of the other types of settlements may force a government to
                change the laws themselves, but in the end what you really want is a
                city layout that provides for non-motorists first, and motorists
                last, with bicycles and public transportation falling somewhere in
                the middle. If zoning laws were defeated, we could build cities and
                towns completely mixed use, such as the example of central Austin and
                the center of many other cities, which would enable non-motorists
                city-wide to have access to all the services and facilities required
                for modern life. If however, you can't win a change in zoning laws,
                other settlements could be beneficial. Following are a couple of
                examples.

                A settlement guaranteeing equal but separate facilities for non-
                motorists, such as sidewalks or paths along every road would be
                extremely expensive and eventually force a government to either build
                less roads or organize the city to where the roads are shorter. The
                fact is non-motorists do not have equal access to US roads.
                Motorists are entitled access the full length of the road, non-
                motorists are only entitled the shoulder or the narrow strip crossing
                the road at the cross-walks. A pedestrian simply can't walk down the
                middle of the road, taking up an entire lane. If you tried and
                survived, you'd surely run into problems with the first police
                officer you happened across. This theory has been proven
                by "critical mass", a movement where cyclists fill entire lanes,
                slowing and jamming traffic. Many of them have received tickets, had
                bikes impounded or been jailed. As a side note, equal but separate
                was struck down in another great cause, the civil rights movement
                against US segregation. Winning such a settlement could prove the
                zoning laws a violation and set a government up to later have "equal
                but separate" proven a violation against non-motorists.

                Another possible settlement might be a speed limit within the city to
                reduce the danger automobiles present to non-motorists. There's an
                interesting statistic that 80 percent of pedestrians struck by car
                going 20 mph will survive, while 80 percent of pedestrians struck by
                an automobile going 40 mph will die. Although a 20 percent chance of
                death for walking is still a lot, traffic moving at 20 mph is
                dramatically less dangerous than traffic moving at 40 mph. A
                settlement with a 20 mph speed limit for all city streets would be a
                major win, and would yield many more benefits than just reducing
                pedestrian fatalities. It would also make the city much quieter,
                less polluted and with far greater travel times might encourage
                denser development, all of which would significantly improve
                conditions for walkers. There is a precedence for dramatically
                slower speeds in a modern, developed nation. The national speed
                limit in Japan is a mere 30 mph, on all rural and urban roads except
                toll roads. Although speed limits are poorly enforced, traffic does
                move much slower than in the US. The roads are also built at a much
                smaller scale since they aren't designed to handle high speed
                traffic, making them much more pleasant for cycling.

                --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "ktsourl@m..." <ktsourl@m...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Couldn't human rights violation constitute a third approach?
                > There is an obligation of the state to ensure free movement as well
                as safety.
                > Human rights should be valid for every person for the sole fact
                he/she is a human beeing, regardless of beeing rich or poor, healthy
                or sick etc. Thus, free (and safe) mobility should be provided for
                everyone, even for people with psychological problems, intoxicated
                with alcohol (which is legal) or other substances, people who can not
                drive because of their age or medical condition or who can not afford
                a motorized vehicle etc. If walking (supported by public transit) is
                not considered as the implied mode of free and safe movement, and
                driving is regarded as the primary way of moving around, then all
                these people who can not drive because of various reasons (ie a
                significant part of the population) should be provided with a car
                with a chauffeur, which is obviously unfeasible.
                >
                >
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