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The Kindness of Safer Streets

11:37 AM PDT on June 19, 2015

Is this really the best we can do?

Dave Alden at Vibrant Bay Area writes that the above ad from Dignity Health (dignity!) depicting a driver getting out of his car to help a senior avoid being run over in a crosswalk is a pretty skewed notion of “human kindness.”

[I]sn’t there something unkind about forcing the woman to cross the busy street in the first place?

How about if we instead define “humankindness” to include the building of neighborhoods where senior citizens of limited mobility don’t need to cross four-lane streets to do daily shopping? Or if we at least include traffic calming on four-lane streets so the vehicular speed are slowed, making respect for crosswalks more likely? That seems a better standard of “humankindness.”

Of course, more walkable destinations and slower traffic speeds are both part of the urbanist toolkit. I must be hanging out with kind people.

The bitter irony of this ad is that, in reality, good Samaritans who try to help other people in traffic often become victims themselves.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Washington Bikes on what it means to be a “bicycle-friendly” community; Biking Toronto reports on the possibility of new downtown separated bike lanes; and Cap’n Transit wonders why the NYC bus drivers union, now waging war on a traffic safety law, remains silent when it comes to preserving transit service.

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