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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Law Suit for Human Scale Access.

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Feb 1, 2003
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      >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 2 of 6 , Feb 3, 2003
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        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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