Slowing Down the Streets

I don’t live in a war zone. Street crime has gone way down. I feel pretty safe in the city. But I am afraid of cars.

I remember being in accidents when a flying hunk of steel on wheels seemed to come out of nowhere, rammed my car broadside sent it into a skidding twirl. Car crashes unleash a power you think is under control, until it’s not.

I was once hit by a car while I rode my bike. I don’t remember it because my head struck the windshield so hard that my brain shed blood and memory failed to process. All I remember are the weeks in the hospital and the lingering nerve pain that still forces me to take Vicodin every day.

Wide roads that encourage faster and faster traffic have created an epidemic of death and injury we don’t seem to notice. But it’s out there, and it’s a daily threat. I don’t worry much about pedophiles living on my street. But I’m always worried about my small kids walking in front of speeding cars.

I read a story in about the movement to slow traffic. Read it yourself. Is it wishful thinking by liberals who like bikes? Convenience and mobility have become American entitlements, and requiring the patience to ride a streetcar or walk to the grocery store seems out-of-place here.

Reducing speed limits means challenging the car’s supremacy, and that would force us to see the world as a bigger place. It could mean you can’t go shopping at the mall that’s 30 miles away. You’ll have to settle for the place around the corner. You’ll have to compromise.

Consumer capitalism hates compromise because it means we don’t spend money as freely and we don’t think we can have it all. But having it all means living with violence on the roads and cars that come flying out of nowhere. When that happens, you just have to hope the car you’re in is the only thing that gets broken.

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One Comment on “Slowing Down the Streets”

  1. James T. Fudge Says:

    Tom, yes, I notice when there is less traffic on the road and more space for the individual vehicle is available, the speed ratio doubles. In my opinion this means that the danger for accidents and injury also goes up. It’s a bit scary.


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